This was my first year to actually make it to Coaster Christmas, and I definitely hope to make it an annual tradition. Last year’s event was essentially canceled due to a snow storm, so this year it was moved to the second weekend of November which seems to work out much better for everyone involved.
The day started off with some short talks by representatives from all the major parks in Missouri, giving us all a peak at what’s in store for 2014. Most of the speakers even brought some swag to hand out, including shirts, lanyards, and even tickets to Schlitterbahn!
We then had an hour of ERT with Powderkeg, Outlaw Run, Wildfire, and FiTH available. Most of us headed to Outlaw Run first, and those who were new to the park were of course blown away by it. FiTH had all the lights on for ERT which is always a treat. The park opened at noon, and most of our group headed over to the backside of Heritage Hall to get VIP seats for It’s A Wonderful Life, another one of SDC’s high-quality stage productions.
After the show we headed over to Fireman’s Landing for a behind the scenes peak at the construction progress and a wonderful picnic lunch provided by the park. My photos and impressions of Fireman’s Landing have been posted in a separate update here. Construction leads were on hand to answer all of our questions about the area and other SDC project questions. Of course we asked about the old geyser and Greedy Bros. structures in the lake, and it was confirmed that they would be removed. The old waterboggin tower was also a hot topic, and the statements from the construction guys essentially meant that it will be used for minor purposes such as holding Christmas lights until the day comes that the park wants to use the space again. They will tear it down rather than re-use it for any new attractions.
That was it for official events on Saturday, leaving us to enjoy the park for the rest of the day. The park is as spectacular as ever at night, definitely worthy of more consideration for awards (I think Dollywood keeps getting the nod because it is more trafficked by pollsters). The new parade is nice. Not a huge difference from the old parade, but it’s much brighter and of course the kids love Rudolph and the gang. I kind of miss the “gifts of Christmas” song though…
On Sunday we met up once more to enjoy a lights-on ride through of Flooded Mine, which many of us rode several times in succession. When we got off there were more park officials available to answer questions about the ride and park. We ended the official events by lining up at Thunderation for the first ride of the day.
It was a great time had by all, and one of the biggest Coaster Christmas events to date with somewhere around 117 participants. If you missed it this year, I’ll definitely be making a bigger deal about it in 2015 so stay tuned (it sneaked up on me this year because I didn’t realize the date had changed).
P.S.: The new new lockers are GREAT! I was skeptical at first as I always am with such schemes, but SDC has reinvented the locker game for theme parks. For $3, you get a locker that lasts all day (meaning you can open it as many times as you want!) that you can move around the park to other locker locations when needed! HFEC has taken something that’s little more than a cash grab in certain other parks and turned it into a very useful, user-friendly service that is well worth the cost.