Setting the Bar
I made a post to the blog a couple days before the Wonderland season began in April, outlining a few thoughts and expectations going into it. It’s always fun to look back on posts like that one and compare it to what actually transpired.
Boy, did things take a turn, but in an extraordinary way.
Getting The Shot
In that pre-season post, I talked about how I was so excited to get back into filming again after playing around with my camera’s manual video mode over the winter. But as I alluded to in my Making of the 2018 Season Recap Video post, I lost motivation to record videos as much as I had in the past. Nowadays, Youtube algorithms reward those who can put out fresh content on a regular basis. I couldn’t see myself doing that, although that was something I worked toward doing in previous years. I felt like if I were to try with that attitude again, there would be too much repetition over the year, even though I feel like that has happened anyway. (Does the internet need another Sledge Hammer video? (The answer is yes.)) In terms of video, I’ve settled on doing them for special events and for days where I happen to be in the mood to record around the park. Hopefully I’ll be in that mood more often.
I make videos to post on YouTube but I actually enjoy watching them myself. You’d be surprised (and probably really sad) knowing just how much I go back and watch my videos, especially over the offseason. It’s nice to have the compilation of clips in one video, rather than clicking through my archives of videos to keep me entertained and feeling like I’m still at the park in the depths of winter.
This year, I started focusing a bit more on photos, particularly experimenting with long-exposure shots at night and dipping my feet into the world of panning photography. I don’t think I have a particularly great camera or quite grasped the concepts completely yet but it’s given me hours of fun just messing around with it at the park throughout the season. However, with all of the experimenting, I find that I don’t have as many good “normal” pictures as I’ve come out with in the past. There’s a lot of junk photos in the mix, with a feeling of missed opportunities to take regular pictures because I was so caught up in making my SD card messes, as I like to call them. I do have a select few shots that I love and am happy with, though!
Satisfying the Excitement
As every offseason nears its end, I get overexcited about little details that leak bit by bit through the park’s website and social channels as things get firmed up for the upcoming season. There was Lumberjack and Flying Canoes, two welcome additions to Wonderland’s great line up of flat rides. There was that cheap opening day t-shirt, though I didn’t get one because they were sold out by the time I checked. There was the drastically different Vortex train repaint, which looks better than any train paint design Vortex has ever had.
And, of course, the hole in the ground that was leaked by other means.
Sometimes I don’t know where to set my expectations. Set them too high and you’re in for a disappointment, but set them too low and you sound too negative about everything. You thought I was going to say something about me setting them in the middle ground, right? Well, no, I underestimate everything. (I still can’t believe a giga fit there.)
Despite not getting the cheap t-shirt and seeing Sledge Hammer in the middle of a refurbishment on opening day, I still had a great time early on in the season and so it felt like it would have been the same old: Eventful enough to keep things exciting for me while finding pleasure in a certain repetitiveness to keep me going.
This summer was eventful, alright.
I’m in My
Mom’s Own Car. Broom Broom.
Getting a car wasn’t really a serious goal or anything at the beginning of the year… but it was starting to get frustrating relying on transit when the idea of getting a car was becoming more in reach in recent years. At some point in June, I ended up going to a car dealership and, before I knew it, I walked out with paperwork saying that I just bought a car. Unfortunately, there were delays actually getting the car to me so I wasn’t on the road with it until July. But that still gave me enough time to see its benefits with it being early in the summer. Buying a new car and putting up that kind of money was a somewhat frightening experience for me (I’m scared of everything), but it turned out to be something that was the reason why the second half of the season turned out the way it did.
One of the things that really stunk about taking transit was the late hours I’d get home on the odd days I’d decide to stay until the park closed for the night. It is an hour and a half long journey one-way by transit. And yes, I put up with this when I used to work at the park. Fun times.
Having the car took away stresses (aka first world problems) that I’ve pretty much forgotten about until I think back. No more having to rush out of the gate to catch the bus after last rides or a viewing of Starlight Northern Reflections. No more checking bus schedules to figure out a good time to start walking to the bus stop from inside the park. No more YRT drivers judging me for being the only person on the 760 Vaughan Mills/Wonderland route going to Wonderland in the spring and fall. While my visit count in 2018 remained the same as 2017, I can say that I spend more hours at the park overall. The car made a positive impact to my Wonderland visits.
The Real Reason for the Car… The Point.
Going to Cedar Point did not cross my mind as being an actual possibility when the season started. It’s been a dream since I started following amusement parks more closely back in the early 2000’s, and while it did feel like a trip down there was inching closer in terms of being a year or so down the road, I had no idea it would be this year.
My work requires me to be there consistently throughout the year so extended vacations are not readily available for me. I was able to get a week off to go down to Cedar Point and make it back for the Yukon Striker announcement day preview morning.
Aside from getting honked at driving through Cleveland and getting trapped in typical Toronto traffic on the way back, the drive was uneventful which is a fantastic thing. I’m not excited for the drive down again next year, but I’m also not afraid of it like I was before hitting the road that first time.
Arriving at Cedar Point was such a surreal experience for me. Being Cedar Point with all of the world-class coasters, it’s one of those parks I’ve seen so much of on the internet over the years so there was an exciting newness walking around, yet it all seemed familiar somehow. I still don’t have layouts of the coasters memorized, but that will just keep future visits fresh for years to come.
For whatever reasons, I’m still hesitant about continuing the drive further south to other Cedar Fair parks, even as I became a new Platinum Passholder for 2019 but at least the possibility is there now. Expectations were blown away this year so who knows what will happen next.
Nice to Meet You
I ended off that pre-season post with me “hiding in plain sight”. While still true, I was fortunate enough to meet some great people over the course of this past season.
It was really interesting to hear how people know me through my online presence. It was easy enough to connect with people through Instagram and Twitter, but the interesting part was when people brought up my YouTube channel. My channel is rather small and not quite as interesting or active as others so it is nice to know people have discovered it at some point through the years.
My Favourite Reports of 2018
Here are some links to trip reports written this season that cover some of the highlights of this year.
April 29 – Opening Day – It’s always great to go opening day and trying to spot everything that’s new or different.
June 9 & 10 – Sledge Hammer 2018 Opening – First rides (and e-stop) of the season on Sledge Hammer. Of course that’s a highlight for me!
July 2 – Leviathan Lift Stop – Stopped 306′ in the air on Leviathan was an unexpected and incredible experience, as simple as it is.
September 15 – Rollercoasters, eh? – My first time attending this American Coaster Enthusiasts event at Wonderland.
October 27 – Snow Day – That time Wonderland actually closed for an entire day.
This has been a fun year with the blog with the number of visitors increasing ~175% compared to last year. While I know people may not have time to read every detail in my posts, I hope people will at least enjoy scrolling through the images. I personally find it therapeutic putting the posts together and to be able to have a journal I can look at the past with.
Since this will probably be the last post of the year on the blog, I want to wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for visiting!