Well, I was finally raped and pillaged by two members of the Six Flags chain last weekend: SF America and Great Adventure. And you know, I feel pretty good about it--both parks were a lot of fun! Excellent weather, whacked-out companions, and a good mix of coasters greeted me at my first new parks of the season. First stop, the TPR meet on Saturday, April 21, at . . .
Six Flags America This park seems to get a lot of "bad press." I've read all sort of negative TRs about broken rides, horrendous crowds, and poor operations, but I didn't see much that was bad here at all (perhaps it helps to visit in the spring, rather than the wretched dog days of summer). Many at the meet noted that it resembles an "RCT" park, with rides just plunked down everywhere, which is true enough (it started life as a water park), and it's loaded with what I would say are "cow-pasture" coasters (they just spring up around fields of grass). But there is some minimal theming here and there (such as the obligatory Six Flags nod to "Gotham City"), and the grounds are pretty attractive overall. Here's how I rate the coasters (best to worst):
The Wild One--Now this was a pleasant surprise. This old woodie delivers from its first drop all the way to its insane Unbanked Helix of Death at the end. And they were running (gasp!) two trains! (Are you listening KD?)
Superman-Ride of Steel--There's plenty of airtime on this Intamin megacoaster, and it really speeds through its two helices. I just wished it didn't have those teeny-weeny trains (a bit uncomfortable). Two trains would've been nice, too.
Roar--Yes, this woodie is kind of rough, but in a good way. Not much airtime, but it's a fun, wild ride as you whip through those steep banked curves and head choppers. Two trains on this sucker on Saturday, too.
Batwing--This was my first Vekoma flyer, and its a fun ride if a bit rattly and rough. Hit this one early, as they only run one train and the line will get pretty damn long late in the day.
The Mind Eraser--You know, this wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared, but my expectations were so low it couldn't help but exceed them. It is a headbanging Vekoma SLC, though, so I made good use of the handlebars on the OSRs. I thought I was safe after the brake run, so I let go of the bars, only to get a nice shot to the head when the train made its last sharp turn into the station. ("Hey, I'm Mind Eraser, pal! Show some respect!")
Two-Face--This was my first Vekoma boomerang, and, you know, it wasn't that bad.
The Great Chase--Well, it's just a kiddie coaster, but it did teach me one valuable lesson: Zamperla kiddie coasters are kind of painful.
I even had a good (if slightly pricey) Panda Express lunch at SFA. Who knew this would turn out to be such a nice little park? Here are the pics.
Welcome to Six Flags America, which is all just a bustin' with patriotism, expansive fields of grass, and Vekomas!
"This is for dragging me across the country to another Six Flags park, dad!"
"Kick the bird's butt, dad!"
"I say, I say control yourself, sir!"
There were quite a few second-tier Loony Toons characters around that day, such as Marvin Martian's sidekick, K-9 . . .
. . . and Tweety's psychotic, ample-bosumed owner, Granny.
"Don't worry, KT! Mommy will protect you from all rubberheaded monsters . . .
. . . and coaster dorks!
"Naw, this one's busted. But there's some other stuff, like, over there!"
It's "up, up, and away" on S:ROS's teeny-weeny train. (Still a great ride.)
"As soon as I, Mr. Freeze, kick Batman's butt, I'm coming for you, Superman!"
"Hi, I'm Two-Face! And I wanna know why the hell I ain't in Gotham City with all the other Batman stuff!"
Behold the surprisingly awesome, underrated Wild One! Your butt will hardly be in your seat from this point on.
Someone behind me actually shouted "Can you believe this s--t!" upon entering the Helix of Death.
And bumble bees like it, too.
And now for my next magical trick, two tains at once! (S:ROS and Wild One.)
OK, this is, what, Roar?
Why, so it is--pretty damn good, too.
Ahoy there, wench! Best put yer rudder to me until later this spring! I'll have somethin' to show ye then, sez I!"
Abandon hope, all ye who ride Mind Eraser!
You know, if you hang on for dear life, it's sort of bearable.
But this element really sucks.
And just because it's so damn cool, here's one last look at Wild One. Great Adventure to come later.
Robb, I hear you were at GAdv too Sunday? Is there truth in that claim? If so, I'm curious as to how you compare El Toro to some of the other standout wooden rides you've been on, like Balder, Voyage, Colossos, SROS SFNE, and EGF.
EDIT-nevermind, just saw the other thread.
I agree that SFA isn't nearly as bad as people say. It's one of my home parks, and I go there all the time. Especially before GAdv got Kingda Ka and El Toro, many times I'd rather go to SFA because the short lines made for more fun days than GAdv, and the rides were nearly as good. Now I definately prefer GAdv since they have those two new coasters which are among my favorites, but SFA is still lots of fun. Can't dislike 5-10+ rerides on SROS with minimal waiting!
Six Flags Great Adventure Sunday, April 22 has arrived, so it's time to take that ever-so-relaxing drive up the Jersey Turnpike to Great Adventure, a park I've been wanting to check out for some time. Again, like SFA, I'd heard some horror stories about this place. And, Great Adventure, like SFA, handled itself quite well. It's actually a pretty park, for the most part, with theming that's a bit more elaborate than SFA's (it was already an established theme park when Six Flags came around). But even on a spring Sunday, the joint was jumping, and the lines got pretty long, thanks to it being the first nice weekend all month. Fortunately, the park is huge and spreads out the crowds pretty well.
If your ever visit this park on a busy day, Flash Pass is your friend; in fact, as expensive as it is, I can't see doing this park without Flash Pass. The $41 apiece we paid for six people on one Q-Bot was well worth it, as we were able to get a good five rides on El Toro, even though the wait was 90 minutes or more for much of the day.
All in all, it was a great day--a helluva of a lot of fun. Here's how I think the coasters stack up (best to worst):
El Toro--Was there ever any doubt that this would be number one at Great Adventure? This is one insane airtime machine. Hell, even the lifthill is a total rush--the cable lift hurls you up and around the ride's intial curve at incredible speed, and your butt is almost never in your seat--until you hit the series of sharp curves toward the end (which I guess suggests the way a bull will whirl around a bullfight arena). Yes, El Toro is awesome; still, it's not quite Balder awesome (but it's damn close). For me, I think the curvy bit at the end makes it seem a bit schizophrenic by switching from airtime to just laterals. But this is a minor quibble.
Nitro--This B&M hyper is another airtime machine on a par with Apollo's Chariot at BGE (only with a few more tricks up its sleeve). Lots of fun.
Batman--Another solid B&M inverted, with some decent theming in the queue and station house. It was my first ride on SF's famed Batman series of inverteds.
Medusa--A good B&M floorless, which did give my head a few good whacks. At least I didn't turn to stone.
Superman: Untimate Flight--This B&M flyer is fun and much smoother than SFA's Batwing (although shooting through one loop is sort of like being body-slammed). I like this one a bit better than Air at Alton, but I'm not that big on flyers overall.
Skull Mountain--Ah, a cheesy coaster in a box! I always like these damn things, and Skull whips around quite entertainingly. Now if only they had a few special effects working in the builiding--then they'd really have something.
Kingda Ka--Here we have proof that bigger and faster is not necessarily better. Yes, the launch is quite intense, but I don't think having one's eyes fused shut is a great feature. I'm just not a huge fan of these "wham bam thank you mam" launched coasters.
Runaway Mine Train--A fun family coaster (much better than the park's other kiddie coasters).
Rolling Thunder--This is a pretty average wooden racing coaster. The left side is OK, but the right side sucks. This is also the first racer I've seen with only three (count'em, three) trains running. Rebel Yell at KD craps all over this thing.
Great American Scream Machine--I have given a name to my pain, and the name is GASM. This tired pile of Arrow crap is just godawful. It should be torn down and the ground under it sown with salt to keep its evil from spreading.
Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train--Totally random theming but a reasonably decent kiddie coaster (more fun to ride than GASM, anyway).
There there is that Loony Tunes kiddie coaster whose name escapes me at the moment--another painful Zamperla.
All is all, SF Great Adventure is a very good park in a beautiful setting. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the Northeast (but don't forget Flash Pass).
Here's a bit of the park's skyline from the parking lot (Superman is in the foreground).
Kingda Ka testing. You know, I wonder if park executives aren't "compensating" for some "shortcoming" with these launched coasters.
Superman testing, while an enormous queen ant underneath starts laying eggs.
Hey, kids--wanna wiggle with creepy plastic guy?
Yes, KidTums, we're at another Six Flags park.
Great Adventure is another park just all full of patriotism and stuff . . .
. . . and it has buildings made of ice cream!
Yes, Kingda Ka is mighty tall . . .
. . . but it's no El Toro!
This lifthill really just flings you over the top.
And the ride doesn't really let up from there.
And the trains are actually comfortable. More Intamin woodies, please!
Elissa abandons Robb and KT to ride Kingda Ka with James.
Up and over they go. But what of Robb and KT?
The forlorn pair awaits her return (and Robb is zapped in the crotch by a strange, unearthly heat ray).
"What? You two are still here?"
But all is not lost, for Robb still has the Runaway Mine Train . . .
. . . and Joey. More pics tomorrow (gotta get some sleep).
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