2019 Texas & Arkansas Trip
2019 Texas & Arkansas Trip
It felt like just a couple days ago that I had gotten back from Asia, and it was already time for the next excursion, only this time would be much shorter and closer to home. I was joining my friends Nicole and Wes down in Texas and Arkansas for a long weekend, getting to experience a few parks that I hadn’t been to in a while along with some shameless credit stops, a new park and of course some cultural experiences along the way. While I have been to Texas a few times before, all of the theme and amusement parks we went to for this trip would be new for the other two. Nicole would be flying ahead of me to Dallas the night before my arrival, and Wes was meeting us in San Antonio. My journey would be with a familiar friend in Alaska Airlines on a redeye. Unfortunately, this wasn’t exactly a smooth ride as there was a massive storm that was passing through the Midwest, and heading toward the East. Out flight caught the end of it as it was over Dallas, leading to one of the roughest cases of turbulence I have ever experienced, which combined with sitting awkwardly due to being a bigger guy sitting next to another bigger guy, I never got very comfortable to be able to get much of a snooze. In spite of this, we did make it to Dallas safe and sound.
After landing and getting the rental car, I went to the hotel Nicole was staying at to pick her up before beginning the 4-5 hour drive South to San Antonio. While there isn’t a whole lot of scenery to look at on the drive, I really appreciate that for the most part, Texas had some pretty good roads, and on top of that, I LOVE that many of their freeways have a higher speed limit making for a quicker drive.
One of the other bright spots of this long drive was being able to visit the Texas convenience store chain, Buc-ee’s. For those not familiar, this is a chain of HUGE truck-stop style shops with a wide variety of food and snacks to choose from including a massive selection of jerkeys and dried meats, an assortment of items for barbecuing, and tons of Buc-ee’s branded souvenirs based around their beaver mascot Buc-ee, whose name was in part inspired by the founder’s dog named Buck.
On a personal level, a real treat of this place was that one of the flavors of ICEE that was offered was Dr. Pepper, a beverage which I am a bit of a sucker for. Granted, because Dr. Pepper is from Texas, it wouldn’t be the last Dr. Pepper item to be had on this trip.
After a long drive, we would make it to the first park of our trip, Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Nicole and I would head into the park for a short while as Wes had been diverted to Chicago for his connection due to the storm keeping him from being able to head to Houston as originally scheduled. So we would head over to the airport to pick him up part way through our visit. In general, this visit would have its issues which may have been tied to remnants of the storm, but as we pulled up to parking, the attendant told us that some of the ride may close due to forecasted winds, which would prevent us from experiencing several of the bigger rides. One of which was Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster. This was a shame as it would have been a new coaster for all three of us since it was under construction during my brief stop here back in 2017. Unfortunately, this one is going to remain on my to-do list for now, but from watching it, the speed of it looks incredible!
We did, however, get a chance to take a ride on Batman the Ride, the S&S Freefly coaster, which was pretty wild for Nicole and I on this ride as we kept finding ourselves facing the ground multiple times because of the free-spinning of this model. I had a chance to try this out during that brief visit a couple years ago, and have enjoyed these Freefly coasters quite a bit for their unpredictability.
After picking up Wes from the airport, this was when the closures began for several larger rides. While that in itself isn’t a huge deal, the park also had a number of their smaller flat rides were also closed, leaving few options of rides to experience on what was otherwise a very pleasant day weather wise. But we went ahead and rode what we could, staring with Boomerang. Nothing really special to note about this as it is essentially the same as the rest of the Vekoma Boomerangs, although this one wasn’t too terribly rough as they can be.
We followed that up with a ride on the Road Runner Express. This really fun Arrow Mine Train takes excellent advantage of the park’s terrain for the ride’s layout, similar to how a few others do as well.
From there, we went on to the best ride of the day, Iron Rattler. Like Batman, I had ridden this one in my brief visit in 2017, but from that ride, I felt a bit underwhelmed by the ride when compared to it’s RMC counterparts. I had expected it to be a bit more forceful at that time, so I was hoping that maybe I caught it on a day when it was running a bit slower. For our ride today, I enjoyed it a lot more. It felt like it had a chance to warm-up and have some great speed. While I wouldn’t put it up to the level of Steel Vengeance, Outlaw Run or Lightning Rod, it certainly is a ton of fun, and would be among the top rides at many parks.
We got one more ride before rolling out, and that was for the shameless credit of Kiddee Koaster. While I already had this coaster, I couldn’t pass up on the fun of joining Wes and Nicole as they added to their counts.
After Wes and Nicole did some souvenir shopping, that would conclude our first park visit of the trip. It was pretty disappointing to have missed so many coasters, especially for Nicole and Wes as this was their first time at the park. In some ways, it felt like the wind wasn’t all that heavy and that it perhaps was a convenient excuse to save on staffing and operational costs, but there were some strong gusts that would come along from time to time, and with visiting theme parks, weather can have an impact on your ability to ride. If anything, not getting on everything is usually a good excuse to come back, as I will for Wonder Woman as it looked excellent.
Up next, we would head into the heart of San Antonio for a few cultural stops that I have been hoping to see for quite some time.