Jun 032021
 

I thought I missed going places over the last year but now that we’re going places again I just want to stay home with the cats and squirrels.

Something something like my mother she’s never satisfied etc etc. – Prince

I originally was v. Gung-ho about Going Somewhere, maybe not for the whole weekend but at least for a day. Originally, we were going to go to King’s Island, then that changed to Six Flags America in Maryland then we tacked on King’s Dominion making it a whole weekend event, but then the weather forecast changed to All Rain All the Time for that part of the country so we started looking at other nearby parks where the skies promised to be dry and I STUPIDLY said hey what about Six Flags Darien Lake and this seemed ok because we bought season passes since there are some other Six Flags we will be hitting up this summer and this one is the closest so even if the park turned out to suck at least we weren’t too far from home and we could just piss around in Buffalo *PAUSE TO BREATHE*

But when I woke up Sunday morning, I was full of excuses (and vitriol) of why I didn’t want to go. I was also extremely tired and PMSing, and the rainy Pittsburgh morning made me want to stay in bed forever.

I eventually came around (“FINE WE CAN GO BUT IF IT’S LAME WE’RE LEAVING” I yelled and so Henry and Chooch obediently stepped into their shoes and off we went.

The drive to Darien Lake is only about 3 and a half hours, most of which Chooch slept and I read (Anna K Away – it was OK!) while Henry drove and probably recalled better days when he was in THE SERVICE and getting RESPECT from FEMALES.

We stopped at our favorite rest stop in that area – the one that appears sometime after leaving Erie and entering NY, where the walkway crosses the highway and this is actually so exciting to me which might inspire you to snap, “Wow, why don’t you go read a book or something” at which point I will tell you that I have already read over 70 so far in 2021, go fuck yer mum (sorry I just finished a British novel and that was used a lot and now I can’t stop saying it all day long to the annoying birds who heckle my cats like it’s their motherfucking J-O-B).

Lessee, did anything exciting happen here…Chooch got an iced coffee from Cinnabun, I encouraged Henry to treat himself to a cuppa soft pretzel nuggets from his beloved Auntie Anne’s (their pretzels are super fucking doughgasmic so I can’t really hate on him too much about this) and I got a chocolate chip cookie from Lavazza which was my lunch, lol. Oh and some dumb preteen boy was yelling about the BTS McDonald’s meal which inspired a big GO FUCK YER MUM mood for me.

Back in the car, Henry liked to occasionally point things out, like, “My tooth hurts” (no one cares) and “There’s so-and-so’s Family Restaurant.”

Me: wouldn’t it be funny if we had a family restaurant?

Henry: how would it be a family restaurant, I’d be the only one working there.

YES THATS WHY IT WOULD BE FUNNY.

We arrived at Six Flags around 12:30 and….wow. Um. Wow, just wow. I did not have high expectations for this place but it was even worse than I expected, lol. But we had already discussed the possibility of just going there to get our passes, checking it out, and then leaving if it was weak since it wasn’t technically a waste of money (see above where I shouted: FINE WE CAN GO BUT IF IT’S LAME WE’RE LEAVING.)

Yeah, we lasted about two hours and in those two hours, we only rode two rides. The park wasn’t crowded AT ALL but every coaster was running only one train, and even though most parks have relaxed their covid restrictions by now, this place was still sending socially-distanced trains on every coaster and not letting anyone in the station except for the people waiting to board the next ride. So the queues were wack and the only coaster we really wanted to ride (Ride of Steel) was a 90 minute wait with one train running, and that was only when it wasn’t breaking down, lol. Great ops, Darien Lake!

We waited about 35 minutes to ride Predator. It wasn’t great but also not the worst woodie I’ve ever been on, but Henry and Chooch basically think it should be set aflame.

Honestly, I barely even bothered to take many pictures and I sure as shit didn’t care about editing the ones I did take. So enjoy Hatless Henry (one of my least favorite Henrys), a lamp post, Swings, and a wooden coaster that desperately needs the RMC-treatment.

He always has to stop to tie his shoes. Also, he complained about needing a belt all day but the last time I told him he needed a belt, he bitched about how he doesn’t like wearing belts, so I’m going back on Parental Hiatus. Wear suspenders for all I care.

The wait for this ride was over an hour and I was like, “Look I am not waiting an hour to ride this” and Chooch was like “preach” so we got in line for one of the other few coasters that was actually running: Motocoaster. It’s basically a baby-launch coaster on a wildmouse-esque track that looked like it was dropped off by a traveling carnival that was passing through. The line seemed pretty reasonable to me but the amount of people who came over, peeped the line, then said, “Aw hell nah” was concerning. I guess this ride usually is a walk-on? The dad in front of us was complaining to his kid that this “was going to be like, a 20 minute wait!” and finally coerced his kid to agree to get out of line. Then, 10 minutes after we got in line, the fucking ride broke down! So there was a mass exodus of people leaving the line, and Chooch was like, “This is dumb let’s go” but I HAD A FEELING so I convinced him to stick it out. Meanwhile, there were these two park regulars behind the family behind us, and one of the guys said, “Look, this happens a lot. They’ll send a guy out, he’ll look underneath it, hit the reset button, send a test car, then it’ll be fine.”

SOOTHSAYER, HE WAS! It was just like in Rollercoaster Tycoon where the maintenance man is dropped down from the sky, fiddles some wrenches, and then voila, ride is back in action. It actually saved us a bunch of time since so many people got out of line! And we got front row!

I made the universal “TAKE PICTURES OF US” sign with my hands before we got on, which Henry dreads. Chooch said this ride was NOT FUN AT ALL yet the SMILE ON HIS FACE in every picture says OTHERWISE.

Look at my meaty thigh lol.

Anyway, we had enough after this and started to make our way back to the entrance. I knew this was one of the smaller Six Flags, but I had no idea it was THIS SMALL. Kennywood feels bigger! Is it? I don’t feel like researching. Look it up and tell me.

Before we left, I got a magnet from the really shitty selection at their lame-ass gift shop (there was a very sweet old lady working there though) and then I made Henry  take pictures of Chooch and me by this fountain which was basically the only pleasant area.

(Darien Lake’s mask rule is that vaccinated people can go mask-free but since Chooch still has one more shot to go – tonight, actually! – I kept mine on my person out of solidarity.)

It took Henry 7348278357034679-3567 attempts to take a picture of me looking even semi-human and finally I just gave up because I’m not getting plastic surgery so I just need to finally, after 41 years, accept my turtle-ish visage.

Surprisingly, none of us were really in a bad mood. I think because the bar was already set so low and we got what we came for – the passes – which we will use later this year at Six Flags Great Adventure, and also the ones in Maryland and hopefully Atlanta because even though that one is also supposed to a shit-show, they have an RMC and I NEED TO STUFF MY ASS INTO IT LIKE IT’S MY NEW FETISH.

May 282021
 

OK, I have nothing bad to say about Knoebels AT ALL. This might actually be the most perfect family park in existence. I’m not kidding. We have never had a bad experience here, and we always magically seem to get along. Where Chooch and I stood in line together like strangers the day before at Hershey, at Knoebels we were chatty and excited, pointing at Henry on his respective benches as we climbed up lift-hills and shouted JANNNNNNNA!!!! in lieu of “woo hoo!” as an homage to the Wacky Worm days of yesteryear. 

Henry loves Knoebels because it’s a free admission park. So old people like him can stroll right in for free and just spend the day eating, sitting on benches, playing games, etc. But if they’re feeling frisky after eating their BBQ sandwich, they can stroll right up to an old-fashioned ticket booth and buy some tickets for any damn ride they want. This is what Henry did. He literally bought tickets just to ride the carousel so we could get our traditional carouselfie.

We have the dumbest traditions but I also love them, too.

Also, the park opens early so you can EAT BREAKFAST there which somehow we didn’t know about this or else the GREAT HASHBROWN DISPUTE might never had happened that morning!

Since we got there an hour before the rides opened, Chooch declared that his self-appointed ban on mini-golf had been lifted so he and Henry entered that hellscape while I spent the time walking around and enjoying the SCENERY like an old lady. It’s not often we get to slow it down and really enjoy amusement parks, and Knoebels is SO BEAUTIFUL AND FOREST-Y!

Good luck with that, Henry.

Knoebels lifted their mask mandate for vaccinated people and I’m sure Chooch would have been fine to remove his mask while mini-golfing because no one was around but I think he is now just so accustomed to masking up that he doesn’t even notice it.

Knoebels has Mr. Gray Guys!!

Anyway, let us take some time and enjoy the quaint Knoebels vibes, shall we?

Phoenix is THE MOST IMPORTANT reason why we keep coming back to Knoebels, if you know, you know.

Also, I hate when people say that but wanted to see how it felt to say it out loud as I typed it and as expected, I felt like a smarmy asshole. But why stop there….

WHAT HAPPENS AT KNOEBELS STAYS AT KNOEBELS.

OK, I’m done now. Whoooof.

Another great woodie!

WE GOT PIZZA FROM HERE AND IT WAS DELICIOUS. Amusement park pizza just hits different. It’s also pretty much the only time that I can eat one slice and be satisfied because I’m always in such a hurry to get back to the rides!

Chooch played this idiotic game while we waited for our pizza. He won a stupid dino egg, the kind that you have to marinate in water and it hatches into a toy. He was way too excited about it.

I wanted Henry to go sit at that table in the background because it was filled with people wearing the colors of the Henry rainbow.

OK LISTEN. Even if you’re just *mildly* into dark rides, you gotta splurge and pay the extra $3 to ride the Haunted Mansion because it is one of the best classic dark rides I have ever ridden. That’s actually how we first ended up at Knoebels several years ago – for an event with the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts group we used to  belong to! Then we stopped renewing our membership because the people in the group acted like they didn’t know us* at every event and it was really uncomfortable because I wanted to make friends.

*(Except for our friends the Handas!!)

BENCHIN’ IT.

Oh also Knoebels has really unique, delicious, and AFFORDABLE food like these delightful Tiger Tails! And Henry had the most delectable sweet potato as a side with his BBQ sandwich which made me have slight pizza-regertz.

Oh and also part 2: Knoebels has a carousel where you can catch brass rings like they did back in VICTORIAN AGES when women straddled horses in flouncy evening gowns and probably their CHIVALROUS MANS hoisted them up there in the first place. Wish I had had a CHIVALROUS MANS to give my big butt a boost because these horses are hard to mount! (Somewhere, Chooch is screaming THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.) But instead, Henry the Mannerless Milquetoast Man was too busy daydreaming of the time he went to Magic Mountain while he was IN THE SERVICE. I asked him if he rode a carousel when he was there and he mumbled, “I don’t remember what I rode.” PROBABLY A TOWNIE HOOKER.

Here’s a reflection of Henry talking to Chooch about that probably. “AND SHE WAS MISSING AN ARM SO I HAD TO GRAB HER LIKE THIS…”

Definitely one of the more elegant carousels I’ve ever taken a ride on.

OH BOY THEN IT WAS FASCINATION TIME.

Some bitch sitting nearby was definitely cheating somehow and no I’m not referring to myself, I wasn’t playing.

This ride was a real motherfucker and had me screaming into the atmosphere an on-the-spot Living Will. However! My favorite part was before the ride even started. We had just gotten into line when these two teen girls came flopping over. Their friends were three people ahead of us in line and they were like COME ON, CUT IN LINE! and the two flopping girls were like WE CANNOT CUT THE LINE and the other two girls, one of which was CLEARLY the alpha and definitely smokes Newports in the trailer park, was like DO IT NOW so they were like SORRY SORRY and guiltily pushed past us and three other girls. I was like I WILL NOT LET THIS BOTHER ME because I was having a great day now that the HASHBROWN INCIDENT was but a memory, but the three girls in front of us did NOT think this line-jumping was cute. I mean, I didn’t either, but FWIW, when they cut, two other people near the front were in the process of leaving the line so it all evened out.

You know?

Anyway! We almost made it the next ride but the line got cut off right at the pair in front of the CUTTERS. But then the ride never started. There was clearly some drama going on and then we realized that some small kid was like freaking out at the last minute and the ride attendant had to unlock everyone’s restraints so the kid and his parents could leave the ride.

This left four seats open, so the ride attendant was all, “Yo, we got any groups of 4 out there?” and the Newport bitch shot her skinny, jelly-braceleted arm into the sky and did a weird hop. But there were two girls who were next in line, and they made an audible exclamation of disgust at this. So the ride attendant was like, “Well, these two girls were first” so she let them on and then asked the girls behind the cutters if they had two people in their group and one of them said yes BUT THERE WERE THREE and two of them were seriously going to leave their friend behind, so she cried, “Hey!” And they were like, UGH FINE so then I raised my hand and proudly said, “WE HAVE TWO!” So we got to cut in front of the Cutters and Newport was SO PISSED!  She made the standard “UGH!!!!” face that all dumb teenage girls spend their entire time in the womb perfecting, and it felt SO GOOD to flounce past them.

I was so excited to tell Henry about this afterward and Chooch kept saying “Oh my god” while making the “speed it up” motion, probably just like you are doing right now. LOOK, IT WAS REALLY EXCITING FOR ME OK.

Sadly, Knoebels closed at 6pm that day since it was still technically “pre-season” so we didn’t get a night ride on Phoenix, but it was still honestly the perfect day. I mean, everything post-hashbrouhaha. Hashbrownhaha. You know?

If Knoebels was closer to Pittsburgh, I’d have my birthday party there, seriously. OR THE PIE PARTY. We could all eat pie and then puke Problem Child-style.

May 242021
 

(I originally typed Heresy Park in the title and now I want there to be a Heresy Park that sounds really fucking raise-the-pitchfork amazing.)

This post is mostly going to be about ROLLER COASTERS because that’s all we rode that day, but first I want to say that when Chooch was updating his dorktastic Coaster Credit spreadsheet to add all of the Hershey coasters, he realized that he left out every single coaster from Dollywood somehow, which means that the coaster in Lake Compounce that we thought was his 100th was actually his 107th or something like that so now we have to sit down and try to organize everything by date to see what his actual 100th coaster actually was, maybe something from King’s Dominion? WHY ARE WE SUCH LOSERS.

Shall we begin? After the loooooong pandemic hiatus, our first coaster was none other than Hershey Park’s brand new hyper coaster, Candymonium. It actually opened last year, along with several other highly-anticipated coasters, and as tempting as it was to still go to parks last summer, we decided to wait and it was EXCRUCIATING!! I couldn’t watch coaster videos for most of 2020 because I was so fucking depressed and choking on FOMO.

Candymonium is right by the entrance and any coaster expert will tell you to immediately go to the back of the park and work your way through it that way to avoid long lines, but for this one, the wait was about 30 minutes when we got there and I was like “No, we are mounting this motherfucking NOW.” Henry was being a bitch-boy about getting a locker for his man-purse and finally just yelled, “JUST GO WITHOUT ME” – why does he do this shit to himself??

Thoughts on waiting in line for the first time since 2019:

  • still hate it
  • still makes me yawn uncontrollably
  • Chooch doesn’t talk to me
  • dorky white families still play Heads Up like no one is around them
  • BUT OMFG I’M IN LINE FOR A ROLLER COASTER!!!!

The line moved pretty steadily because they were running three trains and the ops were pretty efficient, so I couldn’t complain too much. However, I noticed that even though each row seats 4 people, they were sending trains with just two people in some of the rows so I wasn’t sure if it was because they weren’t mixing groups due to Covid restrictions, but then I realized that no, people are just assholes and groups of two were purposely sitting in ways that prevented other people from getting on with them, because later in the day, we rode Skyrush twice with other people in our row.

DON’T BE THAT ASSHOLE!!! Get in and move all the way down so other people can get in after you! Jesus fucking Christ!

Also, I think the same song was playing over and over the whole time we were in line. Also #2, there was a young sister and brother duo in front of us who were fake-fighting the entire time and it was SO FUCKING ANNOYING and a very quick reminder that I hate being around people and I wish that social distancing was still being enforced while standing in line, because that little fucking boy almost fell into my 87 times and it wasn’t until we were almost at the station when the older sister finally said to him, “BE CAREFUL THERE ARE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU!”

Wow thanks. At the very end.

Thoughts on Candymonium?

  • super smooth
  • a nice first coaster of the pandemic
  • kind of underwhelming though

We rode in the back on our first ride, and the front on the second ride. We are usually Backseat Riders, but I will say that the front row was better on this one.

Anyway, while we were on the break-run, waiting to come back to the station, we saw Henry walking like a Man on a Mission.

“HE HAS SOMETHING!” Chooch cried, and we were straining to see what it was.

Turns out he splurged and for the first time of our lives, Bench-Warming Dad bought us Fast Lane wristbands!!! Of course he went for the cheapest tier which meant we could skip the line once on all coasters and a selection of flatrides, and it is a REALLY good thing he did that because those lines were wicked. In fact, after we got off Candymonium, the wait time had shot up to 170 minutes.

No. Thank. You.

The next one we rode was Great Bear. We opted not to use our wristbands for this one because the line was pretty short (15-20 minutes) and we wanted Henry to ride it too since he didn’t get the Fast Lane for himself. Those things are exorbitant, it’s actually criminal. Why can’t all parks be like Disney?? Disney has the greatest fast pass system in the whole fucking world. You’re already paying $$ for the ticket, plus $$ for parking, and you’re inevitably going to spend $$ on food, so why the fuck should these asshole themeparks make you pay $$$ extra to ensure that you’ll get to ride things that you ALREADY PAID FOR. And all it does it make the general queues move even slower. Set up complimentary fast pass reservations for the best, most popular rides, and let people get to select a time for 3 or 4 of them. One time use. Bam. Not everyone can afford to pay $99 extra per person to do this!! Luckily, Henry had his “FOR FUN TIMES” cash on him and was like “Well, hard-saved cash, it’s now or never.”

And thank god he did this because the day would have been even worse (I mean, it wasn’t a TERRIBLE day but it could have been!).

Anyway, I was happy to have Henry in line with us because now I had someone to talk to since Chooch is 15 and everything I say is so dumb or if he doesn’t hear me, he spits, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” in the most disgusted grunt ever. I AM SO TERRIBLE TO BE AROUND, YOU GUYS.

Great Bear is an unsung hero!!! Holy shit, I fucking LOVED this coaster! B&M inverted coasters are so much fun to ride in the back because you literally have no idea what is coming next and everything was a pleasantly surprise. I laughed through the whole ride!

By now, the park was P-A-C-K-E-D and lines were spilling out onto the walkways. Chooch and I used our Fast Lane to ride Skyrush, except that when Chooch scanned his wristband, it lit up red. The young and very ambivalent girl working the Fast Lane gate said he would have to go to customer service, but he quickly said, “I think it’s because I scanned it twice.” She didn’t even question him and let him slide right on in.

So we ended up only having to wait about 5-10 minutes from there, and was it worth it? Um, no? This fucker is painful. And I knew that too from all the dumb videos I watch but I was like, “Well, these videos are all made by sissy-lala men who think everything hurts because they are so precious, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

BITCH. This motherfucker KILLED MY THIGHS. It felt like I was simultaneously stung by Murder Hornets and being whipped by the rosaries of 5 nuns. It was RELENTLESS. I couldn’t even tell you if I enjoyed this fucking ride, to be honest, because I was in tears of pain by the end and could barely breathe.

Skyrush more like THIGHCRUSH. Fuck you.

Sooper Dooper Loop was next and it was basically just Baby’s First Upside Coaster. We stood in the regular line for this because it was so short, figuring that if we liked it, we’d be able to come back later and use the Fast Lane, but nah. The best part was watching the geese hang out along the water while waiting in line.

I probably would have thought I was hot shit for riding this as a kid in the single digits, though.

Comet was next – just your classic smaller scale woodie, and the line was outrageous. We used our Fast Lane (the girl didn’t even make us scan it, just asked, “did you buy them today?” and then let us through) and lemme tell you, once was enough. Also, GIGANTIC BEES were buzzing around when we sat idly on the brake run for a solid three minutes it felt like.

*Break from riding to argue over food*

It was around this point that I realized we could track our lines on the Hershey app so we could see which rides we had left for the Fast Lane. It had all three of our names on the account when I accessed it, but the word “Activated” was only next to my name. So this explained why when Chooch scanned his on Skyrush, it came up as red. And thank god that girl on Comet didn’t make us scan them or it wouldn’t have worked there, either! So now Henry was all LET ME SEE THAT because of course I must have been doing something wrong since I’m a natural dumbo, but after examining the app, he was like, “WE WILL JUST GO TO THIS FAST LANE KIOSK AND ACTIVATE IT” but it wouldn’t scan Chooch’s barcode.

We had to walk all the way back to the entrance plaza so that Henry could go and talk to a real person inside the Fast Lane building. They were in there for quite a while, but Henry said it was OK when they came back. We started to walk away and after several minutes, something made me check the app again. Now, it said “activated” next to Chooch’s name, and NOT MY NAME. Henry was like, ‘IT IS PROBABLY FINE’ and I said, “Look, bitch, they took my Fast Lane account and applied it to Chooch and now I don’t fucking have one.” Because Chooch’s Fast Lane had Skyrush taken off of it, when he didn’t actually “have” a Fast Lane at that point.

So back we went, through the mass of traffic-jammed baby strollers (seriously, baby strollers ruin everything, leave your fucking babies at home lol no I’m serious), back to the Fast Lane building which now had a line because some douchebag guy WITH A BABY STROLLER was there to collect all of his pass holder perks so he was tying up one clerk, while a family of n00bs was making another old man clerk explain in GREAT DETAIL the differences between the two Fast Lane options (NOT ROCKET SCIENCE: one can only be used once at a selection of rides; one is UNLIMITED – OMG do you have a CHART to explain that? A whiteboard?!). Meanwhile, NOAH THE 19-YEAR-OLD MANAGER was sitting behind his computer screen with an ultra-relaxed and bored posture, languidly counting money while the line continued to grow. I could feel the bubbles popping as my blood was brought closer to a boil.

We had a very kind but flustered woman helping us and I felt extremely bad for her because, LONG STORY SHORT, Noah had to come over and offer his completely blase managerial assistance (literally the way he ever-so-slowly rose from his chair and sighed on his way over made me want to punch him in the nose). Essentially what happened was that HE FUCKED IT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE so the woman had to sort through all of the receipts from that day looking for both mine and Chooch’s so that NOAH could re-activate them PROPERLY this time, and the whole fucking time she looked so defeated as she continuously apologized to us while NOAH let her take the fall.

FUCK ALL OF THE NOAHS IN THE WORLD, SINCERELY.

Also, let it be known that shit was straightened out the second time because I was in charge of clearly explaining the sitch because GOD ONLY KNOWS what bullshit nonsense Henry mumbled on the first try.

Apparently, they were having trouble with this all day though because we heard some dad tell the Fast Lane guy on another ride that everything was screwed up, they paid for the Fast Lane, go ask Customer Service and that was enough for the Fast Lane gate keeper to lift his arm out of his puddle of ennui long enough to unfastened the chain and grant them entrance.

So maybe there was some type of computer glitch. I will give them a pass on that, especially considering all of the Fast Lane attendants were so quick to let people through regardless. BUT I WILL NOT EXCUSE THE BULLSHIT BEHAVIOR OF NOAH AND HOW HE TREATED THAT POOR LADY WHO WAS TRYING SO HARD (way harder than his fuckboy ass) TO FIX SHIT FOR US.

And! They gave us a “bonus” ride for any ride of our choice, which is how we were able to ride Skyrush a second time later in the day and I tried to cheat the system by raising my feet onto the toes to bring my thighs up higher when the attendant came around to push down the lap bars, to prevent them from stapling me. JOKE’S ON ME THOUGH because even though I earned myself some wiggle room, as soon we descended that first hill, the lap bar came down one more click on its own, successfully stapling me in and ensuring that I would have another joy ride in the Iron Maiden.

Fuck that ride so hard! I’m glad I got the credit because I don’t think I will ever ride it again unless I strap a ring of maxi pads under my jeans.

Here’s part of Storm Runner which was closed and I was REALLY SAD but also prepared for this because I follow Hershey on Instagram and they have been trying to get a part for this coaster since last year. I heard it might open on Memorial Day weekend so MAYBE at some point in the fall, I will MAYBE consider going back but right now the thought of returning is not very appealing.

If you’ve ridden one boomerang, you’ve ridden them all, but if you keep a spreadsheet of every coaster you’ve ridden, then you still have to ride it. Ugh. This one was at least less terrible than the one in Lake Compounce, but man, there is something extremely terrifying about that first lift hill. I can’t even remember what this was called, but it was like “Name of Coaster: Sponsored by Name of Corporation” which I thought was tacky.

Hold on. I’ll look it up.

Sidewinder: Presented by Penn State Health.

Cool story.

Oh! When we were in line for this, one of the ride operators kept running back and forth past us, and then Hershey EMTs arrived with their big ass cooler of supplies and we were like WHAT IS HAPPENING because they were still sending trains. Turns out some older lady was like, overheated or having some kind of spell because they had her sitting on a stool while they applied ice packs to her and took her blood pressure. It was exciting to watch. I mean, because she clearly wasn’t dying! She was sipping her water and seemed like she was OK, leave me alone!

I mean, Wild Mouse is Wild Mouse. Nothing to really say about it except that while we were in line, some DAD completely waded through the landscaping and then scaled a wall just so he could join his family in line in front of us and I would have REALLY CAUSED A STINK over this except that they were already going to need to be in two cars anyway so it didn’t affect us.

Across from the Wild Mouse was the Wildcat, a woodie that turned out to be unexpectedly fantastic. There was about a 20 minute wait and we couldn’t use our Fast Lane on this because the regular line started PAST the Fast Lane entrance so it was pointless. So basically, even if the queue was full, using a Fast Lane will still have you waiting 20 minutes, which doesn’t seem very Fast Lane-esque to me.

I was trying very hard all day to not let people piss me off that day and I was doing a pretty fine job, I think, until this ride. I kept hearing wet slurping behind me. I knew there was a couple in their late 20s / early 30s behind us and I was like, “OMG ARE THEY MAKING OUT” and then became convinced that this is what was happening. Eventually, I stole a glance over my shoulder, and nope, it wasn’t that at all. The Discount Duff Goldman part of the couple was eating Dippin’ Dots. WHO EATS DIPPIN’ DOT THAT LOUDLY AND WETLY? Oh, I was in so much aural pain.

Chooch and I bonded over this later. The anguish over other people’s mouth sounds is truly something that never fails to unite us.

The only other coaster Henry rode all day was Lightning Racer because the line was not long at all. Chooch decided he was going to ride by himself so he crossed over to wait for the opposing train. We tried to align ourselves so that we would be able to race each other but he couldn’t get anyone to go ahead of him, so he ended up riding on the cycle before ours which was a bummer because WE WOULD HAVE BEATEN HIM!

Lightning Racer was so good! It has cemented itself up there as one of my favorite racers – it’s definitely better than Kennywood’s Racer (although that one is iconic because it’s a Mobius loop and also vintage at this point) and that shitty one at King’s Island, but I also REALLY like Gemini at Cedar Point and Racer 76 (I think??) at King’s Dominion. There is a racer coaster out in California that got the RMC treatment so I’m sure if I ever got to try that one on for size, it would be an easy #1!

However, Lightning Racer had a TUNNEL and I love when coasters have TUNNELS and I scream-laughed, “UNEXPECTED TUNNEL!!!!!” in my Bobcat Goldthwait bray as we cruised through it.

I actually wish we had ridden that again before we left.

The other coasters we rode that I have nothing really to say about was Trailblazer, which was just a mediocre family ride, and LaffTrakk which is an indoor Crazy Mouse-type of coaster similar but inferior to Kennywood’s Exterminator and also, even with Fast Lane, we waited for a solid 45 minutes and this was 100% not worth it. The queue was all indoors and it was so fucking hot in there that I getting pretty swirly.

I guess the only other notable thing, coaster-wise, was that when we were waiting in the loading area for our second ride on Skyrush, there was a group of Chooch-aged boys in front of us who thought it would be cute to chuck candy over the railing at their mom, who was waiting below with other family members. They thought they missed so they ducked back in line, leaving Chooch standing there alone, looking like he had been caught red-handed. The loading station for Skyrush is elevated so we were several feet above ground level making it easy for them to not be seen from the ground when they moved back from the railing. Their mom made an “I’m watching you” gesture to Chooch and he nearly melted into the ground lol.

Anyway, that concludes my titillating review of Hershey. I feel like it can’t always be as shitty as it was on this particular day because I have legit never heard anyone complain about it, so sorry Covid–but I’m blaming you!!

Stay tuned for my Knoebels recap because we also went there that weekend and, spoiler alert, IT WAS THE PERFECT DAY.

May 212021
 

OK listen, Linda. I know what you’re thinking: wow, Erin was such an avid avoider of all of the things during the pandemic and now suddenly it’s cool to go to an amusement park? Listen. Listen, listen, listen. We made reservations in advance, knowing that Covid-restrictions were still in place and that Henry and I would both be past the 2-week point of our second Pfizer dose by then. And then it worked out that Chooch was able to get his first dose before we went so he was at least partially vaccinated. I was starting to feel OK about this.

But then.

The dumb CDC announced the new lax mask rules, and almost immediately after that (i.e. two days before our trip), Hershey was like GREAT NEWS, NO MASKS REQUIRED FOR OUR VACCINATED GUESTS.

Oh boy, the honor system!

In America!!!!

And I get it, HIPPA or whatever other legal bullshit prohibits places like this from requiring guests to show their vaccination cards as proof but DAMN I wish they would have! Give us a special wristband or something, you know? But instead, all three of us wore our masks for the entire day because I do not trust my fellow Americans and because Chooch still would have had to wear his anyway so we wore ours along with him out of solidarity. We are nice parents sometimes.

Another thing to note is that we, for some incredibly strange reason, have never actually been to Hershey Park (well, Henry was there when he was 10 and they probably only had, like, those peddle scooters and a Ferris wheel back then) and I have a vague recollection of also being there very briefly when I was very young because we 100% went on the Chocolate Factory ride which is separate from the amusement park, and I think we may have just walked through the park while I cried because I wanted to ride stuff and for some reason THAT WAS NOT HAPPENING THAT DAY.

So I’m not sure if the crowds we experienced that day were normal, but for a park that was allegedly running on like 75% capacity because of Covid, the hoards of people were poppin’ off. The picture above was taken after we left, but the entrance was just a gigantic, fluid, undulating mass of bodies when we got there 30 minutes before the gates opened AND SURPRISE, barely anyone was wearing masks. Luckily, we got behind the coolest, least annoying family: two dads and their two young kids, all of whom were decked out in head-to-toe Adidas and the kids were wearing Keith Haring masks. YOU KNOW I HAD TO GIVE COMPLIMENTS WHERE COMPLIMENTS WERE DUE! This caused us to have a nice, low-key civil rapport which is all you can ask for when you’re crammed into a mess of “lines” with thousands of strangers.

We saw them again later and when I pointed them out, Chooch made the universal I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT ALSO STOP TALKING TO ME IN PUBLIC disgusted face/shoulder raise often performed by American teenagers.

Before we got to the park that day, I declared out loud that I wasn’t going to let myself be bothered by the general population that (Henry laughed out a sarcastic “Ok.”) and following that same POSICORE mindset, I’m also going to focus more on the good shit about the park rather than the bad, because I am 99.9% positive that Hershey Park is not always like how it was last Saturday, which was: super fucking crowded with two of their most popular rides closed. I never hear anyone complain about Hershey so I have to believe that all of this was a combination of vaccinated people tryna live their lives, Hershey dropping their mask policy, the pandemic causing the park to be understaffed, and season pass holders showing up in droves to collect their swag and free cookies.

Most importantly, we got to do what we love so much: RIDE FUCKING COASTERS.

Before I get into that, let’s look at pictures of us frumpin’ around the park, being THOSE LIBS IN MASKS.

(Also, I’d like to point out that Chooch was chatting away on some dumb Dischord server thing pretty much all day and we barely talked at all in any of the lines and that’s pretty depressing.)

Me: Go stand by the statue of that dude…whoever the fuck that is.

Chooch: Uh….it’s literally the Hershey guy? But ok.

Henry only rode two coasters all day. This was one of them,

Henry always managed to capture me at my BEST ANGLES. Ugh.

This whole area was a FUCKING TRAFFIC JAM all day.

And we got to take a carouselfie!!!! I panicked when I first looked at this picture because I thought my underarms were flabby AND creped but then I realized that it’s actually part of Henry’s horse, lololol ugh. How I yearn for the day when I’m not completely preoccupied with my weight.

What you can’t hear is Chooch hissing, “WHAT???? WHICH PARENTAL PLEBE DOST DEIGN TO SPEAK TO ME?”

THIS WAS MY RIDE.

My favorite area was the Frontier Land part or whatever it was called.

In my next post, I will recap the rides we rode (all coasters, no time for anything else!), but I will end this with some non-ride observations:

  • The soft pretzels were REALLY GOOD (especially the jalapeno ones!). We’re not “full meal eaters” typically when we go to amusement parks unless it’s a smaller park which allows us to live our lives more leisurely. Hershey Park is notorious for their gluttonous milkshakes and while I would have LOVED to fuck with one of those, I also…wanted to ride aggressive coasters.
  • We were REALLY harried since it was our first time and didn’t really get to explore much but my initial impression was that the park was not very picturesque. I actually hated the entire area by the entrance because everything around Candymonium is dirt and it gives off construction site-vibes. Hopefully if we go back (I’m sure we will – we’re missing two coaster creds!!), we will have more time to really take everything in and also explore the ZOO, yes, there is a ZOO there!!
  • The chocolate chip cookies tasted like childhood and I was in pure bliss as I scarfed them down. Henry and Chooch were like, “Eh, these taste basic” but then they ate more than their fair share so hope they enjoyed their basic shits that night.
  • I saw the same lady with face tattoos (and not “face ladies” as I originally typed…) in the same spot twice, which was weird, like did she move at all that day? But it also reminded me of this and I laughed to myself, except it was out loud when Henry and Chooch were walking ahead of me so I was literally laughing alone and some people side-eyed me.
  • ANOTHER PARK THAT MAKES YOU PAY FOR PARKING. How is this acceptable?! How are they not already making enough money off of us?!!?
  • I didn’t actively hate anyone that day (I mean, aside from Henry and His Nose-Whistle).
  • They seemed to have some good flat ride options that I would like to sit on next time.

 

Aug 192020
 

I was texting with my pal Laura about how bored and sad we are in our covid bubbles, and it made me start thinking of all the fun we had when she was still living in Pittsburgh. Yes, she’s one of the many who escaped! Good for her! This place is….just ok.

Waaaaay back in 2011, I had this brilliant idea that we should go to two amusement parks in one day. Granted, the parks I had in mind are super piddly and can barely even be considered full-fledged amusement parks, but it still seemed like a super fun to say CIAO FOR NOW to summer of 2011.

I remember having a huge row with Henry over this (lol, not really: it was basically like this: he said no, I screamed, he said fine) because we had just come back from a week in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and this was back when I was still working part time and money was tight yo, and not as in “cool” but as in “barely there.”

But in the end, I won and Janna and Laura came along for the ride. It ended up being a really fucking fun day even though the parks are lame (I typed lamesauce and then yelled, “EW WHO AM I” and deleted).

Anyway, please enjoy these old photos of Chooch sans-front teeth while I go back to painting 740187408734087315 tigers on my front door. #CovidArtProject

****

First Stop: DelGrosso’s

All you really need to know about DelGrosso’s is that I got really fucking sick. I had just rode back-to-back spinny rides with Chooch, Laura and Janna (one of which was the Tilt-a-Whirl, and Chooch and I kept laughing because Janna rode alone; I am raising my child right, in case you haven’t noticed) before agreeing immediately to ride this thing called the Casino with Chooch.

Laura and Janna opted out.

First, Chooch and I had to stand next to an unoccupied seat, waiting for the girl running the ride to help us unlatch it while everyone who was already situated stared at us like they couldn’t believe it was our first time at an amusement park. The girl kept getting distracted, or she was just pointedly ignoring us, who knows; but I should have taken it as a sign and walked away.

Instead, we stood there like idiots until the door was unlatched for us (there were like, three whole steps to unlock it; no way would I have ever cracked that code) and then within one and half revolutions, I felt my equilibrium throat-fucking me.

Really, it wasn’t so bad: just some slight undulating motions as the roulette wheel spun us around, but then, joy of joys, it went BACKWARDS.

And that is where my first trimester of pregnancy came back to haunt me. I instinctively reached into my pocket for a peppermint disc, but I didn’t have any on account that I am not actually pregnant anymore.

Oh, look at Little Miss Thrill Ride Queen, nearly barfing all over the occupants of the Casino.

One more revolution, and it would have been that puking scene in Problem Child all up in DelGrosso’s.

After the ride ended and we waited to be released from our maximum security cell, Chooch skipped off into the horizon while I staggered slowly after him, finally nailing the zombie gait that I so pathetically pantomimed during my zombie self-defense class last spring.

Without a word to Janna, Laura and Henry, I slowly took a supine position on a bench.

“Maybe the train will be a nice break for you,” Laura suggested, so we all got in line for the most lamest amusement park train ride of all time. We didn’t make it on right away and had to stay in line for one more go-around. I considered sliding down the wall into a heap of sweat, stomach acid and minced stomach lining instead of standing with everyone else.

I was that nauseated that even standing was giving me the spins.

However, I was not too nauseated to laugh evilly when an older woman got out of her seat before the train started to take a picture of her family, only to lose her balance and fall back into the seat, sprawling across her embarrassed husband’s lap and absolutely cracking the fuck out of her shin.

It was a pure delight to witness. I guess it wasn’t all that exciting though because Laura and Janna admitted afterward that they must have missed it. It gave me tears, that’s how much I enjoyed myself.

The train ride did not help my churning stomach. I clutched the front of the seat with whitened knuckles, wishing the sunshine would un-blanch my complexion instead of coaxing the bile up my throat.

Afterward, I waved the white flag and collapsed on a bench. I urged Henry to take Chooch to kiddieland and encouraged Janna and Laura to ride the Crazy Mouse again without me.

“Don’t worry about me,” I moaned in the stoic tone of a fallen soldier. “I’ll be fine.” And then I wept behind the privacy of my sunglasses.

Everyone rejoined me after about 15 minutes and I decided that I needed to try and eat, so we all trooped back over to the food area, where Chooch and I sat alone on a bench, me with my head between my knees.

“Let’s go on the Wacky Worm again,” Chooch cheered.

I started to say, but then on second thought, I said, “Yeah, OK. Let’s do it.” And damn if that fucking ride didn’t make me feel better.

“Where were you?” Henry said when we found him holding a plate of pizza.

“On the Wacky Worm!” I shouted happily.

“But you’re sick…” he started.

“NOT ANYMORE, MOTHERFUCKER!”

Laura and Henry both wore black shirts because they’re in a pigment race gang.

We rode the Wacky Worm one more time before we left, while Henry stood sullenly off to the side and stared with disapproval.

“So, what did you think of the Wacky Worm?” I interrogated Laura on the way back to the car.

“It’s a…ride,” she answered uncertainly.

I’ll say! THE BEST RIDE EVER!

NOW LET’S GO TO LAKEMONT OMG 

The thing about Lakemont is that as far as amusement parks go, it’s puny. Nothing about it is really “new,” except this time when we were there, we noticed that one of the rides had been removed so maybe next year there will be an upgrade in its place. And how shocking that would be. Especially if it was anything manufactured post-1980.

But for some reason, I love the hell out of this park! People-watching is prime, the rides they do have are an amalgamation of bizarre and retro, and best of all—it’s cheap. Extremely cheap. We always go on the same weekend in September when Lakemont hosts some sort of Altoona craft bazaar, because it’s only $5 that weekend and there is almost no lines to stand in at all.

NOT EVEN FOR THE WINE SLUSHIES.

One of the bigger draws at Lakemont is a small wooden coaster called Leap the Dips, which also happens to be the oldest running coaster in the WORLD.

THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD.

It costs an extra $2.50 to ride it. They didn’t charge extra the last time, but I guess this is their effort to do everything possible to maintain and preserve it for future use. The old man who sold us the tickets was hilarious and teased us mercilessly. He wouldn’t hand over the tickets until I was able to tell him how much it would cost for three. This of course caused sweat-on-the-brain but I was able to answer before Janna and that’s all that matters.

It’s so old that the young farm-handish employee had to actually run and push our car to give it momentum. But not before making fun of my iCarly messenger bag. (He accused it of being Hannah Montana and I felt the vinyl flap featuring Carly and Sam’s mug heat up as it rejected his insinuation. )

Janna and Laura quickly learned the meaning behind “Leap the Dips” as they were nearly catapulted out of their seats when we went over the first dip and our car became airborne.

It’s one fucking rough ride. Henry won’t ride it due to the fact that it agitates his hemorrhoids.

Proof. 

Lakemont’s Wacky Worm is definitely the Toboggan (I finally learned how to spell it! Gold stars all around!). This was Chooch’s first time riding it and he took to it immediately. We must have been ejected from that vertical tube 20 times that evening. Such a stupid yet fun ride.

If we’re being honest, it was the guys running the thing that kept me coming back for me. They were hilarious and cute and coveted  my iCarly messenger bag. The thing with the Toboggan is that there is a lot of sitting around in the cars, waiting for your turn to be carried up through the tube and then waiting for all of the other cars to come back before being unlatched and set free. But these two guys would walk back and forth, antagoning us, showing us stupid magic tricks and just being all-around completely entertaining.

It made me remember why I enjoy Lakemont so much — the kids working there actually give a shit about their jobs and have fun doing it! What a novel concept!

OK good, I did spell it right.

Isn’t it majestic?

Someone watches too much 16 & Pregnant. (EDIT FROM ERIN IN 2020: wow, I think I might have been a lot meaner in 2011 :/ )

Moments later, I almost lost an arm and leg when Chooch stamped down on the gas pedal before I was all the way inside the car. It was a pretty great scene for all the people standing in line.

This was the first time I was actually proud of my kid. Not for nearly spontaneously amputating me (though I would finally have weighed less!), but as far as riding things at amusement parks go. Of course I’m already proud of his sarcastic, biting words; knowledge of horror movies; and independence in the kitchen. He rode the shit out of everything he was tall enough to ride and I felt like we were really in sync with each other that day as we frolicked from ride to ride; even Henry rode his fair share AND EVEN SMILED AT TIMES.

Considering we had spent the morning screaming at each other over money, the day ended up being pretty spectacular and Henry even held my hand at one point (!!!) and said he was glad he came along after all. See that? My brilliant day trip ideas SAVE RELATIONSHIPS.

Can’t wait to do this again next September! WHO’S IN?

***

On the drive home, Janna admitted to not being able to see, provoking Laura and me to nervously suggest in tandem for her to pull the fuck over. Since I was now driving, I told Janna it was her turn to entertain us, and after whining for awhile about not having any stories, she launched into this shoddily-detailed narrative about going to a party when she lived in DC but then ended up getting a chili dog instead and then parking in a loading dock by her apartment and eating it in the car. I kept waiting for the climax, at the very least a car-jacking, but nothing ever happened other than her eating a chili dog while illegally parked.

Kids, don’t blow off parties for chili dogs or you too will grow up to not have any stories to tell.

[Read Henry’s harrowing account of the day here.]

Feb 292020
 

Last week, Indiana Beach announced that it’s not going to open for the 2020 season and I was like WHAT YOU SHUT YOUR FACE INDIANA BEACH. While we only ever visited this amusement park once, it gave us a lifetime of memories (such Hallmark words coming from me, I must definitely have a fever, let me check—99.4!!!! THAT’S GETTING CLOSE!!!). I actually had been tossing around the idea of trying to make it back out to this park this summer, and I’m bummed that it won’t happen now (unless someone buys it! CEDAR FAIR?! THE KENNYWOOD PEOPLE!?!?) so I have been mourning the loss of such a unique, historic park by watching YouTube videos of my favorite coaster enthusiasts having fun on the Lost Coaster, which was one of the most unique coasters I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding.

I’m taking a break from my obsessive-compulsive temperature-taking and ritual hand sanitizer application to share with you, today, my day at Indiana Beach from 2014. RIP to a super quirky, incredibly fun amusement park in some small town in Indiana. Sigh.

****

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My criteria for planning a road trip is pretty simple:

  • Are there friends along the way that I can impose upon?
  • Does my Roadside America app approve of this route?
  • Are there amusement parks in the vicinity?

I’ve wanted to go to Indiana Beach (fun fact: not actually a beach) for awhile now, and it seemed logical to combine this with a long overdue visit to Michigan to hang out with Bill, Jessi and Tammy and also meet up with some other ladies I have been Internet friends with for YEARS. (More on that later!)

We had to drive through actual farmlands to get to Monticello, Indiana, at which point a man of about 100 years of age collected $7 from us and told us where to park.

Which was “anywhere in the wide open, empty parking lot.”

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We got there right when the park opened, and not only was it a ghost town, but none of the rides were running. We roamed around for awhile, getting turned away from the Hoosier Hurricane and wasting time at the shooting gallery. Also, the humidity was so bad that it felt like Hell with the lid on; my face took on the sebaceous sheen of a glazed Christmas ham in no time. It was disgusting. But not so disgusting that I would consider visiting the dilapidated water park portion of Indiana Beach, which was included in regular admission because the lazy river wasn’t running. God only knows why not.

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No thanks, dirty pastel water slides. God only knows what kind of fungi you’re getting ready to launch into my vagina. (I have phobias, OK?)

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Chooch killed some time at the shooting gallery, while I paced around, waiting for the adjacent Frankenstein’s Castle to open their dumb doors already. I refuse to partake in the shooting galleries at amusement parks because HENRY won’t teach me how to aim. So I almost never hit anything. And then I pout, which morphs into an inevitable Hulk Rage later on.

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Fuck you, Henry.

Lame Henry didn’t get the ride-all-day wristband because he’s too old to have fun at amusement parks now. But he sure does enjoy the ones with free general admission so that he can walk around and complain for nothing. I promise you, we broke up at least 87 times that day.

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The main (OK, the only) reason Indiana Beach made my list is their staggering collection of THREE dark rides. Two of them, The Den of Lost Thieves and the most-anticipated House of Frankenstein were basically the last rides to open that day. But oh, were they worth the wait.

The Den of Lost Thieves is a shooting ride, which I generally do not enjoy. Kennywood took out a great dark ride, the Goldrusher, and replaced it with a modern shooter-type dark ride and the only thing remarkable about it is how incredibly boring it is. I would gladly bypass this one every time we visit Kennywood, but Chooch always drags me on it. I hate waiting in line for it too! You wait and wait and wait only to get put in this holding room, like a foyer, where they force you to watch some animated portrait on a wall telling you the story of Ghostwood Estate and then the door opens and it’s a fucking free-for-all. Everyone pushes their way through so even if you were the first one in line before entering that room, chances are you’ll take a fanny pack to the groin and wind up 17 people back.

So when I realized that the Den of Lost Thieves was also a shooting ride, I was like, “Damn, we drive 8 hours for this?” But it turned out to be FANTASTIC! Old, musty and full of old-school scares. I loved the shit out of this ride. Especially since I got more points than Chooch.

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Another dark ride in the park doubled as a coaster! It was called the Lost Coaster of Something I Forget Who Knows. There was no one in line when Chooch and I walked past, so I shoved all of my belongings into Henry’s chest and bolted for it.

“Um…it’s gonna take a few minutes,” the older, orange-shirted ride operator said. “It got stuck, and I’m waiting for someone to push it back out.” Oh OK, no big deal, you guys. Rides get stuck like all of the time, right? And probably not back-to-back times, right?

He said something about the cars not being “properly weighted” and I was like, “Oh well if you’re looking for all of the weight, you’ve come to the right thunder thighs.” Four more people joined us right as a mechanic came grunting out of the fake cave, pushing the double mine cars in front of him.

The ride operator seemed confident that we had enough bodies to successfully propel the mine cars from start to finish, so we loaded up with me and Chooch and some lady and little girl in one car, and a guy and kid in the one behind us.

Awkward thing about this ride: four people fit in a car, but the seats face each other, so unless you’re with three of your homies, you get to stare at strangers for the next two minutes and I hate that you guys. Looking at people who are looking at me, it’s just…ew. Not for me.

This ride was pretty thrilling and volatile, just like a relationship with me! All of the ups and downs and whiplash and violent shoves. Will you need a PFA? Maybe! And then…nothing. It just stopped, right in the middle of the dark cave.

“Is it supposed to do this?” I asked the people in the car with us.

“I DON’T THINK SO BUT THE STEEL HAWG GETS STUCK ALL THE TIME,” answered the little girl in an octave only little girls can manage.

****Mental note to be wary of the Steel Hawg. (Which never opened that day anyway, so moot point.)

Anyway, guess what guys? We were stuck! I think this may have been my first time ever getting stuck on a ride, too, so thanks Indiana Beach! That’s a cherry I sure needed popped.

As if it wasn’t hot enough that day, now we were stuck inside some muggy faux-cavern, in a near-enclosed car, with no rescue in sight. I had sweat rolling into my eyes and mouth, I could feel it dripping from the backs of my knees, my whole person was slick with the moist essence of PANIC.

And I had these strangers staring at me and I had nothing to say other than nervous laughter and then the kid in the car behind us started to cry and his dad was mouthing off about how this was such BULLshit and Chooch kept meowing and I was like, “WHY IS NO ONE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE WITH US OVER AN INTERCOM OR MORSE CODE OR CROP CIRCLE?!” And then finally, after a good FIVE MINUTES OF NOTHING, that same disgruntled mechanic came trudging up the track behind us, shouted an answer to a garbled voice over his walkie talkie, fumbled with some switches in the breaker box next to us, and then said “Enjoy your ride” just as the motor kicked in and we went STRAIGHT DOWN A HILL. Oh that’s right, we were stuck on the zenith of a hill and had no idea because it was so dark in there. So…that was definitely a thrill.

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Meanwhile, Henry had been dreaming of buying a taco all day. That’s what he’s thinking about in this picture, as a matter of fact. Indiana Beach has a taco stand that was apparently featured on the Food Network for some reason. I love me a good taco, but I knew that Indiana Beach was for sure not going to have a meatless option. So Chooch and I decided to get pizza and then Henry was going to get his coveted taco afterward.

Except that Chooch only ate one slice of his personal pizza and Henry acted like a motherfucking martyr and ate the rest of it. Like, who cares? Sometimes I think he does this shit on purpose, like he’s some Leftover Scraps Hero. OK, you ate three small slices of crappy pizza, good for you.

Oh, you ate the rest of Chooch’s waffle for breakfast? Well, FUCK Henry. Thanks for taking one for the team. Shit.

I knew all of his moaning and groaning over this would eventually paint a bigger picture, and I was right: Now that he had eaten Chooch’s pizza, he was “too full” to get a taco, and that was ALL THAT HE WANTED, you guys. A fucking taco, but now Chooch and I had ruined his life by having the audacity to get pizza for our own lunches. Last time I checked, no one was forcing pizza down Henry’s enlarged hatch.

I kept coaxing him to get a taco, but he was being such a bitch about it. He was acting offended almost, like he was on a porn diet and I was trying to get him to succumb to peer pressure by showing photos of naked broads going to town on tacos.

So bizarre. Maybe he’s trying to fit back into his SERVICE costume?

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Wistful thoughts over the taco stain on his shirt that could have been.

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Dreaming of brushing a taco with his moustache bristles to the tune of a Selena song.

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He had his chance right here! Going, going….

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Gone. This was right after he said, “I DON’T WANT ONE NOW. JUST FORGET IT.” Oh wow, someone’s come down with a case of the Erins.

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Imagining a lake where all the sailboats are tacos and he’s a great, venerable taco sailor.

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Not buying a taco.

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Yeah Henry. Don’t forget. Bitchbaby motherfucker.

(I think Mexico might find it hard to believe that the world’s best tacos are in Indiana.)

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Honestly was about to scratch a Will on my leg with a paint chip from this sad, downtrodden Paratrooper—it was such a janky ride! On one hand, I was like, “At least if we’re flung from this shoddy piece of mechanics, we have a 50/50 chance of hitting the lake and surviving” and then on the other hand I was like, “EW I DON’T WANT TO TOUCH THAT GROSS WATER!”

I’ve only ridden on one set of Paratroopers more run down looking than this one, and that was at the Washington County Fair.

A fresh coat of paint goes a long way, Indiana Beach. Just pretend like each umbrella is one of Tammy Faye Bakker’s eyelids. Go wild!

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Faces of Paratrooper survivors.

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That guy has what we call 1950s Indiana Swag.

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I love the Tilt-a-Whirl so much but not on days where elves are spooning viscous scoops of oil from my facial pores to use as liliputian love-stick lubricant. Let me spell it out for it: IT WAS HOT AND HUMID. I can’t ride spinny rides when I’m in the throes of heat stroke. But Chooch rode this three times in a row. God, good for you, Chooch. Why don’t you just write a song about it on your dumb keyboard, ugh.

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Obligatory ice cream cone shot. Can I get any more predictable.

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Seriously, these guys. I was obsessed. Also note: this was pretty much how crowded it was all day until late afternoon when the water park mysteriously closed down and a horde of Indiana’s finest invaded the park like beached whales.

Pale, so pale, very pale beached whales.

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This is not where I got my ice cream.

I haven’t even finished writing about this park yet and I’m already trying to con Henry into taking us to another one. I’M NEVER SATISFIED. Just ask the doves when they cry.

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I read some reviews online (because that’s what I do: read amusement park reviews all day long; I don’t have any friends to occupy my time, remember?) that complained about the employees were terrible. This was definitely not the case on my visit, because they clearly know I have a blog and want all of the glowing words written about them. I will say that I didn’t have a single run-in with surly orange-shirts all day. And I even left the park with two favorites: the dude from the Lost Coaster ride and this sweet Russian broad from the Hoosier Hurricane.

The Lost Coaster guy reminded me of the Salute Your Shorts camp counselor, Ug, in that he thought he was way cooler than he was and tried to act tough by yelling things like, “LIKE DON’T SIT ON THE RAILING!” But I guess he was still more intimidating than me because Chooch never listens when I tell him to get off the rail but when Ug hollered it, Chooch hopped off with a quickness.

I accidentally left my phone on the ride and realized it about 3 minutes afterward. When I ran back up the exit ramp to the ride platform, he was checking the next riders’ seat belts and casually holding my pink cell phone and it just made me crack up so bad.

“Hey, that’s my phone,” I said in faux-outrage and he put his hands up.

“I tried to chase you down but you were already gone!” he explained, handing it back over and we both had a good laugh. Why, I’m not sure. But I think I probably was definitely in the beginning stages of heat stroke by then so everything was funny to me except for things that Henry said/did/didn’t do because those things just made me inexplicably ANGRY.

OK, now let’s talk about the Russian. (I mean, after I type out hundreds of words that seem totally unrelated to a Russian broad, of course.)

A few days before we left for our road trip, Chooch acquired some sort of cut/scrape thing on the top of his ankle. Something about he went to kick a soccer ball, missed, tripped over it, bent his foot all the back and scraped it against the sidewalk. Then he proceeded to wear Converse high-tops, which ended up rubbing his scrape raw while forming a blister all at the same time.

So now he had a mutant cut/blister injury in addition to his foot hurting in general from being bent all the way back. He would be fine in the morning, but once he started walking too much, it would aggravate the wound and make his ankle get all red and slightly swollen.

The humidity that day, and also the OINTMENT (I love that people hate that word) that Henry slathered on the wound, made Chooch’s ankle too MOIST (hahaha) for Band-Aids to stay adhered for very long. So when were walking up the metal-grated steps of the Hoosier Hurricane coaster, Chooch forgot how to walk and fell, banging his ankle against the metal edge of the step below him, knocking off the Band-Aid and making him wince in pain.

Henry wasn’t with us, since he wasn’t RIDING anything that day, so I had to try to be a mom and tell Chooch things like, “It’s probably going to be fine” and “You’ll probably still have a foot after all of this is over” and “PLEASE START WALKING, I REALLY WANT TO GO ON THIS ROLLER COASTER.” As soon as we made it into the station, a super sweet Russian girl took down the chain for us and said to Chooch, “Oh no! What is happened to you?” But Chooch was still blinking back tears so I had to do my best to make it look like I hadn’t abused my child.

“There is first aid down there,” she said, pointing over her shoulder. She was really concerned about Chooch’s ankle, which was really endearing. But then we got stuck standing awkwardly next to her while we waited for the coaster to come back, so she made broken-English small talk about the weather.

“It is hot,” she said in a staccato.

“Yeah,” I agreed, struggling for words. And then after a stretch of about 30 million acres of silence, I thought of something else to say. “That, uh, humidity makes it worse.”

“Oh yah! The humidity is worst!” she agreed, and I thanked the arrival of the coaster for interrupting our cliche weather discourse.

She made sure Chooch and I were safely buckled into our seats and then said, “Enjoy ride!” and I secretly hoped it was meant just for us and not any of the other sweaty bastards behind us.

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After we got off the ride, Chooch ran ahead of Henry and me because he knows everything, including the way to the first aid trailer. Eight-year-olds don’t need parents, you guys. By the time we caught up and walked into the first aid trailer, Chooch and the park medic were just sitting there silently, Chooch on the edge of the bed and the medic at his desk.

“He just came in and sat down,” the medic explained. “Said he was waiting for some people.”

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And then Chooch relayed the entire, sordid saga of the Origin of the Wound.

He loves to talk about it. Last night, as soon as we got to his piano lesson, he sighed and mumbled something about his foot hurting. (Side note: that fucker is pretty much healed by now, so I guess he’s experiencing fantasy pains similar to Henry’s imaginary war wounds that don’t exist because Henry was never in an actual war when he was in the SERVICE.) “Oh no, what did you do to it?” his piano teacher Cheryl asked.

“Ugh, why does everyone ask me about it?” Chooch cried and I was like, “OH OK, MY LEFT FOOT, MAYBE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T STOP BRINGING IT UP.”

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Here’s Henry re-doing Chooch’s Band-Aid 3 minutes later.

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There was another Russian girl working the Cornball Express, another roller coaster, but she wasn’t as nice. I mean, she wasn’t a dick head or anything, but she didn’t go out of her way to smother us with attention like Hoosier Hurricane did. The other Cornball Express girl routinely helped me unbuckle my seatbelt all 137 times we rode that coaster (honestly, there were no lines to wait in). Chooch, who had quickly mastered the secret of the Houdini-approved seatbelts, kept crying out, “Oh for Christ’s sake, mommy!” Before eventually just not waiting for me anymore.

I seriously have never struggled so hard with a seatbelt in my life. It was almost embarrassing. Ok it was embarrassing.

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After hours of stalking Frankenstein’s Castle, those fucking garage doors were finally a’lift and we had the confusing task of trying to add dolla dolla bills to the Indiana Beach cash card thing. I forget to mention that this is one of those amusement parks where, if you don’t want to plan on riding much, you can load money onto credit cards and then scan it before you get on the rides. Even the ride-all-day wristbands have barcodes on them and everyone is required to stick their wrist under a scanner at the front of all of the lines. Waldameer Park in Erie does this, too. It’s annoying, but whatever.

Anyway, Frank’s Place wasn’t included in the ride-all-day admission price. Some dark rides are like that and while I’m not exactly sure of the reason (Chris? Can you help here?), I have a few theories, mostly that it’s a restoration thing. It was an additional $3.50 per person and BE STILL MY HEART, Henry actually paid for THREE. At first, I thought maybe there was some sad albino kid in line behind us, tugging on Henry’s bland heart strings and making him do charitable thangs. (I didn’t want to end on a rhyme. You understand.)

But no, he was paying for himself! Henry was finally going to not sit on a bench with his nose pressed against his phone, looking at Pinterest! (Honestly, Chooch and I made fun of him from every line in which we stood. Because why not.)

As soon as the ticket booth broad granted us admission, our nostrils were slammed with the unmistakable vintage bouquet of moth balls and Aunt Edith’s cedar closet of muumuus. It’s a smell that I love because it means old school amusement park. Fuck those flashy sterile, steel concrete jungles known as Six Flags.

I want that fancy dark ride musk.

If they bottled it as perfume/cologne, that’d be a surefire way to get me into your backseat.

(Oh come on, don’t pretend like you thought I was classy.)

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“I just paid $3.50 to walk through a fake castle with two screaming d-bags. I bet that taco would have also cost $3.50 and have been way less annoying.” – Henry, if he ever thought about anything.

After sitting on a bench and listening to a crackling recording about what scares we were about to encounter, a disinterested young Indiana Beach employee opened a door and ushered us in for the “OMG crashing elevator” segment. At first I thought this was going to be totally lame, and that part was, but then she opened another door and set us free, on our own, to shuffle through the guts of a mostly pitch-black haunted house.

Here is Henry’s review:

It was fun. I got pushed through by two scared little people. That’s about it.

Wow. Titillating as always.

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There were no scare actors, just the effective non-use of light bulbs, enclosed animatronic displays that managed to pop on when I was always the most unsuspecting, moving floors and enough enclosed spaces to make a claustrophobe fake their way through the rosary.

THIS IS A CLASSIC DARK ATTRACTION. One that keeps it real and doesn’t rely on modern, high-tech scare tactics. Let me put it this way: there are chicken doors located throughout the length of the castle and if Henry hadn’t gone in with us, I guarantee the first one would have a chunk taken out of it in the exact outline of my body.

This is the type of haunt you want to walk through with the person you’re obsessively crushing on or maybe the hipster you just met IRL on Tinder and want to terrorize in the dark with rusty hedge clippers while wearing your mom’s skin on your face. Butterflies!

I’d go back to Indiana Beach every summer just for another 10 minutes inside Frankenstein.

YEAH, YOU READ THAT RIGHT.

Dec 192019
 

Every video I watched about Silver Dollar City gave a shout-out to the candymakin’ biddies at Brow’s Candy Factory. They give demonstrations throughout the day, so we made it a priority to catch one. Am I officially turning into an old person? Mayhaps.

I said “mayhaps.”

Fuck, I’m old.

The demonstration we caught was two of the Olds pounding out some of that famous Silver Dollar City peanut brittle. Of course, it was full of puns and dad jokes at which I laughed loudly because I knew it was making Chooch angry. Then they said that the only way the candy audience could receive a sample was by singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and I am THE WORST at knowing lyrics to Christmas songs. Those broads were actually checking the crowd too, making sure our mouths were moving, and of course every time they looked at me was at a part I couldn’t remember so I just mumbled my way through it.

And I got my sample! Most people approached in an orderly fashion but Chooch and me, and a handful of kids, were acting like it was auditions for a sport, that is to say, we were aggressive. I wanted a sampled while they were still warm, OK?!

Yeah, it was nice. Was it the best peanut brittle I’ve ever had? I don’t know — all peanut brittle tastes the same to me.

OK so you know me, the RMC-whore that I am: Outlaw Run was the main reason I wanted to come to this park that’s nearly 13 hours away by car. Everyone at work was like “bitch you cray” but if any of you are legit coaster enthusiasts, YOU UNDERSTAND. RMC is like the hottest coaster manufacturing company out there right now and I am a slut for their refurbished woodies. If you ask me, they’re the best thing to come out of Idaho since, I don’t know, potatoes probably.

Luckily for us, Outlaw Run was running all day, in spite of the weather. Although, when the gates open, we ran straight for it only to find out it was temporarily down for maintenance. Hilariously, there was just a very small crowd of us bee-lining toward it, and literally every other motherfucker veered off to another path in order to line up for one of the shows. This is why I love parks like SDC and Dollywood! Everyone goes for the shows leaving all of the rides a veritable walk-on.

The first time we rode it, some young ride attendant was assigning seats. When he tried to put us in the fifth row, I asked, “Could we have the back instead?” He tossed a furtive glance over his shoulder toward the back of the train, and then nodded. We always consider these such huge wins because we have little else going for us in life.

While we were standing in the back, waiting for the train to return, I spotted Henry standing with all of the other parents waiting to photograph their kids when the train left the station. I waved to him just as the young ride attendant* looked over at me and thought I was waving to him so he waved back and then I think he thought I had a crush on him because he smiled at me every time we came back to ride again so that was cool.

*(I forget his name! I want to say it was like, Kyle, or something and I only know that because the ride operator called him out OVER THE MICROPHONE at one point for sitting down and forgetting to assign seats, lol wow calm down buddy, there wasn’t much going on that day.)

Empty line—for an RMC!? This was when we came back for a night ride and proceeded to get off and run right back into line three times because…when an RMC is a walk-on, you GET THE FUCK BACK IN LINE. It was us and this group of three young kids who kept getting off and running back on but they were SO FUCKING ANNOYING and Chooch was like drowning in schadenfreude one of the times because the one kid got his coat snagged on the gate so we were able to breeze past him and then the other two kids had to stop and wait for him HAHAHA SUCK IT, ASSHOLES.

To get back in line, you have to run all the way through the Outlaw Run gift shop, which is where Henry was always waiting for us and he was getting so furious because he was ready to leave but we kept huffing, “JUST ONE MORE TIME!” as we galloped past him. One of the times, the lady working in the gift shop calmly told us not to run so we were like SORRY and slowed to a speedwalk until we got out of the gift shop and then we kicked our legs into high-speed cartoon-running-on-air mode.

The Outlaw Run station looks so beautiful lit up for the Christmas season!

So maybe you’re wondering, “Was it worth dragging Henry and his brokedown back on the half-country trek?” YES. YES IT WAS. That ride was fucking nuts, as RMCs tend to be on principal. Especially at night, once you got to the top of the hill, you were dropping down into a pitch-black valley and that track turns and whips you in ungodly ways even in the sunlight. I couldn’t figure out what was going on!

In case you need FACTS: This was the first wooden roller coaster manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction and the first wooden roller coaster with multiple inversions. It really was a gamechanger and even though we’ve ridden newer RMCs, I would still say that this one holds up. My ONLY complaint is that it is infuriatingly short in length. It wasn’t too much of a deal breaker for us on this day since we were literally just walking right on it, but if I had been there on a busy day and had to stand in line for anywhere longer than 30 minutes, I’m pretty sure my opinion would be bleak.

We learned later that the ringleader of the kids we hated was named RYDER because of course he was.

Here’s a fun fact about Silver Dollar City: It’s built on top of a cavern, tours of which are included in the cost of admission! Of course Chooch and I wanted to partake in these subterranean shenanigans. Apparently though, there was flooding in part of the cave so they were only offering half-tours which meant instead of riding the tram out of the caverns, we had to walk up the steps we descended to get into it. Thank god I’m in shape, because it was like 30-some flights of steps I think they said?

Henry was unable to join us for this underground tour of puns because in the very beginning of it, there’s a true-size cut-out of the lowest opening you’ll need to walk through once in the cavern, and Henry couldn’t bend down enough to get through because of his back which cracked us up because we’re shitty people but yes, I know: REALLY NOT FUNNY, SORRY HENRY.

His back is practically fine now so don’t pity him too much.

Anyway, I’m always down for a good cavern tour and this one was really enjoyable. The theme of the tour was “guano” because that’s what was found when the cavern was first discovered, just a…shit-ton of guano.  I’d be interested in going back again when the full-tour is available though because we didn’t get to the waterfall room, whatever the fuck that its! My favorite part was when our tour guide was like, “Screw that tree outside, we have our own Christmas tree” and then lit up a giant tree made from strings of lights (see above picture!).

But yeah, the cavern is the reason Silver Dollar City exists today, so props to you, underground world.

When we made it back out of the cave, Henry was waiting for us inside the gift shop. “They’re getting ready to light the tree,” he said, and I was like, “OMG RUN!” for some reason, because I am apparently super into the lighting of Christmas trees now.

I gotta admit, it was pretty magical. I thought the lights were just being projected onto the tree because the images were so cool, but Henry verified that there was actual lights on each branch.

And then we just meandered about and enjoyed the lights, like normal Americans. That’s what you people do, right? My favorite part was when we walked by a stage with some strange man in a shimmery green blazer playing the piano. He stopped to talk to the audience and as we walked by, Chooch screamed, “MERRY XMAS” and everyone turned to look at us. Henry was really happy about that.

In case you were wondering, SDC celebrates the TRUE MEANING OF XMAS so there’s all kinds of Jesus shit everywhere.

The only argument of the day happened beneath this wreath. All I wanted was one quick shot of Chooch and me but there was a family of like 10 who were totally monopolizing the area like it was their fucking backyard and it went from one group picture to, “NOW WE NEED ONE OF JUST SUSIE AND TED. OK, NOW ANNE AND TOM” and so on until I was certain that they were doing this on purpose because they knew I was waiting to get a picture.

When it was finally all clear, Henry took a blurry picture and also cut off the top of the wreath because that’s what morons do – cut off the tops of things in pictures. So I completely lost it but then Chooch and I went back to Grandfather’s Mansion and I was OK again.

And that concludes my Silver Dollar City review. I’m excited to go back in warmer weather and ride the stuff that was closed!

Dec 152019
 

In spite of Henry’s back being broken and half the rides not running because of the weather, we still had a great time at Silver Dollar City! Here’s some photos of us being a moderately happy family. (Hey, we only had one fight and that was all the way at the end of the night when we were all cold and tired so that has to count for something, right?!)

Here we are on the shooting dark ride that I made Henry ride with us and he was all bent out of shape about it for some reason, maybe because he knows how competitive I get when it comes to these rides.

I actually really dislike it when a dark ride has the shooting element to it. It distracts me from the actual ride and by the time it’s over, I have no idea what I was even looking at aside from tiny targets and the score on my stupid gun.

Even still, I liked this one because it wasn’t just a dark ride, it was ON A BOAT.

I just tweeted last week about losing more weight but you would never know it because I still like a hunchbacked tree trunk in pictures. Don’t worry, haters! Anyway, I’m still posting this because Chooch looks cute and also we give no glories to your God so this picture is pretty hilarious.

In line for Thunderation, which I kept calling Thunder Nation, and then I was confusing I was singing it in my head to the tune of Rhythm Nation and it was just a real mess inside my skull.

I wasn’t ready.

If you’re into posing with tons of Christmas character things, then Silver Dollar City’s got you covered, boy.

Just because you wear it across your chest doesn’t make it any less of PURSE, Henry.

The only thing that disappointed me about SDC, and this is really reaching, is that their carousel was SO SMALL. Like, it was so small that I was convinced it was just the Kiddy Land version and that there had to have been a real carousel elsewhere in the park BUT NO, this was it.

Also, the old people running the ride were adamant about NO CELL PHONES OR CAMERAS once the ride started so we had to fucking hurry and get our pictures while the ride was still being loaded. I was angry because the first time we rode it,  Henry and I claimed our horses behind the one Chooch chose, but then Henry got off for .000005 seconds to give Chooch my phone to take the picture and in that short amount of time, two fucking kids came and took the two horses next to me, one of which was Henry’s so I was like WHAT THE FUCK, KIDS and we all had to get up and run to another spot where we could sit together.

What inconsiderate assholes.

“They were like 7, Erin,” Henry said but please read this in WHITE KNIGHT font.

Love you, SDC, but your carousel is beat.

Because I’m a monster, I made them ride it again later so we could try to get a better family picture. This time, we were the ONLY PEOPLE RIDING IT and a different old person ride operator was really nice and asked, “OK, did you get your picture?” before starting the ride. We are such embarrassments.

Anyway, I love how the wind was blowing Chooch’s back in such a way that it looks like this was the most thrilling ride in the park.

(It wasn’t. That was Outlaw Run. More on that in another post, I guess, because why not drag this out for as long as possible so I can continue being stressed about having shit to do when none of it is even necessary but I guess I’m just addicted to never-ending To Do lists.)

Speaking of Outlaw Run, here is a picture of Chooch and me in line for Outlaw Run at the end of the night when we marathoned it. I don’t know why my face looks like I just had a stroke. I think I must have been squinting against the cold?! #excuses

There was this funhouse-type thing called Grandfather’s Mansion or something and it was just one of those roadside attraction-esque explorations in gravity. There was one room that had a wooden bed and the challenge is to lay down on it and then lift yourself up without using your arms or legs. We were watching all these people trying and failing to it, and it looked like some huge struggle, so then I tried it and expected it to be impossible but I popped myself right up. Henry was like, “Well you because you have abs” and I mean, I am constantly doing ab exercises subconsciously while watching my shows, so I guess I do “have abs.”

Don’t worry – I still have lots of fat covering them so don’t get all jealous, haha. There are no bikinis in this bitch’s future.

OK, I have “errands” to do today so I’ll come back another day and tell you about some of the rides, THE CAVERN!!!, and the Christmas lights. Silver Dollar City is a real gem – who knew that Branson, Missouri was so cool?!

Dec 112019
 

True to form, we got to Silver Dollar City right as it opened at noon. Henry LOVED the fact that they have a FREE PARKING LOT with trams so you don’t have to pay $25 on top of the already exorbitant ticket price. I was really concerned while we were sitting on the tram, waiting to depart for the entrance, because it was almost unbearably cold. The weather was allegedly around 38 degrees that day, but the windchill was a fucking Ice Queen. And Chooch almost forgot to bring a jacket AND packed all t-shirts, but thankfully we were only 10 minutes from home on Saturday when it occurred to me to inquire about his coat situation, and then he had a random flannel in the trunk.

Not that it mattered because Henry still had to go to the local Branson Target once we arrived that night in order to buy the dumb kid gloves. Mr. I Don’t Get Cold. Yeah, right. He’d have perished at Silver Dollar City in jeans, t-shirt, and bare hands!

For as much as we travel, you’d think we’d be better at packing. Nope.

You’d also think we’d be better at not leaving things behind in hotels. Nope x2.

As soon as the tram dropped us off (Chooch and I waved to other tram-drivers that passed us by on the way because we’re both in preschool and get super-kicks out of receiving reciprocal waves), we joined the small crowd at the entrance JUST as they were announcing that the gates were opening! Woo! Security was a breeze because only Henry was carrying a purse (lol) so we didn’t have much to be checked. However, I was low-key panicking because Henry the Dishonest LIED when he purchased the tickets online and bought the child’s ticket for Chooch who is TWO YEARS out of the age range for such a ticket!

“No one is going to know, and if they say something, I’ll pay the extra $10—it’s NOT A BIG DEAL,” Henry kept saying. But to me, it was! I never try to cheat the system! But Henry kept saying, “I’M NOT RIDING ANYTHING ANYWAY BECAUSE OF MY BACK SO IT ALL WORKS OUT” but I don’t think they have “bad back trade offs” at amusement parks!

So we stopped by the on-site chapel and asked for forgiveness.

Chooch made fun of me for like an hour because when we were walking out of the chapel, some old couple was on their way in and I jovially said, “It’s nice and warm in there!” THIS IS WHY I DON’T BOTHER MAKING SMALL TALK WITH PPL ANYMORE, BECAUSE SON OF THE YEAR IS SO QUICK TO POINT OUT HOW DORKY I SOUND.

I give up. Take my human card away. I’ll just talk to cats from now on. I have better rapport with them anyway, sigh.

You might be confused why a place like Silver Dollar City would appeal to me, since it’s down-home-y and Bible Belt-y, and this is also true for Dollywood. Look, if there weren’t rides here, there is no way you’d catch me loitering with a bunch of elder-dorks, watching shows and eating skillets. But since this place DOES have rides, I allow myself to enjoy the quaint charms it has to offer. I  mean, it is a theme park, after all, and the people who work there go above and beyond to make you feel like you’re in a world without swears and, I don’t know, porn. It’s very wholesome and sometimes I need some of that cheesy bullshit in my life.

It kind of reminded me of the time when I was a kid and I went to this festival in Ligonier, PA called Ligonier Days and it was like, a place for blacksmith enthusiasts  to really pop off. I remember kind of having fun except that I was with my friend Kristen and her step-dad was weird, but there was a place that was selling the motherlode of slap bracelets and people hadn’t yet begun reporting that the bracelets were slitting the wrists of their children, so I bought a ton of them in designs I didn’t have yet, because I’m sure you’ll be surprised to know that I was obsessed with slap bracelets and had a huge collection.

Me and collections, man.

Anyway, I sometimes say out loud that I want to go back to Ligonier Days sometime but, it’s been 30 years and this bitch ain’t been back since.

But yeah, if you’re into amusement parks themed after mining towns that also has a fantastic Christmas event, then get yer ass to Branson, Missouri, missy. Look at how fucking quaint it is!

During our weekly meeting at work, I was telling everyone about our trip to Silver Dollar City and Nate quickly googled it.

“Yeah, well did you get your picture with THIS?” he asked with a smidge more than a hint of smugness in his tone.

He swiveled his laptop around to show me a picture of the ABOVE SANTA BENCH and I was like, “What, you think I’m some sort of amateur?!”

DOT DOT DOT:

I love this coat so much but fuck if it doesn’t make me look like Big Bird’s chunky bluebird stepsister.

“I want to sit next to him so I can put my hand on his knee!” Chooch shouted, wedging himself in between me and plaster Santa.

We had only been inside the park for 30 minutes before our noses led us straight into the bowels of Nellie’s Homestead, where we got an apple turnover slathered with homemade apple butter.

I wish I hadn’t shared it. I wish I could go back in time and get my own and run to the nearest corner where I could hide and devour it in peace.

It made me think about when I was into Western music and really enjoyed the band Turnover and I went to see them one time and the singer was dressed in a very blatant “Papa H” style. It was weird.

And then we went to Brown’s Candy Factory to watch this pioneer broad making fudge and also to snag some samples. I always think that I’m not a person who eats fudge but then every time I actually eat fudge, I think, “WOW, FUDGE IS ACTUALLY GOOD.” But then some time passes and I go back to believing that I don’t care for fudge.

We really dropped the ball and FORGOT TO GET CINNAMON BREAD. Hopefully we will be going back in the summer though and can remedy this.

Somehow, I didn’t go into the taffy store but Henry did? It must have been one of the many times Chooch and I ditched his invalid ass. Also, we bought so much taffy at that one candy store in Historic Downtown Branson that my teeth actually just twinged while I wrote this portion of the blog post.

Chooch and I got wassail and I cried, “YOU’RE NOT GETTING ONE TOO?!” to Henry, who frowned in response. Chooch realized almost immediately that he didn’t like it so he gave it to Henry and then I couldn’t finish mine so I gave it to Henry, and now Henry had two wassails and mumbled, “This is why I didn’t get my own.”

There are also a bunch of shops that sell down-on-the-farm, Americana home interior bullshit. I’m not about that life, but I didn’t mind perusing. Mostly because it was warm inside those shops. But like, why is everything that boring Rae Dunn-style bullshit these days?!

It was pretty obvious that the temperature wasn’t going to reach the number it needed to be for several of the coasters to open, but I still kept refreshing the weather app all day like a girl sitting at the window waiting for her dad to come home when she knows deep down that he ran off to be with his mistress and bastard.

Chooch always has to get a park map for every amusement park we visit. We were standing near a chicken & waffles cart, trying to find which route we should take to get to Outlaw Run when they dropped the ropes, when some man came over and asked Chooch, “Where’s the nearest bathroom?” He looked like he was a security guard because he was wearing some dumb reflective vest, and he asked in such a jovial way that I thought he was jokingly giving Chooch a pop quiz, but it turns out that he was sincerely asking for the nearest bathroom for the people he was with.

ANYWAY, IT WAS FUNNY BUT I GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE.

(Henry was there and didn’t think it was funny.)

And here we are, standing in front of the famous SDC Christmas tree, pretending to enjoy wassail, before venturing over to one of the roped-off areas of the park and start the final countdown to 1:00pm when the rest of the park opened for business.

Stay tuned for more Silver Dollar City pictures and bullshit words.

Nov 152019
 

I’ve been putting off writing this Part 2 post because it could very well be the LAST AMUSEMENT PARK POST OF 2019 unless I get my Thanksgiving Miracle and Henry takes his loving family to Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

Earlier that day, some broad told me at Target that she loved my sweater, and Chooch quickly mumbled, “I don’t.” He hates it when I get compliments in front of him. And then when we arrived at Dorney, the guy at the security check told me he liked my phone case. EAT IT, CHOOCH!

We didn’t do any of the haunt stuff because we didn’t stay late enough on Sunday for when they began, but I will say that of the three Cedar Fair parks we visited during the Halloween season, Dorney was the least decked-out. However, the Street Drum Corps – Blood Drums were performing at one point when we were walking to Demon Drop so that was pretty cool!

Pumpkins make everything better. It’s such a mood. Peter Pumpkin Eater’s wife was so lucky that she got to live in a pumpkin shell.

Wait….did he put there and then eat here?!

I HAVE NEVER REALLY THOUGHT ABOUT THESE WORDS BEFORE.

The last time I rode Demon Drop was in like…1992 when my family went to Cedar Point and it was one of the worst family trips ever and my stepdad and I fought the whole time and my BFF at the time was with us and my parents (and brothers) liked her so much better than me so I had to deal with that shit the whole time on top of feeling like I was going to die on the Demon Drop, so riding it again in 2019 really brought back some feelings.

IT WAS HORRIFYING. As soon as our stupid cage reached the top, I started shrieking about how I made a mistake, I didn’t want to do it anymore, and coincidentally, these are the same things I screamed when I was admitted for my dreaded C-Section.

This is why I don’t do drop towers.

One of the things I liked about Dorney is that they had veggie nuggets at one of their food places, and also the Beyond Burger. Granted, it was an exorbitant price ($17 for Chooch and me to each get one burger, no fries, no drink) and the “fix-in’s” were self-serve, but it was still a nice chance from the standard slice of pizza that I usually end up eating at vegetarian-unfriendly amusement parks.

Guys. You know what time it is.

Family Carousel Selfie time!

I love this new tradition! I never gave a shit about carousels before but now it’s like “WE CAN’T LEAVE WITHOUT RIDING THE FUCKING MERRY-GO-ROUND, BITCHES.”

Chooch was on the deer until he realized that it didn’t go up and down so then he switched to a horse and I was so afraid he was going to get yelled at because it was right when the carousel alarm sounded, and I hate getting yelled at by ride attendants!! This stems from the time I was 7 and my shoe fell off on the Paratroopers and the ride attendant (I can still picture her!!) yelled at me afterward and made me cry and my friend Amy’s mom was like, “BITCH, DON’T YELL AT THIS CHILD” and then the ride attendant probably cried because Amy’s mom could be really mean and loud.

Also, I never wore sandals to an amusement park ever again after that.

Alsox2, this is probably the 12th time I’ve told this story on my blog, but look – it really shaped who I am, OK?!

Carousel mirror selfie.

One ride I consistently skip at amusement parks is the bumper cars.  I love the look of the bumper cars, and how they’re attached to the weird wire-mesh ceiling and it creates sparks as it moves. I love how it sounds, and how it smells. It’s very nostalgic, but I never feel compelled to get in line.

SHOULD I RIDE IT NEXT TIME?!

MAYBE I WILL.

It’s still my dream to replace my couch with vintage, refurbished bumper cars.

Chooch was excited because one of the dumb claw machines was full of the same exact generic “air pods” he won by selling cookie dough. Those good-good TWSI7s.

This year, we managed to go to 12 different amusement parks. 12! That’s not a lot for hardcore coaster enthusiasts, but it’s a record for my family and I can honestly say that I am living my best teenage life. It has been so much fun riding roller coasters with my family! We’ve had mostly excelsior experiences at each park—I’d easily rank Tokyo Disney Sea as my #1 and drop-kick Cedar Point straight down the elevator shaft—and I’d say that Dorney was a solid middle-ground. I really don’t have any complaints about it, and the only low point of the day was caused my own lack of nourishment and has zilch to do with Dorney’s operations.

We only stayed at Dorney until around 3, because we had a 4 hour drive home, which of course always ends up being way more than that. I really liked our time here and I’d like to go back next summer when the water rides are open, because I love me a good log flume and I think they have one there?!

Nov 142019
 

Chooch told me last night that people might actually read my blog if I was more relevant. “You need to like, write about boomers or something,” he said, suddenly becoming my blogging manager. Well sorry, but here I am with another post about amusement parks for the 1%! Enjoy!

On our second day of the Weekend Whiplash tour, we visited Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. It’s part of the Cedar Fair chain so we were able to use our passes. This was actually how I convinced Henry to make this autumn amusement park trip – “Oppa-yaaaaaaaaa, we won’t have to pay for the park! It can just be a day trip! I’ll help drive! I won’t eat anything!” but once he agreed, I launched my signature manipulation move by “negotiating” a/k/a whining and crying until he agreed that we could also add Lake Compounce in Connecticut.

“We’re going to be right there!” I cried, and by “right there” I meant 3.5 hours and three states away.

Anyway, you already know this! Now we’ll chit-chat about Dorney, which is a park that I’ve wanted to go to numerous times in the past when we’re on our way home from somewhere else and I see a sign for it, but then forget all about it once we get back to Pittsburgh. It’s definitely on the lower-end of the Cedar Fair chain, as far as size and coaster collection go, but it’s still worth a visit if you’re into amusement parks!

Like most (all?) of the Cedar Fair parks, their kids area is themed to Snoopy so enjoy that, I guess. Chooch certainly did.

We took these pictures while Henry was in the bathroom. Literally, we had just gotten there after stopping at like 87 gas stations and even a Target (I NEEDED TAMPONS OK GOD WHY DO YOU HAVE TO PRY INTO MY BUSINESS) but he still has to immediately bee-line for the nearest rest room upon entry to any given amusement park.

OK, Chooch.

The first coaster we rode was Talon, and it was a walk-on. I didn’t think I would care much for it, but this was a real pleasant surprise, my friends! It was smooth, the first drop was thrilling, and I didn’t get a head-banger’s headache afterward.

I watch this one theme park YouTube channel called In The Loop, and when my favorite vlogger of the crew, Legend, reported from there with his girlfriend Molly (my actual favorite) and talked about the “jojo roll” on Hydra, I completely latched on to that for some reason. I mean, first of all, “jojo roll” is a ridiculous name for an element so of course I’m going to start obsessing over it. It’s actually just a heartline roll, but it’s specifically when that element happens before the lift hill, and on Hydra, it happens as soon as you leave the station.

So we were all, “YEAH JOJO ROLL!” but then after that, it was just “a ride.” Nothing super spectacular, but it’s a really beautiful coaster nonetheless – I loved the color scheme and the Hydra sign! Also, I believe this is the only floorless coaster in Pennsylvania, which seems weird that Hershey doesn’t have one, but there you go. Something to seek out if you’re in PA and a floorless aficionado.

After this, we ran to the main attraction (for us): Steel Force. This was actually going to be Chooch’s 100th coaster before we added Lake Compounce to the mix, because we love us some hypers. I don’t think anything will ever replace Phantom’s Revenge in my heart, because it’s a homepark sweetheart and that second drop is unlike any other in the world, but this one was REALLY FUN.

Chooch and I went straight for the back and Mr. Defiant Henry was like, “THEN I AM GOING TO THE FRONT.” You can see in that picture up there how much of a crowd we had to contend with.

Steel Force line selfie!

I wouldn’t rank Steel Force above Magnum at Cedar Point, but holy shit this was a sweet ride! I think I spent most of the time out of my seat. It wasn’t too painful either, whereas I do experience some back-crunches on Magnum. Yeah, this ride is pretty fucking beautiful. My co-worker Megan told me that she was there one time when people were getting married on it!

I guess it used to be a world record-holder when it was constructed in the late 90s, and it still holds the record for being the longest steel coaster on the east coast. I’m sure this part of this blog post will not age well.

I was annoyed because the one ride attendant who looked like the world’s biggest David Draiman fan made Chooch and I get off the dumb train and run all the way back around and get back into line when we asked if we could just stay on – THERE WAS NO ONE ELSE IN LINE. Ugh, parks and their rules. Whatever. So we had to run like maniacs because we wanted to get on the same one as Henry, since he was still standing in the only line that had anyone in it – the front. We didn’t make it though because a dumb slow couple got in front of us and we were soooo angry.

Anyway, this tiny moment manifested into this huge internal drama where I fucking hated the ride attendant and I was so annoyed because he kept jovially talking to all the people who were in the front row and I was like STOP TRYING TO ACT COOL and then I tried to accuse him (behind his back, because that’s how I do) of not checking my seat belt on our second ride but Chooch said he actually did come back there to my side but I wasn’t paying attention. PROBABLY BECAUSE I WAS SEEING RED.

Then, on our third ride, Chooch and I opted for the front row that time so I sadly had to stand near him.

“OK, I gotta ask,” he started to say to me and I got SUPER TENSE because I DID NOT WANT TO TALK TO HIM AFTER THE INCIDENT*. “Did you get your coat the Cruella DeVille store?”

*(Chooch was over it way before I was. But I didn’t like the way that guy shook his head at us and said, “You have to get off and go back around.”)

Literally, I went years and years without anyone but the one homeless lady who sits outside of the gay bar Images on Liberty Avenue making any type of comment about this jacket when I wear it, but this particular weekend was rife with comments and compliments. (The young girl at Dorney’s gift shop was like I LOVE YOUR COAT and probably thought I was going to say I got it from Forever 21 and not some years-defunct clothing boutique for young sluts. (Contempo, lol.)

I didn’t even bother coming up with a witty retort. Instead, I fake-laughed and said, “Yeah you would think” because YOU WOULDN’T LET US STAY IN THE BACKSEAT AND RIDE AGAIN, YOU DIME STORE ANDRE AGASSI.

I’m sure he’s otherwise a very nice guy. Henry seemed to get along fine with him. But, that’s Henry, the White Knight for all Thoughtless White Men.

Other coasters rode but not shown: Possessed, which is an inverted impulse that I want desperately to call “Possession” instead, like it’s based off pf some imaginary 1980s film noir prequel to “Fatal Attraction” starring Glenn Close. Anyway, it’s a smaller version  to Wicked Twister, a/k/a Spaghetti Noodle, at Cedar Point. We rode this one in the back and it was straight-up terrifying. Henry didn’t ride it because he’s a big baby when it comes to launch coasters, wah wah wah.

We never pass up the vintage cars! Unless the line is long. We don’t care that much.

When we were in line, we witnessed a legit pile-up. First of all, I don’t care how many signs there are posted that say NO BUMPING and STOP HERE – when you’re letting small children zoom off unsupervised, what do you expect is going to happen when they roll up to the station and there is no ride attendant there yelling for them to step on the brake? THEY’RE GOING TO KEEP GOING. And this is exactly what happened when some, I don’t know, 1st grader I guess, came zooming around the bend, ignored the STOP SIGN because he’s like 6, and crashed into the line of cars waiting to go. There was a woman in the process of getting out of the first car in line, and she nearly fell out of it when the crash happened, and then one of the ride attendants was all, OH SHIT, and had to run over to step on the brake because kids are dumb.

I was super worried this was going to happen to us when we were sitting in line waiting to go!

Anyway, the course was really short, but at least we got to ogle some jacks.

Look at dumb Henry, watching us like a proud parent. He also took a video of us cruisin’, which offends me and I cannot post it here because his Instagram account is private like anyone cares enough to creep on him.  People who hate him just lash out at him through me, anyway, so what’s it matter?!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4abZPWBFGFYLK-it_yWUbJO6sQdXjbGVTAs0A0/

Meanwhile, some Monster Truck event was happening, because Dorney has an entire Monster Truck Thunder Alley which replaced some roller coaster that was probably way better than Monster Trucks but whatever. Anyway, the Grave Digger guy was there and only a few kids were talking to him so I was like, “You should go over there” and Chooch was like, “But I don’t care about Monster Trucks” and I was like, “Yeah, but that guy is here so we should at least pretend.” And that’s how Chooch got stuck having a conversation about the weather with the Grave Digger guy because he had nothing else to say to him.

Nice guy though!!

By now, we were entering the Hunger Zone, and I was starting to sporadically growl the word “CUNT” while spewing demonic pea soup, but instead of sitting down to eat, I decided  to get in line for the last coaster we needed – the stupid Wild Mouse. I guaranteed Chooch earlier that day that it would be the longest line we’d stand in all day, AND I WAS RIGHT. A while whopping 15 minutes. I entertained myself by emasculating Henry via KakaoTalk. The picture above is him reading my texts while his dick folds in on itself in humiliation.

But you guys! All the cars were mice except one, which was a CAT, and we got the cat! That was enough to make me block out the hunger pains!

Yeah boi! View from the top! Look at all those fall colors!

Here you can see “Possession Starring Glenn Close” in the background, and also part of the woodie, Thunderhawk, which was A-OK. I literally don’t remember anything about it.

One last ride on Talon (!!) before leaving and starting the 4 hour drive home. What a great weekend!

Nov 092019
 

When I first started looking at information on Lake Compounce, their “haunted graveyard” was an optional event so if you just wanted to go to the park without doing the haunt, you could. I thought that would be a good way to get Henry to agree to, um, extending our road trip because he is a Halloween Scrooge and just doesn’t enjoy haunted attractions that much (“no one ever tries to scare the old guys!” he whined once, so there’s the truth).

But then on the way there, I went to their website to buy the tickets and that option was gone. Now the tickets were one price, and it included the haunt. Henry grumbled about this because he’s a tightwad who is always trying to save a buck, but….TOO LATE TO TURN BACK NOW.

When we got there, there were little day-glo clown vignettes set up here and there and I was like, “Oh wow, I’m so glad we paid extra for this.”

Was this it? The Haunted Graveyard?! It was just a small plot of land dotted with tombstones, and apparently there were several scheduled performances of “Thriller” over there during the course of the night too.

It did make for a really cool photo op, though!

Eventually, we found the area where the actual haunt was. Our tickets said that our time slot was 9:30, and we almost didn’t stay that long because it was SO COLD, but then I was like, “Well, it’s included in our ticket, and it’s not that crowded here, so we might as well just go and check it out.”

HOLY SHIT. Thank god we did, because this ended up being the BEST haunt we went to all season, maybe even the last several seasons. In some little amusement park in Connecticut, no less!

We only had to stand in line for about 15 minutes, where I was harangued by a clown who was obsessed with questioning me about my jacket. Do you know that I have had this jacket since…maybe 1999 or 2000? And this was the first time anyone has ever made Cruella DeVille comments?! And it happened again inside the haunt when someone growled in my ear, “How many dogs do you have?” and I missed the perfect opportunity to say, “I brought two of them here with me.” Then a butcher said he wanted me and mooed, haha.

I’m getting ahead of myself though! The organization of the line outside of the haunt was fantastic – they split everyone into corrals so it kept the line moving faster. There was an older couple in front of us (the guy reminded me of Nicholas Cage and had really dorky commentary throughout) and a larger group of friends behind us so I was originally worried that there were too many of us. The lady at the door of the “church” was like, “Enjoy your 45 minute walk through” and we looked at each other, like, “There is no way we’ll be in there for 45 minuutes” BUT WE WERE and every single second of that time counted. I have to save the details for my haunted house journal but the Haunted Graveyard took us through a myriad of different scenes and themes, and each one was filled with scare actors who gave a shit about their roles.

It was le magnifique, you guys. I was sweating by the time we got out of there, and also, the large group we were paired with was hilarious without being annoying and I loved them.

I asked Henry the other day what his favorite part of the weekend was, and without hesitation he said, “Being there with you” JUST KIDDING he said, “The Haunted Graveyard.” That is really saying something!!

Now, please enjoy some photos of our time at Lake Compounce once the sun went down.

Y’all know we can’t go to a park without a carousel selfie.

We didn’t like Henry’s attempt so we got back on again after it stopped. “Who even re-rides the carousel?” Chooch mumbled.

Us, clearly!

Chooch always takes the best ones so we put him in charge.

But that means we have to take the whole “Chooch’s Carousel Photo Package” which always includes a picture of him patting his horse’s butt and usually a close-up of him forcing himself to have triple-chins.

There were only two downsides to the whole experience at Lake Compounce: it was really cold and I was woefully underdressed (I only let Henry get this close to me because I was that cold) and the s’mores stand, which cost us $12 for two s’mores while a group of morons shuffled around behind the flames, half-assedly toasting marshmallows, running out of Hersheys bars and then leaving their station without telling the customers what was happening, and then serving up s’mores that had no semblance of gooey, melty, campfire goodness. I took one bite out of mine and gave it to Henry. “I’m not wasting calories on this,” I said, and then pouted for a few minutes but I recovered quickly because everything else about the park was so nice and inoffensive.

No line-jumpers!

No weirdos!

No broken down rides!

They even had this county fair food trailer thing that apparently was seen on Stranger Things, Season 3!

The kiddyland area was closed for the season, but it was appropriately clown-themed and I was obsessed.

WTF lol.

DID YOU KNOW that Lake Compounce is the oldest continuously-operated amusement park in the US? Well, now you know, thanks to my blog and my mediocre Wiki-reading skills.

I love riding the little cars in amusement parks to begin with, but it’s even better during the Halloween season!

I’d like to go back sometime during the summer and see what the park’s like during the day, maybe ride some water rides, but I think we got a pretty good feel for Lake Compounce during our 6 hours there last weekend and I would definitely recommend it, ESPECIALLY if you’re a ho-bag for wooden coasters like myself. Boulder Dash is just really on another level and I would even say it’s worth the price of admission—I think we paid $32/person because we had a $5 off code, but prior to the day we were there, I saw on their website that you could pay $29.99 if you were only going to the park and not attending the haunt, so I’m not sure what their regular season deals are like. Plus, it’s in a general proximity to other parks, like Dorney in Allentown, PA, and Six Flags New England in Massachusetts.

Another unusual thing is that there was no one there that pissed me off. Usually, at every park, there is THAT ONE PERSON that acts a fool in line or makes loud nose-noises or whatever I deem offensive at that point in time. And then naturally I see them 87 more times throughout the course of the day. But I guess Connecticut has OK peeps.

(Except for that Sandy Hook motherfucker. We passed signs for that town on the highway and it made me incredibly sad.)

Goodbye, Lake Compounce!

After we left, we drove for about an hour and stayed at some Super 8 in Danbury, and the hotel itself was actually fine and clean but since Henry is the king of waiting the last minute to book a room, the only thing they had available was a room on the smoking floor and Henry took it, thinking it would be fine, but my whole entire overnight bag still reeks of cigarette and I had to mouth-breathe until I eventually fell asleep because it felt like the pillow was smothering me with smoke.

I really liked the blue walls, though…?

Nov 082019
 

We already had decided to go to Dorney Park in Allentown during the first weekend in November, because it’s included in our Cedar Fair passes, still open for Halloween festivities, plus we were on a quest to get Chooch to 100 coaster credits by the end of the year. This was a pretty easy one to convince Henry of, because Allentown is only about a 4 hour drive.

But you know what’s only another 3 hours away from that?

LAKE COMPOUNCE in Connecticut!

My reasoning was that we were already going to be out “that way” so why not tack on a second park!? Henry was like, “THEY ARE NOT CLOSE TO EACH OTHER AT ALL.” But I just kept nagging and harping and whining and then I had that really Bad Halloween which wasn’t even really that bad but you know me, Queen of Hyperbole.  Finally Henry declared defeat and so we went to Lake Compounce on Saturday, yay! I’m a spoiled brat!

The reason I wanted to come here is all because of one roller coaster – Boulder Dash. It always comes up in various lists for the best wooden coasters and everyone knows wooden coasters are my favorites. But then Chooch apparently watched a video about Boulder Dash on his own, so he started to bug Henry about wanting to go here too and Henry was convinced that I put him up to it (I didn’t, but that’s definitely not something that’s beneath me); sorry, Henry, you live with two coaster enthusiasts. You lose.

Anyway, we rolled up to the park about 30 minutes before they opened at 5:00pm and there were only about 20 other people there. This was our first time ever coming to Lake Compounce, so I wasn’t sure what kind of crowds to expect, but as it turned out, it never really got very crowded as the night went on and most rides were a complete walk-on.

Some young guy in line with us had on navy pants imprinted with sail boats. Oh, Connecticut.

Chooch wanted Boulder Dash to be his 100th coaster, so we had to go on two other coasters first.  Phobia was first on the list and we were the very first ride of the day! And we were the only people on it too which was creepy. This coaster was pretty much exactly like Tempesto at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and I forgot how terrifying it is.

Even Henry rode it because I think he’s going through some sort of midlife crisis where he’s trying desperately to be more a part of our lives and less of a bench-sitter? I mean, he even has his dorky safety-strap for his glasses just so he can ride coasters with us, what a team player.

Ugh, the second coaster of the evening was Zoomerang, the park’s Vekoma boomerang. We were also the first people to ride this one, and Chooch and I were the ONLY ONES ON IT which made it all the more terrifying. Henry sat this one out because he knew it was going to be a rough one, and boy was he smart to do so. This piece of shit was so rattly and jerky that I was honestly unsure if we were going to make it around for our return trip to the station.

I posted this on Instagram and my friend Veronica was like, “Girl you know it’s true” and a more perfect comment has never been crafted.

But yeah, there’s a fun fact for you guys! Who knew?!

OK, finally it was time for Chooch to snag that #100 so we ran over to Boulder Dash which was honestly the only ride in the park that had any semblance of a line that we had to stand in. Chooch and I immediately got in line for the back row because back row is the best row, le duh.

This was a bucket list coaster of mine and I couldn’t believe I was getting a chance to ride it! Boulder Dash is famous for being a terrain woodie – the lift hill is flush with mountain. On the way up, you have beautiful views of the actual boulders that dot the terrain, and the rest of the ride is practically a collision-course down and around the side of the mountain. Hence the name Boulder Dash, y’all.

I definitely felt out of control on it, and the train seemingly jumps the track through the entire ride so the danger-factor is there in full force.

This wasn’t my favorite wooden coaster but it’s definitely earned a spot in my heart for being unique and just flat out wicked!

The sun was already starting to set so it was hard to get any pictures of Boulder Dash, but you can see part of the track on the hillside over there.

We rode it 4 times that night – twice in the back, once in row 5, and I think the longest we stood in line was probably 25 minutes when we wanted to sit in the front seat. I always recommend the front row for night rides, because there is really nothing like seeing an expanse of utter darkness whirling past you, totally throwing off your orientation and bearings.

I think the peak ride for me was when Henry and I rode together in the back at night and the climax of Zedd’s “Clarity” was playing in the station when we came back in. I was so pumped!

Also freezing. It was very cold in Bristol, Connecticut on that November night and I needed approximately 4 more pairs of socks and to swap out my cute-yet-thin cow-print jacket with an Alaskan parka.

When Chooch and I were in line for the front, he decided TO TAKE OFF HIS JACKET to prove to me that it wasn’t that cold and I was like “YOU ARE CRAZY AND ALSO EMBARRASSING” because it was fucking knit-hat weather that night, you guys. I was kicking myself for leaving my gloves in the car (Henry said I wouldn’t need them!!) and here’s my weird kid flexing his hot blood in line for a roller coaster. Everyone there was bundled up but then I stupidly pointed out that some kid who was currently in the train waiting to go was only wearing a t-shirt, so that inspired Chooch to ROLL UP THE SLEEVES OF HIS SHIRT SO IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS WEARING A TANK TOP. I can’t with this stubborn kid. I just can’t. He kept his shirt like that during the entire frigid ride in the front seat too.

Anyway, here he is on his 100th coaster! Also, I was too cold to put my arms all the way up. And could Henry look any angrier?

One of the times Chooch and I rode without Henry, there was a young couple in front of us in line and the girl said to the boy, ‘I appreciate you” and then was trying to get him to wear her gloves because she was so concerned that he was too cold. I remembered this last night and was telling Henry about it.

“I was like, ‘WTF is happening right now.’ It was so weird.”

“It’s called LOVE,” Henry spat and then gave me his signature “what is wrong with you” look that, now that I think about it, everyone seems to keep in their back pocket, ready to slap on, when they talk to me.

Chooch thought the left seat of the fifth row was the best for some reason, so he rode there alone while Henry and I waited for the back. I don’t know what he’s doing in this picture – pantomiming putting on exam gloves?

The only other coaster at Lake Compounce is Wildcat, a smaller, family-friendly woodie. It was….OK. Not as rough or painful as I thought it would be, but it also didn’t have us running back in line either.

Henry thinks he’s so cool.

I really liked Phobia a lot, and it was a walk-on every time we rode it (one of the times they let us just stay on). But I think Boulder Dash was just wonderful and it was a solid, classic #100 for Chooch!

Going to amusement parks became so much more fun once Chooch finally came around to the idea of keeping track of his coaster credits. Now it’s like a game, one that even Henry likes to play!

Oct 312019
 

I think that King’s Dominion really flies under the radar with the general public. Its coaster lineup is definitely worth the trip no matter where you live, and we had no qualms about driving 7 hours to stuff our asses on rides like Dominator, Intimidator 305, and Twisted Timbers.

Let’s talk about Twisted Timbers first, because this was my most anticipated ride and the first one we ran (fast-walked – running is against park laws at King’s Dominion!) to on our first day. You might know by now that I am an RMC fan girl through and through and it JUST SO HAPPENS that this is an RMC! Originally, the park had a wooden coaster called The Hurler, which was themed to Wayne’s World back when Paramount owned the park. I never rode this (this was my first time here), but from what I heard, it was painful, rough, and just all-around not great.

Then Cedar Fair decided to give it the RMC treatment, which means that they hired Rocky Mountain Construction, now notorious for refabbing pieces of shit woodies and turning them into mind-bending works or engineering wonders, to come in and re-track the damn thing, converting it to steel and adding in elements that are just inexplicable, even after you’ve experienced it for yourself.

The theming on this was meant to insinuate that something had fallen from the sky, like a meteor, into the middle of an apple orchard, which was like, strange. But I appreciated that the queue had some shit in it and wasn’t just like a slab of asphalt (that was my only gripe about Kentucky Kingdom – their coaster collection is INSANE but they have absolutely no theming and the park just isn’t very attractive). We had to wait about 30 minutes for our inaugural ride, so it wasn’t utterly bad, considering this is still a pretty new ride for the park.

My initial review was, “……OK. That was….good.” This is my 4th RMC and the other three are real forces to be recognized with: Storm Chaser, Lightning Rod, and Steel Vengeance. I think Steel Vengeance (Steve<3) is my #1 but I only got to ride it twice. Lightning Rod is definitely my #2 but could go back to #1 RMC for me at some point, we’ll see how much Cedar Point fucks us next season. And Storm Chaser is #3 because it is just sheer insanity, so forceful, actually scary.

If I hadn’t already ridden those three, I think I would have been way more impressed with Twisted Timbers.

But, this was only my first ride, and we would go back the next day and revisit it.

But first….

Intimidator 305!

OK, I shouldn’t like this ride because it’s themed after some Nascar dummy, but I like the Steel Curtain and that’s so fucking Steelers-themed that the only way it could be even more Steelers-related would be if the track was modeled after Ben Roethlisberger’s intestines.

God I hate football so much.

Anyway, this beast is a hyper, which means is stands at over 300 feet. I daresay, I liked it much better than Millennium Force and after riding it, I now get why the enthusiasts call Millie “Millennium Forceless” – Intimidator is so much crazier and I had such wicked greyouts each time I rode it that I was actually concerned I might pass all the way out, lol.

(We were telling Janna about this the following weekend and she was like, “IS THAT GOOD?!” Lol, what a n00b.)

I started referring this bad boy as “Daddy” for the rest of the weekend and it made Henry uncomfortable I think, but possibly less so once he realized that I wasn’t calling him Daddy.

Because, um, that would not be something I would do. Ever.

This kid was literally one of the slowest ride operators I have ever watched. This picture is from day 2, but he was also there the night before, when Chooch and I made a very poor life choice by deciding to get into the line for the front row, which has its own queue and I don’t really get it because the back seat is by far the best, however – we wanted that dramatic front-row night ride.

And that is how we ended up standing in line for 90 minutes (maybe 2 hours??) for a ride that only had a 30 minute standby time for every other row. The line didn’t look that long, OK? And it probably wouldn’t have been so bad if ride ops weren’t slower than Trump’s reading comprehension skills and we weren’t behind a quad of ultra-annoying boys who I would guess to be 9th graders

The people behind us were like, “THIS WAS THE WORST IDEA WHY DID WE GET IN THIS LINE” but honestly, at the time, it seemed like it would be OK because the main line was moving so quickly and the line for the front seemingly only had about 50 people in it and they were running two trains…

But goddamn it was so slow. I would place a large portion of the blame on the riders though because it was insane how many people just don’t follow directions. “Oh, there aren’t any bins here in the station? OK well, I’ll just hand all of my shit to the ride attendant – OMG the ride attendant won’t take my personal belonging and claim responsibility for them? ARE YOU KIDDING?”

Yeah seriously. So then all the restraints have to be unlocked because of one dumbass who has to now try and stuff all his shit in a pocket or whatever, and then all of the restraints have to be RECHECKED by two employees who do not believe in living a fast-paced life and are clearly mistaking this ride platform for a Louisiana bayou on a hot summer day. They were professional meanderers.

Chooch was so angry and kept saying, “Let’s just slip under the railing and get back in the regular line” but I wouldn’t budge. We had already wasted enough time in our quest for the front row and BY GOLLY I was going to slam my fat ass in that seat and enjoy the sensation of the wind drying out my contacts.

And it was worth every goddamn second we stood in line. There is nothing better than a motherfucking night ride on a roller coaster, especially one as threatening and, well, intimidating as Daddy. This ride is EVERYTHING.

Meanwhile, Henry wasn’t even concerned that we had been engulfed in the bowels of a passenger queue for nearly 2 hours and was just like, “Eh, I figured you chose the front row,” and shrugged it off. He was probably just happy to sit on a bench and read Reddit threads about wives being caught cheating on their husbands in Costco parking lots.

DADDY!!!!!

We rode it several more times the next day and I honestly cannot say enough good things about this ride. In fact, Henry made it onto an earlier train than us, and actually got back in line to ride it again afterward! And when he realized that he would be able to snag the second row right behind us, he actually RAN to claim his spot.

This is a first. Henry NEVER runs. Especially not at amusement parks! I think we’re like actually becoming a real family now or something. All of this bonding we’ve been doing has practically turned us into the Waltons.

(They were wholesome, right?)

Stupid Nascar shit.

Anaconda was pretty forgettable but I thought the ride itself was really striking. The colors were so vibrant and I liked that it was basically hovering over top of some weird swamp area.

Look at it!

We only rode this once, but the thing that sticks out the most to me is that we had a super annoying family in line behind us who let their kids do gymnastics on the railings and that the guy in the queue next to us had really cool Nikes that looked like the 1980s in shoe form so when we got off the ride, Chooch worked up the nerve to approach him and ask him what style they were and the guy had to actually look at the bottom of his shoe to answer him and now I already forget what they are but they started with a P I think in case you’re really like, “OH NO DON’T LEAVE US HANGING OVER THESE MYSTERY SHOES.”

Racer75 was MY SHIT. After riding the Racer at King’s Island, I had very low expectations for this one, but it was an airtime machine! It was so much fun, and we rode it at night so you can see Intimidator looming in the distance and it was really menacing and, you know, intimidating.

Even Henry was like “THIS WAS A GOOD RIDE. I LIKED IT.”

Apparently, it was recently retracked which explains why it was so smooth. The only downside is that they were only running one side so the racing element was missing, which was a real bummer. It wasn’t running the next day either so maybe they just shut down one side after the regular summer season? I DO NOT KNOW. I DO NOT RUN A PARK.

The next day, we were there for early entry and only one old man was able to beat us to Twisted Timbers, but then a handful of fast lane douches encroached on us and made it to the front row before us. I think we ended up being on the third train of the day because we insisted on trying out the front row while it was still early and the line was short but of course that’s where all the fast lane douches went too. Henry thought he was so great because he got in line for the third seat and was like, “BYE SUCKERS” when he got to ride before us. Whatever Henry.

This ride was so much better than the day before! So much so that we got off and walk-ran right back on and got the back row this time. We unfortunately were in line with some know-it-all coaster enthusiast who was like, “Just so you know, the fifth seat on the left side of the blue train has tighter restraints than any other row” and then kept talking about all the times he’s been on Steel Vengeance and in my head, I was like, “WHO ARE YOU EVEN TALKING TO?” He had a dumb hipster beard so I immediately discredited everything he was saying.

Anyway, after three rides on this bad boy, I can now say with much satisfaction and confidence that it is a GREAT RIDE. It has wicked airtime, barrel rolls, trick tracks, hangtime – it was worth the drive to Virginia and makes me do some daydreaming about how Kennywood could add an RMC to their lineup. I don’t think they would give any of their current coasters the RMC treatment since they’re all legit classics, nor would I want them to, but it would be so amazing to see how RMC could work with the limited space and crazy terrain that Kennywood has, much like they did with Lightning Rod at Dollywood. Can you imagine a quad-down hugging the side of a West Mifflin ravine??

I’m not a super big fan of floorless coasters but B&M’s Dominator really won me over. We only rode it twice – once at night in the back row, and once first thing in the morning on our second day (it was the only ride aside from the kiddy coasters that opens right away) in the front row with Henry, and I have to say, I enjoyed both rides very much!

And here we have Chooch and me on the backseat of Racer75 on our second day!

In total, we rode every coaster except for the dumbest of the two kiddy ones, so: Twisted Timbers, Apple Zapple, Grizzly, Flight of Fear (which Chooch hated at King’s Island but loved at King’s Dominion even though they’re identical but this one didn’t break down three times while we were in line, so maybe that’s why), Backlot Stunt Coaster, Avalanche (a really cool bobsled ride but not as fun as Flying Turns at Knoebel’s), Intimidator 305, Dominator, Woodstock Express which killed my knees, and Anaconda. This brought Chooch’s coaster count up to 97! So if this weekend pans out right, he should have 100 in no time. Fingers crossed!

Oct 232019
 

HENRY RIDES ALONE

Being a family of three makes going to amusement parks kind of annoying because someone always has to ride alone (lol usually Henry, come on now). Usually, we try to arrange it so that we’re at least all riding at the same time, which involves basic math and sometimes social skills when you have to ask the people behind you if they want to go ahead so that you can match the riders with whatever line your other party is in. Such a hassle!

However, we counted incorrectly when in line for Grizzly and Henry ended up going on the train after us and was surly about it because, for some reason, the line for this was SO SLOW. Operations were awful, one of the ride attendants was wearing an eye patch and we thought it was for Halloween but Henry said he saw him take it off and his eye was all fucked up, so that’s cool. People were bailing the whole time we stood in line for this, but we were committed because Henry expressed interest in riding it and he NEVER suggests deviations from my airtight amusement park agendas.

Agendae?

Agendi?

Agendas.

Also, some asshole kid behind me had NO concept of boundaries and his parents certainly didn’t care to teach him, so he kept jabbing me in the back with his faux-hawk so when it was our turn to ride, we waved smugly at Henry as our train departed the station and then I don’t remember a single thing about the ride because my little dickhead son pretended as though my phone fell out of his pocket and I didn’t know he was joking until the end of the ride so I spent the whole duration screaming ARE YOU SERIOUS until I eventually burst into tears.

Anyway, I think this ride awakened something inside Henry because, after that, he didn’t try to ride anything with us anymore – he just went and sat where ever he found an empty seat instead of trying to line up with whatever seat we were in line for.

Henry’s Journey To Independence.

Here’s our favorite manservant standing alone to ride Racer 75. He had some kind of camaraderie with the guys behind him and wouldn’t tell Chooch and me what was going on which I thought was rude and I hate it when Henry has interactions with people that don’t involve me. I monitor him pretty tightly and I need to know these things so that I can someday in the future twist them around into some accusatory pretzel of paranoia.

By the next day, he was fully emancipated from Chooch and me and rode Twisted Timbers once in a seat that we didn’t want him to sit in and then again on a train that we weren’t even on! HERE HE IS WITH HIS NEW FAMILY.

(Side note: the guy in front of him was the sweetest! He was talking to us when we waited for the  gates to open Sunday morning and has gotten Chooch all gung-ho about Planet Coaster, but true to dude-form, he was subtly condescending when we were talking about the new ride at Hershey and I said, “It’s called Candymonium” and he said, “Yeah…I’m not sure what it’s called” because I’m a GIRL and like most places in life outside of Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood, THERE IS LITTLE ROOM FOR BROADS IN THE COASTER COMMUNITY but that’s OK I’ll just surf my way out on a wave of testosterone.

Later, we rode Intimidator and Henry was like, “Deuces, you losers” as his train pulled out of the station while we were still in line for front row (the back is arguably the best row but you gotta sit in the front too at least once for the experience), leaving Chooch and me gaping in his wake. We were still in line when he got off the ride and he actually walked all the way around and got back into line, and even RAN when he realized that he could snag the seat behind Chooch and me right as the train was loading! HENRY IS BECOMING…SOMEONE WHO GETS EXCITED!

JANNA’S FUTURE HUSBAND

OK how to even start this story. Well, I guess it starts the same way they all do: I became obsessed with this one YouTube channel that features a group of guys who go to amusement parks and carnivals and vlog about it, but sometimes, the friend of one of the guys shows up and for some reason, I have really taken to him.

In an effort to keep my blog out of search engines, let’s just call him Fleece Radkins.

Now, Fleece sometimes shows up in the vlogs of his friend, Flint Yesvac. Their home parks are King’s Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and actually, one of the Busch Gardens vlogs was the first time I saw Fleece. I liked him because after every ride, he would stoically and confidently state, “That’s my favorite ride in the park.”

So then Janna was visiting one time and Chooch was like “JANNA WATCH ME PLAY FORTNITE CAN I HAVE YOUR GAMING COMPUTER” and I was like, “JANNA CHOOSE AN NCT127 BIAS AND WATCH THESE ROLLER COASTER VIDEOS!” so I showed her one of the vlogs that featured Fleece and yelled, “ISN’T HE FUNNY” and she was like, “I guess?” and I was like, “OMG JANNA LIKES FLEECE!” and then Chooch abandoned Fortnight in an effort to help me harangue Janna mercilessly like any other Saturday night in Hell House and we decided that we needed to hook them up.

So the first step, naturally, was to find him on Instagram. I did, but his profile is private and he doesn’t have a lot of friends so I didn’t want to request him.

“I feel like he’s much too young, though!” Janna pointed out, which means that she was at least considering it.

Anyway, on our first day at King’s Dominion, we were walking to Grizzly when Henry casually asked, “Hey, wasn’t that one of the guys in those videos you watch?” and I was like, “Huh? Who? Where? Why?” because I am the most unalert when it comes to other people while I’m walking. I mostly keep my eyes on the ground so that I don’t trip.

However, when I turned around to look, even from the back and with eyes as jacked as mine (and I do not mean jacked as in muscular, my eyes are basically saggy orbs that are close to serving as just facial decoration) I recognized one of the passersby as FLEECE RADKINS.

“Holy shit!” I screeched to Chooch, and we were frozen, watching him walk away with his group of friends.

“Was it really him?” Chooch asked, and there was only one way to find out: CHASE HIM SUPER STEALTHILY AND STARE AT HIS FACE FROM CLOSE RANGE.

We caught up with him just as he walked up to the Wayside Grill, so I stood right next to him and said, “HMMM, LOOKING AT THE MENU” while,  you know, looking at the menu. Then Fleece walked away and sat down on a wall while his friends stayed in line, and at that point, I was 99.9% confident that it was him so I made Chooch pose for a fake picture.

FLEECE RADKINS, ladies and gentlemen!

I sent the picture to Janna.

She was a bit less enthused than I expected her to be. I guess I wanted her to be upset that she wasn’t there but she seemed pretty flippant about it, what a bitch!

YOU GUYS, TWO HOURS LATER, WE SAW HIM AGAIN IN THE SAME SPOT!!

Henry didn’t know that Fleece was behind him, so Chooch ran up to Henry and whisper-screamed, “DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU BUT FLEECE RADKINS IS RIGHT THERE” and I was standing behind Fleece close enough to see that Fleece’s eyes were honed in right on Chooch and he totally had to have known that he was the subject of their DON’T TURN AROUND conversation.

I never did approach the guy because he’s not even a part of that YouTube channel, he’s just kind of like an occasional tag-alonger so I would have felt uncomfortable being like, “HEY I HAVE SEEN YOU IN THREE VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE AND I HAVE CLEARLY WATCHED THOSE THREE VIDEOS ENOUGH TIMES FOR EVEN MY BOYFRIEND WHO ONLY HALF-WATCHES THE VIDEOS TO RECOGNIZE YOU CAN I GET A SELFIE?”

Yeah, no thanks.

Back at work (a/k/a The Place Without Roller Coasters), Glenn thought this was such a great story that he made me tell it in our weekly meeting and absolutely no one was shocked that I was stalking some guy that I kind of know from 3 YouTube videos. So, your typical Tuesday meeting.