So even though I’m actively planning my move to the Bay Area, I had to get a trip in to Elitch Gardens. I last went in 2011 and even though they haven’t opened any new coasters since I last went, I was really eagerly anticipating the new Meow Wolf dark ride, especially after it started getting rave reviews from some of the coaster-luminati as I like to think of them (Coaster Studios, In the Loop etc). So I went on Sunday May 5th, hoping for a quiet day. Unfortunately (or fortunately? I’m not entirely sure) it was a beautiful day, around 75 and sunny, and so the park ended up being pretty crowded. Since I only wanted to stay for a few hours, I planned out what the few rides I wanted to do before I left. But before we get to the rides, a quick aside about pricing. Single day tickets are $40 and parking is $20 whereas a season pass with free parking is $70. Even though I only have one more trip planned for Elitch Gardens before I leave the state, it still made sense for me to get the pass, especially when you consider that my pass also includes admission into the other Premier Parks including Wild Waves in Seattle where I do plan to visit this year. I also thought it was really interesting that instead of a card as a pass, instead EG gives you an elastic wristband that functions as your season pass.
As far as must dos go, the only rides I was really hoping to hit this trip was Meow Wolf Kaleidoscape, Twister 2 and Half Pipe. And so since Meow Wolf Kaleidoscape was my #1 priority at the park, I immediately headed there first.
Meow Wolf Kaleidoscape - 8/10
I remember riding Ghost Blasters the last time I came to EG and I remember being pretty underwhelmed with the ride. It was a pretty generic shooter ride with fairly lackluster theming, with lots of cutouts and glow in the dark paint. Pretty standard regional amusement park stuff. So when I saw the news last year that Meow Wolf was coming in to redo it, I was pretty excited to see what they could do, especially after I started doing some research into who Meow Wolf is and what they’ve built.
So I hopped right into a line that snaked outside. After 30 minutes or so standing outside we were led into the indoor sections of the queue where TVs explained to us what was going to happen, namely that we’d be needed to use the powers of a cosmic egg that we’d crack open to bring life into a quantum world with our conglomerator guns. To be totally honest with you, I didn’t exactly know what was going on my first ride. I was way too focused on hitting targets to pay much attention to what was happening around me. And as such I was pretty underwhelmed. There are so many portions throughout the ride that you really need to be paying attention to the videos to get the most out of. And maybe that’s a weakness of this ride. Without paying attention and understanding what the story of the ride is, it just kinda seems like what I imagine a bad trip feeling like.
But I definitely came around in my next few rides that I’ll touch more on later.
Twister 2 - 45/100
After Meow Wolf, I ended up heading across the park to hopefully get a ride in on Half Pipe and Twister 2, which was closed most of or all of last year. Turns out Half Pipe was closed today so Twister 2 it’d be. After waiting in a reasonable 20 minute wait, I was onto Twister 2. So I don’t remember a ton about this ride but the little I do remember was pretty positive. Not so much this time. After a year of retracking and work, I figured that the coaster would be running fairly smooth and fast but not so much. It was rough, bumpy and generally boring. I can’t think of a moment on this entire ride that I thought was unique or interesting at all. Now to be totally fair, I have been spoiled lately, getting on a bunch of GCIs and RMCs which are generally acknowledged as the best in their class but I was hoping for a lot more from Twister 2. On the plus side, you queued and exited through the infield of the ride, letting me get some interesting angles!
After Twister 2, I decided to head back to Meow Wolf and get a couple more rides on it before I left to go home.
Meow Wolf Kaleidoscape - 8/10
The line was even longer this time around, stretching around the outdoor portion of the queue. What made it even worse was the fact that the ride was breaking down every 5-10 minutes. They ended up having to have a maintenance working sitting at the ride to reset the ride. But due to these constant breakdowns, I got a chance to check out the queue video a lot more in depth. By the time I got to the front of the line I felt pretty comfortable with the storyline.
And this time I decided to focus less on the shooting and more on the art, definitely a good idea since half of the targets didn’t seem to work either. And I was rewarded with a lot more interesting ride. The ride starts in a virtual looking world (kind of vaporwave looking in my view) and eventually, as we add the life to the world, we see the world grow much more complex with lots of interesting visual elements. After adding life to this world, we are transported back into our own world and depart.
After really wrapping my mind around the story, I was really impressed with the execution. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a Universal or Disney level dark ride and if you go in there expecting it, you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you go in expecting a regional park dark ride, I think you will be as impressed as I was!
And big shout out to the ride op for Meow Wolf as well. After she saw me get a pair of breakdowns in the ride, she took mercy on me and let me go around one more time through the quick queue entrance instead of waiting another hours for a third ride.
So yeah, that was the end of my park trip to Elitch Gardens! Pretty short day to be sure but overall a really good one. I am hoping to get out to the park one more time before I leave and I’ll update my thoughts on Kaleideoscape is they change further!