Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Impression: Elitch Gardens

Elitch Gardens is by no means a great park, but in my mind, that doesn't matter too much. Honestly, their coaster collection isn't much better than average, and the atmosphere leaves something to be desired. I will say that I had fun that day, and the historical factor was very cool, but that doesn't make up for what the park lacks in coasters and general atmosphere.

In keeping with my habit, we arrived well after opening to a parking lot that was not very full. I handed over my ticket and entered their entrance building thing. We didn't stay long, instead making a beeline for Sidewinder. This would be my first Arrow shuttle loop - scratch that, my first shuttle loop, period. Thankfully, the park was not very busy at all, and we only waited about 15 minutes before boarding.

Lucky for me, I was first in line for the next train, so I snagged the front row, right side. One thing that really startled me was how much the tower swayed - you could feel it as the train took off. It wasn't long before the train was dispatched and away we went. The ride layout or design isn't really much to speak of. It was not much more than a brief but thrilling ride. The most exciting part was being able to see the end of the track as you fly toward it. It was cool for me to ride because of the shuttle loop history, but beyond that, it wasn't much more than just another fun ride.

Despite the fact that we had only just arrived, we stopped for a pizza at Rustlers Food Court. My first complaint about the park - why don't they sell smaller sodas? The large sizes really wouldn't be that bad if they would offer straws and lids, so you could take it out into the park more easily. Still, this wouldn't be the first time that I was forced to throw away more than half of my oversized soda.

My next stop was Twister II, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I hadn't really heard much about it, besides the generally-known history of it and the former Mr. Twister. There was about a five minute wait for it, so we hopped in the second row and got on the next cycle. We climbed the lift hill, traversed the s-curve, and proceeded to enter the incomprehensible mess of twists and turns. One thing that struck me about the ride was how it didn't throw you around, despite the crazy layout. In that aspect, it was much better than I was expecting. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't very exciting. At no point was I sincerely thrilled, which I consider to be one of the most important feelings on a roller coaster. In the end, it just didn't feel as forceful as I would have liked, but not a bad ride overall.

At that point, it was starting to get later in the day, and we had wanted to leave kind of early so as not to miss the Mavericks/Heat game. We headed straight for Half Pipe, seeing that the line was short. We didn't wait more than 10 minutes, which was nice considering (1) it was hot, and (2) that's all it was honestly worth. I don't say that to be critical, it's just not any better than average. It was fun, granted, but all too short, and not something that merits riding more than once, at least for a while. It's not a bad coaster, but it simply isn't great. Not that it has to be, but I was beginning to feel that each ride mirrored the park as a whole - good, but not great.

I took a quick ride on Tower of Doom after that. In truth, it wasn't really that quick; the operations weren't very efficient. We got in a 30 minute line for Boomerang, which I was really not too happy about. It was getting hot, and the ride ops were not being very efficient, which turned it into a 40 minute wait. By the time we finally got on, we just gave in and took the row with the shortest wait, and got on the next train. I'm not going to talk much about the Boomerang, as we're all familiar with them. This one was no different than any other, except it didn't bang my head around as much as some have. Another credit gained...

We stopped for a drink at the Blue Moon Beer Garden and tried to figure out what we still wanted to do. Mind Eraser was still closed. There had been a train stopped on the lift earlier in the day, and it was still there as we were leaving the Beer Garden. We decided instead to head to Ghost Blasters, as for some reason I love shooting dark rides. The wait wasn't too bad, and the theming was great; it was one of the better shooting dark rides I've been on.

We decided it was about time to head out, so I decided to end with the Observation Tower. We walked back to the front of the park, and got in the nonexistent line; we were on in less than five minutes. It was really windy at the top, so I didn't want to stay long. I actually have a big fear of heights, but I'm fine on coasters because I've been strapped in really well. On this, the wind coupled with the uneven floor and the lack of a lap bar urged me to hurry up. I got my pictures quickly, and managed to get some great overhead shots (I managed to fit the whole park in one shot). I headed down and out of the park after that.

I won't lie, I was not super impressed with Elitch Gardens. It still felt like a neglected Six Flags park - that is, hot and crowded with no headlining coasters. I had fun during the day, but nothing about the park really stood out to me. I really hope CNL and Herschend can turn this park around, because it really could be a nice little park, and one that I'd then love to visit again.

Overall Park Rating: 5/10 Stars
Click here to view all Elitch Gardens Photos.


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