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Apr 22, 2019
We went to passholder preview day and over all it went really well, though at first it looked like it was going to be a train wreck. The lines to get in the park were crazy long. But being an older guy we headed to the restrooms before going in, lol, and saw that lines to the left of that were shorter. And actually there was one line that was really short - going to the right instead of the left, i.e. away from the parking lot instead of toward it, but we only realized that after we'd gone to the longer line to the left. But really it wasn't bad anyway. The line moved pretty well.

First of all, masks. Whether or not you were supposed to wear them was not made that clear. I was assuming they were still required because I had not heard anything saying otherwise, but I don't recall seeing any signs saying they were required. So I think at the last minute they decided to drop the requirement? I think because it wasn't clear, a lot of people still wore masks. I estimated 50%, but my son said it might have been more like 70%. In any case it wasn't 100% and there definitely did not seem to be anyone telling people to put masks on, so I assume they weren't required. Also the OP on the bumper cars was not wearing a mask when we rode it, which I really doubt was supposed to be the case even if guests were not required. A lot of people were also social distancing, but not everyone.

Once inside it wasn't that bad at all. We headed straight to Twisted Timbers. So, first of all, the new lockers. The first thing you need to know about these is that if you are carrying something other than phone, wallet, keys, you can't use the new free lockers with those. My nephew had a cash belt/fanny pack sort of thing, and they sent us back to get a paid locker. Knowing that we'd also need a locker for i305 and FoF anyway, we got the movable one, though we kept our phones on us, and decided to toss our jackets in there because as it turned out jackets were absolutely not needed today. Keeping our phones with us proved pointless because there was no line for Twisted Timbers at all. We immediately got to the free in-line lockers and just had to get one of those lockers and put our phones in it right away anyway, and then walked up and had a one train wait.

At least we learned about the new locker setup. There are two metal detectors. The first one is just before the lockers. If you have anything that would set it off, they send you to the lockers. Then there's a 2nd metal detector as you leave the lockers to make sure you really did it. The lockers work by entering your birth date and then selecting one of a selection of symbols. When I did this a number of symbols were not selectable, but I can't imagine there were 8 or 9 people with my exact birth date including year in the station or on the train, so I don't know why some weren't selectable. In any case then we went on and, as noted, walked right up and were next in line. The system works well, but we didn't need it at all, in fact it just wasted a little time. When you get off you go by the other side of the lockers and can unlock it and grab your stuff.

Later in the day we went again and this time there was more of a wait, but because of the first time we just put our phones in the paid locker. So, guess what, we had to talk. It's a miracle! Really wasn't a bad wait then either, though I will say that the way the lockers are operated, it was slightly annoying. They let in people in bunches, with what feels like long pauses between groups. Maybe they'll smooth that out, but I think part of the problem is there aren't a huge number of lockers and they need to make sure everyone can get one, so they have to limit how many people are past the lockers.

There's one other thing that happened and that was on that second ride. I was there with my son and nephew, so there were 3 of us. My son and I are fully vaccinated, but my nephew is only partially vaccinated (he's 15), so we definitely wore masks except when eating. I mean, I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to go maskless at parks yet anyway, but especially not since my nephew is not fully vaccinated yet. Anyway, I got into the row behind them and then a few seconds later this other, maskless guy scoots over from another row and sits next to me. I get that everyone wants to believe it's all over with, but I'm not ready for strangers, especially maskless ones of unknown vaccine state, to sit next to me on the train. But I didn't tell him to leave, and the first thing he does is pull down his restraint. So I'm a bit annoyed to begin with, and then he does that, and, on a related note, the OP had already come put my restraint down. So I told him, and I'll admit it was in a bit annoyed voice, that you can't pull the restraint down on an RMC because that will make them reset the row and just hold things up. But, I mean, it's not an intuitive thing and if you're new to RMCs I can totally understand doing that by mistake. In any case I told him that you can't and that that will just slow things up. So they reset the row, they put my restraint down again, and then immediately he pulls he restraint down again! lol. So at the point I got really annoyed and said something like, "no, you can't do that!" or something. I forget exactly. Anyway, in retrospect its kind of funny, but at the time it was irritating and I still don't want strangers sitting next to me yet. He also asked me what my career was and then told me his, even though I didn't ask, and then he wanted to fist bump me, which I declined. lol.

There is now what I think is a new procedure, and unfortunately it is slowing down operations. They now, on every coaster, ask you to pull on the seat belt before they put down or check your restraint. Did they have an incident with an OP or is this just a precaution? I don't know. But it definitely makes it go slower as they need to tell everyone to do it and then they have to do it, and on then they check the restraint.

In part because of that procedure, and in part because they are out of practice I suppose, operations were generally on the slow side, but it really wasn't a problem given that lines were short. And we were expecting some slow OPs on the first day, so it was no big deal. Overall I think they were doing a good job.

Let's talk about is Grizzly. First of all, I'm one of the people that thought Grizzly was great even though it was rough. They have done some track work on Grizzly so I was especially excited to try it now. I will say that I think where the track work is done you can tell a difference, but if you hated Grizzly before I doubt you're going to feel any different. As for me, though, I thought it was awesome. It may well be the best coaster in the park and I was really happy to say that the track work did not neuter it at all. It smooths some bits out here and there, but it's still crazy and I think it might be a bit faster? I'm not sure, though. I mean it has been more than a year since I last rode it. For me this is a top 10 wooden coaster and if you liked it before, I think you'll like it more now, while if you didn't like it before, go in thinking it will be too rough, and maybe you'll come away pleasantly surprised, but, eh, probably not. Your loss. Unfortunately in that camp is now my son and nephew, both of which declared it too rough. At the end of the day I split off from them and rode it 3 more times without getting off and it was awesome every time. Too bad night rides weren't possible.

Other stuff we rode together: i305, Racer 75 (sadly on running one side) and the drop tower. Man their drop tower is great! None of these had waits at all. We didn't ride FoF, which did have a long wait (they told me 1 to 1.5 hours) and, while I was willing to wait for it, the kids didn't want to wait for Apple Zapple so I didn't end up riding it. When we split up they did i305 again and Dominator, which they said had only a very short line.

For food we got pretzels from the much maligned here Auntie Annes and, while maybe it's really a bread stick, well I like it anyway. We had dinner at the park before leaving and I tried the vegan bratwurst from the new Dogwood Grille. I'm almost 100% sure I was the first and likely only person to order the vegan bratwurst. They had to pull it from the freezer and seemed a bit confused by the whole endeavor. It took forever and in the end they offered me a free soda, but we already get free refills, so I asked, ruining the vegan-ness, for the cheese curds. Then I thought maybe that was asking for too much so I told him just give me a few to try, but they gave me a full serving anyway. Well, the cheese curds were terrible and I ended up tossing most of them out, but the vegan bratwurst with onions and peppers proved delicious. Would definitely get it again. I imagine the waffle fries would probably be better. Hopefully next time they have had more orders of them and I don't have to wait a long time. Then again I knew they'd made it fresh.

Overall I think passholder preview day went really well, especially given the long hiatus. As people get used to the idea that they need to pull on their seatbelt hopefully that won't slow things down much. Lines were short and the temperature was great. I only felt maybe 6 or 7 single drops of rain the whole day.
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