(Re-post from CoasterBuzz.)
Stephanie and I were finally ready to put our Busch Platinum passes to bed. I got my money's worth (they were $200 each from BGW), but since Steph didn't come down to Orlando last November following my lay-off, she didn't. Of course, if I knew I'd be job-free, I wouldn't have bought $400 in passes two months before!
There was one complication from the start, and that is that BGW couldn't actually process the passes in the fall of 2001 when we bought them. They didn't have the plastic cards to do it at the time. So we never actually redeemed them, we still have the paper tickets. This meant that Sea World and BGT both didn't talk to each other or Williamsburg, and everyone via e-mail or phone told us something different to get admitted to the parks. The wasted time wasn't that big of a deal, but they really need to work out their inter-park pass use.
We arrived at Sea World in Orlando a little before 10, and after finally getting in, we headed to our two targets: Kraken and Journey to Atlantis. Kraken was better than I remembered from the year before. It was less rough. The float through the zero-G roll was excellent. Not sure which I like better, this one or Medusa.
Journey to Atlantis has enough coaster elements for my tastes to make it a coaster, so we hit it. I remember last year not getting that wet, and indeed the spray isn't that bad. However, sitting in the front seat meant all the water on the bow would come flowing into my lap. Not cool. It was only mid-60's that morning, so drying off was not a lot of fun.
On the way out, we walked through a shop where they actually had the heat on. Florida people are weird.
About an hour later we arrived at Busch Tampa. After the entry hassle, we headed to the Festhaus for grub. It wasn't bad, but it seems like nothing can beat the Italian place at BGW. I did enjoy a giant beer (much more expensive than BGW), and on my empty stomach got a slight buzz on the neigboring Scorpion.
Scorpion is one of those little coasters anyone would love to have in their back yard. Compact layout, fast turns, a loop, just a nice little mix, and it still rides smooth as ever.
From there we went around to Kumba for a back seat ride. The park was busy enough for two trains, but they ran only one. Yeah, I know that means the wait is only going to be 10 minutes, but it doesn't have to be. I'm spoiled by Cedar Point where they'll run three in walk-on conditions, sure, but when I visit far away parks I don't get back often and want to get the most of my time there, especially when I'm on a schedule. This, as I'd soon learn, was nothing compared to Gwazi, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Kumba was running fast and intense. It's really a great layout, even if it is the sequence of elements we're all used to.
Next was Python, a standard old Arrow corkscrew, just to say we did it. The train looked like it had a fresh coat of paint and new padding. It was actually pretty tolerable. Last year I got off the ride with a headache.
We moved on to Gwazi where things took a pretty bad turn. They were running one side, with a ten minute dispatch interval. This is of course because of their insanely stupid two-pass check, first belts, then bars. If that weren't bad enough, it was with two operators. There isn't a single good reason for them to do things this way. Not even one.
A bunch of 14-year old cheerleaders (literally... it was a school group) were bouncing from lane to lane trying to coax a friend on to the ride, and when we boarded, they somehow all ended up on the platform, two without seats. They tried to say they were in front of us, and the stupid ride op actually bought that and told us to get out. I was about as pissed as I could be and told her that Steph and I would not be getting out of the train because these stupid little girls can't figure out how to operate in a queue. Finally we dispatched... two trains later and 25 minutes after we got to the platform. This is how not to run a ride.
The good news is that it was running really well, much better than last year. I was surprised at the amount of crazy wicked air around the course.
We were pretty fed up with the park at this point, and decided to head over to Montu and put this thing to bed. We headed to the back and Steph got the money seat, back right. I couldn't believe how intense it was. The little trim after the roll was off as well, so you can bet it was top speed throughout. I still think I like Talon and Raptor better, but it'd be a tough call.
So after about four hours, we skipped Rhino Rally (which we had planned on riding had it not been for the similar ride at Animal Kingdom the day before), and headed back to Orlando for a nap before going to Medieval Times.
Medieval Times is dinner theater with horses and silverwear. It's basically a lot of jousting, sword fights, some nice lighting and horse riding tricks. You sit in a section of a particular color, which matches the color of a knight in the tournament. Our knight was green, and oddly enough an Asian guy with a mullet. There's something you don't see everyday.
Our serving wench, Leilani (spelled some other unique way, but I forget what it was), kicked ass. She gave me more than my share of beer, lots of unauthorized refills. She was a cute package too. Dinner was fried chicken, some kind of potato, and more food I don't remember, because I was drunk midway through the show, thanks to our lovely serving wench and the pitcher I had to drink myself (Steph was driving). It was a fun show, and there's no doubt in my mind that we'll see it again next time we're there (or in Toronto).
Our knight got his ass kicked, but it was still lots of fun. It's about $44 a person, which includes two beverages at dinner, but additional alcohol and tips aren't included. Our serving wench got the hookup.
All in all, it was a good day, aside from the difficulties at BGT. I could've just as well skipped the parks and gone to IOA or Universal Studios, but that'll be the plan next time. Medieval Times is a keeper as well.