Oct 162019
 

Hello and welcome to my love story about Millie and Steve, two rollercoasters that the general public may know as Millennium Force and Steel Vengeance. I will try to keep this PG, only because I couldn’t get Fabio to pose for the cover.

I’ve always been super into amusement parks (and county fairs until I almost died at one) but even though I like roller coasters, I never really considered myself an ENTHUSIAST. Then I rode T-Express at Korea’s Everland and, for a wooden coaster, that thing impressed me more than any crazy-ass steel multi-inversion Jojo-rolled contraption ever has. It made me want to seek out other crazy wooden coasters, because up until then I equated wooden coasters with rickety old back-breakers. I started binge-watching rollercoaster videos on YouTube, becoming more and more obsessed. That’s how I started learning about the different manufacturers, but the one that stuck out the most to me was Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC). I was fascinated by the way they take old, rough woodies and refurbish them into these head-spinning feats of engineering magic. The first one I got to ride was Lightning Rod at Dollywood and it was a game changer for me, I have been on a mission ever since to ride all of the RMCs. I am an RMC fan girl all the way.

Look. When I find something that I like, I don’t just LIKE IT: I LIVE IT, I BREATHE IT, I DREAM IT. And, I watch YouTube videos until my Roku crashes, I read Wikipedia and personal blogs, I search Instagram hashtags, I adjust our budget so we can do weekend amusement park road trips (STOP GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE, HENRY – WE DON’T NEED FOOD WE NEED COASTER CREDITS. THIS IS THE GREATEST DIET EVER). It becomes my driving force, the thing that gets me through the work week and gives me something to anticipate.

I never had much of a burning desire to go to Cedar Point until last year, when RMC refurbished the old Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance. So when we finally went a few weeks ago, I was practically salivating on myself at the thought of riding this bad boy.

Because this coaster is still new-ish and world class to those who know some things about the coaster scene, the line for this was between 90-250 minutes all weekend. We kept putting it off and putting it off, but finally, around 8:00pm on our first day there, I told Chooch, “Look, if we want a night ride on this bad boy, it’s now or never, bud.”

I think it said it was an 80 minute wait when we got in line, because by that point, all the haunt attractions had opened so most of the people in the park were in line for those things. Well, 80 minutes was a lie. They must have changed the sign to 120 minutes as soon as we walked past, because we stood in that queue—which winds around underneath the tracks so you’re like, majorly cut off from the rest of civilization when you’re in that line—for so long that I started to forget what Henry looked like (he opted out) which is either good or bad depending on what kind of day I’m having when you ask me.

Luckily, they have TVs in the line, so we got to watch clips of horror movies, fight with each other over trivia, and watch random music videos while eavesdropping on people around us playing Heads Up (this one girl was SO LOUD and also extremely stupid—some of the things she couldn’t figure out were maddening to us bystanders). There was a mom in front of us with her elementary school-age son and an older boy who I think was in college and also may be have been a Spanish exchange student? Look, we had a lot of time to spy on people.

So yeah, after standing in line for…I lost track but I want to say it was about 90 minutes, then it happened.

I will never forget it because we had made it to the last part of the serpentine path, all the twisty-windy parts of the queue were behind us, and we were finally on the lone path to the station. (Granted, that lone path still had some turns, a metal detector, and steps, but still!) We were standing right next to the giant billboard that had the Steel Vengeance character on it along with all the record-breaking stats.

This is where we were standing when the dreaded THIS RIDE IS CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE announcement came out of some hidden hell-speakers and we could barely hear it over the loud roar of idle conversation around us, but it didn’t matter because we KNEW.

“Huh, that train didn’t have anyone in it,” the guy behind us noted as an empty train soared past us. We were in the part of the line now that had an excellent view of the first drop.

Yeah no shit asshole, if you would stop talking about dumb video games for a second, you’d have heard the announcement! As people finally started to figure out what was going on, a small exodus happened and because of this, we kept moving further up in line.

Chooch and I kept waiting for the other to cry uncle and suggest to leave the line, because neither of us wanted to make that call. All I kept thinking was that it would be our luck that it would start running again after we got out of line.

Long story short (LOL yeah like my stories are ever short), we opted to stay in line and after about 30-45 minutes, the damn thing started running again and everyone cheered and fuck if it didn’t feel like we were REALLY A PART OF SOMETHING, you know? Like, the Donner Party.

No, not the Donner Party.

Maybe a hostage situation, though. But then the hostage guy ends up having a squirt gun so we can all laugh about it later as the popo haul his soiled ass away.

Something like that.

Anyway, we rationalized that we had moved up in line just as far as we would have if the ride hadn’t broken down, so it was all the same, really.

The ride attendant at the top of the steps was assigning people seats but we thought, Look, we stood in line for this long, what would it hurt to just ask if we could snag the back row?

So we asked.

And the broad was all, “Eh, sure go ahead.”

And we had the most epic, glorious, whirlwind night ride on what is now my TOP ROLLERCOASTER BAE OF ALL TIME. I’m not even going to try and describe it other than it whips you around with ungodly force and everything happens so fast that you can’t even wrap your mind around the logistics of it and then when you think you’ve gotten your bearings, you’re suddenly being lurched through an inversion that makes you feel like dish water being sucked down a drain, and then suddenly you’re back in the station, fingerbrushing knots out of your hair and looking at your riding companion like, “IS MY FACE IN ONE PIECE!?”

Chooch actually ran his hands through his hair and made this wild-eyed I’VE HAD AN EPIPHANY expression like he was about to convert to the Kabbalah or some shit, and honestly, I personally nearly wept.

It was that good.

I felt like Steel Vengeance had actually rescued me from a burning building or something and then, oh god, oh no, was I getting a crush on Steve?!

Meanwhile, Henry was sleeping on a bench like a regular old back-alley wino, just kidding, he was actually awake and not at all concerned even though we had been missing in action for two and a half hours and he had our phones so we had no way of telling him what was happening, but since this was Cedar Point, he assumed that the ride had broken down because that’s what rides do at Cedar Point. So I guess he probably just ate a bunch of soft pretzels and scrolled through Reddit on his phone, because somewhere along the way I didn’t pay enough attention to him and he turned into the type of person who loses himself in asinine threads of Internet memes. Coo-coo-cool.

We were just like, “O-M-G YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FUCKING SICKENING THIS RIDE IS, HENRY! YOU MISSED OUT BIG TIME! GOOD LUCK SLEEPING IN THAT BED OF REGRET TODAY!”

The next day, Henry wanted to see if Steve was all that we made it out to be, but as you might be aware, our plans of getting in a morning ride on this bad boy before the crowds rushed in was dashed when Steve was closed during early entry.

And then he proceeded to be down for most of the day it seemed. We kept tracking him through the Cedar Point app and sprinted over to him as soon as the status changed to “open.” It said that the standby time was 45 minutes.

LIES. LIES LIES LIES.

We 100% stood in line for nearly as long as Chooch and I did the night before. This time, right as we shuffled past the Steve billboard thing, an announcement came on.

WE FROZE.

But it turned out that it was just a “slight delay” while they added another train.

We exhaled.

Not more than 10 minutes later, another announcement cut through the gaggles of groups engrossed in Heads Up and the weird mom and son who were arguing with each other the entire time they were in line.

IT WAS FUCKING DOWN AGAIN.

“You have to be fucking kidding me!” I cried dramatically. I could actually feel the synapses firing inside me and I imagined peeling my skin off and shooting into the air using nothing but the sheer force of my anger.

“You guys can leave, you’ve already ridden it,” Henry said calmly, but I noted a twitch in his ‘stache. “I’m invested at this point.”

Well, I wasn’t leaving! I had major FOMO just thinking about Henry riding Steve without me. So we all opted to stay in line. People started exiting in small waves. A ride attendant walked past us, en route to the entrance where a CLOSED sign needed to be erected (lol). “Just so you know, this isn’t just a small problem,” he monotoned to everyone within earshot. “It’s probably going to be at least an hour.”

We all exchanged looks. Even more people left, so we moved up significantly in line and shrugged.

Henry and Chooch argued about every single thing.

Arguing.

But then, less than 30 minutes later, they sent a test train. Everyone cheered. Then, they sent a fully-loaded train, and everyone REALLY CHEERED. The line started moving for real. Of course, they opened the Fast Lane right so loads of people filed through on that side and I was SO PISSED because the rest of us had demonstrated extreme levels of patience and endurance by waiting this out and Cedar Point could have rewarded us by at least keeping that line closed off for a few more minutes, goddammit.

I have never been the type of person who would stand in line for THAT LONG for a RIDE so I must really be thirsty for Steve and his wood. Henry and I snagged the back seat and as we buckled ourselves in, I yelled, “YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE THIS!” and he was just like, “WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT” because Henry does not know how to have fun or display any sort of emotion aside from exhaustion, irritation, and disgust. Maybe envy whenever he sees someone wearing a better beverage t-shirt that him.

But when we hit the midcourse break run, he looked at me and mouthed, “WHAT THE FUCK” and I was like, “RIGHT?!!!?” Holy shit, this ride. It’s everything. I was so fucking annoyed every other hour during our weekend at Cedar Point, but THIS RIDE was redemption. I would go back to Cedar Point every fucking weekend and be jerked around by the shitty operations if I knew I could ride this at least once each time.

It’s that good.

It’s world class.

There is a reason why so many of the experts and enthusiasts rank this as #1.

I AM TEARING UP JUST THINKING ABOUT YOU, STEVE. WAIT FOR ME! I’LL BE BACK.

Meanwhile, Chooch’s favorite ride that weekend was actually Millie, a/k/a Millennium Force, though he said it was difficult to choose between the two. The first time we rode Millie, on our first day at Cedar Point, we had the back row and I experienced a pretty good greyout, to the point where I ran down the exit ramp in search of Henry, who had ridden on the train before ours, just to excitedly scream, “I GREYED OUT, DUDE!!!”

I have never greyed out on a ride before, and it was so awesome!

Millie is pretty fucking beautiful. My favorite things about her, aside from that wicked first drop, was the cool 1970s space-y soundtrack that plays in the station, and the killer views of Lake Erie that the lift hill offers. Honestly, for as many times as that park let me down that weekend, I can’t deny that the atmosphere is unbeatable. I mean, it’s not at DisneySea’s level of beauty, but it is pretty fucking close. Oh, and the ride operators on Millie were phenomenal. They were entertaining (on our second ride, one of the operators asked, “Who knows the manufacturer of this ride?” and Chooch and I screamed, “INTAMIN!” before anyone else could answer even though we knew there wasn’t a prize but we were born to be first, OK; the ride operator was like, “FRONT ROW GOT IT!” and we rode that wave for a good 45 minutes) and super efficient. They had three train ops down to a science.

Chooch and I had a good ride in the front row on our second day, but I think I preferred the back. We are definitely backseat riders for the most part, on most coasters, but I do really love front row at night. We unfortunately didn’t get any night rides on Millie, so clearly we have to go back at some point. Like, this weekend. OK, probably not this weekend. I think Henry will murder me with his eyeballs if I even ask, lol.

I think I actually might be in love with Steve. Sorry, Henry.

Chooch just ran by and I said, “Chooch is there anything you want to say about Millie?” and he said, “Uh yes!” in a way that I expected a saccharine sonnet to come wisping out of his mouth, but instead all he said was, “It was good.”

WOW. Just so you know, he teared up looking at it from the car window when we drove away, so.

Oct 112019
 

The title of this blog post was Chooch’s idea and he was so pleased with himself when he came up with it. “Get it? Because it has two meanings?!” Yes, Chooch. We get it.

I woke up that Sunday ready to go with my G-Dragon shirt. My only goal for the day was to get one more ride in on Steel Vengeance, so we strategically parked in a different lot by the water park, which is near an entrance to the park that’s closest Steel Vengeance.

We arrived a bit after 9, so we had some time to look at the lake. Chooch found some little yellow Nerf ball thing in the sand and, I don’t know, imprinted on it or something, and that motherfucker stayed with him ALL DAY LONG. Which wouldn’t have been a problem if he kept it in his pocket but HE HAD TO FUCK AROUND WITH IT IN EVERY LINE WE STOOD IN and the number of times he dropped it was staggering. At one point, I hissed, “If that fucking thing rolls onto the track, the whole goddamn ride is going to shut down and everyone is going to hate you, me most of all!”

Wish a seagull would have swooped down and pecked it out of his hand.

After this, we got in the short line at the entrance. They had us spread us into four lines, and we were in a line behind a family. I was fucking READY TO GO. The pee-jigs were imminent. My pulse was steadily increasing.

After passing through security, we made it to the early entrance and we were IN FRONT FOR THIS. More and more people kept arriving though and the line was getting jacked, but I was like, “BITCH YOU’LL HAVE TO STAB ME DEAD STEP OVER MY LIFELESS BODY TO GET IN FRONT OF ME.” My feet were PLANTED. I had to endure some jackhole nastily snorting and sniffling, but I was like, “YOU GOT THIS ERIN. THIS IS WHAT YOU TRAINED FOR” and when they finally pulled aside the gates, the Running of the Bulls commenced and I am PROUD TO SAY that I was the only broad among a gaggle of coaster bros running like maniacs toward Steel Vengeance and I held my own. Even Chooch eventually fell back a bit, and Henry didn’t run AT ALL. But I was like, “I WILL NOT GIVE UP” and then I started laughing because, as I mentioned in my last post, my co-worker was running a 10K that day, and I GUESS I WAS RUNNING SOME TYPE OF A K TOO.

I don’t know what the actual distance was, but it wasn’t short and sweet. So when I finally reached the area of Steel Vengeance and saw the Cedar Park girl sitting in a chair and holding a sign that said DELAYED FOR MAINTENANCE, I literally felt sparks shooting out of my ears.

WHAT THE FUCKKKKKKK?!!?!? It was me and a bunch of dudes, pacing in a circle with our hands on our heads, screaming.

OK, Plan B – Maverick, which is Steel Vengeance’s neighbor.

SAME!!!!

FUCK YOU, CEDAR POINT!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!!?!?!? By now, Henry and Chooch had caught up and I flipped out. “This park FUCKING SUCKS!” I screamed. “I HATE IT HERE!” and I felt validated in my feelings because literally everyone around me was shouting the same thing so take that, Roller Coaster Capital of America. Pfft.

Before I publicly bitched about this though, I checked social media. “I’m going to feel like a fucking asshole if they said it wasn’t going to be available for Early Entry,” I said, even though we checked their website for the list numerous times before leaving that morning.

Oh, they posted alright.

TWELVE MINUTES AFTER EARLY ENTRY STARTED!

We were already en route to Millennium Force by then. I was so pissed because Chooch and I wanted to run to it but Henry wouldn’t run with us, so I started calling him Deadweight Dad and he was like, “FUCK YOU, GO BY YOURSELVES NEXT TIME!” I mean, we might as well!

He didn’t want to ride Valravn so I was like, “Take pictures of us on it” and he did pictures of the WRONG TRAIN so good job, Deadweight Dad.

WE’RE NOT ON THIS!!!

He was too busy taking selfies on my phone!!

Then we got off Valravn, which was just OK and I’m glad that the line was only about 30 instead of the 60 minutes that the standby time was posted at and also broke down literally RIGHT WHEN WE WERE WALKING DOWN THE EXIT RAMP (I like Griffin at Busch Gardens Williamsburg better), AND HENRY WAS GONE! He had our phones so we couldn’t check the app to determine were to go next and we were stuck standing in the middle of the walkway like two lost puppies and I was SO ANGRY when I eventually saw him meandering over to us from a distance.

“I had to go to the bathroom,” he shrugged. OMG DO THAT ON YOUR OWN TIME!!

Then he did it again when we were on Raptor (it was a walk-on!!). We got off the ride and he was gone for EVEN LONGER THIS TIME. I was fuming. Five minutes later, he came strolling over to us with a big fat sugar cookie, which I wrenched from his paws and took a huge, greedy bite because that’s what he gets for deserting us and not bring anything back for us!

OK, I got all the complaining out of the way. The rest of the day (save for ANOTHER Steel Vengeance break-down) was actually pretty fucking great. We were able to get a bunch of coaster creds in spite of half the park being broke down at any given point during the weekend (Gatekeeper was actually down for pretty much the whole day). The only coasters we didn’t get to ride were Maverick (this is the only one I was really bummed about), Blue Streak, Iron Dragon, and the two kiddie coasters (they count as credits so we ride them, shuttup!).

Dumb me and Deadweight Dad.

I wanted to go back to wherever Henry got that glorious hunk of a sugar cookie because I wanted my own, but instead I opted for this iced candy corn sugar cookie which was OK but not as good as that original one, I always choose poorly! I think the process of buying cookies was just as frustrating as trying to ride a damn ride in that park. There were what seemed to be enough people working there, but there was NO ORGANIZATION and people just entered the line form whatever end they felt like it and we kept getting skipped over and then someone finally helped us and left our stuff next to the register and that was another whole process of trying to flag someone down to just ring up our fucking cookies already WE WERE RUNNING OUT OF TIME AND I WANTED TO RIDE MORE THINGS BEFORE WE HAD TO LEAVE, GOOD GOD PEOPLE RING A BITCH UP!

This derby-esque carousel ride is one of the few memories I have of previous trips to Cedar Point. I remember the first time I rode it as a kid, I thought it was just a regular carousel and was completely startled at how fast it actually goes.

Chooch accumulated a fork at the cookie place after asking to try a sample of fudge, so now his stupid yellow Nerf ball thing had a friend.

Anyway, I’m obsessed with collecting family carousel photos now, lol.

Broke-down Gatekeeper.

I had to laugh because when we decided to go to Cedar Point, I distinctly remember saying, “Oh and since we have passes and can go back whenever, we can just take it easy and enjoy ourselves without rushing around trying to fit everything in.”

You guys, have you met me, though? This is the complete opposite of what happened. From the moment we parked the car, I was in RACING MODE. Adrenaline was already pumping, my arms were akimbo so I’d be ready to elbow linejumpers (there were A LOT OF THEM at Cedar Point), and I kept screaming WHERE IS THE MAP?!?! I live everyday like I’m on an episode of Amazing Race (if I were actually on that show, I would probably have a stroke during the first challenge because my entire body consists of nerves, impatience, and competitiveness). There was no way I was going to stroll about this park beneath a lace parasol, stopping to sniff the Halloween gourds.

Sigh. It’s not easy being me.

Henry was concerned about how wasteful this was and probably started dreaming about all the soups and purees he could make with Cedar Point’s October decor.

Henry makes some REALLY GOOD SOUPS, you guys. I once tried to get him to open up a soup stand in our front. He could refurbish one of Crazy Larry’s dead cars into a walk-up immobile food-truck type thing. Daily vegan options, too!  Buy a serial killer greeting card while you’re here!

If it weren’t for Steel Vengeance and a small handful of others (Millennium Force and Magnum, and probably Maverick if I had had a chance to ride it), I’m not sure I’d be in much of a hurry to go back. I’m about to start gushing about Steel Vengeance but I will stop myself here because as I mentioned before I want to have a separate post for that and Millennium Force, which were the two main highlights of an otherwise up-and-down experience.

I have to say though, for as many frustrating moments that the weekend held for us, I still left this park anxious to come back because of the aforementioned short-list of perfect rides and also being next to the lake was so scenic and those views from the coasters were breathtaking. The whole experience felt like being in an abusive relationship, though! All it took was one ride on Steel Vengeance and I magically forgot about all the shittiness that this park had delivered prior to that. I can’t hate you, Cedar Point.

Oct 102019
 

I was looking forward to our Cedar Point weekend for, well, two weeks because that’s all the advanced planning we did with this one. Typically, I would NOT go to a park of this caliber on a weekend, let alone during a holiday event, but we purchased Cedar Fair platinum passes for the 2020 season and they’re available to use for the remainder of the 2019 season too. You have to go to one of the parks to get the physical cards and CP is only 3 hours away so we figured why not just go, make a weekend of it, and even if it’s super crowded, we can just go back whenever we want since we have the passes (which includes free parking and early entry too!).

I was fully anticipating a park at capacity but look, we’ve been to three Asian theme parks at this point and you do not know the true meaning of “park at capacity” until then let me tell you. I mean, a three hour wait for the Viking ship at Lotte World is next level.

And that was just on a random Monday!

Fair warning: my moods swung faster than any of the pendulum rides there that weekend, but I didn’t want this blog post to be all stabby & crabby so I waited a bit to sit down and collect my thoughts, and I realized that the good outweighed the bad and I’m already jonesin’ for a return trip!

Instead of dwelling on the negative, I’ll just get it over with before diving into the pictures and good times: rides were breaking down left and right all weekend long, starting with the very first one we were in line for! Look, I understand that it was late in the seasons, the rides were tired, the mechanics of modern rides are so computer-driven that the slightest deviation will shut down operations — I APPRECIATE THIS BECAUSE “SAFETY FIRST” AMIRITE? But when it happened 5 times to us on the first day (Maverick, Blue Streak, Magnum, Gatekeeper, Steel Vengeance), it was just very frustrating. I didn’t have a problem with waiting in lines for these rides, but when I’m 45 – 60 minutes into it and that dreaded announcement comes on, go fuck yourself Cedar Point. A park of this size and stature better have maintenance men living in bunkers beneath all the rides, you know what I mean?

This place was operating like every pathetic piece of shit park I ever tried to construct on Roller Coaster Tycoon, where I spent the whole time picking up my maintenance guys and dropping them off on whatever ride was smoking at the time.

OK, there. It’s out of my system now. I had my hissy fit inside of the park too (Magnum went down while we were in the station and then two dumb bitch lesbians totally line-jumped and I tried to stop them but they were too busy jamming their hands into each others’ back pockets to care and the other people who got line-jumped were too engrossed in their phones to care and I just fucking lost it and left the line like a fucking toddler because that’s where I am emotionally these days. I’m waiting for my second serving of pureed peas, Henry) and so we left in the afternoon so I could cool off and come back down to earth with the stable people.

Here are some highlights from Day One though! (The two biggest highlights were Millennium Force & Steel Vengeance so I will sing my ode to them separately.)

A Korean food truck inside an amusement park, shut up and take Henry’s money.

Chooch and I both had the Tofu Cup and Henry ordered nothing because he knew he was going to have to eat our leftovers. I was so sure that I was going to finish all of mine though but as usual, eyes bigger than stomach, blah blah blah. Look, my lunch at DisneySea was definitely postcard-to-home worthy, but this was a real close second as far as amusement park lunches go. I was so content. (I mean, until right afterward when we were in line for Blue Streak and it broke down right when we were the next group to get into the station BUT I SAID I’M DONE COMPLAINING THOUGH.)

Chooch’s review: “The cabbage was surprisingly good.”

Before I threw a fit.

I took this picture while waiting for Henry and Chooch to catch up to me when I was storming out of the park, lol. God, I love being dramatic. If only everyone knew the real me haha.

We came to  the park around 6 that evening. These passes are great because you get free parking so leaving and coming back AIN’T NO THANG.

Except that now we had to park a trillion miles away but hey, we’re walkers so this was fine.

Now that I was calm and plied with pizza, I was able to really see this park. No, I mean, REALLY SEE IT. Like, it’s pretty fucking beautiful. Not DisneySea-levels of beauty, but fuck if Lake Erie doesn’t trick you into thinking you’re actually beachside. Like, with a real ocean. I always forget how great that lake is.

Chooch and I immediately into line for Gatekeeper, which was right, well, by the entrance gate, because the app said that the wait time was only like 30 minutes. I think it was actually less time than that, though.  Since Gatekeeper is a wing coaster, the line eventually splits so you can choose which side of the ride you want to sit on. Chooch was adamant about choosing the line that would put us on the lake side so he started to go to the left but I’m a Big Dumb and went to the right, thinking that it was the line that would put us closer to the lake since it was, well, closer to the lake, forgetting that the ride MAKES A TURN when it leaves the station.

So Chooch was correct and he cried out, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING” and abandoned the left side to fetch me, but now it was too late because we were both in too deep in the non-lakeside line. Sorry bud.

Luckily, THE RIDE FUCKING BROKE DOWN as soon as we made it back to the break run, and now we WERE on the lakeside. So while we sat there, stranded, for 25 minutes, I leaned over and said, “There’s your fucking lakeside view, buddy. SOAK IT IN.”

Yep, we figured it was par for the course that we actually get stuck on a broke-down ride. I mean, the odds were in our favor at that point.

Meanwhile, Henry the Good Parent was on the ground somewhere, waiting for us. He said that he heard the THIS PIECE OF SHIT RIDE IS BROKE DOWN announcement ,he waited for us to come filing out of the line with all the other people and when he didn’t see us, that’s when he realized, “Oh shit, they’re on the ride.” LOL yep that was us, just restrained and hanging out against our will, while the sun was setting and the cool lake air was chilling us to the bones.

Nicholas, my favorite ride operator, came  to visit us several times to give us canned updates (“Sorry guys, we’re waiting on maintenance”) and basically take the wrath of angry park patrons while the other guys were inside the operations booth tossing a football back and forth. Assholes.

Nicholas was super nice though and I didn’t fault him for this at all. He was really scrambling out there, trying to make everyone happy. So definitely one of the things that helped balance out my disdain over the unpredictability of the rides was the friendliness of the staff. Visiting other parks as often as we do always makes the surliness/blankness/ambivalence of Kennywood employees so much more apparent. I love Kennywood, it’s my home park, but I really wish they had friendlier staff.

Henry took pictures with my phone while we were stuck on Gatekeeper.

Cool pic, Hank. I think we all know what the subject of this picture is

You would think that I would have been on the hunt for desks to flip by the time we were released from Gatekeeper, but I was just numb to it all by then so when Chooch was like, “CAN WE FINALLY GO ON SPAGHETTI NOODLE*???” I mumbled, “Sure why not.”

*(This is what he called Wicked Twister all weekend.)

The standby for this was only 5 minutes and we got front row.

Wicked Twister is an impulse coaster, the kind that launches you and sends you up a twisting track to the dark heavens, drops you back down so you’re flying backward into the station and then up the twisty track on the other side. It does this like three times and IT WAS TERRIFYING. I don’t usually get “scared” on roller coasters, but this one gave me fucking chills and I screamed like I was in labor. There was a guy behind us who laughed, “Damn, these bitches be SINGING!” and I fucking KNOW he was talking about me, lol.

Look at the dumb noodle fucker! I just shuddered at the memory.

We don’t normally go to amusement parks for the Halloween shit because I’d rather go to a regular haunted house, but even though we didn’t do any of the haunts here at Cedar Point because the lines were outrageous (we expected that though!), it was still a lot of fun being there at night with all the creepy displays and fog. Plus, they were playing REALLY DOPE music too, like shit from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Midnight Syndicate was even performing there! EVERYONE KNOWS THEY MAKE THE BEST HAUNTED HOUSE SCORES.

And I heard two different Cure songs too while we were there. Cedar Point, you killed it in the ambiance department. Mwah!

And now you have to imagine three hours of nothingness because that would have been the time we were in line for Steel Vengeance. YES IT BROKE DOWN WHILE WE WERE IN LINE. But, Steel Vengeance will get his time to shine in a separate post, as I said before. Ahem.

The rest of the night, what we had left after the Steel Vengeance time-suck that is, was spent giddily riding Magnum twice (I forgot how phenomenal this coaster is, it’s been so long since I last rode it!) and SCREAMING at how creepy/awesome the lake looked from that ride at night, dragging Henry on Gemini where he tripped and fell getting into the seat and hurt his back and leg and made sure we didn’t forget about it for the rest of the weekend (#HenrytheMartyr), and then even got a last minute ride on Top Thrill Dragster! (I hate that name so much.)

This ride usually has enormous lines all day, but we were walking past it on our way out at 11:30 and it said it was only a 30 minute wait. The employee at the ride entrance said that as long as we were in line, we’d get to ride it even if it was past the park’s midnight curfew. So we were like, “Well shit, yeah!”

And the line ended up only being about 15 minutes long!

And then we were on it, listening to the damn thing revving, and suddenly I was like, “HOLY SHIT WAIT LET ME OFF I CHANGED MY MI———————————————————————————————nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd” as we were launched 120mph in 12 seconds.

Yeah, this was also something I’d file under SCARY AF. The launch was so forceful that I couldn’t even scream and then I wondered, “If I piss myself, will it just get pushed back inside?” But the best part is that I spent so much time that day, every time we walked past, dwelling on the launch, fixating on it, letting it fester in my imagination, that I never even considered the second part of that fucking ride — coming down off that towering top hat. IT IS REALLY TALL AND YOU GO STRAIGHT UP AND THEN PLUMMET STRAIGHT DOWN THE OTHER SIDE.

It gave new meaning to the phrase “I was shook” that is FOR SURE. I couldn’t get my body to stop trembling after we got off this damn thing!

Oh yeah, Henry didn’t ride it. Apparently he was going to but he had to go put his MAN PURSE in a locker and we left him because we didn’t know he wanted to ride it with us LOLOL.

Now it was 11:59PM and we for sure were on our way out of the park, but one of the monsters of one of the haunts was all, “Hey, psst, you guys wanna come in here? You can be the last group of the night!” so we did and it was pretty cool but again, amusement park haunts tend to not scare me that much because it’s so big and commercial. It was still fun though! The scare actors did a good job for it being the end of the night.

I had to take a picture for my coworker who was running a 10K that weekend because that’s her last name and I was like “Hope this isn’t an omen!” She’s only been in our department for a few months but she has already learned that I’m kind of a jerk. She seems OK with it though.

We went back to our hotel room and fucking crashed after that. I was glad that the second half of the day picked up or I would have been so sad. But oh don’t worry because the next morning would change all that. Cedar Point was like surfing Sybil’s brain waves, I swear to god.

Sep 152019
 

Before I close the chapter on DisneySea, I just want to do a quick (lol yeah sure—nothing I do on here is quick) recap of some of the rides and the food we had!

I think we all agreed, hands down, that our favorite ride was Journey to the Center of the Earth. As a dark ride connoisseur and coaster enthusiast, I liked that this was a bit of an amalgamation of both.

As with every Disney park, the theming in the line was excelsior, so that was no big surprise. This was the first ride we rode that day so the standby line wasn’t outrageous yet.

I WAS SO EXCITED TO GO THROUGH THOSE DOORS!

My only beef with this ride was that it wasn’t long enough. And that’s just me being hard-pressed to find a complaint because, you know, balance or whatever!

Tower of Terror in Tokyo has a different storyline than the others, not that it matters too much because it’s all in Japanese! But we chose this Fast Pass over Toy Story Mania for that reason.

It’s funny, because I typically dislike drop towers and avoid them in every park, but I love Tower of Terror so much! And this one was just so much fun, mostly because we didn’t know what was going on!

It also pleased me that we were put in row 6 6 6, lol.

I love that Henry is blank while Chooch and I have the same squinty WTF expression. Also, I’m not used to being able to take pictures of the picture! Every other park is a BIG NO when it comes to that. But here, everyone just does it. It’s been a minute since I was at Disney World so I can’t remember if it’s like that there, too!?

I think 20,000 Leagues was the longest line we stood in (an hour? We rode it again later and the line was only about 20 minutes then!) but it was worth it and again, the crowds there were very mild and inoffensive so it never felt like being in prison, like how we often feel when we’re stuck in line for the Exterminator at Kennywood, having no choice but to inhale the farts of strangers and hear amplified Yinzer-speak in surround sound since that damn queue is indoors.

Henry smiled A LOT that day, and he really loved 20,000 Leagues. He was so excited when we got off the ride the first time because he wanted to know if Chooch and I spotted some shadow of a thing that was pushing our car through the water and we were like, “No, you lame-o” and acted like we didn’t care but then we had a secret conference outside of Henry’s super-limited range of hearing and decided we would have to ride it again to look for that.

Also, we didn’t know that we had a control in front of our seats that controlled a spotlight, but of course dumb Henry knew, so now we definitely had to ride it again.

Anyway, it was fun being at a park where Henry actually rode things! Usually he just “sits on a bench” and waits for us but what he really does is stocks up on soft pretzels without us so he doesn’t have to share. Rude ass.

I was obsessed with riding these boat-things all day! Apparently, it utilizes the same track design as Pooh’s Hunny Hut, if that matters to you.

Chooch and I rode it later in the evening, after getting in all of the big rides, and you have to choose between two different tracks—such pressure! I was mad because the one that Chooch chose for us didn’t seem like the best one, and then I was mad again because dumb Henry took a picture of us using his idiot phone which takes shitty photos.

I loved this ride because the ride attendant told me he liked my Oswald ears AND HE WAS REALLY CUTE TOO.

Everyone who works at DisneySea is just a brand new level of Happy, but you really have to expect that much from a Disney park. That’s one of things I appreciate about this brand is that, even if you’re not a big Disney aficionado like me (I haven’t cared about Disney movies/cartoons since the early 90s), the experience you get at the parks is so high-quality that the fact that you had to dip into the kid’s college fund to get there doesn’t even matter.

J/K, we didn’t dip into Chooch’s college fund.

He doesn’t even have a college fund.

HAHAHAHAugh.

The Aladdin area of the park was so beautiful, and Chooch and I definitely needed to ride the flying carpets.

If this was Kennywood, that would just be cement with weeds sprouting through the cracks, not a gorgeous fountain. (Sorry, Kennywood, but you know it’s true! You’re beautiful in other ways, but theming is not your forte.)

Again with Henry’s lame-ass phone.

Chooch and I rode this little kid Flounder coaster because we gotta get that coaster cred no matter what.

That brake run was rough, haha.

We also rode this adorable little ride but dumb Henry was too bust melting against a wall to take our picture like a good parent.

The carousel was in the Aladdin area too and it was delightful!

God only knows what I was jawing off about here, but it was wonderful to be in the shade!

Another family portrait on a carousel. We need an intervention.

Did you know that up until a few years ago, I had a huge fear of carousels because I have gotten stuck on the horses before? And by “gotten stuck” I mean that I am afraid of even the tiniest heights and have been actually too paralyzed by fear to attempt to slide off the damn thing and then Henry has to assist. But lately, I have been doing much better and I think that I almost cured.

I wanted to ride Tower of Terror again in the evening but those dumb asses were like 45 MINUTES STANDBY OMG THAT’S SO LONG because they’re spoiled.

We also rode some other kiddy rides, and we had Fast Passes for Indiana Jones and also Raging Spirits, which was the only ride that was a bit underwhelming for me. There were English-speaking people in line behind us and the one girl was freaking out because she had never ridden a roller coaster that went upside down and she was probably in her early 20s and for some reason this really lodged itself into my hippocampus and I still think about it occasionally.

It was OK! Not my favorite ride there, but still worth the ride.

Aside from Sinbad (it was closed for maintenance), we managed to ride all the main attractions on my list without wasting our lives in overwhelming queues or running around like maniacs, and I was extremely surprised. In my head, I had this day playing out to be full of stress, pushy people, more interfamilial hostility than Trump’s twitter feed, and hemorrhaging money.

But it was so peaceful and our walking-speed was more at a casual stroll after we nabbed that first Fast Pass. In fact, usually when we’re at an amusement park, we’re in such a hurry to get all the big rides in that we barely break to eat. But at DisneySea, not only did we have spare time, but the food was CHEAP! Now is the time in this blog post where we have a FOOD RECAP.

This adorable Donald Duck lifesaver was a savory bun stuffed with shrimp, and not just like, a measly wad of mushy shrimp paste, but this was loaded with hearty, meaty, shrimp.

These Toy Story mochi are pretty much the signature Tokyo Disney snack. Watch any YouTube video about this park and I guarantee they will make an appearance, and if they don’t, then that vlogger did it wrong.

You get three per order, one each of strawberry-filled, chocolate-filled, and vanilla custard-filled. They were so good and now I wish I had gone back for seconds because Henry and I shared an order while Chooch got his own. I have major regerts about that. I chose poorly. Stupid diet-brain.

However, I didn’t share my lunch with Henry! (Wait, shit, yes I did—my meal came with a side of potatoes and sausages and I gave him my sausages.)

We chose a place in the Arabian Coast port of call (which I have been consistently referring to as the Aladdin area) and I got this fucking fantastic udon lunch special. Anyway, I couldn’t believe how cheap it was for all three of us to eat there. I want to say it was about $30 as opposed to King’s Island where, even with one of us having a meal plan, it was like $60. Yikes.

Look at this gorgeous bowl! It was so filling and satisfying. Again, maybe DisneySea had the air poisoned with Positivity Pollution, but shit—at every turn, I felt like a kid being let out of the orphanage for the first time. I just kept saying, “This place is so great” over and over, while flowers sprouted out of all of my orifices.

Henry was like, “I’m going to buy this mango ice cream concoction for no reason other than I’m at Disney” and then Chooch was like, “I’ll take that, thanks.”

 

Shout out to the different popcorn vendors, happily churning out their wonderful smelling treats in every port of call! Each vendor had a different flavor (Chooch is on a major curry kick, so that’s the flavor we got). The caramel one, while not being the most exotic flavor, was definitely the most appealing one to me because that scent literally elevated the atmosphere in the entire area around it. I think it may have even borrowed one of those flying carpets to carry its sweet, buttery smell even further, because I kept catching whiffs of it all over the park. It was mesmerizing.

The curry flavor was great too! Really, the only one I wasn’t drawn to was the chocolate-covered variety because it was so hot that day and I couldn’t imagine eating melty popcorn with my hands. No.

And last but not least, we ate dinner at Zambini because Chooch saw it earlier in the day and totally latched on to it. We had pizza, and I demanded that we get both desserts on the menu, because each one came with a different limited edition souvenir thing, so now we have a little Pirate Summer plate and coffee cup. I’m pleased with this.

One more thing before I wrap this up: we went into pretty much every gift shop to search for Bambi shit for Chooch, and in the very last one we went inside, we finally found a Bambi shirt, and not only was it a nice design, it was only $20!! FOR A FUCKING DISNEY SHIRT.

I probably come across as some tight-wad coupon cutter, and I swear I’m not—I’m just accustomed to amusement park inflation and honestly we were prepared to really have to spend a lot of hard-earned Yen at DisneySea. Honestly, this day couldn’t have been any better! I am so glad that I campaigned so hard to have this added to my birthday vacation itinerary, because if you have to turn 40, you might as well soften the blow any way you can. And this definitely softened that blow. Disney is one of the few places on Earth where you can be a Forever Child!

Sep 142019
 

Friends, foes, family, foresters: I am here to tell you that I have nothing bad to say about DisneySea. Honestly. It was the one day from our vacation where we didn’t fight ONE SINGLE TIME. The park opened, we walked in, and it was like the air was being pumped with happy gas because even though it was 100 degrees, we genuinely liked each other that day.

We’re not Disney people but this park had a huge impact on us! And this might sound like a cop-out, but there is really no way I can illustrate just how magical this place is, aside from sharing photos. So let’s peruse my collection together, shall we?

DisneySea is built next to the Tokyo Bay and has seven themed “ports of call” areas. I’ve heard that this park is billed as the Disney for adults, and even though there is a huge (and BEAUTIFUL) indoor kids area, I can definitely see how this is true. There is one area that made me feel like I was in Cape May and I loved it which is hilarious because when I was a kid, we always took a day trip to Cape May during our Wildwood family vacations, and I was always so miserable about that. I hated Cape May as a kid! All my grandma wanted to do was shop and all I could think about was how I missing out on prime time riding rides on the boardwalk. (Morey’s Piers ftw.)

I mentioned in my last Tokyo post that DisneySea doesn’t use an app for Fast Pass, so when the gates opened, we had to walk-run (there are friendly Disney employees everywhere reminding you politely not to run and I already knew this from watching videos so I speed-walked like a good girl because maybe you don’t know this about me BUT I HATE BEING YELLED AT even if it’s someone just kindly reminding me not to do something I’m doing, I will take this and escalate it in my head and get totally butt-hurt and then I will keep replaying the moment until I’m convinced that I was yelled at.

I’m insane and my issues are plentiful.

Anyway, our plan was to pass up Toy Story because it’s identical to the one in the US, grab a Tower of Terror fast pass, and then speedwalk to Journey to the Center of the Earth for stand-by. This plan worked wonderfully!

Mysterious Island was amazing!! The theming blew us all away.

I was prepared for Journey’s line to be outrageous but stand-by was about 30-45 minutes! That ride was goddamn amazing but my favorite part was when Henry ripped his shorts when he was getting into the car!

(Unfortunetely, his rip wasn’t as disastrous as it could have been, and even though it was large, it was still unnoticeable. Ugh.)

I will have a separate post to talk about the rides and food, so let’s just keep looking at the glorious scenery, shall we?

Seriously, would you look at this area? I think we just ooh’d and ahh’d over everything for the first 8 hours of the day.

 

I’m not sure where all the people went that we saw when the park opened, because it didn’t seem very crowded that day. Don’t get me wrong, some of the bigger rides had really long standby wait times as the day went on (Toy Story and the brand new Soaring were basically big no’s if you didn’t have a fast pass, and we didn’t want a fast pass for any of them), but we weren’t fighting our way through hoards of people on the paths or in the restaurants. It was actually pretty weird.

And whenever we did have to stand in line, it was pleasant because people in Japan are polite and orderly. It really was like being in an Utopian amusement park.

Even though we were able to ride all the rides we wanted to, this park could still easily be a 2-day park, because there is so much to see and eat. The facades were so detailed and the shops in each port of call had different merch. Also, we didn’t see any of the shows because that’s not important to us, but if we had been there for a second day, I definitely would have penciled that in because this park inspired me to care about these things!

…and then we found out where all the people were, lol. There’s a big pirate show that happens several times in the main entrance area and people seemed to just loiter there all day.  Also, it was August 1st when we were there, and that was the day when the new theme and merch came out, so I think the enthusiasts were there just for that. We walked past a lot of people who were hanging out in that area with like 8 bags of merch!

Meanwhile, all I cared about was getting my ears (the process of choosing a pair is painstaking but I went with Oswald and Chooch got Dumbo ears and then instantly had reGERTS because it was, again, 100 degrees that day and now he was essentially wearing a terry-cloth headband, good job, dingus.

Venice Vibes, Very.

Basically just an excuse to sit down.

I wanted to jump into this water so badly that day. Did I mention it was 100 degrees?

Did I mention we were also in Japan?

You think you know humidity in America, but you don’t.

LOOK AT THIS CHILDREN’S AREA!!! It was inside Ariel’s Castle and majorly air-conditioned. We definitely took our good ol’ time strolling through this piece.

And the gift shop was inside a whale!

Again, I’m not a Disneyphile but shit, I wanted to buy everything I saw.

Pompously phallic.

In all serious though, I couldn’t stop ogling the majesty of this castle. The detail was sickening!

Halfway to heatstroke.

If you looked at those tiny tiles close up, you’d find little Mickey ears, Flounders, and other assorted hidden Disney sundry.

I can’t imagine standing before this and not being totally enchanted.

One of our many “should we jump” contemplations. Also, note that Chooch is wearing his Pie Jesus friendship bracelet!

Some areas of DisneySea are under construction and from what I understand, it’s in preparation for next summer’s Olympics. Getting a bit of a face lift, I guess! Some of the coaster enthusiasts I follow on YouTube were super annoyed about this when they visited a week before us, but it didn’t take very much away from our visit. If Journey to the Center of the Earth had been outright closed, then my tune would be very different!

Henry, reapplying sunscreen.

LOOK AT THIS VIEW! Also, that water was making me hallucinate. Or was it the sun. I don’t know, but I was feeling delirious.

(Don’t worry! We stayed hydrated all day and guess what? It was easy to do so because food and beverage prices were CHEAP there! I was shocked. I mostly kept refilling an empty bottle at various water fountains, but I did get tempted several times to partake in flavored drinks because, Tokyo. There was some fizzy grapefruit sports drink that was SO REFRESHING.)

You know a park is legit when even your kid keeps stopping to take in the views. I’m a very GO-GO-GO type of person at amusement parks, but this place made me want to slow down and relax.

My kimono-thing was protecting my skin big-time, yo.

Obsessed with this tree.

The theme for August was Pirates Summer and we were there for the first day of it, so that was pretty cool! I purposely ordered a dessert at one of the restaurants just so I could get a collectible plate, so I guess I’m a Disney person now.

This fountain is iconic because it’s the first thing you see when you walk through the entrance. Also, we tried to get Henry to buy a pair of ears but he is too much of a lamer, I guess. Now no one will believe that he actually had a good time!

Some Instagram models were doing an amateur photoshoot here so then we had to do one too.

Did I ever tell you about how Chooch despises Chip and Dale because they’re so much more popular than Bambi when it comes to Disney merch and sometimes, from afar, he will think he sees something Bambi-themed only to get closer and see that it’s Chip and Dale. So when he saw this Chip, or Dale?, at DisneySea, he had a moment of rage. I wanted him to get in line for a picture but he was like Chip (or Dale?) can go fuck himself.

(Personally, I love Chip & Dale. I had one of their videos in the 80s and it was the kind that came in the giant padded case. I watched it all the time!)

The Aladdin area was so beautiful, I could have cried.

But Mermaid’s Lagoon had my heart. Those under-the-sea aesthetics really snatched me, you guys.

I wanted Chooch to make friends with all these children but he was like, “I just want to touch the water, not make power moves.”

I’m such a Disney fraud that I didn’t even know who Duffy was until I started researching this park.

SHIT YOU GUYS. JUST OMG THESE LOOKS. If DisneySea was a kpop group, then Mermaid’s Lagoon would be the visuals.

Although the Arabian area wasn’t exactly horse face, either.

DisneySea at night is a big fat mood. My heart was actually fluttering.

We stayed until the park closed and yes, we were fucking BEAT but it was worth every second we were crucified by the sun.

I’ll have one more Disney post to recap some of the rides and foods, so look forward to that, or don’t!

****

Once we were off Disney-soil, Chooch and Henry were free to argue over directions and fare machines again, so that was fun.

Sep 112019
 

Chooch, on the balcony of our guest house, in his too-big house slippers.

On Thursday morning, the first day of August, we woke up disgustingly early (5:00am) to get a head start for DisneySea. This was the ONE THING in Japan I was fully educated on. I read blogs, websites, watched YouTube reviews and vlogs until I was navigating this place in my dreams.

This was also why I was so irritable the night before though — STRESS. Going to any Disney Park can be nerve wracking because you want to be able to do all the things and have a good time without worrying about huge crowds but hello, we picked the fucking summer to do this. I can’t help it that I’m a summer birthday baby!

DisneySea still uses the old Fast Pass system, where you have to go to each ride and scan your ticket in the Fast Pass machine and hope for the best. I was STRESSED ABOUT THIS! But even more stressed about the act of actually getting to the park, which involved two transfers and theoretically would take about 45 minutes. (According to Google.)

View from the balcony. I was obsessed with the neighborhood we were staying in and sad that we didn’t have more time.

The streets were pretty quiet when we left the Green Hotel to start our Disney Journey. We stopped at the closest convenience store on the way to the subway station to grab some breakfast to take with us. Some of the tips I read said to get to the park as early as possible, up to 2 hours because the gates open, and eat your breakfast in line with everyone else. I was already accustomed to eating samgak kimbap in Korea so I grabbed the Japanese equivalent  to this – what most of the world is more familiar with: onigiri. I didn’t even pay attention to what Henry and Chooch got because it was fucking way too early in the morning and I was a miserable cry baby about that, never mind that this was my idea!

I have to give Chooch credit – he is a real take-charge kind of guy. Me? I’m more of a stand-off-to-the-side-and-let-everyone-else-do-it kind of gal. Especially when it comes to directional things.

I kept yammering on social media about how this was the only day that we had zero fights but I forgot about the early-morning subway arguments between Henry and Chooch. These two just literally cannot ever be on the same page (of the map) and then Chooch supposedly found some better way to go and Henry was like NO THAT’S WRONG and Chooch was like YOU NEVER LISTEN TO  ME and then Henry was like FINE WE WILL DO IT YOUR WAY and I was like IF YOU TWO FUCK THIS UP FOR ME, YOU BETTER RUN RUN RUN.

Basically, we took the subway from Ueno to Somewhere??? Station, saw this display of Kewpie Dolls, walked to WHATEVERVILLE STATION, per Chooch’s directions, couldn’t find it, walked around in tiny circles while looking up at the sky, saw a sign that said the name of the station we were looking for but couldn’t find the entrance, started overturning rocks to see if the entrance was under there, had a fight, drew a station entrance with chalk because maybe magic was on our side, said YES!! when an older Japanese gentleman paused and asked, “Disney?” and then pointed to the half-hidden staircase that we never would have found without his help.

Thank god for Chooch’s Mickey Mouse shirt.

(Honestly, we couldn’t believe how hard it was to find this opening!! I’m not sure if this ended up being the way Chooch suggested, or Henry’s original plan, but whoever decided this was the way to go surely fucked up.)

From that point on, it was OK. We got tickets for the train to Maihama Station and when there was a split second where we weren’t sure which way to go to find the platform, a group of excited girls in matching clothes blew past us, so we just followed them.

The train ride to Maihama was pretty quick, maybe about 15-20 minutes, and as soon as we arrived, that’s when the real mayhem began because that station was FLOODED with Disney-goers. DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland are right next to each other, so this is the main station that park visitors need to get to in order to take the Disney shuttle to either park.

I was on pins and needles at this point! The anticipation! Wondering how crowded it was going to be! And if we would fight with each other all day! If this would end up being a big let down and a wasted day!

SO MANY UNKNOWNS! Traveling is such a gamble. Especially when you throw something like this into the mix.

The shuttle ops are on point at Disney, so we didn’t have to wait very long for the next one to arrive.

Henry originally got a seat, but then gave it up to an older woman who bowed profusely at him and I wanted to tell her not to waste her bows on that dummy but, you know, they’re her bows to give, I guess.

So then Henry had to stand and hold onto the Mickey Ears for the whole whopping 5 minutes we were on the shuttle.

It was 7am by the time we made it to the entrance and there were already dozens of lines snaking out from the front of the gates. We secured a spot and got as comfortable as we could under the scalp-melting 95 degree sun, and then Chooch OF COURSE got sunscreen in his eyes and we looked like we were That American Family whose kid even cries at Disney because he’s a spoiled American, and then he kept using Henry’s shirt to wipe his eyes and Henry was like, “EXCUSE ME DON’T GET MY GENERIC MIDDLE AGED MAN POLO SHIRT DIRTY WITH YOUR SUNSCREENED TEARS, THANK YOU” and I was just staring at the time on my phone wondering how we were going to survive for two hours without causing a scene, but THEN GUESS WHAT the park actually opened at 8am, not 9am like I thought, so we only had to stand in that (actually pretty calm and orderly) crowd for an hour!

THIS IS THE FIRST THING YOU SEE WHEN YOU ENTER THE PARK! ICONIC!! I already forgot about how difficult it was to get out of bed at 5am, and the direction drama at the first subway station, and the literal scavenger hunt for the train station entrance. Because we were in DisneySea! But that tranquil moment would only last a second because our mad dash for Fast Passes started NOW and I had to focus. THERE WAS NO TIME FOR DAWDLING!!

Sep 102019
 

I made Henry drive us back to Santa Claus, Indiana for one reason and one reason only: TO RIDE THE MOTHERFUCKING VOYAHHHHHHHGE! If it was possible to take a rollercoaster to prom, I might still be pulling splinters out of my body right now.

That’s all I’m saying.

Because that’s pretty gross.

Anyway, I was so anxious when I woke up last Sunday morning. Henry was like, “Yo, calm down. This place doesn’t even open until 10:00” but I was READY. We left our shitty hotel (actually, it was pretty decent, but it was in desolate area next to a shuttered gas station and lots of empty lots where the weeds go grow wild, and it just made me feel uncomfortable) and had a very underwhelming breakfast at Subway because the only other options around there are Denny’s or gas station donuts.

We got to Holiday World around 9:20 and decided to just head on over to the entrance, where several lines had already formed. In the very front of one of the lines, we saw this tall young guy with shaggy hair and glasses who we also the day before at Kentucky Kingdom, so we knew he was one of our kind.

To our great joy, the entrance actually opened before 10 but of course we wound up being in the line with the slow-ass employee, some old man named Larry. But eventually our tickets were scanned and we were in!

However, only the main courtyard area was open, and the paths leading down to the rides were all roped off. We were standing by the roped-off entrance to the Halloween section when Chooch wondered if we should walk through the courtyard more and find the 4th of July area. He pointed to a map he had snagged earlier and showed us that it looked like it would be the faster route to THE VOYAHHHHHHGE.

“Yeah, but you probably won’t make it very far over that way,” Henry argued, never wanting to concede to any of our great ideas. “Just stay here!”

But I was with Chooch on this one so we made the trek to 4th of July world and planted ourselves in front of the roped off path over there. Our fellow coaster enthusiast was also over here so we felt confident that we chose wisely. Henry still wasn’t sold, even though Chooch kept trying to show him that the path we would have had to take by Halloween Town wasn’t as much of a straight shot as this one.

Chooch was supposed to be pointing at the VOYAHHHHHGE. Way to fuck up the picture, boy! (I just noticed that his shirt matches the sign. Unintentional, I promise.)

As the time ticked down, more and more people had accumulated behind us, but we were still at the front, right next to the rope, and evry Holiday World that moseyed on by totally faked us out like they were going to unhook the rope.

There were two teenagers standing next to me and I heard the enthusiast talking to them. “Just follow me,” he said. “I think I know where to go.” I knew for certain he was talking about the VOYAHHHHHGE and now I was really starting to tense up because I am a Leo and everything is a race that we need to win. You have no idea what a cursed life this makes. Sometimes, I just want to casually stand in line and not worry about getting the best spot, seat, first prize, etc etc. But no, my heart rate was up, I had to stress-pee, I was jogging in place and wringing my hands.

Why do I have to be this way. Even when I’m waiting for the trolley in the morning, I am like GUARDING MY SPOT IN THE FRONT like a crazy person, side-eyeing the people next to me, thinking to myself, “Yeah, bitches don’t dare cut in front of ME” while bouncing back and forth from one foot to the other.

Finally, at EXACTLY 10AM, some Holiday World guy came over to the side of the rope we were standing on and I started chanting, “DO THIS SIDE FIRST!” but he walked all the way to the left and took down the rope from that side like a real punk ass bitch.

We didn’t even wait for the rope to hit the ground—we jumped over it and FUCKING RAN like true ridiculous dumb asses. It was me and Chooch, the teenagers next to us, rollercoaster tycoon, and I dunno how many other kids.

Yes, kids.

It was all fucking kids, and…me.

But I gave no fucks! I ran like I had nothing and everything to lose at once! I ran like I had been training for this moment my whole life. I ran like a gang of chainsaw guys were chasing me through a field next to a farm at 2am in the morning on Devil’s Night and I was missing a shoe and bra and had twigs in my hair but I was NOT GOING TO TRIP AND FALL LIKE ALL THOSE FINAL GIRLS IN FRIDAY THE 13TH so I started to run like an ostrich, picking my legs up real high, kind of like how Urkel probably ran at his school’s field day, so that my feet wouldn’t trip over anything because I know my level of clumsiness and I am a pretty consistent tripper.

So now I’m running my face off, acutely aware that it’s just me and these kids, when Coaster Carl and the teenagers veered to the right.

“THAT’S THE WRONG WAY!” Chooch screamed to me over his shoulder, and in that moment, I put all my trust in him, my spawn, my coaster partner, my sometimes sworn-enemy.

And he led me to motherfucking VIC-TOR-Y.

The only other kids who had surpassed us continued to run past the VOYAHHHHHGE toward the semi-new flying coaster, Thunderbird, which was fine by us, because…………..

…..we got to be the FIRST PEOPLE IN LINE FOR THE VOYAHHHHHHHGE.

There’s a set of steps that we had to run up before getting inside the platform, and by that time, we were huffing and puffing but not any threat to blowing down the VOYAHHHHGE because our breaths were more wheezes at that point.

“Good morning, guys! You ready to ride this?!” one of the ride attendants laughed, and we were like “HNNNNNGGGGGGGHHHHHHH” while grasping our sides.

We still had some time before they were ready to send off the first train of the day, so I guarded our spot in the front while Chooch claimed the second row for Henry, who had walked a normal pace from the rope-drop area to the platform and calmly slid into the queue for the second row.

“Idiots,” he said, smirking at us. But I felt like a fucking WINNER.

Meanwhile, Loves Coasters, Can’t Read Maps had corrected his directional mistake and came barreling into the station, claiming the last row. And, after a few minutes, the queue was starting to fill up with all the normal people who don’t understand that running gets you there faster.

Eventually, the gates opened for us and we stuffed ourselves into the seats. My hands trembled as I buckled my seatbelt. That could have been blood pressure-related though.

And then, we were finally climbing that inaugural hill, and I felt #soblessed to be back there to experience this wooden miracle again. I wish I could properly convey how this coaster makes me feel, like a limp rag doll being whipped around by a derailed train careening down a mountain.

I asked Henry if he understands now, after finally riding it (HE DIDN’T RIDE IT LAST TIME, WHAT A LOSER) and he was like, “It was good” but I could tell that he just didn’t get it because he’s a n00b and I really think he’s just jealous that I imprinted on an actual roller coaster and will probably eventually be on some upcoming episode of MY STRANGE ADDICTIONS and he’s already trying to distance himself from me before the CONSUMMATION happens except this isn’t an addiction IT’S TRU LUV.

“I can’t believe I ran that fast and got to be in the front row on the first ride of the day,” I said dreamily later that day.

“I got second row, and I didn’t have to run,” Henry shrugged.

NOT THE POINT, HENRY. Running was part of the process, it elevated the experience, it MADE FOR A MEMORY. I will never forget that moment. I felt like a kid!

I love the VOYAHHHHHHHHGE so much, and thank god Chooch does too. I can’t believe we haven’t argued yet over who loves it more…

Sep 072019
 

Ever since we went to Holiday World in Indiana last summer, I have been begging Henry to take us back. He finally agreed to make the return (or, what I kept calling “the homecoming” in my head) during Labor Day weekend. Well, this got me thinking…if we were already going to Indiana, and we had a three-day weekend, why not make the most of it AND ADD KENTUCKY KINGDOM TO THE AGENDA. I mean, we have to drive right past Louisville anyway, I reasoned.

My greatest skill is the lucrative ability to wear people down until I get my way. Sometimes, all it takes is my perfectly-pulled puppydog pout. (OOOOH THAT ALLITERATION CAME SO FUCKING NATURALLY, SECOND GREATEST SKILL, BITCHES) but other times, I have to use my words wisely and manipulatively. I am almost always able to get Henry to say but I have to say that lately I think this has less to do with my queenly talents and everything to do with him being THAT BEATEN DOWN.

For any virtual coupon cutters out there, you will be as stoked as Henry was to know that Kentucky Kingdom offers a special deal for out-of-state visitors! It’s a pretty substantial discount (we got in for $29) PLUS!!! you get a wristband which enables you to get free drinks all damn day.

No, I’m not talking about once you purchase some $20 ugly ass souvenir tumbler. The wristband is all you need, and you walk up to any of the beverage stations around the park, go up to the KK person who will scan your band and give you a (PAPER!!) cup, and then you can get whatever Pepsi product or water that’s in the fountain.

As someone who doesn’t like soft drinks and often winds up dehydrated at amusement parks because even water costs $$$, this is a wonderful service and so much better than refilling a water bottle (that  already paid $5 for) at lukewarm water fountains all day. It was 90 degrees the day we were there, so thank you, Kentucky Kingdom.

(FREE SUNSCREEN STATIONS TOO, FYI!)

I know what you’re thinking though: why would you go out of your way to visit some mostly unknown park in freaking Kentucky? Well, it certainly wasn’t for the atmosphere! This park was small and (please don’t be offended if you’re reading this, KK) not very visually pleasing. I mean, it’s situated in a huge concrete slab shared with a convention center, and it’s just a really ugly area. It’s also right next to the Louisville airport, so…just lots of cement.

And if you know anything about me, you know that I hate water parks. I haven’t been to one since I was 13 and don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. But Kentucky Kingdom and their water park, Hurricane Bay, intermingle with each other, so you have to actually walk through the water park to get to certain rides. It made me uncomfortable.

So, you’re still wondering why I wanted to come here. THE COASTERS. I watch a lot of YouTube channels about theme parks and vlogs from coaster enthusiasts and every single one of them gives high praise for the coaster collection this unassuming park in Kentucky has.

Right away, we got in line for Lightning Run, a steel coaster that I have heard gets compared to Kennywood’s Phantom’s Revenge. This seemed nuts to me once I saw the coaster in person, because it’s…not big. It looks kind of lame, actually. So right off the bat, I was preparing myself for let down.

We only had to wait in line for about 20 minutes, and Chooch and I claimed the back row for our inaugural ride. Henry sat in the seat in front of us, and right away one of the ride attendants came over and told him he had to take his glasses off. Chooch and I were like, “Hahaha, he got yelled at” (he didn’t really, but we love to amplify anything that happens to him). I heard Henry say something back to the person, but then he didn’t take his glasses off.

WAS HENRY BEING DEFIANT?!

I tapped (OK, pounded) on his shoulder and asked him why he was disobeying the rules and he EVER-SO-CASUALLY said, “I have a sports strap on.”

A WHAT NOW?

A SPORTS STRAP!?

YOU MEAN A DORK STRAP?!?!

Chooch and I fucking LOST IT. Henry just shrugged and turned back around in his seat, probably reciting his mantra in his head (the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off). Why was this so funny to us?! Oh, I wished our friend Alyson was there because she probably would have thought it was funny too!

Since when does Henry have a “SPORTS STRAP”!

“I bought it before we went to King’s Island,” he muttered irritably when I pressed him about this later. “Why is it such a big deal.”

“What kind of sports do you even play?” Chooch chided, and then we started making up scenarios for which he would need to wear his sports strap, like when a military plane flies above and he has to whip his head back real fast to identify it, or when he’s visiting Cheetah Girl at Blush.

OK, enough about Henry’s dork strap. THIS COASTER SLAPPED!! Holy shit, I wasn’t expecting it be that intense, but once it went down that first drop (which was harrowing), that thing never slowed down. It was whippy and had insane air time hills. I didn’t think it was AS GOOD as Phantom’s Revenge, but it was really fantastic, unexpectedly ferocious, and completely memorable. I was actually shaking when it pulled back into the station and we couldn’t stop gushing over it as we walked through the gross water park to our next coaster, Kentucky Flyer, which was the new coaster for 2019.

I was excited about this one because it’s a Gravity Group woodie and ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASTS were so stoked about this and the reviews have been wonderful. Now, that being said, it IS billed as a “family coaster” so I did go into this with that knowledge….but I guess I was still expecting a little bit more than we got.

Even for this coaster, Henry had to go through the whole “I have a sports strap” rigmarole and I have no idea why a person couldn’t wear glasses on this particular tame coaster but I do respect and commend Kentucky Kingdom for having a policy and enforcing it every time. When I see people getting pissy because they’re told to put their phones in a bin, I get so frustrated. Why do you need your phone on a roller coaster. YOU DON’T. Leave the POV videos for the coaster experts who have permission to film these and also have safe equipment to do so. No one wants to watch your shitty, shaky videos that sound like you’re being murdered in a windtunnel.

I get so mad when there’s always that ONE PERSON who holds up the dispatch of a coaster because they didn’t put their shit in a fucking bin!!!!

YES, THIS HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES THAT DAY. And every time the person would be shocked, like, “OMG I didn’t know.” Really. Because there are signs everywhere and recordings of the rules playing in every ride platform and also EVERY ONE KNOWS?! Kentucky, you got some dumdums residing in you.

Another coaster we rode, which Henry declined to ride (“NOT BECAUSE I’M SCARED!”), was T3, a Vekoma SLC. First, the boys standing in line front of me gifted me with odoriferous ass-spritzes so that was a delight. Love smelling the farts of strangers, especially while stuck in line inside an old, musty coaster station on a 90-degree day while the air is pregnant with humidity.

Also, the Gassers were wet from a water ride, so Chooch and I got to sit in their butt-puddles afterward BECAUSE THE COASTER WAS RUNNING ONE TRAIN OPS.

I am actually terrified of coasters like this one so I screamed my stupid face off from the crest of the first hill all the way back to the break run. It was so scary…but fun…but scary!

The next coaster was the one that I most intrigued about because it’s an RMC hybrid and if you know some things about the coaster scene, you know that they’re the manufacturers of the infamous LIGHTNING ROD in Dollywood. That coaster really made me want to ride every RMC in the world (the newest one is Zadra in Poland!). RMC is also really notable for taking shitty wooden coasters and refurbishing them into something wonderful and mind-bending. In 2016, this coaster came in second for best new ride, behind Lightning Rod.  So that really speaks volumes about how cool this coaster is!

And even still—NOTHING COULD HAVE PREPARED ME FOR IT. First of all, before you go down the first hill, there is an inversion, and the hang-time had me freaking out man. The airtime was sick, the overbanks were relentless, it was fast as fuck….I loved it. I look like I’m lifting weights in every on-ride photo because I was screaming so hard!

We rode it in the back, front, middle—every seat was an excelsior experience. There was one block of time when there was NO LINE, it was a total walk-on, so Chooch and I got off and ran (and I mean RAN) down the exit and back to the entrance. The second time we did it, Henry was loafing out front and yelled at us not to run and we were like, “Yeah OK old man.” Turns out it was because he wanted to join us for that ride but we didn’t know until he came huffing and puffing his way up to the platform. He’s lucky that dispatch for this ride IS SO SLOW or else we probably would have already been on the train and leaving the station.

And when I say they’re slow, I don’t necessarily think that’s on Kentucky Kingdom as much as it the patrons who just refuse to follow instructions. Like, buckle your seat belt first and THEN pull down the lap bar like they tell you to do over and over and if you’re deaf, they got you covered with signs, man. It was absurd how many people just don’t listen.

God, we had some good times on this damn ride. My favorite time in line was when we stood behind a middle aged man wearing an Ed Sheeran concert t-shirt and Dunkin’ Donut shoes and of course he kept popping up throughout the day. Actually, he really stuck out because most of the people there were, well, you know…very Kentucky. And also looked like they didn’t need anymore free Mountain Dew.

IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

But really, we didn’t have any bad people experiences, although I did see this one mom be a total bitch to the nice kid working in Scoops.

Thunder Run was the last credit we needed to get (aside from the kid coaster, which Chooch and I rode later but Henry was like, “I don’t count credits, so…”) and hoo-boy was this one a doozy!

I love me a good woodie and this one had its moments — but shit, I heard my back crunch as soon as we went down that first hill.

Thunder Run station selfie.

Henry thought he was going to get to ride alone but a single kid scooched on into the seat next to him which made me and Chooch crack up because who would willingly want to ride with him!? Meanwhile Chooch and I were still obsessing over Henry’s sports strap. I made him show it to me and then cried, “EW!!!!” like he had just exposed himself from behind a trench coat; he was so angry and spat, “I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL.”

Literally my favorite part of the day was every time Henry got to explain to a ride attendant that he was wearing one.

HENRY WAS OVER US BY LUNCHTIME. (Kentucky Kingdom has some satisfying flatbread pizza and they put the calories on the menu which I appreciate because I’m a psycho.)

I have never seen a carousel like this! What even is that elephant?!

I liked that there were vintage advertisments going around the top.

We wished our friend Tommy was here to ride the cock, lol. Chooch sent him this picture but Tommy never responded, I GUESS IT BURNED TOO MUCH.

Sometimes you just really have to take a step back and appreciate a good carousel when you see one, you know? I thought this one was really pretty.

I can’t remember if I previously posted this, but here it is again.

One thing I was sad about was that they have a 5D theater and one of the movies they show is Happy Family, but something different was showing the day we were there! The only reason I cared was because the same 5D movie was showing when we were at Everland in Korea and I wanted to experience it in English this time, haha.

Their kiddyland was actually pretty cool and had interesting versions of classic baby rides. I loved this one!

There weren’t very many extreme flat rides but they did have one of these new takes on the classic Enterprise. We didn’t ride it, but we did ride a different flat ride called Breakdance and while we were in line, some girl in front of us was mindlessly putting something in her mouth, I didn’t see what it was, but her dad totally snapped and yelled, “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S GOING  TO  TAKE TO GET YOU TO STOP PUTTING THINGS IN  YOUR MOUTH!” so that’ll be a fun conversation to revisit when she’s older.

Then I made eye contact with her dad and it was chilling. I have a bad habit of putting my hair in my mouth when I’m concentrating and I was so afraid he was going to catch me in the act and yell at me too and look, my friend Kara has sent me articles about people having to get giant hairballs removed from their insides and that clearly hasn’t deterred me but sure, let’s try the raised voice technique.

I wish the ferris wheel was a different color scheme, but otherwise, it was still very majestic. We rode it (at the same time as Ed Sheeran Concert Guy and his family, and also a VERY CLOSE FAMILY OF FIVE who were all wearing polo shirts and touching every time we saw them; I call Mormons) and it was the first time Henry wasn’t interrogated about his glasses.

(Guys, no phones allowed on the ferris wheel either. It’s apparently state law that you can’t have phones on any amusement park ride and perhaps other states should consider this as well.)

When we first arrived at Kentucky Kingdom, country music was playing and I was bracing myself for a nauseating day. But the park actually played a good mix of tunes! Like when we were taking a break with some free drinks after giving Kentucky Flyer another shot (it was decent, and that’s my final opinion), Catch Me I’m Falling started playing in the water park and I was so excited!

HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS VIDEO!?!??!!??!!?!?!? The people jumping off the ladders make me nervous though. If Point of No Return had come on after this, I probably would have had to leave and find the nearest roller rink because parts of me were AWAKENING.

“We can’t move from this spot until this song is over,” I declared, not that Chooch and Henry had any objections — it was one of the only rests we had all day!

Can we all agree that 80s pop/new wave is the only music that should ever be played at amusement parks?

OK, I’m just going to put this out here—for as incredible of a coaster Storm Chaser is, I think Lightning Run was my favorite. It just made me crack up so hard and it gave me the epitome of rollercoaster stomach. Do NOT judge this coaster by its looks! Just like you shouldn’t judge the park in general by its looks, either! This is a real gem.

Chooch spotted a stand for frozen lemonade while we were on the kid coaster and then became obsessed with wanting one, but then he couldn’t find it later so while we were in (the hardly moving) line for the rapids ride, he sent Henry off on a mission to procure one for him, but then we saw an empty-handed (but still man purse-clad) Henry afterward who said it was SUPPOSEDLY closed, which was probably for the best because it would have been melted since it took us an hour to ride that damn rapids ride, I’m not even kidding, it was the only long line we stood in all day but it didn’t seem like it was long…UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. The operations for this ride were so hideous. I have never in my life wasted so much time on a water ride HOWEVER!!! We got seated with some decent people after dodging a bullet and just barely escaping getting matched up with the family of 6 in front of us. THEY WERE A HOT MESS. One of them was wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt and I can’t explain why he made me feel uncomfortable but he did, and then the mom and her boyfriend (I assume this was his role, I didn’t get the impression he was the dad) were so PDA that I couldn’t stand it and one of the adult sons was missing half his face. I felt really horrible for him and kept internally freaking out every time he’d turn around and look at me with his one eye because my empathy is the kind where my whole body will start to physically hurt when I see or even just hear about some type of malady.

Anyway, our raft was pleasant and I will say this —  this rapids ride was PRETTY EFFING GOOD. Unlike at Kennywood where there’s nothing to look at it, just fake rocks, this one actually had you going inside buildings and it was kind of penguin-themed, I think? It was entertaining!

We did eventually find the stand later on too so Henry was able to prove that it really was closed.

Chooch whined about wanting to play Criss Cross Toss all day long so we finally gave him money for it on the way out and he lost and then blamed Henry for not being “encouraging” and really this is kind of true. Good job, dad.

Verdict: If you’re a coaster enthusiast, get your ass to this park. I’m not sure how it typically is, but we were there on a Saturday during Labor Day weekend and aside from T3 and that rapids ride, nearly everything was walk-on. Plus, that out-of-state ticket deal is pretty damn sweet. I definitely plan on returning to this place sometime in the future! (Probably not next summer though — Kentucky is weird and driving through Cincinnati gives me the dry-heaves.)

And you know what? I think this may have been  the most Henry has ever ridden at a non-Disney park?! He seemed like he really had a nice time, too. Maybe he has a sports strap fetish.

As we drove out of the parking lot that night, I noticed that bruises had already formed around my elbows from Storm Chaser, haha. My bruise count would definitely go up the next day…

Sep 052019
 

Real talk here for a minute: I need a break from furiously trying to recap my summer for posterity so I am going to regale this quiet corner of the Internet with some photos of us riding some of the rides at Kentucky Kindgom, because I think they’re kind of adorable and they’re the best kinds of family photos we ever manage to take.

I guess because amusement parks are where we fight the least!

(Note that I said “the least” and not “never.” There was definitely still bickering at Kentucky Kingdom, but it was minimal!)

I especially love getting a group selfie on carousels. Maybe if I find the motivation to get off my ass this December, I’ll make this into our Christmas card, YOU NEVER KNOW.

This was our first time at this park, and I will always hold it close to my heart now because Henry actually rode every coaster but one, and even did RE-RIDES which he barely ever does! LOOK AT HOW STOKED HE LOOKS HERE ON STORM CHASER! I posted this on Instagram and it got more likes than the picture of me and G-Dragon’s dad, which I’m not salty about at all OK I AM. Get your priorities straight, IG friends!

And then this one, from Thunder Run, which we all rode just once because it was a back-breaker. Henry’s partner, though — was he even actually riding this ride?

Wow, Henry was clearly having an alright day!

I actually got in a fight with Henry after getting off this ride because he didn’t get the ENTIRE ZEPPELIN IN THE PICTURE, WTF IS YOUR MALFUNCTION, HENRY???! So then we didn’t talk for like 10 minutes because I called him a stupid idiot and he really showed us by sitting out the next ride on Lightning Run.

“I’ll take another picture later!” Henry barked after I tossed him my signature weener-withering glare, and I yelled back, “NO YOU WON’T BECAUSE I’M NOT RIDING THAT THING AGAIN, IT ALMOST MADE ME THROW UP!” and then we all started laughing and were back to being a functioning dysfunctional family. Aw.

Chooch and me, getting our coaster cred on the little kid coaster. That’s us in the back but Henry the Amateur Photog fucked up this picture too.

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN! I fucking loved this ride, it was so cute and totally suited my aesthetic.

I WONDER WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT. J/K we were ragging on Henry.

I look like I’m smiling here but I remember this moment and I was definitely scowling at Henry.

And here we are, being a cute mom and son duo on the Breakdancer, which is the type of flatride that Kennywood desperately needs! I love these types of rides even though they can quickly put me out of commission if the wind blows the wrong way, I swear to god. But I tempt the fates every time!

So these are some pictures just from Kentucky Kingdom. We also went to my beloved Holiday World over the weekend so I have lots of reporting back to do here soon because recapping amusement parks is what I live for! I hope turning old doesn’t stop me from enjoying the rides any time soon. :(

Sep 022019
 

The rain held off for the rest of the day, so we were able to enjoy the outdoor portion of Lotte World, too! First, we had to get the obligatory Instagram shot.

This park is so ADORABLE.

The outdoor portion didn’t seem like it was all that crowded—because everyone was already camping out in the outrageous lines. (Note to self: go back to this park in the spring time when all the kids are in school!)

Look, I know it’s no Cinderella’s Castle, but this castle is iconic in Korea and it was so cool to see it in real life!

During our outdoor jaunt, we at lunch at this place called School Food, where Chooch had cheesy ramen and I had tteokbokki and mandu — not something I would ever think I’d eat at an amusement park! Henry was all, “I DON’T WANT TO EAT ANYTHING HERE” but then he ended up eating our leftovers, so….

Henry’s favorite moments are when he’s able to wander of without off, like here, where he had a minute to stare sadly at a lake before we summoned him back to us and began firing off more demands.

We found this little house with candy stuck to it and I yelled, “IS THIS A RIDE?!!?” and I mean, people were standing in a line next to it, so that was enough confirmation for me.

“What even is this?” Henry asked, and I just shrugged. Who cares?! It was a house with candy stuck to it!

Candy roof-nipples!

Henry was like, “There are lots of little kids standing in this line” and I guess he was insinuating it was a KIDS RIDE but since when has that stopped me? Because of that though, he was like, “I’ll just see myself out of here,” and went and stood alone like the predator we all know him to be.

But you guys! Once we were let inside the doorway, we had to TAKE AN ESCALATOR down to another floor and I was like, “Whhhaaaat is this going to be?” OH I’LL TELL YOU WHAT IT WAS! It was a dark ride! Like It’s a Small World but with candy and clowns and a dragon and singing flowers and and and…

…we had to sit in a train and enter the ride through a clown’s mouth!!!

This was my favorite ride at Lotte World! I told my friend Jiyong about it after I came back to Pittsburgh and she literally had no idea what ride I was talking about and then, after she looked it up on her phone, said, “Oh, because it’s a childrens ride.”

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY, JIYONG??

I sent this to coulrophobic Wendy and she was like, “Wow, it’s nice to know you still torture your friends while on the other side of the world.”

You’re welcome, Wendy. I do my best!

Immediately after, I decided I wanted to ride this outside coaster called Atlantis. The line was relatively long, but I conned Chooch into getting standing in it by reminding him that we may never be in Korea again and YOLO, whatever. He is absolutely spoiled when it comes to going to non-crowded amusement parks because we had a super longstreak where we just timed our trips right and wound up at parks on super light attendance days where we just walk right on rides. Well, guess what pal? This is what it’s like in the real world, so suck it up.

Right when we got in line, Chooch noticed a Gongcha, which is a super popular chain of Taiwen boba tea, so he sent Henry over to get him one. We watched Henry standing there in line and didn’t think anything of it, but then the next thing we knew, Henry had rejoined us…EMPTY-HANDED.

“Where’s my Gongcha?!” Chooch shrieked.

“The line was too long,” Henry replied calmly, because our histrionics don’t faze him at all anymore. “I’ll go see what else I can find you,” and he strode away.

And then we we were without Wifi for a REALLY LONG TIME because he had the wifi thingie in his man-purse and was probably making his food-stand rounds instead of procuring Chooch a boba tea…

…which he proved when he came back 45 minutes later with a Smoothie King smoothie, which sent Chooch over the edge.

Still in line! I think I took this picture at the point where it said we had 80 minutes left.

That sign LIED.

I mean, it sucked standing in line for so long, but since it was Korea, we actually had really decent, inoffensive people in line around with us, like the group of high school boys in front of us who were SO COOL and I wanted to be a part of their crew in the worst way. I don’t care how creepy it makes me, I had so much fun standing there and listening to them talk, and I even understood a little!

“That one right there is the leader,” I whispered to Henry one of the times he came back to “visit.” Chooch just rolled his eyes because he was so annoyed at everything by now.

There was also a young couple behind us, they weren’t Korean; it sounded like they were speaking in Thai, maybe? I’m not sure! But they also spoke English and I know this because the girl part of the couple was super concerned when she spotted a bug in my hair and was sweet enough to alert me about it, and then they both assisted in helping me get it out. It was so kind! Chooch and I agreed later on that this probably wouldn’t have happened in America.

“Yeah, people would have just made fun of me about it behind my back,” I sighed.

Chooch was using the faux rock wall to hold himself up. It’s amazing how tired standing in line can make you.

When we eventually got to the platform-part of the queue, we got to skip to the front because the ride attendants were looking for two people to fill one of the cars — and it was the front row!

I thought the coaster was worth the wait – it was pretty thrilling and had some indoor elements too which I like! And I know enough Korean to know that the girls behind us were shrieking, “WE’RE GOING TO DIE” lol.

Chooch was just like, “IT WAS GOOD BUT WE WAITED IN LINE FOR LIKE 2 HOURS” and then pretty much complained about that for the remainder of our trip.

We ventured back inside after that and it was definitely more crowded now. I don’t think any of the rides had a wait time that was less than 180 minutes by now….

…except for the haunted house!

We had to pay extra for it but whatever – the wait was only about 15 minutes.

Spoiler: we escaped. It was your typical country fair-level haunt, and I think only two actual scare actors were inside. One was super laissez faire with their role, and the other kind of got into it, but the scariest thing for me was the fact that I was creeping around a dark haunted house with only one contact in.

Then as we were walking, a parade ended and everyone turned around and walked right toward us, like a literal Korean Wave, and I got caught in the undertow.

“10 million people in Seoul and a million of them are here right now,” Henry said after we swam to shore. It was overwhelming! But not as scary as it would have been if this happened in like, NYC or something. No one really pushes or shoves in Seoul, for what it’s worth.

We got some ice cream and were just about ready to punch out for the day when I noticed an entire kiddie section that we had missed earlier and I became obsessed with riding this dumb fish ride. Even this had about a 30 minute wait (I have never waited this long for a freaking kids attraction before!) but again, standing in line for rides in Korea is not as excruciating as it in America.

The whole time we were in line, Chooch kept saying, ‘We have to get the puffer fish!” and I was like, “Sure whatever,” but then when it was our turn, the ride attendant came over and said, “Oh no, you can ride by yourself,” to Chooch, because the front seat on the fish are smaller and meant for little kids, so Chooch was SO PISSED because now he had to ride in a different fish while I got to stay in the puffer fish, and not only that, but we were THE ONLY PEOPLE RIDING ALONE WITHOUT SMALL CHILDREN and it was so uncomfortable but oh well, YOLO remember.

Jackass Henry took pictures with his crappy phone but you can tell that Chooch is super sulky here, haha.

We picked up some stuff in the gift shop and then decided to peace out. It was 7pm at that point and the lines weren’t getting any shorter…

Chooch was soooooo cranky, but THANK GOD he got a seat on the subway. Trolling for seats is his specialty.

…so we left, rode the subway 20+ stops back to Hongdae, dropped our stuff off, and then headed back out to Dongdaemun/Jongno for some late night food and giddiness.

Overall, this was a great pre-birthday celebration. I love amusement parks so much and couldn’t imagine a Korean vacation without including one!

****

PRO TIP: If you ever go to Seoul and want to visit Lotte World, they have huge discounts for foreigners! We got ours through Trazy.com, but there are a number of websites that offer comparable deals, so don’t go to the gate and pay full price! 

Aug 292019
 

Every time I hear “Lotte World,” I imagine Pee Wee yelling, “SCREAM REAL LOUD!!!” and then in my head, I scream real loud because anytime I do that out loud, people think I’m either IN trouble or that I AM trouble and let’s be real, either one of those could be true at any given time.

Let me back up a minute. Lotte World is not only considered Korea’s Disneyland, but it also just happens to be the largest indoor amusement park IN THE WORLD.

THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!

It also has an outdoor section, too!

Originally, I planned to go here on my actual birthday, but then  that turned out to be the day of the kpop show, so Lotte World birthday pre-gaming it was!

But first — idol sandwich for breakfast!

And Henry had his basic red bean bun.

Then Chooch and I had to go and get our daily elevator selfie and also a picture of the view of Hongdae.

I have this Instax taped to my monitor at work and I blow it a kiss every now and then OK FINE IT’S THE TAEMIN BACKGROUN ON MY COMPUTER THAT I’M BLOWING A KISS TO, GODDAMMIT.

I dunno, I just thought this broom was nice-looking.

We had to take the subway out to Jamsil, and this was the first time we made it out to this area, which is nuts because it’s where the famous Lotte World Tower is and that’s like a total tourist destination. Imagine my surprised when we were walking through the subway station and stumbled upon this “little” slice of Italy! Yeah, just chilling underground, you guys, this luxurious fountain.

No big deal.

Then we emerged from the subway like mole people and this humongous phallic symbol of Seoul was thrusting its shiny tip into the heavens right before us. There’s an observation deck up there but…heights.

And then there it was—Lotte World!

Oh, also in case you didn’t know, Lotte is a HUGE corporation in Korea. They have luxury hotels, department stores, food (Choco Pies!)—don’t fuck with Lotte, is all I’m saying. You might end up at the bottom of the Han River with a cinder block tied to your ankle.

Chooch said he didn’t agree to this pose but I was like IT’S THE DAY BEFORE MY BIRTHDAY JUST DO IT.

We had to go into some special foreigner office to get our discounted tickets and then Chooch was like, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU” because I kept trying to hand my ticket to a Lotte World worker at the ticket turnstile to have them scan it but it turned out IT WAS A KID, LIKE A YOUNGGGGG KID who was just standing there waiting for his family and I felt like such a stoop but look—I was still just wearing the one contact, OK?

I will milk that excuse for all it’s worth, you betcha.

Anyway, look how fancy the lobby area was!

Family portrait. We *mostly* got along all day. *Mostly.* There were moments, though.

Then suddenly—BAM. We were inside Lotte World and it was staggering. Also, it was already pretty crowded even though it was only 9:30AM and had just barely opened. But look at that layered cake of amusement!

One thing I wasn’t stoked about was the pirate ship. I just generally dislike them lately because they make me literally feel seasick, and for some reason, seeing this gigantic one INSIDE made me feel so terrified.

Luckily, the line for it was ridiculously long all day so Chooch never even once entertained the idea of riding it.

We did ride Sinbad though! Lotte World has so many cool dark rides! Granted, we had no idea what was being said during the ride, but they were fucking fun! IT WAS A BOAT RIDE!!!

When we were standing in line for it, Henry murmured, “I wish we had a washing machine in the bathroom at home…” because he was OBSESSED with washing clothes every night in our guest house bathroom.

The Thoughts Henry Has.

We thought we were going to have the front row but then dumb fast pass people showed up and stole it from us, story of our lives.

(We were just bitter because Henry is too cheap to get us fast passes.)

30th anniversary, apparently!

Lotte World was so massive inside that it was hard to understand just how to get from one place to the next. It took us a stupidly long time to find the line for French Revolution and that had nothing to do with being foreigners — the signs were in English! There were just so many nooks and crannies like Thomas left the English Muffin factory to give amusement park designing a go. Random staircases were nearly hidden in the dimly lit hallways and we never did figure out how to get to the 4th floor until the end of the day. It was nuts and I already can’t wait to go back during the off season to really explore that motherfucker!

OMG for some reason, I really latched on to the rapids ride they have there. I mean, first of all, it’s indoors and that made it seem so much scarier! We rode it with some lady and her two kids who did not seem happy to be on it probably because the mom kept making them smile for pictures.

Even Henry rode it with us! And then he would tap out, having ridden two whole rides first thing in the morning. He spent the rest of the day people-watching while Chooch and I aged exponentially in lines.

Like when we were standing in line for what we thought was the French Revolution, because we were literally standing right next to part of it. It was about an hour long wait, I would say, but it went fast because so much was happening around us. First, there was a young elementary school and his sister in front of us, and he was happy to get to practice his English on us. HE WAS SO FUCKING CUTE. I have spent my entire blogging career (lol) bitching about how much I hate children, but Korean children are the exception. They were just wonderful and adorable and I made the mistake of telling Chooch once on the subway that I love listening to them talk and he congratulated me for being a predator but WHATEVER CHOOCH YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS THAT I LIKE KOREAN KIDS BETTER THAN YOU.

Then this kid starts talking to us about the French Revolution and how scary it is, etc and I was like, “Wow, what a brave kid, standing in line for this roller coaster even though he’s clearly terrified of it.” But then he and his sister decided that the wait was too long so they said bye and peaced out. Now there were new people in front of us, and one of them spent THE ENTIRE TIME taking selfies of herself so I had to keep ducking and turning my head or else I’d have ugged-up some nice Korean girl’s selfie bigtime.

MEANWHILE, there was live entertainment below us. Lotte’s house band was down there playing Baby Shark and Chooch demanded that Henry go to the source and record it for Calvin who, like all 2-year-olds and probably some weird adults, loves Baby Shark.

I looked over the railing after a minute or two and thought for sure I saw Henry but it turned out to be some pot-bellied ahjussi, so Chooch and I were nearly peeing our pants over this but then a minute later, I looked again…

AND HENRY WAS STANDING NEXT TO HIM!!!

OMG.

Then I was like, “WHY IS HIS HAIRLINE SO WIDE?!?!” and we were cracking up over it so I airdropped the picture to Chooch and he airdropped this one back to me:

And to top it all off, Chooch does the best impression of Henry which makes Henry look like a barbarian, and Chooch does this grunting thing that sounds like Paul Eugene and I swear that Henry doesn’t actually grunt when he walks, but it is SO FUCKING FUNNY TO ME that I had to beg Chooch to stop because I was seriously coming super close to peeing my pants and people in line around us were probably SO ANNOYED at the obnoxious Americans but I couldn’t help it—making fun of Henry is Chooch’s and my best hobby.

Oh, my stomach hurt badly from laughing.

Then Henry came back up to the line after we had moved forward considerably and Chooch stopped laughing and barked, “WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU. DID YOU GET A RECORDING OF BABY SHARK” because he’s more of a nagging wife than I am, and Henry calmly said that no, he didn’t, because the band had already moved on to the next song by the time he managed to weave through the labyrinthine hallways to find the steps and he excitedly told us that the foreign girls dancing in the performance were scantily-clad in bikinis while the Korean girl dancers were wearing really nice and respectable dresses.

If Henry kept a diary, this would have been the only thing he wrote that day.

After standing in the extended queue for about 45 minutes, we were finally ushered into the entrance of the ride, where of course there was more standing but at least we were inside the main queue now, which was dark and made to look like a cave, so of course I tripped–HARD–and again I loudly reminded those around me that I was only wearing one contact.

Just the one.

In one eyeball.

When I have two eyes.

And then my favorite thing ever happened! WE GOT TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE AND I SAW THE RIDE VEHICLE.

IT WAS NOT A COASTER.

IT WAS A SAFARI JEEP THING.

WE HAD BEEN STANDING IN LINE FOR THE WRONG RIDE THAT WHOLE TIME!!

This ended up being some type of Indiana Jones-like ride called Pharaoh’s Fury and it was actually a lot of fun but my feelings were all wacked out because I spent an hour thinking I was going on some crazy-ass coasters with a bunch of inversions, but oh well. Lotte World had other plans for me.

SERIOUSLY I NEED TO STUDY THE LAYOUT OF THIS PARK NEXT TIME.

As the day went on, the line for French Revolution kept getting longer and longer until it was eventually like 250 minutes so, no French Revolution for me.

Stay tuned for the second half of our Lotte World adventures!

Aug 272019
 

Hello it’s me, here I am, back with some more Kennywood bullshit in bullet-form, because Chooch and I did, in fact, do other things besides ride the Steel Curtain.

  • ONE TRAIN OPS: OK, so maybe not all of the coasters were actually just running one train, but the operations were still TURRIBLE. Just straight up TURR-HUH-BULL. I don’t know if I just never really noticed but I was hyper aware of it on this day, which wasn’t crowded by any means but the sloooooooow asssssssss dispatchhhhhhhhhes made it feel insufferable at times. The worst, hands down, was the fucking Aero360, which I have actually complained about in the past but it felt even worse this time around. First of all, they were TRAINING SOMEONE and look, I want this kid to really learn his job and make sure the green light is on behind everyone’s seat (I just learned that along with him) but holy fucking deep-fried crucified Christ, it took a good 5 minutes AT LEAST to check everyone’s restraints and in the meantime, the SIZZLING HOT BLACK RESTRAINT that was stapling me into my seat was ALSO burning the bare flesh on the top of my thighs because I was wearing shorts and that fucking thing automatically slammed down into my legs before I had a chance to adjust myself and I was SQUEALING like a pig being barbequed alive which is probably a weird thing for a veg-person to write on her blog, and I considered deleting it but thought nah, that’s a waste of time so instead I’ll just type a bunch more words about it?! But yeah, fuck the Aero360. This ride used to be bae, but now I have officially slid it over into my “skippable” list.
  • KAREN: We kept seeing this Bitch Mom in every line and I was like, “What if that was the kind of mom I was?” and Chooch was like, “A MOM WITH KAREN HAIR? NO THANKS” and we were laughing at her because she had her weird “pretending like I just came here from a jog” racer-back athletic tank on and shorts of a modest length, but she was also pulling around a goddamn carry-on luggage with her everywhere, just kidding, it was some sort of huge insulated cooler that was in everyone’s way in every line. She was the worst. Her kids looked like dicks too.

  • Raging Rapids Mom: Speaking of moms, we were on the Raging Rapids with a mom and her daughter who looked like Dustin from Stranger Things but a girl and they were actually not too bad to ride with as far as strangers go but afterward, Chooch took it too far and said that he could see me being friends with her and I was like, “CHOOCH SHE WAS A MOTHER” and he was like, “Oh yeah, never mind.” In other Raging Rapids news, that piece of shot Thomas Town that debuted last year completely ruined that area and now it feels disorienting – I’m not sure if the line for the rapids was actually relocated or if it’s just more exposed now but it definitely doesn’t feel right and I hate it. I fucking hate it.

  • Phantom’s Revenge is still my #1 in case you were wondering. Our first time standing in line seemed to take forever but it was because it was ONE TRAIN OPS but then they brought on the second train while we were standing in line and everyone was like WHY ARE THEY SENDING THAT ONE WITH NO ONE ON IT?!?! because they’re fucking n00bs who don’t watch coaster videos every single day after work while eating dinner like I do. My life is fucking fabulous.
    • During our first time in line, we saw a kid puking over the side of the platform after he got off the ride, so that was fun. Also, I saw two ride operators that I recognized from last year and Chooch was like, “You’re a stalker” but HOW CAN YOU NOT REMEMBER JAKE??!!? Anyway, poor Jake had to clean up the puke and then we never saw him again after that so maybe they let him go home early.

  • Golden Nugget: I feel blessed to report that while the ride operations were questionable on this day (except for the Racer — that kid running dispatch was a real MVP and didn’t miss a beat while he was counting riders to quickly respond with “in the closet” when some little boy asked him where he got his yard stick) the young’uns slinging those famous square ice cream cones over at Golden Nugget were friendly and actually gave a shit about how the cones looked. Total redemption from last year’s sour experience! If you ever come to Kennywood, ya GOTTA get one of these, you guys. YOU JUST GOTTA.

  • That Guy Chooch: In line for the Jack Rabbit, some little boy said to his dad, “Look at that guy behind you” and nodded at Chooch, which made me crack up because he’s only 13 and some kid is referring to him as a guy. Anyway, it turned out that this was all because of Chooch’s corgi phone case and he was momentarily smug because finally someone was noticing his accessories, but then the little boy’s sister said, “LOOK AT HERS, IT’S A CACTUS” about my phone case so hahahaha. Also, one of the times we were in line for the Steel Curtain, I made eye contact with some lady and she cried, “WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT YOUR TATTOO” and then she started showing me pictures of her cat on her phone and Chooch was like, “Ugh” – he hates when people notice me.

  • Kennywood’s Got Jams: One thing that I feel like I never mention after a jaunt to K-wood (OMG I wish that meant Koreawood, wah) is that they play the fucking best music. I’m talking shit from the 60s thru 80s. We heard Duran Duran, Whitney Houston (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” which is peak W.Houston, fight me, no don’t—I just did strength training and my muscles are all flubbery right now), Modern English and other things that I forget now because I rode Steel Curtain three times and felt like a football player the next day, i.e. concussion-y. The most recent songs we heard were TWO BRITNEY SPEARS SONGS on the Music Express and I was THERE FOR IT. It was back-to-back “Toxic” and “Womanizer.” I was so happy.

  • Music Express Observations: Maybe I was just oblivious for the first three decades of my life, but I don’t recall ever hearing so many warnings being blasted on the Music Express. When we were at Waldameer in May, they actually stopped the ride early because no one was listening when the ride operator kept yelling, “DO NOT HOLD ONTO THE SIDE BARS” and the same thing happened this time at Kennywood; in fact, it even happened while we were waiting too. I don’t remember anyone ever forbidding me to hold on to the side bars before and I have ridden my fair share, probably more than my fair share, so now I’m wondering: DID SOMETHING HAPPEN!!?? All I know is that I was so mindful of ONLY HOLDING ONTO THE BAR IN FRONT OF ME on this day because I hate being yelled and also didn’t want to die in a freak Music Express accident but mostly I hate being yelled at.

  • BONER JAMZ: We were in line for the Exterminator, which is a totally fun indoor coaster with a total NOT fun indoor queue that gets so hot, stinky, and LOUD when suddenly, someone airdropped Chooch a picture that he knew was going to be a mistake to accept, and I was like, “Don’t do—-” but it was too late, he accepted because he’s 13 and lacks the strength it takes to Just Say No to dick pics. This was actually just the smiley face emoji—-but you, know with a dick in its mouth. Then they airdropped me too but I was like, “Not today, Dick Pic Satan.” Chooch LOVES being airdropped by strangers and gets great joy sending pictures back, so he was searching his camera poll for this one particular picture he took in Pocheon, Korea of a giant weener, when he was gifted with another airdrop by this generous Airdrop Santa, whose name was Boner Jamz. So he’s giggling and trying to find a picture to send back when I notice that there’s a group of people in the queue next to us and one of them has also been getting these airdrop gifts, however, this recipient IS NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. So his girlfriend happens to look over and sees Chooch getting ready to airdrop a picture and she nudges her boyfriend, who sees what Chooch is doing and gets this FURIOUS look on his face. Chooch is still giggling, unaware that he’s about to get his ass whopped by this guy who thinks he’s Boner Jamz, so I knew I had to intervene. “It’s not him!” I shouted, and I held up my phone to show the most recent picture from Boner Jamz that I had yet to accept or decline. “We’re getting them too. He’s just trying to send one back.” “WHO IS IT!?” the guy yelled and I was like, “Bro calm down. I don’t know.” Like, it really wasn’t the end of the world. There’s someone who tries to airdrop me the same picture on the trolley at least once a week, the picture is some hairy, naked middle-aged man holding up his arms to expose his pits. I just simply decline and move on with my life. Meanwhile, Chooch was upset because Boner Jamz went private so Chooch was unable to send him a picture of a stone weener and a zoomed-in picture of Henry’s face. In any case, it made standing in line a little less boring.

  • The Cult: For our very last ride of the night, we obviously chose the Phantom. You guys, we are totally back-row babies on most coasters, but when it comes to night rides on the Phantom, it is front row all the goddamn way. We got so lucky too because the ride operator made the last two people in line behind us move to different rows because we were going to be THE LAST RIDE OF THE NIGHT. WOOOO! But that’s neither here nor there, whatever that means. The whole point of this bullet is that I witnessed what I believe to be an actual religious cult target two teenagers in line in front of us. I’m not sure how it started, but the teenagers were probably 16 or 17 and one of them was a girl wearing a furry tail. The cult was a trio of men: one was in his 50s and the other two were maybe between the ages of 19 and 24. I wasn’t really paying attention at first but then I suddenly snapped to attention when I heard actual praying happening and I looked over just in time to catch the tail-end of a PRAYER CIRCLE. They were all holding hands with their eyes closed and at first I thought they were praying for a safe ride or something but no, they were praying for the girl with the furry-tail I think, and then they were all exchanging their contact info and one of the younger guys, to me, said, “This is a strange request but do you have a pen?” and first, I didn’t think that was really strange because I assumed he wanted it so they could write down phone numbers because maybe their religion doesn’t allow them to have cell phones but now that I think about it, maybe it was for some kind of blood-letting initiation challenge. In ether case, I did not have a pen. Now I couldn’t stop eavesdropping into their conversation (the cult is from West Virginia and they were asking the Lord to help Furry Tail do well in school this year) and it was creeping me out so bad because the leader was SUCH A STEREOTYPICAL CULT-TYPE CREEP you guys. Like, he was oozing predatory signals and vibes from every pore and he was throwing out this phony avuncular charisma that made me gag. They were all wearing matching Church-y shirts too. I forget what it said now. Something about redemption. I hated them so bad.

So that’s about it for our annual trip to Kennywood. It was just Chooch and me so we didn’t have Henry around to use as a whipping boy which meant that we occasionally turned on each other, but we always made up right away and then moved on to the next ride. Eventually, he’s going to be too old/cool to go to Kennywood with his MOMMY so I have to really savor these trips and try not to get too bratty but it’s hard when I’m basically the same age as him, attitudinally-speaking.

Aug 242019
 

I came pretty close to eschewing our traditional end of summer trip to Kennywood this year because we have two amusement parks we’re doing during Labor Day weekend, but the coaster enthusiast in me was all “hold up, wait a minute—you’re seriously going to wait until next year to ride the brand new Steel Curtain?”

It was less of a desire to ride it but more of not wanting to have FOMO by not riding it in its debut season.

My issue with this new ride is that it just didn’t look that great in any of the POVs I watched but mostly – it’s themed to the STEELERS. YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I HATE NOT ONLY FOOTBALL BUT THE STEELERS SPECIFICALLY.

It is literally one of the worst things about living in Pittsburgh, having to rub elbows with those insufferable Yinzer Steelers fans, do not even get me started.

Anyway, I took the day off on Tuesday, the last operating weekday of the season, but Henry was like “LOL nah I’m good.” So it was just Chooch and me, the Diabolical Duo, the Pathetic Pair, the Terrible Twosome, the…you get the idea.

The downside to this is that we didn’t have anyone to make fun of/boss around all day/take our pictures on rides/get our food/drive us there & back/hold our bags.

Henry, you useful motherfucker, you.

So,  not only is the new coaster themed after the Steelers, but there is an entire new section of the park dedicated to those meatheads, called Steelers Country. I hate this so much.

Also, the new ride is called Steel Curtain and that’s dumb. I don’t even know what that means aside from something footbally.

But I digress.

Chooch and I got to the park right before the gates opened and then had the same idea as most everyone else and ran toward the entrance of the Steel Curtain. My first thoughts:

HOLY SHIT, WHAT AN EYESORE.

I mean, I already knew that it was because I had seen pictures, but being inside the park and seeing it for myself was really jarring. Kennywood’s landscape as we know it is totally changed, you guys. It looks like something I would have tried to design in Roller Coaster Tycoon, but then it would end up being unrideable because I never had any idea what I was doing.

OK, let’s move on from the aesthetics, because we all know what the most important thing: is this ride good or naw? Well, it took us about 90 minutes to get on the thing, because the ride wasn’t running yet for the first 30 minutes we were waiting, and then we wanted front row, so that took a bit longer, and while we were standing in the queue for the front row was when I realized that the damn thing plays Renegade every time a train goes up the lift hill.

That has to get super old for the ride operators.

Anyway, Henry  told me later that this is because that’s the song that’s played at Steelers games and OMG IS HENRY WATCHING FOOTBALL BEHIND MY BACK!?

Even though they were running two trains, the operations were sooooo bad. The dispatching was dreadful and the next train doesn’t start up the lift hill until the previous train comes back so two train ops doesn’t make to much of a difference.

Now, I’m only partially a coaster nerd so I’m not sure if there is a legit mechanical reason why the dispatch is so abysmal, but it seems weird because this is 2019 and you would think the ride would have been designed to run more efficiently.

OK, minor gripes aside: THIS RIDE SLAPS (I watch a lot of Coaster Idiots on YouTube). My expectations were pretty low, I’m not going to lie, but mostly because I’m so jaded when it comes to the Steelers, but this ride blew me away, almost literally. I didn’t think it looked very tall until we were inching up the lift hill (and I do mean inching — that lift hill was slow AF) nearly on our backs, staring straight up into the sky. And if you’re in the right seat, you got a killer view of the river which is creepy to me but if you’re into those filthy industrial vibes of the Mon, then sit on the right side and lap it up, baby.

Nothing could have prepared me for this ride. I had watched a bunch of videos and review online but being on it, holy shit—it is way faster than it appears, the inversions (a North American record of 9!) are relentless, and there is even a pretty decent airtime hill that really surprised me and actually might be my favorite part?!

I was fucking SHOOK by the time the train entered the brake run. Chooch and I just looked at each other and yelled, “OH MY GOD” in tandem. I guess I was expecting the second half of the track to be a bit boring, kind of like one of their other coasters, Sky Rocket, which runs through all of its tricks and elements right out of the gate and then just kind of goes through the motions for the last half, like it’s taking you on a Sunday joyride.

But Steel Curtain…it’s in it to win it.

My only legit gripe, aside from the theming, is that the lift hill IS SO GODDAMN LOUD.

And the queue line is DIRECTLY BENEATH IT.

I actually had a headache by the time we made it through the line the second time (we rode in the last seat, and the rest of the train was completely filled with blue-shirted Pitt band members so we totally ruined their picture; sorry Pitt band!).

I don’t know if the general public at Kennywood know how much of a big deal this ride is worldwide, but all the coaster vlogs I watch have been FREAKING OUT about it. One of them is from the UK and actually planned a US road trip last June with the intention of coming to Kennywood and riding it, but it wasn’t open yet when he was here. Still, he LOVED Kennywood and it made me feel so proud to watch his review of it! Kennywood is such a great mid-sized park.

I think Henry was expecting a sour review from me but I was blowing up his phone with accolades and super bold statements. I mean, I was even able to overlook the FOOTBALL-SHAPED seats and safety instructions as told by Steelers announcers (I didn’t know that until I watched a YouTube review the next day and they were like, OMG SO-AND-SO ARE THE VOICES ON THE SAFETY RECORDING.

OK cool.

We also got in one last ride – AT NIGHT.

IN THE BACK.

It was…a beautiful experience. We were screaming our faces off.

When we were in line for it the last time, someone behind me, “It’s about time they got a Steelers ride here.”

AND HE WASN’T BEING FACETIOUS.

The historic Log Jammer had to be removed to accommodate for this right and I am still salty over that, but I can’t deny that Kennywood…scored a touchdown (UGH) with this black & gold bastard.

(The Phantom is still my favorite coaster in the park, especially for night rides.)

Jun 192019
 

Janna follows some frozen custard place on Facebook and mentioned that she had wanted to stop by and get some but that perhaps driving 90 minutes to Conneaut Lake was a bit much just for ice cream but I was like BITCH PLZ, BEST REMEMBER WHO U BE TALKIN’ 2 so after I took off my queen bee rapper chains, I quickly convinced her that this was the best idea she’s had probably ever and that I would be happy to accompany her.

In my head, I had it billed as some big deal GIRLS DAY OUT and wonder who would be Romy and who would be Michelle, and I was so giddy about this all last week! When Saturday rolled around, aka THE BIG DAY (god, my life is so rich), Chooch was moping around. “Where did you say you and Janna were going again?” he asked, and then sadly murmured, “…oh” when I told him.

Later that morning, when I was upstairs drying my hair, MOM GUILT crept in. “Do you want to go with us” I texted him. A moment later, he bounded up the steps, dove onto my bed, and screamed, “Yes!”

Janna was like “Sigh.”

No, j/k, we’re all BFFs here.

The plan was to swing by Conneaut Lake Park for an hour or two as well even though it’s sad and decrepit…but, it’s there and it’s $10 for a ride-all-day, lol. They have a really old wooden coaster and a pretty rundown but fun dark ride, too. Janna surprisingly was on board with this even though rain was in the forecast all day…

…and it started literally the moment we turned off the highway on the Conneaut exit.

I blamed Janna because it took her so long to come and pick us up!!

We were going to alter plans by going to a cafe first so Janna pulled over in some spookily small town so we could troll Yelp but since we weren’t in some metropolitan area, the options were very slim. I got frustrated and eventually just decided for the whole car that we would continue on to the park even in the rain.

In the few minutes it took to get there (Janna had to turn around a few times), the rain had ceased! It was still a dreary day though, and kind of chilly too so I was glad I wore a jacket. Janna parked basically in a field and we immediately found ourselves surrounded by LAKE FREAKS. Just like, you know, townies trying to enjoy a rainy day at the broke down amusement park, same as us BIG CITY CREEPS.

STICK IT TO THE DEVIL.

We rode the Devil’s Den right away, as soon as we got our wristbands. (Janna reluctantly bought one too once she realized that otherwise, she would have to buy $5 worth of tickets just for one ride–maybe Henry could have found her a coupon during one of his Bored Housewife Coupon Hunts.)

The ride operator has to actually push the cars into the entrance and around a corner until the car catches the chain on the small lift hill. Basically, Henry might be able to build something like this, is all I’m saying.

I thought it would be funny for Janna to go first for some reason and then the next day, I started cracking up because what if we had sent Janna in alone and SHE GOT MURDERED. I tried to tell Henry this but it came out as a indiscernible bray courtesy of my giddiness.

Janna was playing some podcast about the Susan Powell case during the whole ride there and back so I guess I just had murder on the mind.

I don’t know why I’m laughing like a maniac here because the ride isn’t really all that great but it has been long enough since my last jaunt through the Den that I forgot enough of it to make actually scream. But yeah it’s most just a bunch of darkness and Kmart decorations from the 1970s.

When we rode it the second time, we were all supposed to ride separately so that we could each take a picture of each other but then Janna wasn’t privy to that plan I guess because after Chooch departed alone in his pretzel car, Janna got in the same car as me! So then there was no one to take my picture!

I mean, the obvious solution to this would have been to get back in the non-existent line and ride again, but we were over Devil’s Den by then.

One of the things I was most looking forward to was riding the Witch’s Stew again, I guess just because it looks cool?! I mean, the ride itself isn’t that great and it’s actually in pretty bad shape. There were cobwebs in the car Chooch and I chose and when the operator slammed the door shut behind us, a swarm of tiny gnats awoke and fluttered out from god knows where, you guys, it was creepy and I was afraid of inhaling them.

Anyway, the ride takes forever to start because the cars can only be loaded one at a time due to the fact that there’s not an platform that people can walk up to access the cars that are on the incline. So jacked.

Janna stood by the fence and diligently took photos of us like she was our mom. It was adorable. WE ARE ADORABLE.

lol jk we’re annoying.

Yeah boi finally time to ride the Blue Streak! It wasn’t running when we first arrived because it had been raining. I was really stoked about this one and let me tell you something: absence make the body forget pain because in my mind, all I remembered was, “Yeah, I think this one is pretty rough if I remember correctly, but it’s not like, the worst.”

Oh no. It’s actually the worst. I mean, it starts off great! You go straight into a tunnel that seemingly goes on for miles and Chooch was screaming, “I love this already!” and we were pretending to pull Janna’s hair, Janna who stupidly sat in front of us, Janna who had no idea this ride was going to be the difference between a relaxing Sunday at home and a painful Sunday getting fitted for a neck brace in the ER.

As soon as we began the ascent up the first hill, I started to have flashes of recognition and suddenly wondered if this would be the worst idea we made that day. The ride is in BAD SHAPE. I mean, the track going up the hill wasn’t even straight! It was all warped and the wood looks like a termite commune. And then as soon as we hit the bottom of that first hill, the discs in my back cracked like knuckles on a cold day and Chooch started howling in pain and Janna passed out and then slid out of the car and her limp body somersaulted into the woods of Conneaut where the townies came and made pinwheels out of her vertebrae and then stole her ride-all-day wristband for their five-year-old who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome.

DAMN JANNA, YOU AND THOSE PODCASTS.

Chooch’s review was, “I feel like an old man. I never want to ride that again.”

The best part honestly was the two weirdos running the ride. They had more personality than all the fishermen on the lake COMBINED.

We had to recuperate on the carousel after that.

Carousel crew. I love this picture so much! I need to get a frame for it and keep on my desk at work to remind me OF THE GOOD TIMES. This is also such a great depiction of the relationship the three of us have – it’s not like “me and Janna and my kid” but it’s like we’re all the same age and just hanging out for the day. Chooch has always been one of the grown-ups! Or maybe it’s just that I have always been one of the kids…maybe Janna feels like she’s our babysitter?!?

For years, I wouldn’t ride carousels because I have a fear of heights, even low heights, and I would GET STUCK on the horses because I’d be too scared to try and get off when the ride ended. Many embarrassing episodes resulted from that. I actually almost fell off the one I rode a few weeks ago at Waldameer.

You guys. This ferris wheel is NEW FOR 2019! I’ve seen nicer ones at church carnivals, but Conneaut’s trying, I guess. I mean, this place is on the brink of shuttering it’s proverbial windows every season so this is a good sign!

We walked over to the lake for a brief look-see and Chooch immediately tripped and nearly took a nose-dive into the wet sand that might as well just be mud.

Hotel Conneaut is haunted!

We saw a wedding party getting their pictures taken in the “midway” of the park which is cool if they were going for a post-apocalyptic carnie style.

These were supposed to be pictures of us “relaxing” but we just look like Janna roofied us.

Chooch took this picture as an example of the shitty framing Henry does when we ask him to photograph us and I love how it turned out because I was literally in the middle of bitching about Henry so I imagine this is how my face must look the majority of my days.

Meanwhile, we were in front of the hotel and Janna said, “Wow, I guess this is where those people got married. That’s weird.”

This infuriated me.

“Why is that weird?! People get married here all the time!” I exclaimed. “Did you think they got married in the amusement park?!”

“No, but I mean, this is just a weird place. Like, why here?”

“BECAUSE IT’S A BEAUTIFUL HOTEL?!” I screamed, and then I realized what Janna was talking about was the chairs set up in THE CAR PORT in front of the hotel. Like, they literally got married in a glorified driveway and so then I was all touché, Janna.

And then it started raining again, pretty hard too, so we left and went to get Janna’s beloved frozen custard. Chooch and I were actually getting pretty hungry at this point (Henry wasn’t home to make us lunch before we left) so it’s a good thing we left when we did because our OTHER FACES were going to show very soon.

Conneaut needs another coaster, like a Wild Mouse or something, and maybe a log flume. Then it would be more worth the whole whopping $10.

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The weather on Sunday was unseasonably chilly and I wasn’t mad about it – sweltering heat and amusement parks do not make a great duo, if you ask me. However, it did start raining pretty steadily for a good two hours while we were at Waldameer which isn’t awesome but we’re pretty used to feeling rain drops slice our skin like wet blades while we’re being flung about on amusement park rides, so it didn’t really much of a damper on our day.

DAMPer.

GET IT?

If you guys only knew how long it took Henry to take this picture. It was actually embarrassing.

Waldameer is pretty tiny and definitely not a full-day park (unless you split it between the water park I guess, but we’re not water park people). Henry loves this park because non-riders get in for free, with the option of paying-per-ride. In order to do this, though, one must obtain a Wally Card, which you can fill with money using various fare-like machines around the park. So instead of paying like $30 to sit on benches and ride the Ravine Flyer once, Henry just had to pay $4 for unlimited bench-sitting and one ride on the Ravine Flyer.

Imagine how amazing this would be if, say, you were passing by Cedar Point and you didn’t have time to spend the whole day there but you REALLY NEEDED THAT STEEL VENGEANCE credit, and you were able to slip right on in for nothing, throw down a five, and get your fucking credit.

That, my friends, is the dream.

Anyway, the above photo is Henry not riding the Whacky Shack.

Hey yo, speaking of Whacky Shack, this is my favorite non-coaster ride at the park and is actually the sole reason why we started going to Waldameer in the first place (my love for dark rides will always trump my coaster obsession, I think).

During one of the many times we were in line, I was acutely aware of the fact that the next car in line hadn’t yet entered the Shack, and then suddenly, another car came bursting through the exit. That’s when I noticed that a young guy was pushing the car, and the girls sitting in it turned to scream at the ride attendant, “OUR CAR GOT STUCK IN THERE!!!!”

So then a ride manager lady came power-walking over to the ride, her strides oozing authority and darkride expertise, and started fiddling with knobs and levers before moving past the ride attendant to the actual control panel.

“There’s a little girl in there by herself,” an old lady in front of me said, and I pretended to care.

Just then, said little girl came hurdling out of the exit, on foot, and screamed to the manager lady, “MY CAR STOPPED MOVING!!!” before bursting into tears. It was popcorn-worthy entertainment.

Anyway, they fixed it within minutes but then forgot to turn the lights back off, so the girls who had been waiting patiently this whole time to go next got to have a true dark ride enthusiast experience.

“THE LIGHTS ARE STILL ON!” the girls cried to the ride operator, and Chooch murmured, “Lucky!”

Steel Dragon Selca!

One of the highlights, if you ask Chooch, was when we were in the Pirate’s Cove, which is a dark walkthru. I mean, it’s pretty fucking dark and disorienting in there to begin with, but then there is one room that is tilted, with railings that make you weave your way through the room. I was being an asshole and pretending like I was a gymnast, using the railings as parallel bars and swinging my legs. However, the one time I did this was in the part of the room where I was on an incline, and I overshot my legs and came thisclose to flipping the whole way over and landing on my back. Chooch just missed capturing this golden moment on video and he was so bummed about it. He wanted me to do it again but there was no way I was recreating that dumbass maneuver without ending up in a neckbrace.

When I think of our day at Waldameer, I think of us being perpetually peeved at Henry who failed to get good, quality pictures of us.

For instance, before he took this shitty picture of us in like for the Comet, he captured a HILARIOUS Boomerang which perfectly depicted our demeanor (Chooch was rolling his eyes and I was mouthing off) but he did it through Instagram and DIDN’T SAVE IT so after he sent it to us, it fucking disappeared like it was some majorly top secret war document.

OMG, Chooch and I were so angry about this for pretty much the entire day and every time I (accidentally) looked at Henry, my face immediately fell into a scowl.

Us on the Comet before we found out about Henry’s Boomerang blunder.

Guys. The crane machine plushies at the arcade here were total kawaii quality. I couldn’t believe it. One had plush cartoon toilet paper rolls! Anyway, Chooch failed to score a Corgi and his mood was soured for a bit after that because these trivial things really affect him and I wouldn’t know anything about that because anytime I get upset about something, it’s totally legit and reasonable.

Too foggy to see Lake Erie, but we did spot Henry down below on terra firma, eating something.

Whacky Shack photo bomb.

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Pirate’s Cove is a mash-up between a funhouse and a dark ride and there are always hooligans running amok in there, and I’m not even talking about just me. There’s always at least one kid asking an ass-kicking by pushing me or line-jumping. Ugh, I hate it.

Henry on his favorite ride – the stationary bench.

Chooch’s new Lake Erie look.

You guys, something incredible happened while we were on the carousel…

Henry won a stupid corgi for Chooch!

Waldameer’s pizza is a-ight as far as amusement park food goes. But what made it even better was that there were three kids at the next table wearing BLACKPICK hoodies and one of them was also wearing a Monsta X shirt underneath! It’s always exciting to spot kpop fans out in the wild of the United States, especially when they’re reppin’ something other than the ubiquitous BTS.

Henry didn’t WANT PIZZA so he GOT A BURGER.

Oh shit, we rode some hot air balloon ride in kiddyland and Chooch spun it so hard that I almost barfed. Henry didn’t know where we went and we got to watch him looking for us.

Then when he spotted us on the baby ride, he just rolled his eyes and went back to benchin’ it.

Well, of all rides, the Scrambler is what did me in. I had to hang it up after this one, you guys. It was awful.

Chooch had to ride the new for 2019 ride without me. I was fine with that. I sat on a bench, a la Henry, and took pictures of my nail polish matching the ride.

Henry, after a day of getting berated.

All in all, it was a very decent day at Waldameer. This is definitely not a park I need to go to every year, but every three or four really does the trick. I’d like to see them get one really great thrill ride, possibly another coaster, because that would really make the price of a ride-all-day wristband way more worthwhile.

I’ll end with this iMovie that Chooch was obsessed with making, and poor Henry (lol) somehow became responsible for collecting a lot of the video footage of us, but of course, in true Henry fashion, he kept shitting the bed so Chooch and I would have to get back in line and re-ride the thing in order for Henry to try, try again.

It was exhausting, Get it together, Henry. You oaf.