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Operational Nightmares! Canada/US trip – August 2019

witchfinder

Member
We’re recently back from our 3 week road trip through Western Canada, with a short drop into Idaho and Montana along the way, and while this wasn’t primarily a theme park trip, there was a chance to pick up a few creds along the way which I obviously took advantage of.

I’ll share a few highlights from the rest of the trip once I’ve got the park reports out of the way, but let’s get on with what you all really care about first eh?

Playland (22nd August)
We started our trip in Vancouver on 21st August and our visit coincided with the annual PNE Fair, which takes place in the exhibition area that Playland occupies year-round. As a result there was much more to do than just visiting the amusement park, including live music, full-contact jousting, animatronic dinosaurs, performing dogs and more variations of fried food than you could possibly imagine.
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With the event open until 11pm, we arrived at lunchtime, focussed on the other attractions to begin with and so I picked up the twilight ride pass at 5pm to save a few dollars. There was only one ride to start on, the park’s vintage woodie and the oldest coaster in Canada, known simply as Coaster.
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Here’s where the operational nightmares that give this report its name began. The queue for the ride didn’t seem too bad but it soon became clear that I was in for a pretty long wait as the coaster was only running one train (despite having another one on the transfer track) and the ride ops were not filling the empty seats even though that’s what it said they would do on the ride information board, so I was frequently seeing trains dispatched with single seats available here and there and on some occasions even entire rows empty! To be fair, the ride ops were dispatching the trains pretty quickly once they returned to the station but it was still frustrating. :(
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So ultimately I waited about 45 minutes in the blazing sun and went for the back row as I’d heard the tales about the airtime at the back. It certainly lived up to its reputation, with the most ridiculous ejector airtime I’ve experienced, which combined with the buzz bars meant I was standing up on nearly every drop. I honestly have no clue how smaller riders aren’t flung from the train but as far as I know there’s never been an accident on the ride.
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(This was about the only photo I got of the ride in action as most of the structure is behind a load of buidlings!)

Aside from the insane airtime it’s a pretty straightforward cyclone-style layout which was pretty rough in places, especially on the corners, so the airtime really is what makes the ride. I would say this is probably the most scared I’ve ever been on a rollercoaster, although I was still laughing as I went around.

With the signature ride done I then headed off to get the other two creds, both of which are kiddie coasters. I was concerned that I was in for more long waits but it turned out most of the other rides in the park had minimal queues. So first I did the Kettle Creek Mine, a cute coaster that would probably offer some decent airtime on its singular hill if it went a bit faster.
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After that I went to the park’s newest cred, Bug Whirled, which is every park’s go-to kids coaster these days - the SBF Visa spinning coaster. This was probably the best-themed ride in the park and it had a couple of trains’ wait, which is the longest I’ve ever had to wait for one of these things. Bizarrely they had three ride ops on this ride, one of whom was measuring the smaller riders while the other two were going through an incredibly laborious loading process where all the seatbelts were checked, then the restraints went down which were then checked by two ride ops. I know it’s a kiddie cred and safety is paramount but this was a bit over the top! Anyway, I got my ride after around ten minutes wait – three disgraceful laps – and then we headed off for some food and other Fair activities for a while with the intention of returning to Playland once the sun started going down.
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We returned around 9pm and my hope was that the queues had died down and I could get a couple of night rides on the Coaster. One look at the queue dashed all those hopes as it was no shorter than it was earlier and the idea of standing around for 45 minutes didn’t really appeal as we were starting to get tired and it was at least half an hour’s journey to get back to our AirBnB. So instead we wandered around looking for something else to ride, but the only other appealing ride was the drop tower which also had a pretty long queue, so just to try and get some value out of my wristband I rode a couple of the temporary carnival rides that are added to the lineup while the Fair is on.

Haunted House was a Ghost Train on a Truck but the ride system was pretty robust for this kind of ride and while it was incredibly short, it was also pretty creepy and intense as most of the animatronics were people being tortured or killed in some way, plus the usual scary little girl and skeletons of course.
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And finally Stampede Fever was a quirky Wild West themed funhouse which looked like it was going to be quite extensive from the outside but turned out to be tiny.
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It was only about 9:30 but we’d had a long first day in the country and were still tired from travelling so we called it a night. We had a really good day overall at the Fair but I’d have to say Playland is a bit of a dump tbh – apart from the woodie, the ride selection is pretty bad, mostly being travelling fairground type rides, and the park itself wasn’t very nice to look at and seemed a bit sketchy in places with loads of staff trying to get you to play the midway games.

I believe there are plans to expand the park once the SBNO Corkscrew has been sold, so maybe they will invest in a decent modern thrill coaster – they certainly need one. On the positive side though, riding the Coaster was a pretty amazing experience and I was disappointed not to get a night ride.

So all in all, not a great day rides-wise but this was just the beginning of the trip and better was to come. :)

A few random pics of the Fair and Playland to finish off...

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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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I enjoyed seeing the photo updates of this on Facebook as you went along, so looking forward to reading a bit more of the narrative here. I'll be doing a very similar trip to this next year, so interest highly peaked! :p
 

witchfinder

Member
I enjoyed seeing the photo updates of this on Facebook as you went along, so looking forward to reading a bit more of the narrative here. I'll be doing a very similar trip to this next year, so interest highly peaked! :p
Cool, well let me know if you need any tips about the non-theme park aspects as well :)


Cultus Lake Adventure Park (24th August)
Two days later and we left Vancouver to start our road trip, driving fairly close to the border with the USA towards Keremeos. This gave the opportunity to stop off at Cultus Lake, around an hour from Vancouver, and after a very nice lunch at the Lakeside Beach Club we dropped into Cultus Lake Adventure Park for a couple of +1s.
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This park bills itself as British Columbia’s best theme park, and given that its only competition is Playland I can’t argue with that! It’s mostly kiddie or family rides though there are a couple of reasonably thrilling flats, and everything is loosely themed to the Wild West. The park is tiny but they’ve packed over a dozen rides into the small space by cleverly building them on top of or intertwining with each other, and with all the trees in the park as well it is quite charming.
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We bought enough tokens for a ride each on the two creds, plus some extras for me to ride the drop tower. Tokens are a fairly reasonable $2.50 each considering that all rides cost either 1 or 2 tokens per rider. They’re also pretty cool as they have tokens themed to most of the rides in the park, which would make them cool souvenirs were it not for the fact that they’re needed to get on the rides.
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First up was Blastin’ Barrels, my second SBF Visa spinner of the trip. We got a four lap cycle on this and it was disgusting because there was nobody sat on the other side of the car so it just spun and spun and spun and spun and spun until we just about wanted to throw up. ?
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After a short sit down to recover from that we got in the queue for the Runaway Mine Train, which is a rarity in that it’s a Zamperla Junior Coaster with a unique layout. I have to say this was much bigger and more impressive looking than I was expecting, especially as it is suspended quite high up and snakes around several other attractions. Obviously it was nothing spectacular but the ride was fairly smooth, mostly consisting of helixes and then a fun S-bend towards the end of the circuit. We got two laps on this and it is probably the best Zamperla coaster I’ve ridden, not that it has much competition!
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Finally I headed over for a ride on Cloud Buster, the drop tower. This is 150ft tall but is built on a platform about 20ft above the ground so that gives it the feeling of being a bit higher. I believe this manufactured by Larson and was unusual in that it drops instantly as soon as it reaches the top of the tower, so the anticipation is more about the journey up, especially as you can’t see how close to the top you are once you’re in the gondola. The drop was pretty forceful and the views over Cultus Lake (and of the park below) were very nice so this was easily the best ride in the park for me.
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That was all for our quick lunchtime stop at Cultus Lake, a pleasant little park that doesn’t offer a lot in the way of thrills but suits the family market that visits the area each summer perfectly and really makes the most of the available space. I’m not sure they have room for much else and adding a thrill coaster probably wouldn’t fit their demographic anyway, but if you’re in the area it’s a cute park that is worth the visit for the two creds and the drop tower.

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witchfinder

Member
Silverwood Theme Park (26th August)
Two days on and we’d made our way over the border to the USA for a few days in Idaho and Montana. After an essential stop (my wife says) for lunch at a nearby Cracker Barrel (our only chance to do so on this trip) and a quick stop to drop our bags off at our AirBnB, we arrived at Silverwood at about 2:30. The park was open until 9pm so that still gave over six hours to tackle this medium-sized park with six coasters.
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I forgot to take a photo at the main entrance so have a photo of this cute secondary entrance building instead.
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Hmm, which way to go?
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It was one of the hottest days of our trip so far and while the car park had looked pretty full, it seemed that most people had headed to the waterpark so queues in the dry park weren’t looking too bad. Obviously our initial destination was Roller Coaster Alley, home to the three biggest creds along with a few flat rides.
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The priority here was obviously the two woodies and the first entrance we got to was Timber Terror, formerly Grizzly until Paramount’s legal team took exception to it having the same name as their rides at Great America and King’s Dominion. I mean, seriously? Can you claim copyright on the word Grizzly? :rolleyes: Anyway, I digress – we joined the queue for Timber Terror and it didn’t seem too long.
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However, what I hadn’t taken into account was the terrible operations on the two woodies at Silverwood. Firstly they only have one train on each ride, but if that didn’t slow things down enough, they also have an awfully laborious loading system where everyone takes their seats, fastens their seatbelts, then the ride ops check them all, then they lower the restraints, then the ops go through and check all those too, then they finally dispatch the train. All of which would be OK if the ops had any urgency about them but on this ride they were really slow and I counted over 6 minutes between dispatches. So what looked like maybe a 15-20 minute queue was actually more like 40 minutes, but we got on the front row and after having the restraints checked twice and listening to one of the ride ops talking to her supervisor about when she could go for a break, our train was finally dispatched.

Timber Terror is a CCI coaster built in 1996 but it has since had some parts of the track replaced by RMC topper track, so I was interested to see how rough it was compared to other CCI’s from the same era such as Megafobia. Overall I’d say it was pretty smooth! There’s a mixture of ejector and floater airtime throughout, with the best floater being on the first hill after the drop, and it’s a pretty classic out and back layout with a couple of the hills in the ‘back’ half having some modest ejector and headchoppers as they kind of dive into the structure. The only really rough part was the turnaround, which I assume hasn’t been retracked recently, and it really did judder around that section, and it also runs out of steam towards the end, but overall it was a really enjoyable ride and definitely the best CCI I’d ridden up to that point.
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(Pic taken in the evening due to cred anxiety during the day!)

Next up was the other CCI woodie, Tremors, which had a similar sized queue but it moved a bit quicker as the ride ops seemed a bit keener to get trains dispatched and were actually running down the platform checking restraints rather than plodding like their colleagues on Timber Terror. Given that this ride also had seatbelts and lapbars, these signs warning you not to stand up seemed rather excessive!
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We grabbed front row on Tremors after a 30 minute wait and I was looking forward to the first drop on this, as it dives into a tunnel that goes under the gift shop and then out the other side. That drop was awesome, and from there the ride goes through three more tunnels during the layout along with lots of banked twists and turns. There’s a lot less airtime on this, with the focus more being on the laterals and speeding closer to the ground. The problem was that this was quite rough, with several bone-shaking areas, and there was a lot less evidence of the RMC retracking although this has supposedly had more attention than Timber Terror. It was still a lot better than most CCI coasters but after one ride of each I definitely favoured its older brother across the park.
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(This was the only daytime picture I got and at this point the ride was actually down!)

It was time for a steel coaster, and sitting between the two woodies is Aftershock, the Giant Inverted Boomerang relocated from Six Flags Great America in 2008.
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Now, I have previous experience of a GIB having ridden Goliath at SFNE a couple of years ago, and it was one of the worst coasters I’ve ever ridden. However, this one still had the original trains so I was hoping for better things here. I headed for what I expected to be another laborious queue, but happily found the ride to be walk-on, and ended up on the back of the train on one of the inside seats. I’m glad it had no queue because again, the loading process was very slow with the ride ops explaining the seating arrangement before opening the air gates, checking seatbelts before lowering restraints and so on. I think it was a good 5 minutes between opening the gates and the ride actually starting.
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I’m happy to report that the Giant Inverted Boomerang is a hell of a lot better with the original trains. I mean, it’s a near 20 year old Vekoma so it’s still a bit rough, mainly on the entrance to the cobra roll where it bashed my head a bit, but it was way more enjoyable than Goliath and good enough that I was interested in the idea of riding at the front later.
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With the three creds in Roller Coaster Alley done, we headed around the park and the next ride we encountered was Thunder Canyon rapids. It was still hot so the idea of getting wet was fairly appealing and we joined the queue, which turned out to be another slow mover. At least in this case a ride op made his way down the line to try and batch smaller groups together, so we managed to jump ahead a little bit, but it was still a half hour wait and when we got to the front it became obvious why. There was no turntable so it was strictly one raft loaded at a time, and they had just one operator loading everyone into the raft and checking seatbelts. Yes, they have bloody seatbelts on pretty much everything here! ?

Anyway, they were pretty decent rapids (if a little short) and everyone got fairly wet, but mostly due to waves rather than any cheap soakers, other than a water blast right at the start which was an unusual twist.
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By now it was after 5pm so we took our wet arses and headed for the last remaining thrill coaster, Corkscrew. This is a relocation of the original Arrow Corkscrew from Knotts Berry Farm, which has been here since 1990, so it has spent more time here than at its original location! Just like Aftershock this was walk-on – I guess they don’t like inversions around here?
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I like the paint job and they’ve done a nice job of maintaining the ride and highlighting its significance, but like most Arrow loopers it’s a bit on the rough side. Still, it was pretty cool to get on a ride with such historical importance, even if it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.
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Next we went back down to the entrance area to get on the 6pm departure of the steam train, but it was already completely full, so we decided to head off and get the two kiddie creds, grab some food and then make it back to the station in plenty of time to get the 7pm train instead.

The kids area here is called Garfield’s Summer Camp, named after the famous cartoon cat of course. It’s quite a nice area actually, with lots of winding pathways and foliage, but what was a little surprising is how lightly it is themed to the IP. None of the rides are themed or even named after the characters and the only place I saw mention of Garfield and friends at all was on the ride signage. That said, they do have plenty of Garfield merch and meet and greets with the characters throughout the day.
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First of the two kiddie creds was Tiny Toot, a Zamperla powered mine train with one of the shortest circuits I’ve ever seen – it may even be shorter than a Go-Gator! To make up for the length of the coaster they sent us on 7 humiliating laps with a train full of kids. Such is the life of a cred whore.
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Last and most definitely least new coaster of the day was Krazy Koaster, my third SBF Visa spinner in six days and my fifth overall for the season. Seriously, f**k these things now, I’m sick of them! :(
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With all creds obtained, we grabbed some mediocre food (service is very slow at the fast food outlets too btw) and dashed back to the steam train for the 7pm departure, and despite arriving 15 minutes early we still only just managed to fit on. Clearly this train ride was something special…
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Well as it turned out, it was pretty good and could easily rank amongst the top 3 rides in the park. The train journey is about 30 minutes, heading out into the nearby countryside, and has several stops along the way to take in such sights as a Bison herd, an explorer searching for Bigfoot and an old mine which is the scene of a ‘train robbery’ where some bandits take money from people on the train (which is ultimately donated to charity) and are then taken care of by the Sheriff who is riding the train. Honestly it was a lot of fun and you definitely shouldn’t miss it if you visit the park.
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By the time we’d got off the train and had a look around the nearby gift shop there was just over an hour left until park closing and the sun was setting, which could only mean one thing – night rides on the woodies! Having checked at the entrances for both I went for Tremors first on the basis of the shorter queue meaning a far better chance of getting into the queue for the other one afterwards. This time around I was going for back row rides although in the end I grabbed the second to back row to save a bit of time.
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Tremors had very little lighting so it gave a really thrilling ride, careering through the tunnels and out into near-darkness. There was a little more airtime at the back and it was still pretty rough in places but as we all know, night rides make everything at least 10% better and as a result it was a better ride than earlier and moved into my top spot for CCI coasters.
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I then headed back to Timber Terror and found the queue to be much shorter than earlier so I’d definitely made the right decision and after not much more than a ten minute wait I was on the ride, again on the second to back row, and off into the night, but not before spotting this cool sign in the station that I’d completely missed first time around! :)
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It wasn’t as dark as Tremors due to the other rides being lit up nearby, but Timber Terror still gave an excellent night ride, especially as you can’t see what’s coming up as easily from the back. There was probably a little more ejector than on the front and about the same amount of floater, and just as with Tremors the night ride adds a little more excitement so having now ridden both creds day and night, I decoded that Timber terror was the better of the two overall and therefore my favourite CCI of the ones I’ve ridden.
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When I got off TT it was about 8:50 so unexpectedly I still had time to join the queue for one last ride, and while I considered another ride on one of the woodies or even the drop tower, in the end I decided to get that front row ride on Aftershock, which was lit up very nicely for the evening.
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Once again it was walk-on but the train was sitting in the station full of riders due to what the staff described as a ‘bio emergency’ which was their polite way of saying somebody had thrown up. ?
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So once that was sorted out and that train has been dispatched, I got my ride on one of the outer seats of the front row, and I have to say it was pretty awesome. Once again the night ride factor came into play, but also it was the last train of the night and this was my first time on the front of one of these things, and while it was still a bit jerky, it was otherwise a quite exhilarating experience and a pretty fab way to end my day at the park.
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By the time I got off the ride it was way past closing time so I got to make my way out of a near-empty park and see all the rides lit up nicely, before getting back to the car and heading back to our AirBnB around 20 minutes away.
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Thoughts on Silverwood then? Firstly it calls itself a theme park but to be honest the theming is no better than your average Six Flags park. They have a reasonable line-up of rides with two great woodies (which would be even better with further retracking) plus a couple of above-average steel thrill coasters. They are crying out for a modern steel coaster and I’m sure local enthusiasts would be hoping for them to get the little company down road to provide them with a Raptor, but in all honesty I think a family launch coaster would suit the park better to fill the gap between the two kiddie creds and the woodies. They’re also completely lacking a dark ride so that would be a decent addition too.

The big issue they have there is with operations, which were generally diabolical, especially on the woodies. I have no idea why they haven’t invested in a second train for each of them, especially as they’ve regularly spent money on track maintenance so obviously care about the customer experience. I found the staff to be pleasant enough but fairly lazy with regard to getting the rides dispatched quickly. If I’d been there on a really busy day I can imagine the queue times would have been horrendous and I would have gone nuts. In fact I think if I hadn’t have got those three night rides then I would have come away with a much harsher opinion, but overall it’s an above-average independent park that is worth a visit if you’re within a couple of hours drive and can pick a quiet day.

As always here’s a few general pictures that didn’t fit anywhere above.
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
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Actually looks like a pretty good little park - albeit with some pretty ropey operations. The setting seems quite pleasant. :)
 

witchfinder

Member
Actually looks like a pretty good little park - albeit with some pretty ropey operations. The setting seems quite pleasant. :)
Yeah I probably didn't give the landscaping and greenery enough credit tbf :) What you don't see though is that the highway runs all the way down one side of the park so that's not so picturesque, but they've done their best to hide that once you're in there.

Anyway, the day after Silverwood we had a bonus coaster-related stop. It turned out our AirBnB in Hayden was just a few blocks from RMC Headquarters, so it would've been rude not to take a look! I know they do offer tours but we didn't really have time for that as we had a 4-5 hour drive into Montana and wanted to stop at a couple of spots along the way, so it was literally just drive up, have a quick look and take these photos.

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It was cool that the Raptor prototype track was still there - I was expecting that to have been removed so it was a nice surprise :D
 

witchfinder

Member
Galaxyland (31st August)
Back into Canada then and after a few days checking out lots of cool Dinosaur related stuff (I’ll come back to that) we headed to Edmonton. We’d spent the earlier part of the day driving up from Drumheller and visiting Elk Island National Park, all of which had made us a lot later than anticipated. We’d aimed to reach West Edmonton Mall by about 4pm to allow a good 4 hours in Galaxyland plus time to have a look around North America’s biggest shopping mall, but by the time we arrived it was well after 5pm.

We found a parking spot quite easily and pretty close to an entrance, so that was a good start, but as you might expect from a Saturday afternoon, the Mall itself was absolutely rammed – this is a place that can attract up to 200,000 shoppers a day of course. By the time we made our way through the hordes to Galaxyland’s entrance it was just about to turn 6pm. The good news here was that meant we could get the cheaper wristbands that can be used during the last 3 hours of opening. The bad news was everyone else could too, so we were faced with a pretty big queue to get them and then less than 3 hours to get all the rides done and get some food. This was going to be stressful! ?
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The only place to start was with the main attraction, the world’s biggest indoor coaster and a Schwarzkopf classic – Mindbender!
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I made my way to the back of the park and joined the queue, which wasn’t too big, and anticipated perhaps a 20-30 minute wait. Little was I to know I was about to experience some of the worst ride operations I’ve ever seen… The good news was they were running two trains, but the loading procedure was absolutely awful. Let’s start by assuming a train is fully loaded and dispatched. As it climbs the lift hill, the second train rolls forward and riders have their wristbands scanned and board the ride. They are asked to fasten their seatbelts but leave the other restraints alone. The ride ops will wait until the entire train is filled and then move along each side of the train checking seatbelts are fastened and then lowering the lapbars and the weird OTSRs and making sure each rider is comfortable. By the time they’ve got through 2 or 3 riders the other train has returned, so one of the ops will abandon their current task to go and let the riders off the other train, which involves manually releasing the restraints and then ensuring every rider has left not just the station but the 5 metre long exit ramp, and then closing the exit gates (one in the station, one at the end of the ramp) behind them. Then they’ll go back to assisting the other op loading the train that is about to be dispatched. Sometimes. Or other times they will just sit around looking at their phone while the other op finishes alone. And then they will do some final checks and dispatch the train, and the whole cycle starts again! ?

Did reading all that bore you? Well imagine standing in the queue watching this when you’re waiting for a ride and the clock is ticking away. Then imagine that at one point one of the ride ops just disappears for a few minutes (loo break?) and everything stops until they return. Then imagine that you’ve been waiting for about 20 minutes and seen just 3 dispatches, and then there’s an announcement saying that the ride will be temporarily closed at 6:45 for a regular maintenance check which happens three times a day, and when you ask the ops if you’ve got any chance of getting on the ride before they close it they tell you no. I was f*cking raging! ???

They didn’t even close the queue at that point, giving people the option of joining it and waiting the 20 minutes while the inspection was carried out. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it. So I’d wasted about 25 minutes of time that could’ve been spent riding other rides and it was going to be at least another 40 minutes before I’d have chance to get on the ride, so I bailed on the queue and headed off to try and make better use of that time. You can probably guess my mood was not good.

Obviously there were other creds to get, so we headed over to one of them – Autosled. Thankfully this Tivoli had a pretty short queue and that combined with the huge train meant we only had to wait 5 minutes and we were on.
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Not a bad custom Tivoli this, quite a long layout with a couple of helixes (helices?) which meanders its way round quite a bit of the park and past several of the other rides. It was at this point that I started to appreciate Galaxyland a bit more, as you can see they have good, consistent theming throughout the area and I do like the way all the rides are crammed close together.

We carried on wandering around and came upon something called Time Freak, which is one of those games where two people compete against each other to switch off lights as they come on. In this case they were in quite a big room divided into two halves and getting to them and switching them off was quite energetic. By the way, this had no queue despite having a capacity of 2 people per cycle. Oh, and I won. ?
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We then headed back to see how they were getting on with the maintenance on Mindbender. It was still going on but a few people had already began to join the queue, so I decided to stay in the vicinity and take a ride on the Space Shot, which I believe is the tallest indoor shot tower in the world. It’s not really that big though but was reasonably fun with some decent airtime.
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(Oops, didn't actually get a pic of it in action it seems)

Back to Mindbender then and I re-joined the queue, which was now at least a three train wait, and waited a couple of minutes for the maintenance to finish. Then began the laborious loading and unloading process again, though the staff seemed a little more focussed this time around. I forgot to mention earlier that one of the two trains had the back car rotated offering backwards rides, and this turned out to be handy as when my turn to ride finally came around there were only backwards seats left, so I was able to complain that I didn’t want to ride backwards and therefore ended up front of the queue for the next train, allowing me a front row ride. ?
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So after all that waiting and frustration, was it worth it? Well, not really tbh. Don’t get me wrong - it was a pretty cool ride and it’s always great to get on an iconic coaster, and it certainly lived up to its reputation in terms of intensity. The forces through the three loops as expected were really strong and the helix at the end was intense too. I also found it to be fairly smooth and there was an unexpected airtime pop over a little bunny hop towards the end of the ride. But with all that said, if I were to compare it to its namesake at SFOG or Olympia Looping (which it resembles in a lot of ways) then it’s not even close. It just didn’t stand out as much as those two and I think the fact it has seatbelts, a lapbar and the same annoying shoulder restraints as OL hasn’t really done it any favours. You’re so crammed into the train that it’s hard to relax and really enjoy the ride, and while I know there has been a tragic accident in the ride’s past, I think they have really gone overboard with the safety, to the detriment of the ride experience. Plus obviously the operations put me in a foul mood before I even got on the thing! If I’d had chance for re-rides on a quieter day then maybe I could’ve formed a more balanced opinion, but based on my one ride I’d have to say it was fairly unremarkable.
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There was still one more cred to get (the kiddie cred here is off limits) which is the Gerstlauer spinner, Galaxy Orbiter. The queue was pretty big though and since it was 8pm we decided to go and get some food. We headed back into the hell that was the Mall to try and find a quick fast food option, eventually settling on a Tim Hortons and completely missing the fact that there was a food court attached to one side of Galaxyland which had plentiful options and virtually no queues. ?‍♂️?

25 minutes later after throwing my food down my neck as quickly as I could, I returned to Galaxy Orbiter. Going on a spinning coaster immediately after eating is not high on my list of great ideas but needs must. Thankfully the queue had gone down a lot and I was on in less than ten minutes.
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This was my first Gerstlauer spinner and despite it being a bit rattly on the corners I quite enjoyed it. The spinning wasn’t too intense and I liked the way it swooped and weaved around the other rides in the park. No nausea was induced and overall it was a quite pleasant surprise!
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Announcements had started going out that the park would be closing soon so we looked for one last ride to finish the night and found our way to Quirks in the Works. This was walk-on by this point so we were straight on to what is quite a fun shooting dark ride with lots of cute and quirky aliens and some amusing moments. What was not amusing was the ride vehicle, which span as it made its way slowly along the track. It was too slow in fact, as in some spots it was possible to shoot the same target several times over as the car rotated. The constant spinning in one direction was far more nausea-inducing than the spinning coaster and we were both glad when the ride came to an end, despite it being pretty fun overall.
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With just a few minutes to go until park close I dashed down to Mindbender just to see if I could grab a second ride. No chance – the queue was empty but they were mid-way through loading the train and made it clear that it would be the last one of the night. In fact once the clock hit 9pm every ride seemed to have stopped operating, and announcements were being made for everyone to clear the park ASAP. We even witnessed a girl in one of the ride photo booths refuse to sell a photo to a customer because it was time for her to finish work, which is absolutely pathetic customer service! So we left Galaxyland and took a quick walk around the Mall (which was also now closed) just to see some of the more interesting areas such as the big pirate ship.
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Overall I have mixed feelings about our visit to Galaxyland. We certainly didn’t get the best out of it but in some ways that was our own fault for not getting there earlier in the day. That said, the operations and customer service there are frankly disgusting and really spoiled the time we did spend there. Despite that I actually think the park itself is pretty cool. This was my first experience of a big indoor park and I thought the overall theming was very attractive and consistent, with lots of vibrant colours and nice character models. In fact it was arguably the best theme park of the trip. The rides were also pretty decent from what we experienced – nothing absolutely outstanding but an interesting selection with a few pretty unique attractions, and it was a shame we didn’t get the chance to try more of them. So despite the horrendous customer service I actually wouldn’t mind returning one day, just not on a Saturday evening!
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So that wraps up our park visits for this trip. We actually passed Calaway Park near Calgary the following day on our way to Banff National Park, and if I’d known in advance it was just by the side of the highway on our route I’d have probably factored in a visit even though the coaster selection is a bit crap. We also passed through Revelstoke a couple of days later so could’ve got the alpine coaster there, which would have completed all the creds available in this area of Canada, but that would give no reason to come back. ;) Other than the fact that this park of Canada is stunning and full of other interesting things to do of course. :)

To sum the trip up, my overriding feeling about this part of the world is that there are some reasonable parks with some decent, if mostly unspectacular rides, but they really need to improve the customer service and probably invest in some more modern rides to really make the grade. To be honest though, I don’t think this side of Canada is really about amazing theme parks – they’re just something for tourists to do as part of a trip to a beautiful area filled with fantastic outdoor activities. I’m pretty sure we will go back to Western Canada and Montana again in the future so it will be interesting to see if anything changes with these parks.

As mentioned at the start of this trip report, I’m going to dump a load of photos of other things we did and saw on the trip, and I also have some video of the parks which I’ll edit together and post here eventually.
 
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Social Media Team
a couple of helixes (helices?)
Yes. ;)

I think that's the first actual trip report I've read of Galaxyland (I think, if not it's been a long time), and well... sounds grim. You've got your head screwed on the right way, so sounds like you did your best, but man what a cluster****. Especially Mindbender - I'm guessing they're just petrified of it now. Oh well, at least you got the cred, and I do like the dinky trains - they're fun. :p

Looking forward to the non-cred stuff now. :)

(P.s. Updated your LoG)
 

witchfinder

Member
Looking forward to the non-cred stuff now. :)
(P.s. Updated your LoG)
Thanks, and it's coming up... :)

As promised, here’s some other bits and pieces from our trip that I think might interest you. I’ll drop several posts like this in over the coming days/weeks as I get batches of pictures together.

But first, here’s a video of some of the wildlife we saw. Highlights include a black bear taking a bath, a pod of Orcas hunting seals, Salmon jumping up a waterfall and a garter snake eating a fish it just caught - that was a WTF moment! Needless to say we were pretty lucky with what we saw.


Apologies for the shakiness of the camerawork – there was a lot of 12x zooming in some cases (bears!) and trying to keep a steady hand on a glorified dinghy in the middle of the sea was a challenge. I tried applying some filters to reduce wobble but in some cases they’ve done more harm than good. ?‍♂️
 

witchfinder

Member
OK, naughty of me to double-post, but here's my first set of pictures that I think would be interesting to theme park fans – ghost towns! ?

We actually visited three different ghost towns on our trip, with varying degrees of authenticity. First up was the town of Wayne, Alberta. This is a genuine ghost town that had a population of several thousand in the 1950’s but has gradually declined since the mines there went out of business. Current population is about 28 I believe, and you have to cross 11 bridges to reach the town from Drumheller, giving some idea of how isolated it must seem in the winter.

The main attraction there now is the Last Chance Saloon, a bar that dates back to the town’s heyday. Somewhat unfortunately, when we visited they were holding their annual music festival (Waynestock!) there which attracts several hundred visitors, so the ghost town atmosphere was somewhat lacking, but it was still a cool place to visit.

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The second place we visited was Three Valley Gap, which was an unplanned stop along the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke. This would probably be better described as a heritage museum as they have built a town from a bunch of old buildings that have been relocated from elsewhere in Canada or reconstructed in the style of buildings from the 1800s and beyond. Each building was packed with interesting stuff and the highlight was the old railroad roundhouse that had several trains and carriages, one of which had been converted into a scare attraction. Bit of an unexpected find and it was pretty creepy! :eek:

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Ghost Train!
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Finally we have Deadman Junction Ranch, which we stopped at on the way to Whistler. Here we have a Wild West town being slowly built from scratch by a crazy German guy - so the lady there told us anyway! The ‘town’ is pretty small at the moment but what’s there is fairly good and we were told there’s much more to come. The buildings might be new but most of the signage and props are antiques and it’s only a few dollars so worth a stop for 15 minutes.

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Kw6sTheater

Member
@witchfinder , I'm sorry to hear that you had such a poor experience at Galaxyland! I've found that the park can be quite nice if it's not very crowded, as it makes the slow operations a lot more bearable. You missed out on Mindbender's best row, though - row 3 - where the first two loops had me seeing black and the ride's still just as smooth as what it's like in the front car. HAVOC and Zero Gravity are also worth a try, as they are two very unique and awesome flat rides (but Zero Gravity tends to get long lines due to its position at the mall entrance of Galaxyland), and the train there isn't bad either. My only experience of a crowded Galaxyland was also on a Saturday, in which Mindbender, Zero Gravity and Galaxy Orbiter both had 20-30 minute waits and I didn't even get to do Autosled and the train (I rode them in 2017, though, and when I was young as well), but HAVOC was a walk-on.

On the topic of Calaway Park - to be honest, it's certainly not a bad park, but I just felt it to be a little lacking in the charm and uniqueness departments. Obviously, its best coaster is an Arrow Corkscrew, Vortex, which was quite smooth but didn't offer anything in the way of force, speed, airtime or intensity; there was a sliver of hangtime in the double corkscrew, but that was about it. My favorite ride there was Hurricane, a presumably standard Enterprise, but I also did their swinging ship, the other two kids coasters and their Paratrooper. I was able to get all three coasters done in 2 hours, having lunch in between Vortex and the other two, but I had to stay longer because of the group that I was with.
 

SilverArrow

Active Member
Wow your galaxyland experience sounded so stressful! Hoping somehow the park will read your review and sort things out a bit! Hope to one day get up there to add to my Schwarz list and explore the mall but it's so far out in the middle of nowhere! Not often you even read enthusiasts reviews of it!
 

witchfinder

Member
@witchfinder , I'm sorry to hear that you had such a poor experience at Galaxyland! I've found that the park can be quite nice if it's not very crowded, as it makes the slow operations a lot more bearable.
Yeah, as I said, I like the look of the place generally, it was just the horrible operations that spoiled it. I have to blame myself to some extent for getting there too late though. Despite the experince I would certainly consider revisiting if I ever go back to that area.

Hope to one day get up there to add to my Schwarz list and explore the mall but it's so far out in the middle of nowhere!
Yeah it is a problem if you were just doing a cred trip, as there's nothing else close other than Calaway Park, but as part of a bigger trip to that part of the wrold it's not too far out of the way, though the drive to and from there from the lower part of Alberta is one of the most boring I've ever done - just a straight road for 2 hours or more!

Anyway, time to move on to another set of pics with a topic that all theme park fans should enjoy - dinosaurs! ??

We visited Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks, Alberta, which is known for one of the highest concentrations of dinosaur fossils anywhere in the world. We did a couple of tours that allowed us into the restricted areas of the park where we learned how to find fossils (and they are everywhere, in varying shapes and sizes!) and also experience the amazing Badlands scenery with its many 'hoodoos'.
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After that we headed to Drumheller, home to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which has some amazing exhibits of the many dinosaur fossils found in the area. The town itself is somewhat dinosaur mad and we found many amusingly-painted dinosaur statues around town and also visisted the World's Largest Dinosuar, which you can climb up the inside of to get a look out from the jaws. :D
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Hixee

Flojector
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
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Viewing platform INSIDE a dinosaur's mouth? Don't see that every day. :p
 

witchfinder

Member
Not sure if anyone is still interested but I'm still working on the videos so here's some more photos :)

This set I'm calling "random stuff we did" - first up was a walk to an old train wreck near Whistler. The walk is a couple of kilometres down an easy enough trail which ends up crossing over a cool suspension bridge and then you see a bunch of old train carriages that have been there for over 60 years and regularly get painted with graffiti...
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Immediately after doing that walk we tried the not-at-all-dangerous Canadian sport of axe throwing! Highly enjoyable :)
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And a few days later on Vancouver Island we visited a county fair (Cowichan Exhibition) which was very reminscent of the Harvest Festival from Parks & Recreation. They had animals, fried food, a bunch of carnival rides (most of which we'd already seen at Playland weeks earlier) and even a cred (which I didn't have the time or inclination to ride) but the main attraction was the Logger sports which saw a bunch of burly men and women hacking up logs with a variety of tools. Great stuff!
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witchfinder

Member
Here's another video - the PNE Fair at Playland. Frankly the dogs and jousting were more fun than the amusement park which is why they get more coverage ?

 

witchfinder

Member
Been a while since I updated this and I'm still working on videos for Silverwood and Galaxyland (OK, I haven't really started either :D) so here's a final batch of pictures showing off some of the amazing scenery from Western Canada, Idaho and especially Montana, which literally had an amazing scenic veiew around every corner on our route!

Indian Arm (boat trip from Vancouver)
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A couple from between Vancouver and Porthill, where we crossed the border to Idaho
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Idaho and Montana (mainly Glacier National Park)
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Various Canada National Parks (Banff, Lake Louise, Glacier National Park - Canada's version)
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And finally, a couple from Vancouver Island :)
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