Warning! Long TR ahead!
For the past two years, my wife Sherri and I have been fortunate enough to travel to a bunch of new parks and experience a ton of new coasters. For a multitude of reasons, this season has been pretty quiet for us. We’ve done a few day trips here and there, but nothing like what we’ve done the last two years.
A couple of weeks ago we were talking and I brought up the fact the Phoenix Phall Phunfest at Knoebel’s was coming up. Sherri turned to me and said, “You know, that was a lot of fun…why don’t we go back?” (Of course, the fact that the Covered Bridge Festival craft show was also taking place didn’t hurt -- she's a craft nut and she really enjoyed the show in 2000.) Needless to say, my arm didn’t need any twisting, so I set about making the plans.
Since we decided to go so late, getting a hotel room proved to be the biggest stumbling block. All of the hotels in Danville were booked, so I had to start looking farther away. Given the lack of hotels close to Knoebel’s, I moved east a bit and realized that we could stay somewhere in Allentown and make a visit to Dorney Park on Sunday. Sherri was all for it, as we had never been to Dorney. I ended up booking a room at a Comfort Inn that was only ten minutes from the park.
That’s when it hit me…Six Flags Great Adventure wasn’t that far from Dorney…could we possibly squeeze it in too? A quick check of the Six Flags website revealed that Friday was the first day of Fright Fest, and the park would be open from 5-11. Sherri laughed at me and called me a nut, but agreed that we might as well do it while we there. So, the plan was set: leave Reynoldsburg early Friday, check in to our hotel, and then hit Six Flags Great Adventure. Saturday would be the Covered Bridge Festival and PPP, and Sunday we would hit Dorney before heading home.
The drive from Reynoldsburg to Allentown was relatively uneventful. We left shortly after 7:00, and the drive went fairly quickly thanks to plenty of good music (Cowboy Mouth and Dixie Chicks seemed to be what we listened to most). It was very grey out, and we hit a few spots of light rain, but we had checked the weather reports and had expected that. We arrived at the hotel close to 3:00, and by that time there was a steady light rain. As long as it didn’t get any worse, I didn’t mind too much.
After checking in and cleaning up, we headed out for SFGAdv. Having never driven this route, and it being close to rush hour, I was a little worried about the traffic. We hit a few slow spots, but overall the drive wasn’t bad at all. And as we got closer to the park the weather was getting much better – still cloudy, but not nearly as grey. Shortly after five, we pulled in to the parking lot at Six Flags Great Adventure.
I should mention here that I was hoping it wouldn’t be very busy for three reasons. 1.) The weather forecast had called for rain, 2.) it was the first day of Fright Fest, and 3.) it would be the first Friday they were open in over a month. Still, I knew that this was the most visited Six Flags park, so I was prepared if it was crowded.
Imagine my glee when I pulled in to the lot and saw only a few rows of cars in that massive lot!
We pulled in to a spot and made our way in, taking note of the large clearing to the left. (Hmmm…that would be a “Super” spot for a new coaster… ) We grabbed a map and decided to just make a loop of the park, hitting all of the coasters along the way. Not wanting to take any chances with crowds, I wanted to hit Chiller first.
As we walked up, I noticed two things: I really liked the theming of the buildings, and I didn’t once see a Batman train go through the course. Sure enough, the Batman side was blocked off when we got to the entrance. Darn, this was one of the coasters I was looking forward to most. I really wanted to experience a tophat without the shoulder restraints. (I guess it wasn’t meant to be, as the Batman side never did open.) A bit disappointed, we entered the queue for…
The Chiller: Robin – Coaster #140 (2 laps total)
As we walked in to the station, we noticed that there were only about ten other people riding. A walk-on for a shuttle coaster? Gotta love that! We took a seat somewhere in the middle and we were soon rocketing down the track. The cobra roll was pretty standard, but the in-line twist was great -- I like how it’s on an angle. After reaching the end of the spike, we traversed the course backwards, coming to a smooth stop in the station. The station was nearly deserted, and the ride-ops were letting people stay on, so we went for another lap. I thought it was a very fun ride, especially with those lap bars.
After two laps, we made our way over to Batman the Ride, but we couldn’t wait any longer -- we had to ride...
Nitro – Coaster #141 (8 laps total)
We walked right up to the station and walked right on to seats in the next to last row. Ahh, a walk-on for a hypercoaster…does life get any better? We settled in to the ultra-comfy seats and eagerly awaited our ride.
Now, I’ve read good reviews of Nitro, and I’ve read bad reviews. But I knew, I just knew we would love it. We both love hypercoasters (our favorite type of coaster) and we are big fans of Raging Bull. Nitro did not disappoint! The camelbacks before and after the hammerhead were excellent, and the bunny hops were fantastic -- air, air, and more air! What surprised me were the twisting dives of the second hill and the hill before the helix -- great! The layout, the setting, the actual ride…there wasn’t one thing I disliked about this coaster. (Well, maybe one -- I wish it were closer to Columbus! ) And Sherri agreed -- this was by far her favorite coaster of the trip.
We rode Nitro three more times, all in the back row, before tearing ourselves away. We then backtracked over to…
Batman the Ride – Coaster #142 (2 laps total)
When we stepped into the station we were surprised to see only three people waiting, and they weren’t in the front row. Not ones to turn down a front seat walk-on, we gladly hopped in the front and off we went. This was our third B:TR, so the layout was familiar. We took another spin before heading to the next coaster.
Skull Mountain – Coaster #143 (2 laps total)
All I knew about this coaster was that it was a non-looping Intamin. This was another walk-on, and we stayed on for two laps. It’s a fun little coaster, and very disorienting -- every time I thought we were going to go one way we went the other. (I’d love to see a picture of the layout.)
As we continued on our tour of the park, we saw Evolution standing silent. Why don’t they just get rid of this thing if it never runs? I would’ve tried it if it was open, but I knew going in that it probably wouldn’t be. The next coaster we came across was…
Blackbeard’s Treasure Train – Coaster #144 (1 lap)
Not much to say about this one…a standard Zierer double figure-8 coaster with the super long trains. One for the count. Ding.
We stopped to get a drink (Vanilla Coke – woo-hoo!) and made our way to the frontier section of the park. Medusa was starting to call to me, but first we took a spin on...
Runaway Train – Coaster #145 (1 lap)
I didn’t realize that this one had only one lift hill, as most Arrow mine trains have multiple lifts. I liked the layout of the ride, but we got beat up a bit in those cramped mine cars. (This one was a walk-on as well…noticing a trend?) After our ride, we made our way over to the lady with snakes in her hair known as…
Medusa – Coaster #146 (5 laps total)
We made our way up to the station and (surprise!) walked right on to the back row. Now, I have to admit, this coaster caught me off guard. I thought I knew the layout, and I figured it would be similar to the other floorless coasters I’ve been on. I was wrong. The first part was pretty typical, but the second half, after the mid-course brake, really surprised me -- there were more twists, turns, and dips than I was expecting. Excellent! Easily one of the best looping coasters I’ve been on. We rode two more times, grabbing seats in empty rows (and there were plenty to go around).
We left Medusa and walked to Viper, which, not surprisingly, was closed. I wanted to ride it, just to see what it was like, but at the same time, I wasn’t looking forward to a head bashing. So, we moved along to the park’s only wooden coaster…
Rolling Thunder – Coaster #147 (1 lap)
When we got in to the station, there wasn’t a single person waiting in line! Needless to say, we went right for the front. Knowing this coaster’s reputation, I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that rough at all, and we were actually getting pops of air every time we crested a hill! I couldn’t believe it! It looks like crap, there’s no arguing that, but the ride itself was pretty good. I figured that was only the case in the front seat, so we quit while we were ahead and didn’t ride again. Instead, we headed towards the front of the park to ride the last open coaster, the craptacular…
Great American Scream Machine – Coaster #148 (1 painful lap)
Ouch. I was hoping that this would be smoother than Shockwave, but I think it was actually rougher. Every transition was an exercise in pain, and the problems are even more noticeable after riding three excellent B&Ms. The only good thing was that we didn’t have to wait to get our beating.
As we staggered from GASM, we decided to get a bite to eat. We stopped at the Nathan’s hot dog place and each got a dog with cheese -- yum! (For some reason, it reminded me of the dogs at the old G.D. Ritzy’s restaurants.)
After eating, we took a spin on the Frisbee and made our way back to Nitro for four more laps. It was now much darker, and the ride was even better. Afterwards, Sherri and I agreed: we would come back just for Nitro, and we really need to ride Apollo’s Chariot. We also rode Medusa a couple of more times before we decided to call it a night. We grabbed some souvenirs (I got a Nitro t-shirt, Sherri got some postcards) and headed out to the car.
We were pretty wiped out by the time we got back to our hotel, having spent close to eleven hours on the road and five at Six Flags. But it was worth every minute.
If you made it this far, congratulations! Now go get yourself some caffeine…I’m sure you need it by now!
Up next: Crafts, coasters, and…Moxie? Knoebel’s TR coming soon.
Thanks for reading,
Edit - formatting issues...grrr.
*** This post was edited by ColumbusCoaster on 10/11/2002. ***
*** This post was edited by medusafanatic on 10/10/2002. ***
We rode the left side of Rolling Thunder -- is that the better side? It sure gave us a good ride that evening.
As for the closed coasters, I didn't realize that Viper had been open most of the season. It figures that the one night we visit it is closed. But the Batman side of Chiller being closed was definitely the biggest disappointment of the night. Oh well, guess we'll just be forced to make a return visit. ;)
Boy, that plan sounds like something I'd dream up ;)
Glad you had a great time. I like Great Adventure, but never manage to hit it on such a dead day.
"For all we know, Stonehenge is just the ruined supports for an early roller coaster." -- RCT2 manual
Well, Greg, you know what they say about great minds... :)
As I mentioned earlier, I thought it might be a slow day, but I could not have predicted for it to be that dead...I mean, how often do you get to walk on every single coaster in a park this size? (It did pick up a bit later on -- on our second trip around the park, we had 5-10 minute waits for Nitro.) We know we got lucky and caught it on a very special day, one that we'll never forget.
I should also mention that despite the small crowds, they were running two trains on Nitro, Batman, Medusa, Skull Mountain, and GASM, and the ops were dispatching the trains pretty quickly. That made a great night even better!
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