Category Archives: Personal Updates

INFORMS 2016 Presentations

Nov. 14, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
Mind The Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency And Demand Response
Eric Webb, Owen Wu, Kyle D. Cattani, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 15, 2016, 1:30 – 3:00 PM
Predicting Nurse Turnover And Its Impact On Staffing Decisions
Eric Webb, Kurt Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 16, 2016, 12:45 – 2:15 PM
Linking Customer Behavior And Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational?
Eric Webb, Qiuping Yu, Kurt M. Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Nov. 16, 2016, 4:30 – 6:00 PM
Using Past Scores And Regularization To Create A Winning Nfl Betting Model
Eric Webb1, Wayne L. Winston2, 1Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 2Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, Houston, TX

Amusement Park Rankings

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Here is a summary of the roller coaster parks we visited on our crazy road trip:

We visited Michigan’s Adventure, in Muskegon, MI, on Sunday, July 17. We rode 6 roller coasters and 0 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 6, 5, 4, 2, 2, and 1 out of 10.

We visited Canada’s Wonderland, in Vaughan, ON, on Monday, July 18. We rode 11 roller coasters and 2 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 4, 4, 4, 3, 2, and 2. My ratings for other rides were 7 and 6.

We visited Hersheypark, in Hershey, PA, on Tuesday, July 19. We rode 9 roller coasters and 2 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 9.5, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6, 5, and 2. My ratings for other rides were 5 and 3.

We visited Dorney Park, in Allentown, PA, on Wednesday, July 20. We rode 6 roller coasters and 4 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 7, 6, 6, 6, 5, and 3. My ratings for other rides were 6, 3, 3, and 2.

We visited Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH, on Monday, July 25. We rode 12 roller coasters and 3 other rides. In descending order, my coaster ratings were 10, 10, 9, 8, 7.5, 7, 7, 5, 5, 5, 4, and 3. My ratings for other rides were 4, 4, and 2.

44 coasters in 9 days. Whew.

It is safe to say that Cedar Point reigns supreme among the other amusement parks. Hersheypark was a pleasant surprise though. Here are the final park rankings:
1. Cedar Point, with 7 coasters scoring 7 or higher out of 10.
2. Hersheypark, with 6 coasters scoring 7 or higher.
3. Canada’s Wonderland, with 2 coasters scoring 7 or higher.
4. Dorney Park, with 1 coaster scoring 7 or higher.
5. Michigan’s Adventure, with 0 coasters scoring 7 or higher.

Including other parks I have been to in the last 10 years, I think the rankings would be something like this (weighting roller coasters most heavily):
1. Cedar Point
2. Six Flags Magic Mountain
3. Hersheypark
4. Kings Island
5. Kings Dominion
6. Canada’s Wonderland
7A. Dollywood
7B. Holiday World
9. Dorney Park
10. Michigan’s Adventure

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Cedar Point Rides

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The fifth coaster park stop on our whirlwind amusement park tour was Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio, on Monday, July 25, 2016. We were joined at this park by our friends Telesilla and Serge. We arrived at the park around 11:15am. Cedar Point has 71 total rides and 17 roller coasters (2nd most in the world behind Six Flags Magic Mountain). Park map (click to expand):

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Cedar Point has an unfortunate policy about backpacks being stored on ride platforms, so we had to store our backpack (with phones/cameras) for extended periods. As such, we don’t have our own pictures of all the rides. It should be obvious which ones below are ours and which aren’t.

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1. Magnum XL200
Steel coaster with a big first hill. 205 ft, 72 mph, tallest and fastest in world when it opened in 1989. We sat in the back car and felt a lot of “whip” effect as the back car tries to keep up with the train on the ride. Pretty smooth.
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 8/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10

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2. Maverick
Steel looping coaster. Launch at start of ride and in the middle. 105 ft, 70 mph. Very smooth and twisting.
Eric: 9/10
Maria: 9/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 8/10

3. Antique Cars
Antique car ride as a break after such a fast start. Toward the end of the ride, there was a tunnel over water and birds were going crazy flying under the tunnel back and forth for some reason.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 10/10
Serge: 5/10

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4. Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Steel track on a wooden frame. Smooth. 2 lift hills. 48 ft, 42 mph. Pretty cool ride for how old it is (1969).
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 5/10
Serge: 6/10

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5. Skyhawk
High swinging ride. 125 ft, 65 mph. Ride should be just a bit longer.
Eric: 4/10
Serge: 4/10

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6. Millennium Force
Still my favorite coaster in the world. 310 ft, 93 mph, 80 degree first drop, 6595 ft long. Excellent at everything (except inversions, I guess). Our second ride on it was at night, and my arms got plastered with bugs, which was interesting.
Eric: 10/10, 10/10
Maria: 10/10, 10/10
Telesilla: 9/10
Serge: 9/10, 10/10

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7. Rougarou
Steel floorless coaster on the same track that used to hold Mantis, which was a stand-up coaster. Looping. 145 ft, 60 mph. So basically, same track, new train. Bumps your head quite a bit. Somewhat average.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 6/10
Telesilla: 6/10
Serge: 3/10

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8. Valravn
New in 2016. Steel dive coaster. You sit 8 across in 3 rows. Ride takes you out over the first drop and holds you there for a few seconds. Great experience in the front row (1st rating below), only okay in the back row (2nd rating below). 223 ft, 75 mph, 90 degree drop. Smooth. Cool view at the top.
Eric: 8/10, 7/10
Maria: 10/10, 8/10
Telesilla: 10/10, 8/10
Serge: 10/10, 9/10

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9. Blue Streak
Oldest coaster in park (1964), wooden. 78 ft, 40 mph. Out and back track. Smooth for a wooden coaster.
Eric: 4/10
Telesilla: 3/10
Serge: 5/10

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10. Raptor
Steel coaster with 6 inversions (feels like more). Floorless, so your feet hang. 137 ft, 57 mph, 3790 ft long. Tallest/fastest/longest inverted coaster in the world when it opened (1994).
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 7/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10

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11. Gatekeeper
Steel coaster with a winged floorless train design. Has the highest inversion of any coaster in the world (at 170 ft). Cool track design takes you through multiple keyhole structures. 170 ft, 67 mph.
Eric: 8/10
Maria: 7/10
Telesilla: 7/10
Serge: 7/10

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12. Wicked Twister
Steel U-shaped launch coaster that takes you forward/backward up the two towers. Unlike Possessed at Dorney Park, both towers have twists. Currently the tallest (215 ft) and fastest (72 mph) inverted (track above train) coaster in the world.
Eric: 5/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 6/10

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13. Windseeker
High (301 ft) swing ride. Equivalent to the same ride at many other Cedar Fair parks. My mom says that it is relatively unusual for it to be able to run, as it is so windy in Sandusky. The Windseeker in Canada’s Wonderland wasn’t running due to wind while we there.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 5/10
Telesilla: 6/10
Serge: 7/10

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14. Gemini
Racing wooden coaster. 125 ft, 60 mph. Tracks are asynchronous, so sometimes you feel like you are winning and sometimes not. Maria and my train beat Telesilla and Serge’s.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 4/10
Telesilla: 8/10
Serge: 7/10

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15. Top Thrill Dragster
We got to ride it! It was closed all day, until opening around 10:15pm. Awesome experience to ride it at night. Launching steel coaster that goes 0 to 120 mph in 3.8 seconds. Then you go up straight up 420 feet (2nd tallest coaster in the world) before falling straight back down. Ride is only 17 seconds, but so awesome.
Eric: 10/10
Maria: 10/10
Serge: 10/10

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(Me, Maria, Serge, and Telesilla on Cedar Point’s beach)

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Comparing Wildwater Kingdom Water Parks

Cedar Fair will have to confirm this, but Maria and I may be the first people to ever goto Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA and Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, OH on back-to-back days.

First, the obvious: Parks should have different names. It’s stupid that they’re called the same thing.

Second, the subjective conclusion: The park in Pennsylvania is better, but the park in Ohio has more potential.

I’m not a water park enthusiast (I much prefer roller coasters), but I’ll try to compare the two water parks. Maria and I only do tube slides. We don’t body slides.

Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown, PA (inside Dorney Park):
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Park map can be found on this morning’s post about Dorney Park. Two lazy rivers. Two wave pools. For the slides, we rode Constrictor and Boa Blasters at the Snake Pit, Cascade, and Aquablast.

Wildwater Kingdom in Aurora, OH:

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Park map

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One lazy river. One wave pool. For the slides, we rode Liquid Lightning (which flows into one of the giant funnels). Should have ridden the tubes at Thunder Falls, but we were too tired.

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If you read about the attractions of the parks in Ohio and Pennsylvania, it’s pretty clear that the Pennsylvania park has more options. And it’s attached to a park with coasters. So it wins, right now.

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However, in the past, the world’s largest theme park area was located in Aurora, OH. Please, please read the linked-to article in the previous sentence; it is great. In 2001, Six Flags World of Adventure in Aurora, OH combined a world-class Six Flags park with a Sea World and a water park. Just compare the below park map to the one for Wildwater Kingdom by itself above.

six flags ohio

At about 700 acres altogether, the mega-park was literally created by building a bridge between a full-sized Six Flags and a full-sized SeaWorld. Consider the scope of it: Disneyland Park is about 70 acres (or one-tenth the size) while the garganuan Animal Kingdom is 500 (including the giant safari area traversed by truck.)

And then it collapsed on itself.

Six years after becoming the world’s largest theme park, only a fraction of the property around Geauga Lake would re-open in 2008 – the water park Cedar Fair had built on the remains of SeaWorld.

I think it is fascinating to see the fate of some of the coasters at Geauga Lake (info from Wikipedia). I rode 2 of these coasters on our road trip (would have been 3 if we went to Kings Island):
Beaver Land Mine Ride: Sold to Papea City amusement park in Yvré-l’Evêque, France
Big Dipper: Currently still standing on the property. A potential sale to two enthusiasts in September 2010 fell through. Fate is currently unknown.
Dominator: Now open at Kings Dominion
Double Loop: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $25,000
Head Spin: Now open at Carowinds as Carolina Cobra
Raging Wolf Bobs: Demolished. Purchased for $2,500 at auction; some wood and track sold in online auctions; steel track, station, and all mechanical elements removed in 2008; part of track and car donated to Geauga County Historical Society; Full demolition of coaster took place in July 2012, more than five years after the ride last operated.
Steel Venom: Now open at Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom as Possessed
Thunderhawk: Now open at Michigan’s Adventure
Villain: Demolished, sold to Cleveland Scrap for $2,500
X-Flight: Now open at Kings Island as Firehawk

You can still see Big Dipper (opened in 1925!) from the top of some of the rides at Wildwater Kingdom.

Not everything at Wildwater Kingdom has been scrubbed of the Geagua Lake branding:
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Dorney Park Rides

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The fourth stop on our whirlwind amusement park tour was Dorney Park, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, July 21, 2016. We arrived at the park around 12:45pm. Dorney Park has 59 total rides and 8 roller coasters. It also has a big waterpark, Wildwater Kingdom. Park map (click to expand):
dorney park

Ride reviews:
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1. Talon
Steel looping coaster. 135 ft, 58 mph. Smooth, twisty track. Kind of average at everything, no extremes.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 6/10

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2. Cannonball
Train through park
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 2/10

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3. Hydra
Steel coaster with a corkscrew before the hill lift. 105 ft, 53 mph. We sat in the front. Smooth and better than expected, but Maria’s head banged on the twists a lot.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 6/10

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4. Demon Drop
Cedar Point fans will recognize this one. Formerly at that park. 131 ft tall. Old, clunky, first generation drop ride. You drop and are sloped down onto your back. Liable to bang your head at the end when the ride tries to right you upward again.
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 2/10

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5. Thunderhawk/Classic Coaster
Wooden coaster from 1925. 45 mph. Less bumpy than expected.
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 5/10

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6. Steel Force
Long steel coaster. 205 ft, 75 mph, 5600 ft long. Loose restraints allow for good air time. 9th longest steel coaster in the world.
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 6/10

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7. Dinosaurs Alive
A lot of the parks have a Dinosaurs Alive exhibit now, but we decided to do it Dorney Park because they only have 8 coasters. 30 animatronic dinosaurs. Life-size-ish (though if you read the descriptions, some of the models are way too big). Pretty well done and interesting. We asked silly questions of the bored looking guides wandering through the park. Costs $5 unless you have a season pass.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 5/10

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8. Stinger
Steel, you ride the same track twice, once forward, once backward. Same ride as Face/Off (now Invertigo) at Kings Island. Many other parks also have this ride.
Eric: 5/10

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9. Possessed
Steel, U-shaped launch coaster that sends you up each tower iteratively. Odd that only one of the towers twists at Dorney Park; typically both towers have twists. Formerly at Geauga Lake.
Eric: 6/10

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10. Thunder Creek Mountain
Log flume ride. You will get wet, you may get soaked (even if you hide behind the person (Maria) in the front. Not sure how this happens).
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 4/10

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11. White Water Landing
Shoot-the-Chutes ride. You will get wet, you may get soaked. 80 ft, 42 mph drop down the hill into a splash-down.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 5/10

12. Wildwater Kingdom
We also went to the water park, which I will describe in the afternoon post.

We arrived at Dorney Park at 12:45 and left the water park around 7:30. You could probably do the park in less time than that pretty easily. Not a ton of attractions. We were also a bit annoyed that seemingly all of the ride attendants that were mic’ed had heavy accents. Couldn’t understand any of them.

Hersheypark Rides

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The third stop on our whirlwind amusement park tour was Hersheypark, in Hershey, PA, on Tuesday, July 19, 2016. We bought half-priced “sunset” (arrive after 5pm) tickets, after driving from Niagara Falls earlier in the day. We arrived at 6pm. We happened to be there on the same day that Paul McCartney was performing, so getting into the park was a challenge with traffic. Hersheypark is the only park we did that was not owned by Cedar Fair, and it had some unique rides. And chocolate. 76 rides, with 13 roller coasters. Park map (click to expand. It’s comically hard to read):

Hersheypark Map

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1. Skyrush
Huge steel, non-looping coaster. 212 ft, 76 mph, 85 degree first drop. Cool seat design where it feels like you are not surrounded by the rest of the train. Seats on the outside feel like they will hit other parts of the ride at certain points. Very smooth. Very impressive. The first ride we rode at Hersheypark, and then we revisited for our last ride of the night. One rating from each ride:
Eric: 10/10, 9/10
Maria: 10/10, 9/10

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2. sooperdooperLooper
Steel, one loop. Big let down after Skyrush. I don’t think it made me move in my seat or change my expression at all. 75 ft, 45 mph. Interesting that there was only a lap bar for a looping coaster. Smooth.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 5/10

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3. Great Bear
Steel, looping. Legs free, suspended. 124 ft, 58 mph. I wrote in my notes that there was cool side-to-side aspect toward the end of the ride, though I don’t remember what that means. Track was intertwined with other rides. Smooth
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 6/10

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4. Fahrenheit
Steel. Lift hill takes you straight up (literally, you are facing directly upward). 97 degree drop after the hill (more than straight down). 121 ft, 58 mph. Ride was cool, but not as long as we would have liked. With such a unique hill, we weren’t expecting much after the hill. We were pleasantly surprised, as the subsequent loops and side-to-side action was cool. Smooth.
Eric: 8/10
Maria: 9/10

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5. The Wildcat
Wooden, with good views of this side of the park. 106 ft, 50 mph. Track went over itself in a cool way. Super bumpy and fried Maria’s brain. The camera is toward the end of the ride and Maria just looks miserable in the picture.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 2/10

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6. Laff Track
Queue snakes by lots of funhouse mirrors. 4 person car, 2 facing foward, 2 backward. Track is really interesting, with lots of corners and spinning. Scenery inside ride is full of clowns, tarot cards, and florescent colors. A lot of fun.
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 8/10

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7. Lightning Racer
Wooden racer with two simultaneous trains. Cool interlacing tracks that make you feel like your car is winning/losing at different points on the track. Lots of hills; good ride. Pretty smooth.
Eric: 8/10, 8/10
Maria: 8/10

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8. Storm Runner
Steel coaster that launches you at 72 mph into a 150 ft hill. You drop 180 ft out of the hill, hitting 75 mph. Some twists and loops afterward. Ride is only 34 seconds long, though.
Eric: 8/10
Maria: 8/10

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9. Comet
Wooden, with lots of hills. Compact, double out and back track design. Very near Skyrush. 84 ft, 50 mph, build in 1946.
Eric: 5/10

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10. Kissing Tower
Observation elevator ride with rotating top. Good view of park. We did it at night. Windows shaped like Hershey kisses. 4 minutes total.
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 5/10

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11. Hershey Chocolate World Tour Ride
After 10pm, Hersheypark closed. Chocolate World, next door, stays open until 11pm. We went over there and did their free tour, which has a bit of a ride at the end. The floor rotates at the loading area (similar to White Water Canyon at Kings Island) and each boat probably fits 4 people. The tour takes you through the chocolate making process with some cool visuals. You get a piece of chocolate at the end. Singing cows.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 6/10

We left Hersheypark at 10pm after arriving at 6pm, so everything above was quite rushed. It’d be worth spending more time at the park. Very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the park and the rides.

Cedar Fair Empire

Cedar Fair has 11 roller coaster parks:
California’s Great America, located in Santa Clara, CA
Canada’s Wonderland, located in Vaughan, ON, Canada
Carowinds, located in Charlotte, NC
Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, OH
Dorney Park, located in Allentown, PA
Kings Dominion, located in Doswell, VA
Kings Island, located in Kings Mills, OH
Knott’s Berry Farm, located in Buena Park, CA
Michigan’s Adventure, located in Muskegon, MI
Valleyfair, located in Shakopee, MN
Worlds of Fun, located in Kansas City, MO

My mom is now the group sales manager at Cedar Point, having previously had similar jobs at Kings Island and Dollywood (not a Cedar Fair park). Cedar Point is, nearly without question, the best roller coaster park in the US, probably the world. Through her position, Maria and I were able to get discounted platinum season passes, which get us into all the parks owned by Cedar Fair. We used the passes at Michigan’s Adventure, Canada’s Wonderland, Dorney Park, Wildwater Kingdom (in Aurora, OH, waterpark owned by Cedar Fair), and Cedar Point. We also tried to goto Kings Island, but it was raining. The passes also get us free parking and a discount on food and merchandise. If you’re in California or the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic, the Cedar Fair season pass for multiple parks could be a good option if interested in a roller coaster road trip:

cedar fair

I’ve been to Kings Island (many, many times, having grown up 2 miles away) and Kings Dominion before. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve been to Carowinds. We wanted to add Valleyfair to this trip, but didn’t have time to make it work. I don’t know much about Worlds of Fun or the California parks.

Canada’s Wonderland Rides

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The second stop on our whirlwind amusement park tour was Canada’s Wonderland, in Vaughan, Ontario, on Monday, July 18, 2016. We arrived at the park around 11:15am, after driving into Toronto the previous night and sleeping late. Canada’s Wonderland is a large, well-kept park with 69 total rides and 16 roller coasters, which is a lot. Like other former Paramount parks (Kings Island, Kings Dominion, etc), it has a large fountain at the entrance, headlined by a large monument. In Kings Island and Kings Dominion, this is the Eiffel Tower (1/3 scale). In Canada’s Wonderland, it is Wonder Mountain with a huge waterfall (Victoria Falls). Multiple coasters surround and enter the mountain.
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Here is the park map (click to expand):
Canada's Wonderland Park Map

Ride ratings:
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1. Behemoth
Canada’s Wonderland is anchored by two huge coasters, Behemoth and Leviathan, on opposite sides of the park. Steel, non-looping. 230 ft, 78 mph. Cool V-shaped seating. Big first hill with a view of Toronto and the park. Very smooth.
Eric: 8/10
Maria: 8/10

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2. Back Lot Stunt Coaster
Was the Italian Job Coaster when Paramount still owned the park. Steel with train designed like 3 Mini Coopers. Quick turns and hills. None of the typical effects (fire, gunshot fire from helicopter) were running. Surprise dip at end. Maria hated how bumpy it was.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 1/10

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3. Orbiter
Not a roller coaster. Looked like a cool ride, with a near vertical centrifuge. Maria doesn’t ride such things, as they make her dizzy. Very smooth ride, but a long load time because they have to clip every person in by hand. Better than expected. The WindSeeker ride in the background of the picture was not running all day due to high winds.
Eric: 6/10

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4. Wonder Mountain’s Guardian
Ride inside Wonder Mountain. I hesitate to call it a coaster. There is an extensive story, and you have a gun/laser on your seat, which you use to shoot 3D monsters. Train goes forward/backward/sideways. Surprise drop at end. I got the lowest score of the train for shooting monsters poorly.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 6/10

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5. Thunder Run
Steel coaster that runs the same track through Wonder Mountain twice. The ride uses a drive motor with a rubber wheel in the front of the train to drive it around the track, rather than a traditional lift. Flat, smooth, but had a long wait due to only one train (runs same track twice). Prototyping a virtual reality experience, but we didn’t try it.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 4/10

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6. Wild Beast
One of the original coasters of the park, it was formerly at Coney Island in Cincinnati. Wooden, bumpy. Track runs out and back twice.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 3/10

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7. Skyhawk
Not a roller coaster, but Wonderland’s new ride for 2016. You control wings that allow you to rock back and forth. If you exert some effort, you can get going back and forth enough to start spinning laterally. I spun 7 times. How do I know that? There was screen at the end of the ride with a picture of each passenger and a tally of how many times they flipped (camera photo of screen above, I’m in the 2nd row, 2nd column from the right). Only 3/24 passengers decided to flip on our ride, and I was second with 7 flips. Would have had more, but I was seeing if I could stop and get spinning the other way before the ride ended. Nope. Relatively short ride.
Eric: 7/10
Maria: 6/10

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8. Vortex
Steel, but pretty bumpy. Hanging coaster near Wonder Mountain. If you are familiar with Kings Island, it is similar to Top Gun/Flight Deck/The Bat (stupid name changes), not at all similar to The Vortex.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 4/10

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9. The Bat
A Boomerang coaster. Seems like almost every park has one of these. You run the same track, once forward, once backward. This one was kind of cool because the line wound between the lifts, as shown above. Not at all similar to The Bat at Kings Island.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 6/10

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10. Leviathan
Giant steel non-looping coaster. 5486 ft long, 306 ft tall, 92 mph. 8th tallest/fastest coaster in the world (3rd tallest with a traditional lift hill). Very smooth. Good first drop with lots of air-time in seat. Line moves quickly and ride loads quickly. We rode it twice, back to back.
Eric: 9/10, 9/10
Maria: 9/10, 9/10

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11. Dragon Fire
Steel, looping. First drop is lousy. 2 loops are slow. Bumpy. No good. No knee room. Only redeeming fact was its cool location with the track intertwining Leviathan a bit. Maria wisely did not ride. That is my hand sticking up in the back car above, taken by Maria.
Eric: 2/10

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12. Flight Deck
Steel, hanging. Bumpy. Cool corkscrew. However, the shoulder pads were so painful that it was hard to enjoy.
Eric: 3/10
Maria: 3/10

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13. Time Warp
Interesting idea: you lay on your stomach and fly on a track that doesn’t really have hills or drops, just turns as you go down. Loading/unloading seemed hectic and dangerous. Headrests lead to a lot of brain rattling, and both Maria and I felt ill after this ride (though that may have been the cumulative effect of so many coasters in one day).
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 4/10

We left the park at 8pm after almost 9 hours in the park. Lots of rides, but really only Leviathan stands out.

Thoughts on Planning a Roller Coaster Trip

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(waiting for Laff Track at Hersheypark)

We just did 5 parks in 5 days (and 6 in 9). So I feel qualified to give some advice related to theme park road trips. Hopefully this will help keep you sane and not too stretched out:

1. See what parks are out there. Here is a Wiki page of all the parks in North America.

2. Filter out parks that aren’t worth it. If a park doesn’t have at least 8 roller coasters, be skeptical of its value. The exception to this is if the park has a highly regarded coaster (see here for Coaster Buzz’s list, though there are many such lists).

3. Think about combo-deals. As I will discuss tomorrow, we focused on Cedar Fair owned parks, and our single season pass got us into 5 different parks on our trip. Six Flags will also have combo deals. Going to an amusement park without a combo deal is expensive. Without special discounts (via season pass or other special pricing), expect to pay $10-20 for parking and $40-80 for entry (per person, perhaps more for Disney parks). That adds up quickly if you are doing multiple parks. With our Cedar Fair Season Passes, we probably avoided about $600 in out-of-pocket expenses (ballparking $20 for parking and 2 $50 entries per 5 parks). The downside of focusing on combo deals like Cedar Fair or Six Flags is that you are liable to see many of the same rides repeated in different parks. Spice up your ride diversity by adding in a park not included in your combo deal, like we did with Hersheypark.

4. Think about your stamina. It takes all day to properly enjoy big parks like Cedar Point, Canada’s Wonderland, Six Flags Magic Mountain, etc. If you spend a large portion of the day doing one park, you’ll still need to drive to the next park. Most of the time, this will be a long drive. We only managed to do 5 parks in 5 days because 3 of those parks were, at best, half-day parks.

Here is a maps of our trip (we didn’t go in to Kings Island because it was pouring as we drove through Cincinnati), ignoring the many detours we took:
coaster road trip

Besides the time it takes to drive to the next park, you have to remember that roller coasters will bounce you up and possibly fry your brain in excess. If you don’t think you’ll be up for back-to-back days, schedule other activities on your trip as well (national parks, monuments, museums, city tours, etc).

5. What to bring into a park: as little as possible. The good roller coasters are designed to make you drop things, so keep your pockets as empty as possible. Even if the pockets zip closed, you are liable to break your phone and especially your camera on a ride.

When Maria and I entered a park, we carried these things: one phone to have internet access and take pictures, 2 season passes or tickets, 2 IDs if we were planning on having alcohol, 1 credit card (probably Visa, so we’re sure that the park will take it), a pen and notepad for taking notes after rides so I can make these posts, car keys, and eye drops. That’s it. We put on sun screen before leaving the car. Note that I didn’t even bring my full wallet, instead opting for 3-5 easily replaceable cards in case of disasters.

The exception to the above plan is if you want to bring in a backpack. Put ALL of your things in the backpack, and then store the backpack in one of the bins the roller coaster provides while you ride. Don’t forget it after you finish the ride. With a backpack, I would suggest adding sunscreen, towels and bathing suits if there is a water park, and a water bottle. The backpack idea will not work if the park doesn’t give you room to leave stuff while you ride. Cedar Point makes you purchase a locker, “conveniently” located next to the entrance to many of their rides. Lockers are expensive and annoying and not suggested.

6. Summers are hot. Roller coasters are outside, in the heat. If you want to make it through your trip, be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. You will get dehydrated and be miserable if you don’t. Most food vendors will give you a free cup for water if you ask (though they rarely advertise this, wanting you to spend $5+ on bottled water. Don’t buy bottled water.).

7. It’s rare that I get dizzy or have my stomach upset, so I have no issues with coasters. However, Maria and others do. Here is Maria’s description of the nausea medicine that she takes prior to (and sometimes after) rides, which seems to help:

As I’ve gotten older, my stomach has been less friendly to me when riding coasters, despite my brain and rest of my body really enjoying them… So I picked up a box of chewable Nauzene tablets that are supposed to settle upset stomachs. I hadn’t used them before (I actually wanted to get Dramamine but even the non-drowsy kind seemed like it was not really non-drowsy according to the reviews) and now I am not going to go to amusement parks without them. They worked quickly and saved me… from upset stomachs the whole day. [I] took two before this ride and after a couple of others throughout the day and were able to feel great and didn’t have any problems.

8. Parks will stamp your hand if you exit and want to re-enter. This is a good option to take advantage of for a few reasons:
-Leaving the park to get food. Food is cheaper outside than inside.
-Going to your car to re-apply sun screen.
-Going to your car to get swim suits and towels and flip flops when you switch to water park mode in one of the parks that also has a water park.

Michigan’s Adventure Rides

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The first stop on our whirlwind tour was Michigan’s Adventure, in Muskegon, MI, on Sunday, July 17, 2016. We arrived around noon, after spending the morning with Professor Tim Pennings in Holland, MI. Michigan’s Adventure is a relatively small park (though it is Michigan’s largest), with 53 total rides, including 7 roller coaster. It does have a nice lake in the middle:
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But there is not a circular path around the park. In fact, the two roller coasters above have the longest walk between them. Here is the park map (click to expand):

Michigan's Adventure Park Map

For my ride reviews this week, I’ll be sharing the rides we rode, in order. I’ll give a brief description of the ride, along with thoughts from Maria and me. Then we’ll finish with a rating out of 10. All pictures shown were taken by Maria on one of our phone’s cameras.

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1. Shivering Timbers
Wooden coaster with a decent hill (125 ft). 65 mph. Out and back coaster (not many turns). Supposed to be the only coaster in the world with a ‘trick track’ that throws riders to the left then right all of a sudden when going straight. I wasn’t as impressed by the trick as I was hoping. Overall, not too bumpy for a wooden ride.
Eric: 6/10
Maria: 7/10

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2. Wolverine Wildcat
Wooden coaster with a bizarre name (I get Wolverine, we’re in Michigan. But why Wildcat too?). 85 ft tall, 55 mph. Has an early tunnel. Very bumpy. Not interesting and few redeeming qualities. Only running one train while we were there.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 2/10

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3. Corkscrew
Old steel coaster with 2 corkscrews. 70 ft, 45 mph. Only running 1 train. We timed it: 1 minute, 24 seconds from the time the train started moving to the time it was back stopped in the station. Really only 1 minute of actual movement. Has a hard stop with whiplash at the end.
Eric: 2/10
Maria: 2/10

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4. Mad Mouse
Steel wild mouse coaster. Follows the same track design as rides at Canada’s Wonderland and Hersheypark. Each train is only 4 people, allowing for fast turns and drops. Kind of a kid ride.
Eric: 4/10
Maria: 5/10

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5. Thunderhawk
Steel suspended coaster. 120 ft, 50 mph. Previously operated at Geauga Lake. Interlacing corkscrews in the middle of the ride; otherwise forgettable. Whiplash at the end.
Eric: 5/10
Maria: 5/10

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6. Zach’s Zoomer
Wooden kid ride with tiny seats. Maria and I couldn’t fit in the same car (due to my long legs). My knees banged throughout the ride. “Family friendly”. Boring.
Eric: 1/10
Maria: 3/10

And… that’s all folks. Not a big park. We didn’t do the water park. Probably the shortest I’ve ever spent in an amusement park; we were out at 2:30pm after 2.5 hours.