The Weather Channel forecast was horrible two-days out, but was slightly improving the day before, but still Matt said he was pretty sure he didn't want to go if the weather was going to be bad. So I asked my sister if she wanted to go on Tuesday with a much better forecast. She would be fine with that and I could make use of my "Bring a friend for free to any other Six Flags park." coupon. Well, to my surprise, Matt calls back around 9pm and asks what's going on? He changes his mind, and with that, it's the three of us going on the original date of Monday.
Arriving around 11am, we headed straight for the Golden Kingdom since Kingda Ka was running. Ka was running real well with all four trains. Matt goes out before us, and my sister Cindy says out loud that she can't believe how well it's working unlike last year. Did I mention she spoke too soon? We got into the orange train and pulled down our restraints in the front left station.
The blue train that was behind Matt's train wouldn't launch. Two blue-shirts show up and pull it back so they can look underneath it and we're told to get back into line. They make the decision to pull it. After about ten-minutes, the blue train is off on the side on the transfer table. The people in the back-station are told that they're going to need to move forward to our station, and I do feel bad for them, since their wait gets much longer.
Surprising for us, we get back into the orange train, and without any further test-runs, we're off. It's a little bit bumpy, but nothing so bad that it's intolerable. It probably helped that we sat in row 2. Cindy, however complains of a bump on her arm. This was my first daytime Ka ride, and so it was fun to check out the surroundings at the top.
We head for El Toro next, and on our way there, we check out the tigers on display at The Temple of the Tiger show which we hope to catch later. There's one white tiger laying at the front of the glass cage and two tigers at the back. There are two orange tigers at the back of the display standing so still in front of each other that everyone is starting to be convinced that they must be animatronics, as occasionally they breathe. And then they both moved…Example "A" of why not to play with tigers without prior training:)
We could tell that El Toro was only running one train when we arrived, but the wait didn't appear to be too bad. We decided to ride up towards the front, and since each car has three seats, we sat in 1-3. An open seat becomes available in 1-1, and Matt takes it. A blue shirt shows up and is searching threw his multitude of keys. I've got a good feeling about this.
Sure enough, the lead op makes an announcement that they're putting the second train on. It must have been really dead for them earlier to have been running one train. It's a slow process to get the other train out of the transfer track, but I'm all for more efficient operations.
As opposed to last year, the lift is working perfectly. Cindy and I ride together and even though I was just on MF in June, the speed of the lift is still shocking. Coming around the flat turn, both of us are not looking forward to the drop and Cindy says "Oh [expletive]" No question about it, the first drop is absolutely sick. The rest of the ride is no slouch either. I was very happy to have a second ride after last year, as the infield of Rolling Thunder was just an absolute blur during nighttime.
Speaking of El Squeaker, I mean RT, we decide to ride the left track, and are surprised by the ride. Except for the turnaround which was slightly rough, the rest of the ride was actually fun and had some airtime. Matt suggests that we stay off the right side due to a much rougher turnaround, and I take him at his word. It's a shame that going up the slower lift of RT, that we don't get to watch a train of El Toro riders going around the infield.
In the small gift shop, Matt finds a red El Toro t-shirt which has a set of very mysterious statistics. They read "Height: 200ft., First drop: 205ft. Top Speed: 75mph Track length: 5600ft. Est. 1997" What the hell? The closest Intamin in the states that even comes close to those stats is [Superman] Ride of Steel at Darien Lake, and the stats are still off on the track-length. Where did these numbers comes from, and was El Toro as a wooden coaster a much earlier idea? Very strange and why are these t-shirts for sale?
We head for Cindy's favorite ride from last year—Medusa. There was a wait, but we still waited for the front row—really the only way to properly enjoy a floorless coaster. Matt and I decide going up the lift that we'll decide whether Medusa or Dominator is best. Not surprisingly, I'm still choosing Dominator for its flat-out speed, steeper drop, higher loop and turnaround behind the station, while Matt picks Medusa due to its zero-G roll inversion.
This is the first time I've ever seen the Skyway in operation and so we decided to hop aboard the Western station next to the Runaway Mine Train. I couldn't figure out at first why there were two stations on the same side. It turns out that it's a double-sided Skyway. Very cool. We checked out Bugs Bunny's National Forest from above, and Matt doesn't think it was quite as extensive as SFSTL's, but I still count six rides from above.
The view is very nice and relaxing, but I spot something off to my left on the other side that makes me even happier—another ride I've never been on—the Zamperla Jolly Roger flatride. Granted, it doesn't look like much, but being the flatride junkie that I am, I still wanted to ride it. But our first mission was to get something to eat.
We all chipped-in for a pizza at Papa John's over in the Main Street area, and here's where the pain in the wallet really kicked in. It was $25 for the pie, and the drinks were really expensive. I got a small, and it was about $3.50. With three hungry people, the pizza wasn't very big, and we really could've used a lot more food. We made do with it until after we left the park.
Our first stop after our gourmet meal [sarcasm] was Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train. This was one of many new signs I noticed all over the park. Matt was really happy that I wanted to ride it because normally he says the people he goes with don't want to ride it. One thing that has changed from previous years is that all the rows of the train were in operation. No longer were the last four seats or so closed off. Even better was that we got a double-ride.
So it was onto the Jolly Roger flatride. It was about what I expected. Each of the "boats" seats up to two people, and it travels up and down around a circular track. One nice feature if your feet fit (like mine did), is foot-holders to keep you from moving around too much.
That out of the way, we rode Skull Mountain which only had lines in the station—which is a rarity. It was a fairly dark ride, but I could make out the first drop at the end of the ride on the brakerun, and you can see why the back is the place to be:)
Exiting SM, we caught our first glimpse of Wiggles World. It was nice that they reused the station of the log flume for their stage show, but for the most part it looked like they just split Looney Tunes Seaport in half.
I don't believe I've ever seen the Zamperla Barnstormer before. It's a double-sided two-bench ride that goes in a forward loop and is not locked in place. I was thinking that it would be really interesting to speed one of these things up, make it much bigger and you'd have a killer flatride for the adult set.
Matt is serious about getting the Road Runner Railway credit (Zamperla kiddie coaster), and my sister comments that this is the second ride that we're the oldest people onboard without kids (the first being Blackbeard). Again, it was what I expected—a double cycle with lots of sharp uncomfortable turns.
When we got off we traveled all the way to the back of Looney Tunes Seaport and saw the Zamperla Hand Crank—again another Zamperla ride I've never seen. Like Zamperla's modern approach to the Hand Cars at Knoebels, instead of "hand-pedaling" the cars forwards, you push and pull a lever to make the car go forward. What's hilarious about the Hand Crank—besides its name:)—is that it has all the same warning symbols that any big ride has.
We definitely needed to "grow-up" again and we wanted to ride Nitro, but at this point, the queue is a little bit full, so we move on. We passed back through Fantasy Forest and I took an obligatory shot of the red train of Chiller sitting outback of the station through a fence that had been left open. It sounded like there was work going on, but that could be wishful thinking.
Rounding the corner to look at the empty Enterprise site, we came across something that was extremely different for a Six Flags park, but would be right home at Busch Gardens Europe. A male and a female are performing a show called Steinfigur Garten. They are made up to look like 18th/19th-century people who sometimes move, dance, or just stand completely still while made to look like statues. It's definitely work checking out.
On our way to The Boardwalk, we hit up Houdini's Great Esccape. This is a must for me everytime I go to Gadv., It's always amusing to me to ride with strangers who have absolutely no clue what the attraction is, or if there's even a ride once the lapbars come down. That begs the question of "How many biohazard cleanups are necessary everyday?"
Since we missed the 3pm showing of the Temple of the Tiger show, we wanted to catch the 6pm showing instead, so we headed to the Boardwalk. But first, a few rides (if possible). We first try for S:UF and I point out that there are a lot of people headed towards us and not the other way around. Junk broke.
Well alrighty then, it's time for some Arrow love [sarcasm] on the Great American Scream Machine. Matt is a huge Arrow fan, and being stockier, I think he has an easier time with them. For my sister and me, we were absolutely hating life throughout the ride. It was as abysmal as always. While I realize that Gadv. doesn't have to get rid of GASM like Shockwave at SFGam because of plenty of land, I just think it's time to put GASM out of its misery.
We then headed back to the Golden Kingdom to queue for the Temple of the Tiger show. They have a small bleacher-style stadium for the show with two main hosts. The twenty-minute show has humor, comments about conservation, a pumping soundsystem, and oh yeah, the thought that at any minute one of the several trainers could be become the next Sigfried, or even worse, Steve Irwin. This was the first time for all three of us to see the show. It kind of made up for missing out on the Safari which closed at 4pm.
We still had several coasters to knockout, and so we headed back to Movietown to pickup Nitro. The line had considerably died down, and we walked right into the station. We went with the front row for our first ride since there weren't that many people in front of us. Nitro continues to earn my respect after years of it not doing so. Matt and I were both surprised to small deer hanging out around the bottom of the upward helix. I guess the noise doesn't scare them.
After looking at the end of Congo Rapids we were all quite surprised by the size of the boats. It looks like each one seats twelve, which you never see today. I haven't ridden it since 1990 and we talked about it, but decided against it. So it was back to Nitro and this time it was in the back row where the crew had a slight biohazard cleanup to take care of. If there's one big negative to hypercoasters is that some people's stomach can't deal with all the ups and downs, particularly in the bunnyhill sections.
If there's one new thing added to the station this year that is a really good thing is free electronic lockers that have a blue, purple, or yellow square (I believe?). The lockers open up according to your train. After the biohazard mess was cleaned-up, we took another awesome ride and spotted the former cars from Stuntman's Freefall to our left. I guess if the remaining 1st-generation Intamin drop rides need parts, Six Flags and Cedar Point have a source.
Next up, we moved onto Batman the Ride, and it was sad to see Chiller sitting there not moving. Oh well, there's always next year. B:TR could've been a walk-on had we not gone for the front row. Again, I've never seen it this dead. Batman's crew was particularly lethargic in comparison to all the other crews. B:TR still delivers the goods, although it wasn't as intense as previous rides. We went back around and got a backseat ride. Cindy complained of some headbanging, but nothing too bad.
Matt suggest afterwards that we walk past Chiller and the former site of Stuntman's Freefall. I suggested that this might be the site of a Pandemonium-type coaster that was alluded to in an interview with the GM of Gadv. on one of the unofficial sites. We passed the Autobahn (bumper cars) and Matt wants to ride, but I'm just not up to potential whiplash today:) We then passed by the statue people again.
I thought it was time for a relaxing ride, and another one that I've never done as an adult—the Big Wheel—their gigantic ferris wheel. The view of the whole park is really nice, and I was able to shoot some really good video with my new digital camera during the approximately two-minute ride.
We were still missing two coasters, and so it was back to The Boardwalk to try to get S:UF. I told Matt that I really didn't care about it, but we went over their anyway. Sure enough, it was broken down (probably since earlier on in the day), so it was almost a waste of walking. I say almost because Matt decides to challenge another rock-climbing wall, one that is much higher than the previous one from a few weeks ago at an FEC. He makes a valiant effort, but can only get up half-way due to its height and the bending back and forth of the wall.
In the meantime, I took some nighttime shots of GASM's sign, which wasn't as easy as it sounds without a tripod. I was trying to use all kinds of makeshift items to keep the camera still, but some of them were too low, or weren't high enough. For tonight, GASM is now The Great American Scream Machi. Hopefully, our overpriced food will go to help pay to re-light the 'n' and 'e'.
We headed back to Frontier Adventures to pickup Arrow-torture machine number two—The Runaway Mine Train. Normally, I haven't found it to be too bad, but tonight me and my sister were getting knocked all around and this was in the front. In fact, Cindy shows off her instant bruise on her leg afterwards. The bruise later grows to be quite large.
Not having a whole lot of time left, we went back to Plaza Del Carnaval and walked right-up into the station of El Toro. Nice. This time we rode in the back in the first seat of the last car. I was still feeling quite nervous coming around the turn towards the drop. El Toro felt like it had become somehow more intense and scary.
I decided to hold my hands up in the air this time, and I could feel the waistband of my shorts being pulled up over every hill. We got into the infield and I was still doing fine until one of the last turns taught me the lesson that not holding on might not be such a great deal afterwards. Cindy had had enough by this point, and sat out another ET ride, while Matt and I went back for one more ride in the back again.
We still had time for one more ride, and not surprisingly, we went for Kingda Ka. They were down to the right station, and it was getting near 10pm. They were warning people that by waiting for the front seat that they might not get a ride at all. I said to Matt that it sounds like the same speech at Cedar Point back in June on MF.
We sat in the second row on the back train, and it was fun, but the air rushing into my ears was a little bit much. Matt says that he noticed the "gear-change" phenomena this time that many have referenced. I said that I haven't ridden it enough to really notice it. I think I'm just too distracted by the speed to really appreciate it.
Positives: No Flash Pass was needed, light crowds, great weather (minus the excessive humidity), all major rides (besides Chiller) were running at one time or another, new signs look great (even Twister [Top Spin] got a cool sign), park was really clean
Negatives: Still no Chiller, S:UF still having problems after five years in operation, food prices were way out of line, the incessant requests from control ops to upgrade your ticket to a season pass, cost to get there and back from Baltimore very expensive with gas and tolls (obviously not the park's fault) *** Edited 8/1/2007 5:00:30 AM UTC by Intamin Fan***
Did they remove the dancers from the Temple of the Tiger show?
Intamin Fan said:
On our way to The Boardwalk, we hit up Houdini's Great Esccape. This is a must for me everytime I go to Gadv., It's always amusing to me to ride with strangers who have absolutely no clue what the attraction is, or if there's even a ride once the lapbars come down.
It's so funny you wrote that. My friends and I rode Houdini for the first time last summer. While we were exiting, some kids asked us what it was. We stammered for a little bit and then were like, "well it has a lap bar". LOL!! That was the best we could come up.
I truly thought the park did a great job. My dad who knows of the reputation of the park was quite shocked to hear that I actually thought the park had more of a family-vibe to it than in any past trip.
Of course when you're a few rides short of owning the whole Zamperla kiddie collection, it's kind of hard not to be more family-oriented:) There was no line-jumping, and the only person I saw smoking outside of a non-smoking area was a father over in Wiggles World. The park has provided plenty of areas to "legally" smoke in, and some of them aren't near bathrooms like the gazebo in Plaza Del Carnaval.
The only bad thing I saw the whole day was at the end of the night upon exiting on Main Street when we saw a pre-teen/teenage boy smack Bugs in the back of the head. His or her "handler" got pretty upset with the kid, and I don't blame her.
She kept in control, but asked the kid why he would do that. I wonder what would have happened had it been earlier in the day as there were lots of security guards around. "We're sorry kid, you may now leave the park--permanently.Your season pass has also expired for the year. Come back next year when you can behave yourself." That's how I'd do it.
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