Yeah, I skipped a night, sue me. And then sue me for this... SMOKE BOMB!
Today I got through bags 6 - 9. 6 build the base, 7 added more columns (ugh), 8 added the ticket and fruit stands, and 9 built the gearbox beneath the loading zone. Overall, I've probably put in 5-6 hours of build time into this, but splitting this up across multiple days does make it seem like a less monumental task. (I have two bags left to go, so I'd estimate another hour and half of building time left.) It's going a little faster than Ninjago City, which has more small pieces to put together, despite costing less. But it's taking longer than the Ferris Wheel, which I believe I pulled off in a single 6 hour sitting. The building here is honestly less enjoyable than Ninjago City. That model had clever building techniques crammed in in every available space. The Roller Coaster, instead, is built more for functionality, so while there are some interesting designs, there's a lot of repetition required for structural integrity. I did include the "Coaster" sign in the picture since I built in with this batch, and it has been one of the more clever designs; I like how they created the letters in a new style.
That said, there are a few nifty builds on this half of the track. There's a little path leading to the ride's entrance and exit, and reminds me of the meandering queue lines I used to build in Roller Coaster Tycoon (man, that was an older game that I played way too much.) Funnily, the path forms a loot on the interior of the plate; I get that people are supposed to enter and exit on either end of the ticket stand, but there's not much room there and no colored plates, so I just image that some riders are forced into a constant loop of riding over and over again. Anyway, some of the little details include a small pond, another tree, a fruit stand, and a ticket / photo booth. The latter is impressively fitted on a single stud, but the clips on the top attach it to the curved track and hold it in place nicely.
There are also a couple of technic contraptions built here. The first is the mechanism for the chain lift on the far end, which includes various gears and a neat wedge that looks like it will pull out any slack on the lift chain. (Not looking forward to putting together those links, and that's one of the very last steps too.) Even more complicated is the gearbox beneath the loading platform, which has a few interesting placements for the gears. The far right lever reaches across the baseplate and it used to manually work the lift chain, for those who forgo buying a motor. The bar on the far left is the break; it pulls in a time that's supposed to stop the cars at the loading dock. The middle lever then spins that wheel, allowing you to "start" the ride. Meanwhile, the bar can be pushed back so that the cars don't stop when the ride is going fully automatic when you plug the motor in. However... at this stage, the bar doesn't like being pulled out far enough to catch the cars. I've double-checked the build and it's all correct, and I don't think there's anything else added to this later that makes it more effective... so I dunno. It would be lame if you have to manually pull it out to catch the cars as the zoom into the station.
This set doesn't have any new figs until Bag 8, so I guess they decided against dispersing the figs equally. In Bag 8, you get an employee to man the ticket counter and other to work the fruit stand. Bag 9 offers you the ride operator and two riders. There are a few rare parts, like the white female hairpiece and the long brown female hairpiece. Two employees get a fancy yellow jacket to show that they're ride operators, so that's fancy. As for new pieces, you get a few nice curved tiles in light yellow with the fruit stand, and also the 2x2 triangle tiles used beneath the ticket stand, the latter of which I can see being very useful. The gold roller skates, Ninjago City ornate fences, and BrickHeadz glasses are also nice to have. There's also the new rock element, which is modestly rare too, and it's my first chance at getting this piece.
One thing that I've started to notice about this set is that it's skimping on the extra pieces. Normally, when a bag contains a small element, it includes an extra of it. But then you have sets like Ninjago City, which reuse the same small element multiple times across multiple bags, so you essentially get an extra of the piece for every bag it shows up in. Well, this set doesn't appear to do that for me; I'm getting an extra of the small elements in the first bag they appear in, but if they show up again later (like the white 1x1 plates) the extra doesn't show up. And that's not the only penny-pinching this set does; it asks you to save a rubber band from one bag to use later on in the build. I swear they use to just include an extra rubber band later on instead of this whole "remember to use this rubber band a hundred steps from now" deal. I wonder if this was a conscious decision on their part to limit the number of extras... I mean, is sparing a couple of 1x1 studs really that big deal when the set is already costing $379.99? The running tally for this set is just at $0.09 per part... but that also includes 280 of those small links, so that bloats up the part count, and then you have the specialized track parts that probably cost more. But... come on, this is not a licensed set and is already uber expensive, there's no need to get cheapskate-y.
Anyway, I have more column builds to look forward to. And there's also putting together all those links. Still, although the build is less enjoyable than some sets, I'm eager to finish it and start playing with a motorized Roller Coaster! The car's been fun to test out on the track, but it still needs to go the full loop!