December 30, 2004
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My brother and I met two of my friends at "Arizona's finest amusement park" for a day of riding rides and goofing off. Bryan recently moved to the Phoenix area, and Meghan hadn't visited the park in a few years. She'd never ridden Desert Storm either, so I was eager to get her on her first big roller coaster.
We bought all ride and golf passes for $21 ($5-off coupons!) and walked through Arizona's largest arcade to the park. They gave us hand stamps for some reason.
We headed to Desert Storm first. We walked through the queue line and inserted our tickets to get in the station. This park has a funky system for riding. Guests purchase ride tickets that are inserted in a reader that unlocks the turnstile to enter the stations. They have them at the entrance of the station, not the lines, so if someone was out of rides or did not have one, they'd have to turn around and walk all the way out the line. Or they could hop over the turnstile. I'm sure the employees wouldn't care. They didn't seem to care about anything.
In line we noticed that Freefall, the Moser Rides Spring Ride, wasn't operating.
The new-for-2004 A.R.M. Super Shot was Sky Diver. It was closed for most of the day.
The ride host for Desert Storm looked like a 15-year-old girl who could really care less about anything. At least she checked our restraints. We rode near the middle. The ride starts up the lift hill, and hits a strange trim brake at the top of the lift. The train slows down a little at the top because there is are non-closing, rubber brake pads just after the lift chain.
We begin to drop to the left. It's a pretty good drop, but there's a jolt at the bottom. Entering the first loop is pretty bumpy, and the peak of the loop has a big jolt in it. We sail into the next hill and turn before the second loop. This part of the ride is OK, with only a big jolt at the entrance and exit. The second inversion is a loopscrew. It has a straight entrance and curved exit. It's a crazy sensation, and it's a bit rough. The rest of the ride consists of two badly-designed helices and the brakes. It's a neat little layout, but it's pretty rough. I'm glad it's got lap bars!
After getting tossed around like rag dolls and upping Bryan and Meghan's coaster counts, we headed to Patriot. The last time I was here they didn't let us ride because they need the train to be full, and the park was empty. This time all the rows were filling up, so we got to ride!
The queue line runs close to the track, but there are signs all over the track telling guests to keep back. One funny tidbit is the ground below the ride is covered in Astroturf. This ride is pretty fun for such a small coaster. It packs a bit of a punch in the last helix. The lap bars are T-bars, so they're pretty comfortable -- except for the slam and complete stop in the brakes. They let the ride cycle twice, which is cool. You learn to brace for that final stop.
Inside the station, only one side of the tires rotate, but they manage to get the train out and moving toward the lift hill. There are two paths to the last car, but they took a car off (it's sitting next to the brakes) so the ride host told us those lead to nothing. We had to duck under some queue rails to get in a line with a car. There are no air gates on any ride here, just signs on the floor telling riders not to step further.
To the left of the lift hill there are drawings of famous figures and cartoon characters. Among them: Daffy Duck (appearing to shoot himself in the head, but it's really just Elmer Fudd or someone else shooting him), the Ninja Turtles, Roger and Jessica Rabbit and Howard Cosell. The first drop spirals to the right, and the ride consists of a left turn, a dip, a left turn and a helix. Just before the tire-driven lift hill is a strange sign telling riders there are sharp edges on the ride. These guys are living on the edge. This was my 98th roller coaster.
After taking a spin on that, we thought about riding the log flume. We headed to Sea Dragon instead. It's a lot of fun. When the ride's done, the auto spiel tells riders to exit toward the canal and enjoy the rest of their day at Castles n Coasters. I started playing with what Cedar Point says, so we concluded that Castles n Coasters is Arizona's Roller Coast. The canal counts as the coastline.
After Sea Dragon, we decided to get in line for the log flume, Splashdown. After walking through the line, we figured out that if only two of us sat near the back of the boat, we wouldn't get too wet. We had cameras on us, and wet cameras are no fun. The ride is mildly themed to mining, as there are miniature buildings along the first part.
I rode with Bryan. The ride starts off with a little drop and a short tunnel. Then it climbs the first lift hill. After a little drop, it turns to the left next to some artwork with a lion eating a zebra. This park's loaded with drawings on walls and supports.
The second lift hill is really bumpy. At the top, it jackhammers before dropping into the curve before the drop. In the curve a sign tells riders to sit back and hold on NOW. We climb a maybe two-foot-tall lift hill again and drop down the big drop. We got splashed a little, but the water mostly misted us and sprayed off the front. Exiting is a little tricky because we have to wait for the ride host's OK and figure out how to move along with the moving boat and non-moving station. The boats moved through the station via conveyer belt.
We decided to use our tickets for a round of mini golf. Meghan didn't get a ride and golf ticket, so she had to pay $7.50 to golf with us. We choose course 2.
My brother messed up on hole one by hitting his ball too hard. It flew over the curb, onto the Astroturf, around the first hole, bounced onto the second green and somehow managed to go in hole two! My brother got a hole in one in the second hole from the first hole! We laughed at that and decided that he could take a -1 for his score for hole one.
It seemed like every single hole after hole two was uphill, so it was fairly difficult to make par. Some holes had two or three places to knock the ball in. The more difficult one resulted in a box by the hole that said, "hole in one." I guess it was a default hole in one by making it in the difficult entrance. At one hole, Bryan knocked his ball far off course. He chased it down. Bryan made it in a "hole in one" box, so he lay down next to it so I could take his picture. When he got up, his pants were wet because the ground was wet from rainfall.
On one hole, Meghan took a couple strokes to get her ball into a castle, and it didn't come out when we waited at the bottom. We climbed to the castle to see what happened. It got stuck in one of the holes, so Bryan knocked it out.
One interesting hole made the ball travel down a little river.
We crossed a bridge with made-up Asian language characters and played the last hole. We had to hit the ball up a ramp and into one of a set of numbered holes.
The was the end of golf. I suck at it.
We went back to the rides side of the park to survive another brutal Desert Storm ride. We rode in the back, and decided not to do that again. A front-seat ride was fairly rocky as well. One one ride, I looked at the coupler between the cars. It makes me feel good to know that instead of a chain, the back-up is an elastic cord. My brother left because he and my mom had to drive back home to Northern Arizona.
We rode Patriot again then rode Ram-Rods, the bumper cars, and Magic Carpet, the Musik Express. The bumper cars were set up funny. Empty cars just sat in the middle, so riders would get stuck and not move for a while. It was comical. Bumper cars are always fun, though these ran a bit slow. Magic Carpet is run on a really good program. It's fast and goes forward and backward! All three of us sat in the seat, and we squished Meghan. How fun!
After spinning around, we noticed that Sky Diver's line opened. Yay! We were about to ride the tallest thrill ride in Arizona. We got on the third ride of the day. While waiting at the front of the line, we saw a single chain with little dangling chains preventing someone from hopping under the dropping ride. This park really trusts common sense. A mechanic wearing a park sweatshirt stood by for each cycle.
Sky Diver has four sides of three-across rows. As we climbed up, we got a good view of Desert Storm (we chose to sit on that side), so Bryan and I took pictures. Meghan was scared on the way up. She hates drop rides. This ride is freaking crazy. There is no hesitation at the top. Once it hits the top, you drop. It's really scary. I hadn't been this scared on a ride in a while. There is only one warning, and it's two quiet clicks of the catch car releasing the vehicle. They're too quick to realize you're about to fall, so all you get is a nice drop. The brakes barely have enough room to stop you safely, so you get a good drop.
We rode Sea Dragon again. The ride host saw our cameras and said, "Look man, I don't care that you've got that, but make sure you hold onto it." Hilarious.
We went inside the arcade and played a couple games. The games take your ride card and you put credits on the cards. The cards are inserted in the games and the credits are taken off. Bryan did poorly at a football-throwing game he said he would do well at. Meghan and I played a Dance Dance Revolution rip-off called "in the groove." It was hard ... ly fun. I finished my credits on a poor round of "The Simpsons" pinball.
After spending about five hours in the park, we decided to call it quits and get a bite to eat at In-N-Out Burger. I love this food.
Castles n Coasters is a once-a-year-visit amusement park. Desert Storm is the best coaster in Arizona, and Sky Diver is scary. 6/10.
And now it's time for random pictures:
|A hilariously-labeled sign for cigarette butt trash cans||My golf ball in some kind of trap|
|A neat, low-angle shot of Meghan golfing||Buy your Desert Storm picture sign on the back of the seat|
|Below the loopscrew*||Bryan acting scared on Patriot|
|"Sergeant" is spelled wrong||Desert Storm at the top of the lift*|
|What the heck is a shah?*||Random artwork*|
|More random artwork*||This employee just wandered around*|
|The turn after the first loop on Desert Storm*||Desert Storm in the loopscrew*|
|A map of the park on a wall*|
* 1600 x 1200 resolution
Point of view videos**:
** These videos were taken with the ride hosts being full aware that a camera was on board and shooting during the ride cycle. They made no mention of the camera. The park rules do not state that on-ride footage is not allowed.
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