9/6/03 - Pitch Black ERT @ Six Flags America

Associated parks:

Pitch Black ERT
Six Flags America
Largo, Maryland

I thought CoasterMania 2003 was insane for getting up early and staying up late, but it turns out it was just a warm-up to Pitch Black ERT 2003. Luckily I wasn't Dave, who was out of his door at midnight, but I was up and ready to go by 4:30 AM. Dave and myself left the NC State campus at 4:30 sharp, and we were on our to Six Flags America and the Coaster Zombies' Pitch Black ERT 2003. Empty interstate would lead to an easy drive until the Washington/Baltimore area where we met light traffic. Since we were headed to a park it only seemed fitting that we stopped for gas and breakfast at Burger King virtually in the parking lot at Paramount's Kings Dominion. Volcano and Drop Zone looked tempting rising into the sky, but Kings Dominion wasn't ready to start its day yet, and we had another destination to get to. We pulled into the parking lot at Six Flags America just after 9:30, and headed over to the registration table for the event. There was no ERT on Joker's Jinx due to staffing problems or something, but personally I didn't mind, since I was there for Superman.

When the ropes dropped and the rides opened most of the Coaster Zombies headed off in the direction of Wild One and Two/Face, but Dave and I headed for Batwing. This was my first visit to the park, so I needed to get on all the coasters, which wouldn't be a problem on this Saturday. Rushing to X-Flight first at Worlds of Adventure had been a good decision as it had been one train and slow dispatch all day, and the same proved true here, as Batwing was also in one train operation. After waiting a few trains we opted to ride in the front car. I rode in the back car on X-Flight and wasn't exactly blown away, but for some reason or another Batwing really impressed me, and Dave felt the same way. It was fun and intense, and the loop really surprised me.

Superman was not open yet, which made me feel a bit uneasy, but Penguin's Blizzard River was tempting despite the fact that it was a bit chilly and despite the fact that we had coasters to ride. All I can say is that we made a good choice in riding this. When I first saw images of these rides I really didn't understand what they were all about, and they looked like they would give very short rides, but I was certainly wrong about that. It takes the rafts a good while to traverse the 'slide,' and they spin at a ridiculous rate. I was really surprised by the heavy G's and extreme disorientation delivered by this ride. I didn't get very wet, but that was not a problem with me since I didn't want to anyway.

Joker's Jinx was the next stop, and it was a walk-on, so we took a ride in the back seat. I've been on both Flight of Fears, but this was my first outdoor Premier launched coaster. I liked it a lot, but it's hard to really say whether I like Jinx better or the Flight of Fears. Superman was still closed (!), so next we headed over to Wild One, the beautiful white wooden coaster that stretches across the center of the park. I had no idea what to expect of Wild One, and we took a ride in the third seat. After riding, I have to wonder why I haven't heard much about this coaster. Wild One was a stunning wooden coaster, and an immediate favorite of mine. The quick rib-smashing turns at the tops of hills are wonderful, and the ridiculously-fast helix finale cannot be beat.

Two Face was next, and although it was experiencing some downtime when we got in line, it eventually opened and we rode in the back seat after a brief wait. I *really* love the Vekoma suspended boomerangs, and there was no exception here. The G forces and disorientation are great. On over to the other wooden coaster in the park, we gave Roar a try. I liked Roar a lot, but it wasn't near as exciting as Wild One. We had seen Superman trains testing every now and then, along with employees ascending the lift and looking down for something, but it still was not open. So, we did the second best thing: Mind Eraser. Okay, so maybe not the second best thing, but the only coaster in the park that you can ride and laugh hysterically the entire ride because it is so rough and so bad. This thing was slamming around so much it felt like it was going to come off the track.

The Rodeo flat ride (a Huss Breakdance I believe) looked quite fun, but someone had just hurled on it, so we opted to grab some lunch at a cafe, the name of which I can't remember. We enjoyed our chicken sandwiches amidst swarms of bees, which is one thing I forgot to mention. There was an absolutely absurd amount of bees in the park. I saw people with stings everywhere throughout the day, and throwing trash away was an adventure with the swarms defending the trash cans.

My biggest fear was that Superman would never open, but after lunch we were excited to see the train crest the lift with passengers on board. We hauled it over to Superman and found a wait of only 15 minutes or so. It would never be any longer than that. Second to last seat, and here we go. I was extremely excited about Superman, because the layout looked very appealing to me. While most people see Superman's layout as uncreative and dull, I saw a layout that had pretty much everything I wanted: big drops, airtime hills, a turning airtime hill, powerful helixes, and speed sections. Dave said he could see my reaction to Superman somewhere in the middle of the first drop, but I don't know if it hit me *that* early. Let's just say that as we hit the brake run I knew two things: 1) Millennium Force was no longer my favorite steel coaster, 2) I have to get to Six Flags New England. I love everything about the first drop and that fast low to the ground turn, the second hill has nice air, the pull-up to the helix has a little floater, the helix is very powerful, and then there's that third hill. The third hill is flat out ridiculous with a straightaway right before it so you have a few seconds to prepare for the extreme ejector air on the way up, over, and all the way down the third hill. The finale on Superman couldn't be better with another great helix and three awesome airtime hills. Needless to say, Superman: Ride of Steel is easily my favorite steel coaster.

We couldn't help ourselves: we came down the Superman exit ramp and got right back in line, this time riding in the second seat, which was just as good as the back. On over to Wild One again where the ride was just opening up again after a vomit incident on the *entrance* ramp of all places. We rode near the back, and if the front is good, the back is even better. Such a wild ride, and I was extremely impressed.

We walked over to the kids area to see what was up, and we had been advised to check out the indoor play area with the foam balls, so that is exactly what we did. We were slightly out of place in there, but it was a good 10 minutes of fun. The Great Chase had a long line (probably longer than the other coasters), not to mention we didn't want to steal a kid, so we made our way back to the big kids side of the park and back to Superman. The Coaster Zombies picnic was coming up soon, but we needed our Superman fill, so we took two rides before making our way to the picnic grove. We had a good picnic dinner in one of the picnic shelters, which were filled with bees, especially at the soft drink station which was flat out ridiculous. The park has graciously donated a large number of souvenirs to be given away, and although I didn't win anything, some people won some good stuff. We walked around and took the group photos in front of Superman and Batwing, then Dave and I headed off for yet another Superman ride.

We headed out to the front of the park and did a little shopping, dropped the stuff off at Dave's truck, had a water break, then headed back to finish off the day. We did the Rodeo that we had missed earlier due to puke, and it was pretty wild. Next we did the Octopus, mainly because I'm not sure I could stand missing another spider at a park, since I had opportunities everywhere to ride one this summer and never did. Then we headed off for one last awesome ride on Wild One, this time in the back seat.

I had hoped to ride Batwing again, and we headed over to it to try for one last ride before closing. However, the line was pretty long, and they were still in one train operation. Not riding would turn out to be a good decision, as Batwing would still be taking riders from that line well into our Superman ERT session. We hurried over for the final ride of the evening on Joker's Jinx, this time in the first front seat. After an awesome ride, we headed over to Superman: Ride of Steel.

Our Superman ERT session lasted around an hour, and every minute of it was great. Granted, the ops were pushing down quite hard on the lap bar at first, but it didn't bother me too much, because Superman was running so fast, and we weren't the only people who thought that. The Coaster Zombies really know how to do an event I will say, as there was a lot of excitement and energy in the station and plenty of handslapping. Dave and I totaled 8 rides during ERT I believe, including one in the front seat. It was a very memorable night, well exceeding my expectations.

The drive home I don't really need to elaborate on, but it took a few rest stops and a lot of driving into the morning. Needless to say, I was ready to get some sleep. Six Flags America was a great park, and it along with the coasters exceeded my expectations. Thanks to the park and the Coaster Zombies for what was a very fun event, and I plan on being back for Pitch Black ERT again next year!

Jonathan Hawkins
Starcoasters.com | ThrillSpot
Carowinds Connection - Unofficial Carowinds Site
*** This post was edited by StarCoasters 10/9/2003 12:12:46 AM ***

ApolloAndy's avatar
Some people actually prefer the SFA/SFDL layout to SFNE's. The third hill on SFA's is probably slightly more ejecting than any hill on SFNE's but SFNE has, like 9 of them, tunnels, mist, etc.

Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"It's not a Toomer" - Arnold Schwartzenkoph
"Those who know don't talk and those who talk don't know." -Jeff

nasai's avatar
While I have yet to ride SFNE Superman, I can say with some credibility that the SFA version is mindboggling, even on a slow day, a cold day, or a broken down day. It really is near perfect. One thing I fear about the SFNE model is that there are so many more turns. If there is something I learned a long time ago, it's don't expect "more" to be "better." Granted, everyone I know says believe the hype, but without the ride, I wonder.

Then again, they didn't lie about Legend at night at SRM, so who knows? ;)

BTW, Peabody and I broke SFA SROS last Friday. That sucked. Still, I got a ton of rides on Wild One and Roar. Not a death knell, but I woulda killed for another ride, let alone the possibility of riding it in the dark, for God's sake.
Rob - Jerk/Loser - Standing up for the unfunny and unattractive. - Click here for details

StarCoasters said:
Pitch Black ERT
Six Flags America
Largo, Maryland

Thanks to the park and the Coaster Zombies for what was a very fun event, and I plan on being back for Pitch Black ERT again next year!-
Jonathan Hawkins

Thanks for the good words, It's kind words like yours that make it a pleasure to coordinate a park event like this. I've spoken with the park about the lap bar issue, and hopefully we'll not have to deal with uncomfortably tight lap bars again.

I was reluctantly at the Emergency Room being treated for pneumonia, and couldn't attend the ERT portion of the day, I'm glad you had a good time. Others have relayed their good words thru e-mail and We will definately be looking into another event at SFA (maybe an all wood ERT)


Watch the CZ website for our 1st event at

Paramounts Kings Dominion


Early April

ERT on Volcano, and Scooby Doo's Haunted Mansion!
never met a coaster I didn't ride (except Junior Geminii) :(

Vater's avatar
Nice trip report, Jonathan. I contemplated going, but I opted to sleep in and save the $25. I'm disappointed I didn't go now--sounded like everyone had a great time.

Sam -- Thanks for the info on Volcano-mania! Hopefully if things aren't too hectic next April (preparing for a May 1st wedding), I'd love to attend.

-Mike Buscema

'No matter how skilled the designer is, every time we push the envelope we learn new things about coaster design.' --Dana Morgan

I was there on 9/6 & was wondering why Sam Marks was nowhere to be found,I guess I have the answer now.

It's too bad that S:ROS was having so much trouble that day,I know it was down when we tried to ride first thing in the morning but as of 10/5 it was running fine,the only problem was single train op which lead to it having the only long line in the park.

Everything else was walk on central,Wild one,Two face,even Batwing! You name it & it was practically deserted.

PBR is still open if anyone wants to take it for a spin & what's with the ops at octopus? I swear they are some of the slowest dang ops in the whole park! it took them forever just to load & start the ride.

As sombody who has riden both i must say they are both darned awesome rides. The Sfne version has the better layout and much more ejecty air. The hill right before it gets twisty blows away the sfa versions third hill. Only problem with sfne is getting a comfortable ride is hit or miss. Sfne is shoddy with keeping the thing from banging aroudnt eh track. PUT NEW WHEELS ON THIS COASTER!! IT IS THE ONLY REDEEMING THING ABOUT YOUR PARK!!! Sfne's at full blast on a smooth day is without a doubt incredible while Sfa's is more comfortable all the time, well, who needs comfort ...
I don't know about you but I think SFA's version could use a little work as well,it has been getting a little bit rough & shakey over the past couple of seasons,still it's not as rough as Roar...at least not yet.
Again, I have noticed the same thing with S:ROS that Batwing Fan SFA has. It isn't running as smooth as it was last season.

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