2:15am Saturday morning.
A time I am not normally awake, and if I am its usually after a night of drunken shenanigans. My first taste of the day was my other half slapping my backside while groggily yelling that my alarm was going off. We had only laid down to rest a little over 4 hours earlier, and though I slept well I would not have had a problem with staying right there. But I quickly realized why it was going off - a taxi was scheduled to pick me up in exactly 1 hour and 15 minutes to take me on a twenty minute shot down I95 to Philadelphia International Airport. From there I would catch a 2 hour flight where I would take my first ever steps in the great, sprawling city of Atlanta, Georgia. I had a 6am departure time.
The flight down was mostly uneventful and felt very quick - I had a beer, played on my phone, and took some photos from my window seat. We touched down right on time, at 8:10am.
I was warned the Atlanta airport was monstrous yet simple, and upon deplaning I should exit my gate and look for the airport "tram" to take me up and out of the terminals to where I could find the Marta (public transit) station, where I would load up a card a coworker had given me from a recent trip down south. This card would get me around Atlanta the next day where I was meeting my sister who now lives in Athens, and I'd be spend several days hanging out checking out her new digs and the small town life.
Navigating the giant Atlanta airport was actually a breeze, and my next order of business was to get myself outside, and locate a taxi or an Uber to Austell, Georgia - just west of the city, about a 20 minute drive according to my planning on Google maps.
Since I had put some money aside for this trip, with a little extra for added fun, I decided to check my Uber app for a price estimate. I splurged on an UberXL and within a few seconds of placing it, my phone was ringing, with a friendly southern drawl asking for my exact location. A few seconds later a sleek black SUV pulled up in front of me and I climbed in. Immediately my well dressed driver peeled out of there and next thing I knew we were on a highway heading northwest, him asking me what my plans for the day were. When I told him I was heading to Six Flags Over Georgia he exclaimed that he loved the park and began rattling off a list of rides that I needed to check out. We made small talk and before I knew it we were off the highway and driving up a small nondescript road when a big, beautiful B&M hypercoaster appeared between the trees, the morning sun gleaming off of bright orange steel.
My hotel check in was at 3pm Saturday, and though I packed lightly - literally backpacking it, I had called them a few days prior to see if they would hold my bag for the day so I could avoid the fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo inside the park. So I asked my driver to drop me off at the Wyndam, where I was greeted by a pleasant woman who confirmed my reservation, labeled and stored my pack, gave me some tips for the area, notified me they would call me if I could check in earlier, told me to have a great day at Six Flags, and sent me on my way (unfortunately no she did not tell me to "Have a Six Flags Day").
It was still only about 9am, the park supposedly opened the front gate at 10, so I had some time to kill which I used to drag my feet down the street to the park entrance taking photos of Goliath and Cyclone as they began cycling their morning test runs and cars started streaming past the entrance into the parking lot.
A few days prior to the trip TPR member medoman sent me a message explaining he'd seen my planning posts, and that he was coming from the UK to do a little cross country road trip hitting up multiple parks, he'd be starting in Georgia on the same day I would be, and since I would be solo, if I wanted to meet up.
Throwing caution to the wind (because some of you coaster nerds can be reeealy nerdy lol), I said sure and we exchanged contacts for Saturday morning. While farting around at the park entrance I got a text from David (as I'll refer to him from now on) saying he'd just pulled in and asking where I was.
Since I had gotten there so early I was basically behind about 5 people waiting at the entrance gate. Within a few minutes, he appeared and we chatted while waiting for the park to let us in, me happily realizing I hadn't agreed to meet up with some weirdo. David was cool. And before you know it, the gates arose and in we went.
First order of business for me: Flash Pass. David wanted to wait to see what crowd levels would be like before he bit the bullet, but with the predicted gorgeous weather, it being a Saturday, the steady stream of cars pulling into the lot, and this being my only planned visit to this park, with no idea when I'd be back, I wanted to be able to ride what I wanted when I wanted.
So I went ahead and splurged yet again, on my first ever Platinum flash pass, paying the extra $10 for one reservation for Dare Devil Dive, which I had to right then and there pick a time for. I chose 11am. Full disclosure: Six Flags Over Georgia was not even close to the top of my park bucketlist, my visit was more of an opportunity that came up since my sister had been bugging me to visit her in Athens. I more or less squeezed the park visit into a trip for a different purpose. I had heard this park was the most beautiful of the Six Flags chain, and being a Great Adventure regular, I was curious to see how it stacked up against my home park. I noticed how lush and green the inside of the park was almost immediately. An enormous canopy of trees hung over the fountain at the end of Main Street, and as we explored further into the park this trend continued.
We decided, even though I paid extra for one ride on DDD, that we'd head toward Georgia Scorcher, where the park holds guests back, and does a "rope drop" before letting us all into the rest of the park. It was exactly 10:30am at rope drop, and during our dash for an early morning ride on Dare Devil Dive, I hadn't realized I left my jacket pocket unzipped, and that while running my phone had dropped out of my pocket. Luckily a nice southern gentleman behind me had watched it happen, grabbed my phone, and chased after me to give it back. A Philly boy til I die, I was in disbelief. If I was in the city, I would not have expected someone to give my phone back, and my weekend would have been ruined - with all my contacts, reservations, directions, and photo-taking opportunities gone. In addition, I was lucky my screen or phone was not smashed. In fact, it barely had a scratch on it. I know he is likely not on this board but thank you to that man once again for saving my day, and weekend.
We made it over to Dare Devil Dive, which would be my first ever Gerstlauer eurofighter. Out of the parks entire line-up, I was not especially interested in this ride, but knowing of its especially low capacity (only made worse by the parks ridiculous decision to add optional virtual reality headsets to the experience) I knew if I wanted to try it that I had to do it first. We got to the front of the pack heading towards the ride and knowing I had a reservation for 11am, my plan was to ride it once without the VR, and go back for a second round using my reservation, possibly trying it with the headset. With about 20 people ahead of us in the regular line, we quickly discovered what a sh!tshow operations were on this ride.
Not just the guests being fitted with the VR headsets, but also the crew kept having problems getting restraints to close properly (and were strangely asking guests to swap seats/move around the train to see if they could get them to close), not to mention the fact that they'd send a train out and the next would have problems advancing into the station. They'd announce the ride was down, call for maintenance, wait for the orange vests to show up, push a couple buttons and send another train. We were wasting precious time and I was getting impatient. My Qbot notified me I was ready for my 11am reservation and here I am stuck on the other side of the station platform with 2 trains worth of people ahead of me. That thing kept buzzing at me as we watched the crew go through the same repeated cycle of sending one train, having the restraint issue, the station advance issues, maintenance showing up, repeat. So frustrating.
To add insult to injury, my Qbot told me I missed my reservation (that I paid extra for!) and it disappeared! I didn't know that was even a possibility. Full on pissed off mode, and this is not how I wanted to start the day. I reserved Mindbender and continued to wait. At this point David was with another group getting fitted with their VR headsets, when I noticed the train being loaded had a single seat open in the back row. Being a back row junkie I motioned to an operator I was a single rider not using the VR, and luckily he loaded me right in. More weird seat swapping and restraint issues before finally we were out on the lift.
So my thoughts on the ride: it was OK. Definitely not my favorite of the day. Overall I just don't think the type of ride is the right fit for this large of a park. The vertical lift was not my first so I knew what to expect there. I do love a ride that only has lapbars and has inversions. I was very comfortable in the train and had no issue with the restraint. I was hoping for some serious airtime going over the drop in the backseat but they put a goddamn trim right as you go over the drop. And its so noticeable. And so lame! Otherwise the ride is very smooth, almost too smooth, short and kinda fun. Just nothing mindblowing. You get some really freaky hangtime during the barrel roll back into the station, restrained only by the lapbar. It's quick, but really the only "oh sh!t" moment on the entire ride. Maybe if I wasn't so annoyed at how long it took to get on I'd have better opinion.
David was on the train right behind me so I waited for him at the exit and once he was done we headed into Gotham City. He enjoyed the VR experience on DDD. I said I would later hit up Flash Pass HQs and get sorted with another reservation so I could try the ride again later with the headset on. After being informed Mindbender had only been utilizing one train this season, we headed there next and were greeted by a few weary eyed ride ops informing us the ride was closed. Wow, what a crummy start to the day. I did manage to hop on Batman, which was fantastic as expected but it was running a little rough compared to Great Adventures. Still a great ride, you could plop one of these down anywhere and I'd ride it.
I saw Goliath was still a very short wait for us so I headed in that direction. What a great B&M hyper you guys lucked out with. Believe it or not, its only my 2nd after Nitro so that's all I have to compare it to. Nitro is one of my faves because its like my zen coaster - its not particularly forceful, its floaty and fast and fun, and I can ride it repeatedly. Goliath on the other hand has a bit more punch to it. Maybe not the first drop so much. I felt like Nitro has a bit more yank when sitting in the back, but once it gets going over the first few drops and then the helix its really hauling through each element.
I love the layout, how it exits the park and heads to the area across from the entrance a bit. My favorite parts were the 3rd drop over the lake and that batsh!t insane downward helix. Also nice to not have a MCBR, though that trim after the helix is loud and hits hard. The final turn into the brakes is a bit brutal with some serious snap - how come no one ever mentions this? I wound up re-riding Goliath a ton, more than any other ride in the park, but learned to put my hands down at that last turn. I had some great night rides on it, as my FP and double rides allowed me to basically have my own personal ERT session the last hour the park was open, doing a double ride, then walking around for another with no waits. I'd never gotten a Platinum flash pass before, so I was getting my monies worth. I pissed off all sorts of people all day w/ the double rides. Sorry, not sorry.
David decided at this point it was time for Flash Pass so he went to pick that up while I checked out Acrophobia. This was one of my must-rides so I wanted to get it out of the way. David actually settled for a Gold pass which meant it wasn't always easy to make our reservation times match up but we managed to meet up and then venture off alone a few times throughout the day. I thought Acrophobia was great - solid Intamin drop tower with the floorless/tilting chair aspect to add to the insanity. Walked right on. That the ops are encouraged to sing to you or taunt you while at the summit just tops off the experience. Definitely one of my favorite rides at the park.
We met back up and decided we were both hungry, I hadn't eaten since the airport around 4:30am, so we stopped for lunch and hit up Monster Mansion nearby. I knew I had to do this at some point during my visit since everyone makes a huge deal about it, so we were able to sync up our reservation times and ride together.
I did take out my phone to take pics while on the ride (FFS its a slow indoor dark boat ride, calm down people) which I kinda regret as most of my photos came out blurry and I was more focused on that than just enjoying the ride.
For what its worth, I was able to determine that the quality of this ride is well above and beyond what one would expect from a Six Flags dark ride. Not exactly thrilling, but very well done, and quite long. Believe the hype.
We grabbed lunch at the new JB's Sports Bar and Grill, and upon entering quickly realized we had bad timing - the lunch rush. The wait here was long and employees slow, as I would find out the case with most of everyone I encountered in Georgia all weekend. It's just the southern way, I guess. Luckily with the platinum FP waiting wasn't an issue so the slowness of everyone didn't bother me too much while at the park. I couldn't decide on what to order, even though we had plenty of time to decide lol. My concern was that I would be in Georgia for the next 4 days and knew I'd get some real BBQ, so I didn't want to start off eating it at some generic Six Flags joint.
The prices were, as expected, astronomical. The beer selection was also pretty terrible (lots of Miller, Budweiser, and those awful Bud Lite Lime thingys) but we spotted some Sweetwater 420 and each grabbed one of those. Yum. I ended up choosing "The Sampler" for food which is just a bunch of fried stuff. The photo makes it looks like all onion ringy dingy ding-a-ling dings but it was mozzarella sticks, poppers, fries, etc. I'd been eating really good up to this trip (I lost 11 pounds in the last two months - eatin' plants all day, yo) so I went all in on the crap food right away. Actually, it started with the giant danish at Philly airport LOL. Anyways, JB's wasn't terrible but wasn't great either. The beer was great. It all sat well with me which is most important when spending the rest of the day at a park. We had a nice spot in the shade outside to eat and yap and people watch. Did I mention almost the entire park is shaded?
Since we were close by we checked out the wait for the Sky Buckets and it was pretty minimal but still a few minutes wait thanks to the stellar southern slowlife operations. LOL
I honestly was hoping to get a nice photo with multiple gondolas passing by but anytime we could see the skyride there was only ever one or two buckets passing overhead. I am not one to bother with the Skyway at Great Adv if there is any sort of wait, just because its faster to walk usually, but these guys were taking their good old time. Nice views from up there.
I was determined to ride Mindbender so we checked the Qbot to see if it was open, reserved and headed that way. I was warned they had been running one train but we were surprised to see two on the circuit, with the ops cranking them out. We walked right onto the back row and OMG this ride! You locals are so lucky to have a solid, classic Schwarzkopf in this setting. Loops! Lapbars! No seatbelts! So smooth, so forceful.
I loved that a lot of it is over water, in and out of the canopy of giant trees that cover most of the park, over babbling brooks, and just sort of tucked into the landscape. After our first ride David waited at the exit for me because of course I took a double ride, this time with three girls who sat next to and in front of me. Sometimes the screaming of teenage girls annoys the hell out of me, sometimes it adds to the experience. This was the latter. They were funny and I really enjoyed both of my rides on this little beast.
I really, really hope Six Flags continues to care for this ride as it is truly a gem. I would totally trade you guys Kingda Ka for this ride, more than a fair trade imo.
Superman Ultimate Flight was another must-ride, just because of the fact that it was basically built for this park. On the way we stopped at Sky Screamer as our wait was minimal. Not as fun as Great Adventure's due to the fact that it was busy so they were running it where it only goes up once and comes back down, where as ours stops halfway down and goes back up. Not a huge deal, as with Goliath and Acrophobia, the views up there are amazing. I really love how beautiful this park is.
Passing by we checked out Ninja getting it's paint job/refurbishment. Part of me was happy I didn't have to ride a crappy old Vekoma looper, as I would have felt the need to ride it just because, but I already have the credit from when it was brand new and called Kamikaze on the Wildwood boardwalk 25 years ago. God I'm showing my age. As a kid I always wondered what happened to it, but didn't know it was relocated to SFOG until I got deep into this dark nerdy coaster underworld a few years ago. Cool to see an old friend in person again though.
Off to Superman. I hate to compare coasters to one another as I believe each ride I take is subjective to a number of things but when it comes to comparing clones, I think that's fair. Our version of Superman definitely putters out right after the insane pretzel loop, the rest of the ride is always kinda meh, just kinda swinging around til you hit the brakes. But here, the hillside terrain makes for all sorts of near misses and a tunnel, and even though I knew the course of the ride well, made the 2nd half of the ride completely thrilling.
David and I were able to get our reservations synced up so we could ride together. We walked passed the entrance up the FP line and overheard the greeter telling someone the wait was almost 2 hours, but we walked right up into the station and were directed to the next train, in the front row. Gotta love it! Also, gotta love double rides! Pissing people off left and right. David waited at the exit and took photos of the ride while I took a second spin. It was also neat to see the ride with a dual loading station, even though it seemed they were only using one side.
We headed up front again to get a ride on Cyclone, hitting up Acrophobia again on the way. You can definitely feel the difference on Cyclone between the retracked sections and the older sections. Not particularly rough but not exactly a gentle ride. I enjoyed it but its not one of my favorite woodies. I'm interested to see if this will get the RMC treatment.
After Cyclone, I decided to hit up the hotel and check in. I still hadn't heard from them about an early check in but it was well passed 3pm. I grabbed some more food up the street from the hotel and stopped in and got my room. Quickly ate some fast food and laid on the bed for about 20 minutes and briefly closed my eyes, alarm set. I jumped back up, changed into shorts as it was nice and warmed up by now and headed back into the park.
Once back in stopped at Flash Pass HQs to see if I could sort out the missed DDD reservation issue I had first thing in the morning. Lucky for me I got the same guy that rented it to me that morning, and he was very understanding about the situation, and quickly re-reserved the ride for right then, so I headed that way solo.
I definitely enjoyed my second ride more than my earlier ride, I was just in a better mood and able to enjoy myself. There was minimal wait this time around, though we did deal with the same weird musical chair seat swapping thing to get the restraints to close. I got another back seat ride. It's a very smooth coaster, the trim down the drop sucks, and I just think its too small of ride capacity wise for a park this size.
I had to hit Goliath for a few more laps, after having a week to think about it I'd say its my favorite ride in the park, followed very closely by Mind Bender. Gotta love the doublerides!
Our next quest was to head back to the back of the park and get a ride in on Great American Scream Machine. We stopped again by Ninja and took a couple of photos and were on our way.
A classic out-and-back woodie, I liked GASM a lot more than Cyclone. Rough in some spots like an old woodie should be, but really not too bad.
Some really, really good airtime, we sat in the back of the train and in some spots it really delivered. Never got a chance to take another spin, which I would have liked but overall GASM was better than I expected.
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it yet but everytime we passed Georgia Scorcher it was down. The credit whore in me was kinda sorta hopeful it would open back up but the sensible side of me was happy I had an excuse not to ride the parks stand-up, as good as everyone says it is. Yeah, well, it never opened. Not a tear was shed.
What I was hoping to get a ride on was Dahlonega Mine Train. I have a soft spot for a good mine train, frequently raving about Runaway Mine Train at my home park with its awesome, classic finale over the lake. So we headed that way and I was impressed. We sat in the flash pass seats I guess 3-4 rows back if I remember correctly.
It was a tight fit, as mine trains always are for me, but I really love this ride. A fave out of the whole day. Nice and long, loved the three lift hills. Its really tucked back into the parks landscape, and I found it be unexpectedly smooth, with a GREAT ending into a tunnel. Maybe one of my favorite endings on a coaster period.