Pete & Clyde Tour the Southeast

August 3-9, 2004

We just returned yesterday from our trip to the south. Rick could not go because of his new job, so Clyde went with me. We visited 6 parks in 6 days and I added 10 new coasters to my list- now 453 total! We drove over 3000 miles.

DAY 1 (Tues.)- Drove from Pittsburgh to Louisiana. Stopped at Beech Bend Park a beautiful small amusement park in Bowling Green, Kentucky on our way. Rick and I stopped there last summer and I'm glad we had the chance to stop again on this trip. They have 2 coasters and a lot of other unique rides.

DAY 2 (Wed.)- Started the day at Six Flags New Orleans, formerly Jazzland. Six Flags took over the park in 2003 and added Batman the Ride, a B & M inverted coaster moved here from Six Flags in Japan, which closed. They also have 5 other coasters, including Mega Zeph (CCI wood coaster with Gerstlauer trains, unfortunately), Jester (Arrow Corkscrew with the trains running backwards), Muskrat Scrambler (Mad Mouse) and a Boomerang. They also have a lot of unique flat rides I have never seen, and a section of the park is a tribute to Pontchartrain Beach Park which closed in 1983.

We left Six Flags New Orleans in late afternoon and drove to Dixie Landin' in Baton Rouge, about a 90 minute drive. They have 2 coasters, Gilbeau's Galaxy, and Ragin' Cajun, a boomerang coaster. They also have the largest water park in Louisiana, which is why we left Six Flags- it was very hot and we wanted to swim and cool off. Six Flags is building a water park next year.

DAY 3 (Thurs.)- Left Louisiana, heading for Florida. Stopped at Waterville in Gulf Shores, Alabama on the way. Waterville is a water park with a CCI wood coaster, Cannon Ball. It is strange riding a wood coaster that is not in an amusement park! This is a great wood coaster and every ride is a double ride! Waterville is only 20 miles off 1-10, between New Orleans and Panama City Beach, Florida. Total travel time between New Orleans & Panama City is only five hours, so we arrived at the beach in time to swim before going to Miracle Strip Amusement Park, which was open 6-11 PM.

Miracle Strip is a beautiful park on the beach which is closing for good after Labor Day. The property has been sold to make way for condos in 2005. When Rick and I went to Florida in March, Miracle Strip was the only park that we did not visit. When I heard the park was in it's final season, I knew I had to return to Florida, although I had visited the park in 1998. The Starliner is in my Top 10 wood coasters and I love it! I wish Rick could have rode it with me, I really missed him on this trip. All the rides In the park are up for sale and I hope we can save the coaster and move it to another location- maybe Knoebels???

DAY 4 (Fri.)- We spent the day relaxing on the beach and returned to Miracle Strip Amusement Park, which again was open 6-11 PM. Rode the coaster all night and had Incredible night rides!!! This is one of my favorite coasters and I was very sad when it was time to leave. The park is only open on Fridays and Saturdays till labor Day, so only 6 more days of operation left! Very sad!!!

DAY 5 (Sat.)- We started heading toward home and stopped at Visionland in Bessemer, Alabama, home of Rampage (CCI wood coaster from 1998). I had visited the park in 98 when Rampage first opened. My friend Mark was training for a new job at Cracker Barrel in Tennessee so we agreed to meet up at Vision land on this Saturday. Clyde and I met Mark about 5:00 PM and had a great time at the park and great night rides!! Rampage is considered to be one of the best wood twisters in the country- a great ride!

DAY 6 (Sun.)- We said goodbye to Mark, who returned to Visionland for another day. We started for home, then decided to stop at lake Winnepesaukah one of America's best traditional amusement parks, located in Rossville, GA, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Again, I visited lake Winnie in 1998, and it is a great park with another wood coaster in my Top 20- Cannon Ball. Yes, we rode two coasters called Cannon Ball on this trip. Lake Winnie also has a new Mad Mouse, which I got to add to my list. They also have the world's oldest Boat Chute ride from 1926, which starts out as an Old Mill and ends with a splash drop into Lake Winnepesaukah!!! What a great ride, only one of it's kind left in the world. This is a beautiful small park, and we had a great afternoon here. We MUST support these small parks! If we do not, they may end up like Miracle Strip in Florida! Small family owned parks are much better than the big crowded corporate parks, as all Coaster Enthusiasts will agree!

We returned home Monday morning. We had a great trip!


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