Cedar Fair Parks Tour: Michigan’s Adventure

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Michigan’s Adventure was perhaps the nicest park, as a total package, to be able to go to and enjoy in one day.  Not that it had any points that were specifically better than any of the other parks, but it was put together in such an easy and enjoyable way.

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But I am going to start my write-up for the park with something unique to our experience. We got into Muskegeon and checked into our motel with the intention of heading to the park for supper, only to discover that one of our platinum passes was missing. No search would find it. So we called the park and left a message about how we could resolve the missing pass issue.

Then we went to the park and those of us with passes went through security and the gate to guest relations desk, where a very helpful associate listened to our story, downloaded the Worlds of Fun Database to confirm the missing passholder’s pass, then let them into the park with the rest of.  They weren’t able to give us something with the meal-plan attached, so all of us decided what we could get for supper that we could split between all of us.

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The next day we went to the park and went into the season pass and group sales area and got the season pass replaced for the $15 fee, and were in the park.  Between when we left the motel until after we got the pass replaced, we had three calls checking on us and our pass situation and how we could help.  It was a concrete example of the helpfulness of Cedar Fair employees that we found all along the trip.

And so now on to the day at Michigan’s Adventure.

The park is arranged in a squarish circle around a central lake, with the entry gate at the lower left corner. If you go along the bottom of the park there are two streets of rides that end at two large wooden coasters and the train station. If you go along the left side of the lake, you go up a street of coasters, and then past the water park entrance before turning to the right along the lake to another row of rides that end in a coaster, the Great Rapids water ride and another train station.  There is no way to walk all the way around the center lake. The two train stations  connect the right side of the park.

We started up the left side of the park, going in a clockwise direction hitting the coasters. The Big Dipper was closed so Zack’s Zoomer was our first ride, followed by the Corkscrew.  The Zoomer was an excellent start, and the Corscrew was amazing for how short it was. It didn’t send you through numerous turns, but just enough for a thrill, and then you could get on it again, or to another ride, without feeling the need of any break.

We worked our way around the circle to the Thunderhawk, caught the train and then hit the Wildcat and Shivering Timbers. We finished that side with a ride on the Mad Mouse, the premier “mouse trap” type roller coaster of our park tour, and one of the things we most remembered from our previous trip o Michigan’s Adventure.

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We scattered for lunch, and then I went back to the car for the swim bags and we rendezvous at the water park where we reserved a locker, changed and did the water park rides.

Most of the water rides are within the water park area, but the river raft ride, the Grand Rapids, was outside it on the top side of the lake.  For the part of the park near the gate you need shirt, shoes and shorts, but for the top side of the lake, you can wear swimsuits and shoes. So we went up to the Grand Rapids and experienced its short but intense water rapids ride (The Grand Rapids was the second thing I remembered from our previous visit to the park and was looking forward to riding.  It did not disappoint).

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Returning to the water park, we enjoyed a little more leisure before returning to street clothes, having supper, and exiting the park, a full day of enjoyment under us.

I see my description is a little shorter and more streamlined than some of my previous park descriptions. I don’t want anyone to think that means the park was less impressive. As I said at the beginning, if anything, it make one of the more memorable impressions on us, as a whole.  At the other parks one might remember a specific ride, or two, to the exclusion of all else.  Michigan’s Adventure, while memorable for the rides I specifically mentioned, was equally as memorable for the entire experience. It is a gem of a park, with a gem of a staff.

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Cedar Fair Parks Tour: Canada’s Wonderland

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Our schedule for touring the parks also had a few other events on it to be planned around. That is why we didn’t hit Carowinds in the Carolinas nor Dorney Park in Pennsylvania.  Our next park was on Saturday, July 8 in Vaughn Canada: Canada’s Wonderland.

We left Buffalo that morning, and with generally clear driving made it to the park around 11:30 a.m. (our greatest delay was the line at the border to Canada, where our passports all passed muster for entry.) The parking lot was big, and modestly full. There was no instruction on parking, and finding a good spot to park took a little time working our way through the rows of people stopping at odd spots instead of near someplace where they could park.

Canada’s Wonderland was designed on a similar model to King’s Dominion and King’s Island. The entry gate presents you with a view of an entry street – an international street – but unlike the other two parks, the street and its central fountain ends in a “Wonder Mountain” instead of an Eiffel Tower replica.

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We entered the park, enjoyed the street, and had one of our first typically Canadian experiences. A gentleman who saw us there offered to take our pictures as a family, on the bridge across the stream, with the mountain in the background. Once we got our photos, I reciprocated for him and his family.

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With that done, we went back down the street and started a clockwise rotation of the rides in the park that we were most interested in. Flight Deck was the first ride we tried. It was an intense ride, but not especially appealing to us. But what it did do, was give us a good view of the Time Warp, a ride where you go through the ride lying on your stomach in a prone position.  Besides the position you ride the coaster, it has an interesting circular mechanism that hoists you up a circle to start the ride instead of the usual first hill.

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Among other rides that we hit were the Sky Hawk, which had wings you could orient to flip yourself over 360 degrees while flying.  Nathan and I came close, he more than me, but never quite made it over.  He was trying, I got so far and decided that was enough fun.

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And then there was the Fly, our second experience with a Mouse Trap-style roller coaster. My favorite coaster was torn between the Time Warp and The Fly.

Starting a couple of hours after opening, we spent our time in the amusement park section, and didn’t get to the water park, so I can’t make any comments about it.  We had sort of looped one side of the park, coming back toward the Wonder Mountain, and I noticed the sign for the Victoria Falls Divers. We were about 30 minutes to the next show, so we decided to move on and do lunch.

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Before we did lunch we went over to the International Buffet. Even on the food plan it has a $5 CAD upcharge per person, but we had seen it online and thought it might be interesting to do for supper When we got there, it was closed/reserved for a special function/group, and would open around 4 p.m. But they let me peak inside the door to see what it looked like, and I decided we wanted to try it for supper.

By this point we were hungry, and started wandering through the Medieval Faire section looking for lunch, and finding long lines.  We started a search for reasonable lines that led us into Planet Snoopy and a modest gem: Snoopy’s Suppertime. They served chicken fingers, grilled cheese, wraps and hot dogs, per the park program.  They also served mac and cheese. I had the mac and cheese with chicken, with was a large and satisfying sample.  The grilled cheese and turkey sandwich was ordinary but suitable, and the other two had hot dog combos.

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After working through Planet Snoopy and Kidzville, we came out onto a plaza near a “My Canada” video show that celebrated the 150th anniversary of Canada.  Very few people were in the line, which was a shame, since it was a wonderful expression of Canada. Our only other comment was how many of the scenes, Canadians talking about themselves. Featured snow.

We then started a reverse circle around the mountain, and hit the Mountain Guardian and Thunder Run. The Thunder Run train was a fun fast ride that went twice around its short track.

The Mountain Guardian was the unexpected ride.  Its line snaked into the mountain, so you didn’t know how long it was, but it wasn’t a bad wait.  There was an explanatory video that I didn’t understand as well as I should. When we got into our cars, which were four seats back to back, two on a side, we had some osrt of light sensor guns in front of us, and used them at various points on the ride where it momentarily stopped or slowed down, to shoot various vr creatures.

The cars of 4 passengers traveled in pairs of two. Both Nathan and I got the high score (it was scored) for our car, though Nathan’s score was much higher than mine.  I just shot at anything that moved.  Afterward we discussed whether the coins got you points as well. I only know that it was hard to be certain where you were aiming, and whether it was you or someone else that hit the creature that disintegrated. But it was fun.

About this time we were headed by the Victoria falls again, near the time for its final diving show. We probably would have enjoyed any of the earlier shows better.  They wasted 5 minutes with dramatic music and talking before finally getting to the diving, and in that five minutes the sun had crept into the perfect spot to put glare in your eyes when you tried to look up at the divers.  Anticlamatic.

We then went over to the International Buffet. Only to be told they had closed the seating at 6 p.m., and the next would open at 7:30 p.m. So we wandered around a bit, finding the Dragon Fire’s obscured entrance, among other things, and then returned about 6:45 p.m., when we got in the forming line.

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The guy behind us mentioned having been at the buffet several times in the year, and this being the first time he had ever been in a line.  So we waited about 45 minutes – our longest line of the day. But the international buffet was worth it. I recommend you check it out if you make it to Canada’s Wonderland.

All in all, a nice day, though if we had gotten there at opening, with time to try the water park section, it might have been an even fuller experience.

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One side note to mention.  Canada’s Wonderland has something we hadn’t seen before on its soda-only stations.  Their Refresh fountains also had Freestyle machines at the same stop. Wish we had that back home!

I had been to Canada’s Wonderland once before, near when it first opened in 1981. The one thing my mother remembered most about the park was the log flume ride that we really enjoyed and rode several times.  I never did find it, and research afterwards confirmed that it had been near the park entrance, but was eventually replaced by the Flight Deck.  Not everything we remember fondly is always there when you go back.  Which is not a bad thing, just a fact.

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Cedar Fair Parks Tour: King’s Dominion

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After our sojourn to LibertyCon 2017, the family started our second sojourn of the summer: a tour of Cedar Fair amusement parks.

We began the tour in Virginia with King’s Dominion amusement park, Doswell, VA.

We traveled to King’s Dominion on Monday, July 3, getting to the park for the first time during the early evening.

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King’s Dominion has a reserved parking area for gold and platinum passholders.  It seemed like a good idea, so we parked there.  The section was pretty full, but it was closer both to the park entrance and to the exit of the parking lot, which we assumed would make it easier both to enter and to leave the park.

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King’s Dominion is a sister park in design to both King’s Island and Canada’s Wonderland. When you enter the gate at both King’s Island and King’s Dominion you look down an international street with a fountain in the center that leads you to a view of a replica of the Eiffel tower.

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The Eiffel Tower is a great way to get a view of the park.  We rode that up and walked around the observation deck, taking aerial photos of the park.

After the Eiffel Tower we took a look at the map to decide where we wanted to eat. The map listed food locations and which ones were on the dining plan, but we didn’t find a sheet that said what foods were on the dining plan at each location, though it did mention the types of foods served. We found a Country Kitchen that served chicken on the plan that sounded different than the foods we could get at Worlds of Fun, so decided to try it (it had a Country Kitchen Grill next door, not on the plan, that served turkey legs – turkey legs do not appear to be on the plan anywhere we noticed them).

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The line wasn’t bad when we got there – about a 10-15 minute length – and so we waited in line 30 minutes. Some of it was a delay for food to be cooked; the demand wasn’t extreme enough for them to run out, except they hadn’t cooked enough ahead to stay up with it. The rest of the delay was the service staff. A new, full pan of chicken would be brought out, and instead of pulling the old, almost empty tray out, putting the new one in, and transferring the few remaining pieces, the person transferred the pieces from the new pan one or two at a time to the old pan. This took forever.

They had pictures on the menus of fried chicken and roasted chicken. I was going to order roasted, until I saw it.  The fried chicken looked as good as its picture; the roasted chicken did not look as good as its picture.

But once they had chicken, and we were able to place our orders, get our sides, and go on up to the second floor balcony seating to eat, it was a meal worth eating.

After our meal we did a little more strolling, then took in a couple of rides.

There is a style of roller coaster that we call the “mouse trap” – the pattern looks a little like the game Mouse Trap. We found it at several parks, and the one at King’s Dominion was called the Ricochet. It isn’t an intense roller coaster, but it is a perfect one. It does with subtle sudden turns and moderate forces what other roller coasters attempt to achieve with extreme turns and speeds and forces – and does it better than the extreme ones – at least in our opinion.

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We were thinking what we could do before heading over to the recommended location for watching the fireworks. We were near the “Blue Ridge Tollway” taxi ride, and figured we would have enough time to ride it before the fireworks.

When we were ready to get on, we were delayed a couple of minutes while they got a car started that was having troubles, but soon were on our way.

The Blue Ridge Tollway goes through a wooded area, and we were halfway through the course when the can with problems had problems again, and got stopped on the trail.  We were out of sight of the park employees, but were able to wave down a passing patron that we asked to let know they were stuck. We assume the person told them, because soon they were over trying to get it started. Eventually they used the car behind it to push it along to the end.

With all the delay, we ended up being a lot closer to the fireworks time than we planned, but we made it to the suggested observation site.

It was a good evening for fireworks, and it was an enjoyable fireworks show. It would have been better with some sort of music in the park coordinated with the fireworks, or with a more orchestrated sense to the fireworks themselves. The fireworks seemed somewhat random, instead of orchestrated in any pattern towards a climax, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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After the fireworks we went to our car in the parking lot – the reserved parking for gold and platinum passholders. And there we sat for 50 minutes.  Everyone else in the parking lot got out, and we weren’t able to move. And when we finally were able to get out, instead of going to the near exit gate, where we had seen all the other traffic leave, they sent us out the long back way exit of the parking lot.

I am not sure whether it was Virginia drivers not giving other people a chance to get in and move, or whether it was park personnel directing traffic, but that was the worst time I have ever had leaving an event with parking back-up.

We were back on the fourth around opening, and spent the early morning hitting the roller coasters early, along with a few other rides for variety.  We did Dodgem, Intimidator 305, Flight of Fear, Avalanche, BackLot Stunt Coaster, then walked Candy Apple Grove to the Drop Tower.

We were going to ride the Americana, but were told it was closed/delayed for a moment of silence coming up at noon. This was 10 minutes prior to noon. So we waited and observed the moment of silence, which ended with a singing of the national anthem over the park speakers.  We stood up, hands over heart, as the national anthem came on, and watched as people realized and started to stand, or show other forms of respect for the anthem.

After that we did the Americana, Flying Eagles, Ssenandoah Lumber Co. and Rebel Yell, before having lunch at Outer Hanks Wayside Grill.

Then the afternoon was spent at the Soak city water park. There were nice slides, an enjoyable lazy river, and wave pools. I spent 30-45 minutes in line at Baja Bends listening to four military studs rib and jibe each other – especially the newlywed of them who had his wife, and eventually was pulled into their somewhat ribald conversation. Before the end – when we reached the top of the line and finally got to go down the slides – I made sure to thank them all for their service, and the most vocal of the group expressed his appreciation for my comments and conversation with them.

The Baja Bends slides are akin to the Diamond Head slides at Oceans of Fun for style and intensity of sliding, but the materials of the slides are much better – unlike Diamond Head you don’t get your back abraded by the slide when going down the Baja Bends.

The wave pools at King’s Island didn’t compare to the Surf City Wave Pool at Oceans of Fun – we didn’t find any other wave pool to compare on our trip.

After that we went back to the Pizza Parlor on the international street for supper, and then called it a day.

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We enjoyed our day at King’s Dominion, but they still have a lot to learn about audio control and sound zones.  There were too many places in the park where the sound from one ride or event overlapped another event or ride’s sound, and usually the volumes were too loud. Worlds of Fun had this issue in years past, but is getting smarter about it.  King’s Dominion still has some catching up to do.

On the food selections, King’s Dominion had a greater selection of food items.  What we didn’t find – though we may have missed it – was any selection that was a local/regional specialty for us to try.

Promo: Cedar Fair series coming up

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No look ahead promo this week. Still cruising Cedar Fair Parks.  But below is the update on the season dining plan:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 302
Total Retail $3,203.56
Average Price Per Meal $1.65
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 288
Total Retail $323.50
Average Price Per Drink $0.10

Expect next week to start a series overviewing  our tour of the Cedar Fair parks (the 5 we hit), what we did, enjoyed, and thought could be done better.