Pete's California/Las Vegas Tour

March 11 to 19, 2005

I just returned home Sunday night [March 20]. Here was the final itinerary of the trip:

Friday, March 11- Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier
           Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, CA
           (Winter Coaster Solace)

Met April at LAX Airport at 11 a.m.. We drove to Pacific Park, rode some rides and dumped Mark's Atlantic sand on the beach. The West Coaster wasn't open till 6 p.m., so we drove to Knott's Berry farm to check in to Radisson Hotel.

The Winter Coaster Solace is the best coaster enthusiast event that I have ever been to! We had exclusive ride time from 6-8 p.m., Dinner, then more ride time 10 p.m.-12 a.m.. We had a great outdoor dinner buffet with Salmon, steaks, salad bar, etc. underneath the new Silver Bullet B&M Suspended roller coaster. April and I were very happy that the Xcelerator seat belts were no problem, not like other Intamin coasters like Millennium Force & Top Thrill Dragster. We rode Xcelerator so much that we missed rides on Ghost Rider during this ERT. Rides on all the coasters were great, considering it was snowing in Pittsburgh when I left home this morning.

Saturday, March 12- Knott's Berry Farm (Winter Coaster Solace ERT)
           Adventure City, Buena Park, CA
           Scandia Family Fun Center, Ontario, CA

Knott's Winter Coaster Solace continued with exclusive ride time 7-10 a.m. on the park's other roller coasters. When the park opened to the public at 10 a.m., it started to get crowded. I joined the Fun Factories group with a side trip to Adventure City, about two miles from Knott's Berry Farm. I really enjoyed Tree Top Racers, an old Miler Mad Mouse from 1955.

We returned to Knott's for the Lunch buffet from 1:30-3:30 with Knott's famous fried chicken. The Fun Factories group left for another side trip to Scandia Family Fun Center to ride the Scandia Screamer and Little Dipper. There was about 20 in our group. We returned to Knott's for the evening around 6 p.m.. I rode a lot of rides with the Ohio couple, Deb & Rob till the park closed at 10 p.m.. Then we had ride time till 12 a.m. on Ghost Rider and Silver Bullet to end this great day!

Sunday, March 13- Six flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA
           (Rideworld West Coast Bash)

Rideworld West Coast Bash exclusive ride time started at 7 a.m.. My first ride of the day was on X with April. WOW, what a scary ride!!! I also enjoyed Superman The Escape. Again, no problem riding this Intamin coaster- no seatbelts at all! The park opened to the public at 10 a.m. It was a light crowd and we rode all the rides by 6:30 p.m.. The park was open till 8 p.m., but we had to leave to get to Moosh's house for a Fun Factories Party in Playa del Rayon the beach. We had a nice time at the party and Moosh served a great Mexican Lasagna.

Monday, March 14- Disneyland & Disney California Adventure, Anaheim, CA

Met a group of seven Fun Factories members, Ed, Rudy, Kelly, Eric, Kyle & his girlfriend and myself. Eric lives in the LA area, so he guided us through both Disney parks to get the most rides possible using fast passes, single rider lines, and just knowing what rides to go to with short lines. We rode almost all rides in both parks and even got to ride the new Buzz Lightyear Ride before it opens to the public on March 17. I had a great time with the Fun Factories people! Thanks!

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Tuesday, March 15- Universal Studios, Universal City, CA

I stayed in Hollywood Monday night and walked Hollywood Blvd. this morning. I also ate at Mel's Diner, famous from the movie American Graffiti.

This was a good day to come to Universal Studios. The park was empty and I got to ride all rides with no wait more than ten minutes! The newest attraction is Van Helsing Fortress Dracula. It was very scary! The Revenge of the Mummy is a good ride and I rode it twice. I will never understand how anyone could like this ride better than a classic wooden roller coaster like the Starliner or Phoenix. Universal was open till 6 p.m., then I drove to Las Vegas.

Wednesday, March 16- Las Vegas, NV

I started the day at Adventuredome at Circus Circus Casino, where I rode the Cannon Blaster and Miner Mike coasters. I walked across Las Vegas Blvd. to The Sahara Casino to The Nascar Cafe to ride Speed the Ride. I took the monorail to the Hilton Casino to see the two Star Trek Adventures, Klingon Encounter & Borg Invasion 4D. Back on the monorail to New York New York Casino to ride The Manhattan Express Coaster.

I drove to Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix, a few miles north of Las Vegas to ride their Dragon Coaster. I drove back to The Stratosphere Tower at 5 p.m.. I went to the top of the tower to see the beautiful view of the sunset and to ride the four crazy rides there. I rode the High Roller Coaster first, attached to the side of this 900 ft. tower. Next I rode the Space Shot Tower, which shoots you up to 1300 ft. above Las Vegas. Now I was brave enough to ride Xscream and Insanity!!!

Insanity is the new ride that just opened on March 10th. WOW. It is crazy!!!

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Thursday, March 17- Buffalo Bill's Casino, Primm, NV
           Sea World, San Diego, CA
           Belmont Park, San Diego, CA

Left Las Vegas and arrived at Buffalo Bill's Casino at H a.m.. Had lunch at the buffet and waited for the rides to open at 12 Noon. Rode Desperado, the famous Arrow Hypercoaster. Also rode the other rides there: the log flume, drop tower, and 3D simulator, then headed for San Diego and Belmont Park.

Arrived in San Diego at 5 p.m.. You must pass Sea World to get to Belmont Park, and I had not planned on going there. I new they closed at 6 p.m., so I decided to see if I could walk through the gate. There was a guard and a ticket taker, so I asked if I could walk inside to look at the gift shops. They said to get a "shopper's pass" at Guest Relations, which allows 45 minutes of shopping time. You must pay the $50 entrance fee and return to Guest Relations in 45 minutes and you get the $50 back with the "shopper's pass". I got my "shopper's pass" and went through the gate and walked back to the new water roller coaster, Journey to Atlantis. There was no line at all, so I rode the coaster, and returned to Guest Relations. I got my $50 back, so my ride was free!!!

Belmont Park is about two miles from Sea World. The Giant Dipper is a beautiful classic wooden roller coaster on the beach of the Pacific Ocean! It was built by Prior & Church in 1925. The coaster closed in 1976 and sat idle for 14 years. Thanks to ACE and the preservation group in San Diego, the coaster was refurbished and reopened in 1990. It is a true classic and was my favorite coaster on this whole trip! I met the Operation Supervisor, Tomek Koczwara, at the Coaster museum, and talked to him for awhile. Belmont Park was open till 8 p.m., so

I got plenty of rides.

Friday, March 18- Legoland, Carlsbad, CA

Went to Legoland and rode all three coasters and other attractions. Left the park around 3 p.m. and visited with my cousin, John and wife, Wick. They live in a beautiful place called Encinitas, just a few miles south of Legoland. They showed me their beautiful house and then we had a nice walk along the cliffs that overlook the beaches. It was sure a beautiful sight! We had a nice dinner at the Route 66 Steakhouse. I really enjoyed my visit with my cousin, John and Wick.

Saturday, March 19 - Castle Park, Riverside, CA
           Pharoh's Lost Kingdom, Redlands, CA
           Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

This is small park day. Castle Park and Pharoh's Lost Kingdom are two small parks, about 15 miles apart. Each park has two coasters and many other rides and attractions. I ended the trip with a return back where April and I started last week at Pacific Park at the Santa Monica Pier. Finally rode the West Coaster, then drove along the coast to Manhattan Beach, where I watched a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. A nice way to end the trip! Flew home Sunday.

Added 50 new coasters on this trip! Total count is now 591. Good to be home!

The 2005 Coaster Season has begun!!! Keep the small parks alive in 2005.


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