Thanks for the comments and trivia sharing everyone! I really appreciate it.TPR is not one of my 'main sites', so I'm very glad I decided to share my trip reports here. Will continue to do so in the future.
As a thank you... here is the last one. Possibly the best TR of the bunch?"Six Flags America is ghetto"; "All the coasters suck!"; "Don't get stabbed"; "Don't judge all six flags parks based on this"; "Why would you go to Six Flags America!?"; "Good thing you saved the best for last!"; "Six Flags America has the worst operations ever, they manage to turn a five minute queue into half an hour!"
As you can see, upon announcing that I was going to Six Flags America I received a lot of useful tips and external expectation management. The people I consulted made sure to lower my expections for Six Flags America to a point below zero. Meanwhile, all the American non-fans I've heard talking about Six Flags said it was a fun park. Usually, I think that roller coaster fans are spoiled and tend to discard alright roller coasters that are fine for the general public as shit. Was this the case here? Either way, I went to the park with mediocre expectations. I did not doubt that Six Flags America would not top Busch Gardens, King's Dominion or Hershey Park; the parks that I did a few days prior. However, spending a day at Six Flags America was the alternative to staying in Washington DC, a city that I had already explored over several days. Even from the most bleak perspective, Six Flags America was at least a welcome change of environment! So even though my expections were lukewarm, there was not a single doubt in my mind that I should not go. It was happening!
Through a quite alright metro and bus connection, I arrived at the park at around noon. The park was open until eight, and my girlfriend would pick me up after her work shift (which also ended at eight), so I had over eight hours to spend in the park. It turned out to be way too much, so I spent a lot of the day taking pictures, eating in slow motion, taking detours, and doing silly rides I would skip otherwise.
I decided to start with one of the coasters I was looking forward to most, and the one that I expected to be the most likely to break down: Batwing. Twelve years ago I did my first and until then only flying coaster, Air at Alton Towers, which has been my undisputed number one ever since. It made me extra interested in Batwing. Could Batwing imitate the sensation of flying as well as Air? Luckily I did not have to deal with the slow operations, as the train was in the station when I got there and I could board immediately. In the heat of the moment I thought I was getting the front seat, but when the seats lowered I realised I got the back seat. #125: Batwing
- It immediately became clear that the harnass/restraint wasn't half as comfortable as Air's. The lying down position was similarly less comfortable, and another notable difference was that there was a floor. The layout was fun all the way through, definitely a bit shaky too, and the looping was a very cool weird experience and quite intense too. Later I rode the coaster in the actual front seat: the ride felt significantly more rough and the looping was even more intense and it felt like an elephant was sitting down on my chest. In short, one good and one bad experience. Overall judgement: mixed feelings
Next coaster was the one I had the highest expecations of. The big one, and the one the non-fans told me about. I heard it was a real frontseat-coaster, but again I had the opportunity to board right away so I got in in the back seat. #126: Superman - Ride of Steel
- What I got was a tall and fast coaster, the longest coaster I've ever done actually, that consisted entirely of a tad shaky never-ending helices, forceless hills both big and small, and even a ridiculous straight section. What an incredibly bland coaster. Fun, and with an excellent view, but bland. Again, later during the day, I tried the actual front seat and it was a huge difference. I guess the coaster also warmed up some more. The first half of the ride was still forceless, but the hills in the second half actually provided good airtime! I also have to say that I appreciated the random straight section. It's a moment of anticipation similar to the turns you often find at the top of a lifthill, before the drop. A little pause to recollect your senses, time to catch your breath, except you're moving at a very high speed. I don't know what the designers were thinking with this coaster but of all the weird things and flaws in this coaster, I would say that the straight part worked out in the coaster's favour.
Knowing I would ride Superman a lot more later that day, I proceeded to expore the rest of the park first, working my way back towards the entrance. First coaster on my route was Joker's Jynx. #127: Joker's Jinx
- Joker's Jynx is almost a clone of Flight of Fear, which I rode the week before at King's Dominion, except it's outdoors. I love launches, they always offer good suspense and a nice sensation. Joker's Jynx had the suspense, but the launch felt like nothing. Accelerating on my bike after the traffic light has turned green is more intense. It felt slow and as a result the launch section felt too long. The spaghetti part of the layout was fine and fun, though not as disorienting as Flight of Fear. Conclusion: nothing bad about Joker's Jinx, nothing great either, but it's fun. The park has an odd layout. the back haf of the park is mostly themed to Gotham city, with a small trains-themed enclave of kiddy rides. The front half of the park is a mix of themes and rides, and significantly less ugly. Dividing these two halves is a wooden coaster, Wild One. I had already done all the coasters in Gotham by now, so I started my round in the front half of the park, starting with... #128: Apocalypse - I've always been fascinated by the idea of a stand-up coaster. I had a hard time imagining what it would feel like. There aren't many left in the world, but Six Flags America has one! Interestingly Apocalypse was the first coaster built by B&M, even though it has been at the park only since 2012. It was relatively well themed, with the queue meandering under the coaster amid car wrecks and gloomy music. I could board almost right away, and off I went! The sensation of standing on a coaster turned out to be fun for sure, but in a gimmicky way. Towards the end, as the coaster changed from loops and tall elements into tight turns and corkscrews, it got a bit more rough, taking away some of the fun. I banged my ear on the restraint pretty bad in the corkscrew, which made me not ride the coaster a second time, until I got bored later that day. The second ride was less painful, but uncomfortable enough to really not ride it again. Still an experience I would not want to miss! #129: Ragin Cajun
- A small spinning wild mouse, with one of the longest queue times of the day. I did this one purely for the credit, but of course it was fun too. The lack of bad maintenance or questionable design made this coaster one of the most enjoyable ones in the park actually. #130: Wild One
- This one lives up to its name. As I was queuing and watching the train go from a distance, you could literally see the trains bounce on the track. And the people on the train with it. To this day I'm still not convinced that this roller coaster's wheels are round. I'm not sure if it even has wheels at all. It's rough, which is a shame because it's such a classic coaster. It came to Six Flags America in 1986, but it's actually an older coaster built elsewhere in 1917. Seems like Six Flags is using this park as a dumping ground. With better trains and some new track, this coaster has the potential to be great though. Sadly I don't think Six Flags is very interested in maintenance. #131: Great Chase
- I'm not sure if I was allowed to ride this kiddie coaster, but the staff can't be arsed to do anything about it so I rode it. #132: Mind Eraser
- This standard Vekoma SLC, sitting in the most desolate and ironically best looking corner of the park, has a very nice and fresh colour scheme. It's looking good, even though it's probably not. It's not. During the ride the guy next to me told me to go to Six Flags Great Adventure because there are most coasters. He said some other shit but I couldn't understand much through his thick southern accent. I asked him if he'd been to King's Dominion. The answer was 'Six Flags Great Adventure'.
Across a concrete ocean laid another wooden coaster... #133: Roar
- I saved Roar for last, because I expected it to be not shitty. Roar turns out to be like Wildcat at Hersheypark: beautiful GCI layout, but too rough to truly enjoy it. Roar is also relatively slow. Part of the problem is probably the trains. If I'm riding a GCI, I want comfortable well made GCI trains! Not these boxes that also ruined Wild One. I don't remember much about the ride other than that I rode it only once and I wasn't sad that I didn't ride it again, although I was open to a second ride. A shame this coaster is not as good as it should be.
My trip was not only a theme park journey, it was also a food journey. I have a weak spot for crappy junkfood, so American cuisine is right up my alley. One of the positive surprises was the fries I found in SFA. Fries soaked in liquid cheese, ranch (I still don't know what that is) and bacon. It was actually great. Too bad I had to wait 20 minutes for that and my plastic cup of ice water.
In the background you can see what happened to my water. They gave me a flimsy plastic cup and the tables are not flat surfaces. It fell over. Wet legs, ice everywhere, and no desire to go back to the counter to get more water. Very symbolic for SFA as a whole.
By now I rode all the coasters and I had about five or six hours left to spend in the park before my girlfriend would pick me up. To kill time, I started strolling around the park slowly, patiently taking a lot of pictures. I rode rides with the sole intention of giving me good angles for pictures. In the middle of the park there was a pretty new kids area with a lot of tiny rides, including a miniature railroad and a small ferris wheel. The park lacks a ride to give you a good view of the park, for mysterious reasons; the park is less ugly when seen from above. The ferris wheel was my best shot at getting a picture of the layout of Superman. The train ride was a gamble. I folded myself into one of the slightly cramped box cars and gambled for getting a marginally better shot from slightly different angles from what I could get from the paths. This was my day in a nutshell. Throwing away all shame, trying to find entertainment in anything.
The park also has a larger train ride though, going to areas far from the paths. A safe bet to get new angles. They should rename this ride 'Six Flags backlot tour' as it took you outside the park to rusty storage sheds, large areas of cracked tarmac, a deserted picnic area, and more things more reminiscent of a third world country than a theme park. I loved it.
Maybe this is a good idea to dump some pictures that I would otherwise put in a 'SFA Ghetto Special'. Ugly bits.
1. Defunct ride. Just remove half, let the other half rot!
2. Five star restaurant
3. The western area actually looked nice! This was the cherry on the cake.
4. Across from 3
5. Optimal spatial planing and maximum atmosphere
6. Advertising all over the place. This one looks like it's been there for at least the past fifteen years. Nostalgic, actually.
7. The park is not very green. The parking lot sprouted more signs than plants.
The ugliness kept me busy for the while, and at last closing time was getting near. I rode Superman a few more times, I decided to honour the new Wonder Woman ride by making it my final ride of the day - and my trip.
Being the tallest ride in the park, and the only one that could potentially offer a real overview of the park, I decided to bring my camera along. I wrapped the camera's strap around my wrist a few times, both to comfort the ride operator and myself (I can get very paranoid holding loose items high above the ground or above water), and the ride operator either was lazy or had confidence in my camera holding skills that he allowed it. "Don't drop your camera", he said. It's probably a combination of both. Five minutes before, a cap fell down, so you would expect a good ride op to pay closer attention to loose items? I don't know but this is SFA and no one cares. I wish I had brought my camera on other rides as well, I could've shot some great pictures from Superman and the Wild One...
Anyway, Wonder Woman is a great addition to SFA's ride line-up. Even though the ride is situated at the park's edge, the view is quite good and SFA looks surprisingly not as ugly from the sky. The sun's low angle helped, though.
And then I left, and spent a long time on the entrance plaza and parking, with just some garbage and abandoned funnel cakes for company, until they kicked me out, and then sat on the side of the road until my ride showed up. It had been an interesting day!
My top 10s have not changed after Six Flags America, not surprisingly. The most noteworthy coaster is Superman Ride of Steel, which I would place around #23... Wild One and Roar cannot crack the top 10 because they're too uncomfortable. I'm not going to bother ranking them. Top 10 Steel
2. Intimidator 305 (NEW)
5. Apollo's Chariot (NEW)
6. Skyrush (NEW)
7. Griffon (NEW)
8. Black Mamba
9. Speed Monster
10. Great Bear (NEW)
(Notable exclusions: Dominator (#11) Volcano (#12), Stormrunner (#14), Verbolten (#15), Alpengeist (#16), Superman: Ride of Steel (#23)) Top 10 Wood
2. Rutschebanen (Bakken)
3. Joris en de Draak (Water > Vuur)4. Lightning Racer (Thunder > Lightning) (NEW)
5. Thundercoaster6. InvadR (NEW)7. Comet (NEW)
8. Coaster Express9. Rebel Yell (Blue > Red) (NEW)10. Wildcat (NEW)