OK, after a dozen rides tonight, here are my first impressions of Bullet 2.0
Before I get into it, let me say that the train was empty except for Guru and myself, it hadn't cycled very much and still had some breaking in to do, and the temps were dropping quickly, making the ride even more sluggish.
Point-by-point, here are the changes:
Station to first drop: no change
First drop: violent ejector air in the back is gone. There is still good air, but not the thigh-bruising slam there used to be. You pretty much have to be in the back 3 rows to get air at all, but that's not much different than before.
Bottom of drop and zig-zag: this is the biggie. What was once some of the most intense, aggressive wood coaster track on earth is now faster, smoother, much less aggressive, and not nearly as intense as before. People will still have their hands raised through this section now. Folks like me who LOVED the aggressiveness there are going to be a bit disappointed, feeling that the ride has lost its teeth. The airtime on the zig-zag hump isn't as pronounced any more, but there is still some there. It has NEVER been that smooth there before. It's actually one of the smoothest parts of the ride now. The general public, the average coaster rider, and a handful of TPR wusses are going to like this ride A LOT more now. The rest of us will talk about that section in the past tense, the same way we talk about other coasters that got tamed.
Upper bay turn: one word -- FAST. Not brutal at all, even with a hint of the "triple slam" that used to keep the intensity going. This section is significantly improved.
Second big hill: much more airtime for the front cars going into the water tower turn. Early test runs (with a trainload of loaded water dummies) were zipping over this hill pretty quickly. The empty train (except for the two riders) wasn't much faster here than before. Anxious to ride with a full train tomorrow!
Second drop into middle bay turn: some nice yank in the back car coming into the drop. Floater air in the front cars on the bunny hop. Middle bay turn feels a smidge faster, but not really noticable until you get to...
Queue line flyover: this was the hill that I really looked forward to when I watched it being built, but it never really delivered. It almost does now, and in the front seat it actually does. Sideways banked floater air. Neato.
"The pop": isn't quite as sharp as before, but it's STILL THERE
All of the surprise with none of the pain. This is a good thing.
The rest of the ride (station drop, photo turn, lower bay turn, brake run hop, final turns): largely the same as before. Once the ride breaks in again, this may improve.
Brake run: still crawls back to the station at 0.0004 mph. Sigh. The mag brakes actually stop the train before the squeeze brake now.
Bottom line: for me personally, I think the ride will probably drop a notch or two on my list now. I'll know better after a full day of riding tomorrow with more people on the train. For *MOST* people, however, the ride will be better. It's smoother, less aggressive, and FAR more re-ridable than before. You aren't going to hear any complaints about sore necks, ribs, etc from this ride now. Even the back seat is smooth enough to marathon on now. Hell, even the middle seats, which I would avoid like the plague before, were not only ridable, but FUN. This was a good move on the Boardwalk's part to make the ride better for 99% of the people who will be buying tickets. For the other 1% like myself, I'll just enjoy it for what it is now (which is still a really good ride), and fondly remember when it had "the most intense 15 seconds of any wood coaster on earth."