Written by Bob K., GOCC Editor

Yukon Striker Media Day


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On 4/24, Mary Jo, Billy and I had the privilege of being invited by Grace Peacock, director of communications at Canada’s Wonderland to Media Day for their new record-breaking dive coaster, Yukon Striker.  I’ve met a lot of park executives over the past years and Grace was among the nicest and most-welcoming of the bunch. Park gates opened around 10:30am, and despite not traveling together, both my mom and I and Mary Jo and Billy arrived at about 10:40am, parked and received our media credentials.  Unlike many media events, we weren’t lead back to the ride by any park workers and basically just walked back there on our own.

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Yukon Striker is located in the new Frontier Canada section of the park.  The new section is extremely well-done and is basically themed to an old-time mining town. Some parts of the area were still under construction – notably the Yukon Striker shop/photo area was still being built and workers were seen planting lots of plants down by the water underneath Yukon Striker’s first drop. The station is also one of the coolest looking in the entire Cedar Fair chain.

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After mingling with other guests for a few minutes and after taking pictures with various characters, Grace and her team held a brief ceremony where we were introduced to 13-year old Jack Conway, who told an inspirational story of his survival from some life-threatening illnesses and also fired the crowd up prior to the first rides.  The team announced that over $34,000 had been raised in the charity first rider fundraiser.  After a few other brief speakers, the first riders were organized into their trains and dispatched.  The screams and smiles spoke for themselves. Canada’s Wonderland has a real winner with Yukon Striker.

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After the first rider trains were sent, those riders were allowed to re-ride along with their family members for a bit before those with media badges were allowed on.  Our media rides were supposed to last from 1-5pm, but they let us on earlier, which was very cool of them.  I took my first ride in row 2, as I was riding with the team from Amusement Insiders and the Koaster Kids Canadian reporter Tyler.  They were recording their reverse POV on the GoPro, which was mounted in row 2.  Now typically on dive coasters, row 2 is the row that seems to have the least forces, the worst views, etc.  Not on Yukon Striker.  Throughout the day, I switched rows several times and all three rows were forceful and extremely fun.

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We were also given a food and beverage tasting card with some of the new food options available. We were allowed to get our card checked off at each booth and sample each of the offerings.  Available items included: burger sliders, mini gourmet sausages, chicken tenders and fries, poutine with Niagara cheese curds, crispy lemon chicken, fried tofu bowl, Gold Rush peach cider and Yukon Striker pilsner. I didn’t try the beverages or the fried tofu bowl, but all of the other offerings were fantastic. I am not usually a poutine fan, but the combination of the gravy, cheese curds and fries was absolutely delicious.

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One of the interesting things that was seen, but not yet active was the new bin system. It was active as of Passholder Preview Night two days later. Basically, you put your loose articles, bags, etc. into a bin as soon as you enter the station and a mechanism lifts the entire bin up over the top of the track and near the stairs on the exit platform. It is timed up with the trains and is ready for you when you depart the ride. If the system is mechanically sound, this is a great idea. I can’t see it being retrofit to many current rides, as the stations aren’t set up for it, but I could see it being used for future coasters in the chain for sure.

After lunch, it was pretty much walk-on for rides the rest of the day, with the exception of the GoPro row, which was only on one train. I got a couple more rides before we left at about 3pm to avoid the Toronto-area traffic (we still hit it a little bit, but not as bad as it could have been).

Thank you to Grace and Canada’s Wonderland for having us out for the day.  It was amazing being among the first people to ride Yukon Striker and I recommend that both new and repeat visitors head back to Canada’s Wonderland this year.


Kentucky Flyer Media Day

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The next day on 4/25, several members of our board and a few guests traveled down to Kentucky Kingdom for media day for their new family Gravity Group coaster, Kentucky Flyer.  That group included Mary Jo and Billy Aichele, Richie Anderson, Rob Cox, Dave Andrijowych, John Haag, Sean Cress and I.

We were led into the park right around 4pm, checked in and taken back to the picnic pavilions near the Ferris Wheel where the park had a nice layout of food for us including a mac-and-cheese bar, various desserts, bottled drinks, fruits and vegetables and some other items.

While we were eating, Jessi O’Daniel welcomed all of us to the event, gave us some information about the ride and introduced park owner and CEO Ed Hart who told us “you aren’t allowed to say the ‘R’ word today” [rain].  Ed talked briefly about various things, including thanking everyone for their support during the trouble with getting the approval for Kentucky Flyer. Jessi then introduced Gary Slade, founder and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today magazine. Gary reminded us that “good solid thrills don’t have to be in huge rides” and that having already ridden the ride, we would all love it.

A few minutes later, Jessi and her crew led us over to the ride. Like all rides in the park, you can bring loose items into the station with you and put them across the platform in small bins or in an area dedicated to larger items near the stairs.  Jeff and Logan from Koaster Kids were asked to be in the front car on the first train for their support of the park.  I’ll probably cover Koaster Kids in a future blog post, but let me say that Kentucky Kingdom lays out the red carpet for Koaster Kids day there, more so than any other park they’ve held an event at.

After waiting a couple trains, my friend Thomas from CoasterJunkee and I put on our goggles and got into the back seat.  Now, we were kind of laughed at for wearing the goggles when nobody else was yet, but as soon as we rolled out of the station, it started downpouring, so it worked out perfectly.

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I haven’t yet had the opportunity to ride any of the other Gravity Group family coasters like Wooden Warrior or Oscar’s Wacky Taxi.  Having heard great things however, I was expecting a great ride. The ride exceeded my expectations. The quickness of the smaller Timberliner trains, the constant cuts back and forth and the small pops of airtime you get were all amazing.  The ride has a short track length, but doesn’t seem that short when you’re on the ride itself.

While not riding, I ventured up the steps on both sets of waterslides for better angles of the ride in action. It was really entertaining to see the various faces riders of all ages made on each part of the ride. A big thanks to Kentucky Kingdom for not restricting us to just the ride area, which is not at all conducive to taking pictures of moving trains or riders.

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Congratulations to my friend Brian Lamm of @brianlammmedia (IG), who rode Kentucky Flyer as his 100th coaster.

I took three rides myself. I could have had a lot more but I wanted to get some shots and since we started rides at about 4:30, there wasn’t much time between 4:30-6 to take pictures AND ride again and again.

Around 6pm, there was a “last call” for people to ride and shortly thereafter, it started downpouring again.  The last couple of rides took place in a steady rain. We finished off the event with a group picture of GOCC members before everyone departed. 

As an aside, I started my 5 hour drive home by driving through 45 minutes of the hardest rain I’ve ever driven in. I’m just glad it started at the end of the event and not before or during it.

Thanks to Jessi and Kentucky Kingdom for inviting all of us out for a great event.  Another great addition to a park that continues to grow and thrill guests of all ages.