Category Archives: Personal Updates

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.

It’s Roller Coaster Week!

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Maria and I recently returned from a three-part “vacation”:
1. We went to the Behavioral Operations Conference in Madison, WI July 14-16. I presented my delay announcements paper on Friday the 15th. Conference went well. Madison was pretty.
2. From the conference, we left on a roller coaster road trip. Details below.
3. Over the weekend of July 22-24, we helped my mom set up her new house in Huron, OH.

Here are the stops on our crazy roller coaster trip:
1. Michigan’s Adventure, in Muskegon, MI on Sunday, July 17.
2. Canada’s Wonderland, in Vaughan, ON on Monday, July 18.
3. Hersheypark, in Hershey, PA, on Tuesday, July 19.
4. Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, in Allentown, PA, on Wednesday, July 20.
5. Wildwater Kingdom, in Aurora, OH, on Thursday, July 21.
6. Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH, on Monday, July 25.

Yes, that’s 5 parks in 5 days and 6 in 9. We also wanted to goto Kings Island, in Mason, OH, on Tuesday, July 26 on the way back to Bloomington, but it was pouring when we drove through.

I’ll be breaking down the coasters and parks on our trip this week. Here’s the schedule:
Monday AM: Michigan’s Adventure Rides
Monday PM: Thoughts on Planning a Roller Coaster Road Trip
Tuesday AM: Canada’s Wonderland Rides
Tuesday PM: Cedar Fair Empire
Wednesday AM: Hersheypark Rides
Wednesday PM: Operational Thoughts on Fast Pass
Thursday AM: Dorney Park Rides
Thursday PM: Comparing Wildwater Kingdom Water Parks
Friday AM: Cedar Point Rides (the flagship post)
Friday PM: Park Rankings

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Busy busy busy

-I am sprinting to finish two papers (“Mind the Gap: Coordinating Energy Efficiency and Demand Response” and “Linking Customer Behavior and Delay Announcements: Are Customers Really Rational?”) by July 24.

-I am presenting the delay announcements paper at the Behavioral Operations Conference this Friday in Madison, WI.

-After the conference, Maria and I are doing an amusement park tour of the Great Lakes region: Michigan’s Adventure, Canada’s Wonderland, Hersheypark, Dorney Park, possibly Wildwater Kingdom, and Cedar Point. We’ll also stop in Indiana Dunes State Park, Chicago, Detroit, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia (for a Phillies game), and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We’ll be back in Bloomington on July 26. During the trip, I’ll frequently be finalizing the two papers above while Maria drives.

-After I get back, I am sprinting again to re-submit “Incentive-Compatible Prehospital Triage in Emergency Medical Services” by mid-August.

-As such, there won’t be many website posts for the next month or so.

-After that, I will be working on a project inspecting the behavioral aspects of staffing and turnover, a new energy project, and finishing up my NFL betting project.

Teaching Recap- Spring 2016

I taught 3 sections of BUS-P 300: Introduction to Operations Management this spring. It is a course for business minors, and I get a broad spectrum of student majors. Most students were second-semester seniors. Each section had 40-43 students. Here is a bit of postmortem for me for the course.

Things that went well:
-Each test was worth 137 points. This makes it harder for the student to calculate their grade percentage immediately and leads to less complaining. Even if someone gets a 90/137, that still looks like a good score, even though it is really close to a failing grade. Thanks to Richard Thaler for the suggestion.
-All hands-on activities went really well. We simulated a production line to make paper airplanes. We played the beer game online. We tried out some wisdom of the crowd forecasting. I wish there were more ready-made activities for operations courses.
-I added a significant segment on sustainability and a full lecture on behavioral OM. I think both subjects were enjoyable.
-Most students seemed to enjoy the final group project setup, where they got to select their own groups (if desired) and their own topics. Some students wanted more rigidity in the process (forced topics, forced groups, or a more detailed rubric), but more students enjoyed the creativity that the process allowed.
-Videos of manufacturing and service environments helped drive discussion points home. Most students have little/no experience with real-world operational settings.
-I’m glad I stuck with Managing Operations Across the Supply Chain, 2nd edition, by Swink et al. It’s a good introduction to operations for non-technical undergrads. All the necessary material was there. Choosing a more technical book would have been a disaster.
-This was my entire required teaching load at Kelley. While it was hard to teach three courses in a day in the short-term, I think it will be a good long-term decision when I have the next year+ to focus on research.

Things that didn’t go particularly well:
-I allowed students to use laptops during class if they wished. In the future, I will be more discerning about when/how I let them use computers. Getting attention and participation in one of my three sections was like pulling teeth. They all seemed to collude and decide to pay more attention to their computers than me. The other sections didn’t have major issues.
-I tried to steer students toward interesting research projects for their final group project, but I would say that about 25-33% of the topics chosen were just dull or simplistic. Most of these came from groups that didn’t give any indication of their choice prior to the topic deadline. I should make groups come talk to me about their topic prior to selection. Perhaps just before/after class in the 2 weeks leading up to topic selection deadline. (On the other hand, 25-33% of the topics were extraordinary for an intro course.)
-I used half a lecture to teach EOQ and Newsvendor basics. Without showing the solution (calculus) technique (for EOQ) or understanding statistics distributions (for Newsvendor), these topics aren’t memorable, and they were among the most-missed subjects on the homeworks/exams. Most students were not proficient in calculus or statistics. Find a way to teach their insights without showing the derivation next time. Besides these, all other simple equations/derivations seemed to go over well.
-My lectures got more interesting as the semester went on. I was building upon old slides from other grad students, and early on I was not altering them enough for my teaching style. I think some of the early lectures were probably boring. I should have made more significant edits early on.

Overall, a successful course.