An Escape of Conflicting Emotions: Six Flags Great Escape, August 6-7, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015 9:04 AM

After reading many negative reviews about this park, I had some reservations about taking a two day trip there with my kids. I don't take find a lot of criticism on Trip Adviser and Google to be that accurate, however.

Day one started ominously as we noticed first that many rides here do not open when the park opens for some reason. Then we waited forty-five minutes for Alpine Bobsled, before it closed due to malfunction, which I know from reviews that it often does. I wanted to at least ride it once since there are so many rumors that this will be closing with the hopeful addition of a new coaster. Many of the workers expressed that they knew this rumor.

We then noticed that Condor was still closed, the junior drop tower was closed, and the junior tea cups were all sitting on the grass next to the ride. My mom who was there with us was exasperated without going on a ride yet!

Our first ride was Extreme Supernova, which we loved. Similar to Fandango at Knoebels, these rides are great and those moments of airtime at the top are great. I can only imagine how much more intense the larger versions are. We rode this four times throughout the two days with minimal lines.

Then came the biggest surprise of the entire trip- The Comet. I had high expectations of this coaster since it ranked so high on the top 100 list, currently ranked forty-ninth. This coaster was the main reason for coming to the park. My six year old particularly loved how the lift hill speeds up at the top. Before I continue, let me preface this review by saying that we love wooden coasters- Phoenix, Twister, and El Toro are some of our favorites. As a former history major, I appreciate the importance that this layout has in the lineage of coasters. At the bottom of the first drop, there was a powerful bang that ruined all of the enjoyment of the first element. Every single moment of airtime was unpleasant and I could not wait for the ride to end. Between Roar, Wild One, Thunderbolt, and Twister, I feel that I have a pretty high tolerance for "rougher" coasters, but The Comet was unbearable. We rode in the back the first time and my son did the next ride in the front with his grandmother in the front and sad it was no better. We tried it once more on the second day in the middle of the train and it was no better. We agreed to never ride this coaster again. I play hockey regularly and this felt worse than getting hit multiple times. Is it possible that this ride has gone downhill that much in a few years with lack of maintenance? When I see this ride in the top fifty and see G.A.'s Bizarro almost out of the top 100, I fail to see how that is possible.

While so incredibly short, Steamin' Deamon turned out to be a fun ride which never had a line. The loop and two corkscrews were smooth but I can't imagine waiting in line on a weekend for it.

Boomerang seemed much smoother than Flashback at S.F.N.E., so that was a pleasant surprise. It, however, was closed multiple times during the two day stretch, which we never experiences with Flashback.

The ride which exceeded all expectations for the day was Blizzard. The four of us loved it due to the speed (not sure if the indoor factor made it feel a lot faster than Deja Vu at G.A.) Lines for Scramblers always seem to take so long, but at least there were two ops working this ride.

Later we returned to Alpine Bobsleds and waited another thirty minutes. The ride was fun other than the moments when the sled connects with guide rails at the four different moments when a violent jerk occurs. The final breaking is brutal as well.

On the second day, we decided to do the wet rides first and go to the water park for a while. Desperado Plunge opens later so we didn't get a chance to ride it but the Raging River was an average ride for this type. They take the mystery out, however, of if you'll get wet or not, as the final stretch has a waterfall guaranteed to soak everyone. Not sure I like that feature.

The rust on the Giant Wheel is unsettling. Seems more of a feature of a carnival ride than a Six Flags ride, but at least there were great views of the mountains.

The water park was well maintained, but almost all rides were over 48" so both kids couldn't do much. Certainly an odd layout, however, as the water park is split up between two sections- just awkward.

The highlight of the second day was Sasquatch. My son and I rode Voodoo Drop at SFA and this was the next step for us as we are working our way into Zumanjaro for the fall. 415 feet still seems a lot different than 192! How different are these two levels of drop rides? Not sure if I want my six year old on that level of extreme, but he's done El Toro over twenty-five times now. We rode the launch side first which turned out to be so much more relaxing and fun than it looks. The drop side, however, was much better and we ended the day riding this five times with no lines.

My younger son enjoyed Canyon Blaster which we rode four times without lines. While much slower and less eventful than Runaway Mine Train, it was a lot smoother and did not have that awful final brakes that exists at G.A.

The park overall was pretty in the mountain setting with great shading trees and a nice creek. About seventy percent of the workers were foreign which made most instructions on the speakers unintelligible, but those instructions are rarely needed. The story themed houses is a nice little added element for the little ones and the park is an easy walk. An odd element is the Sky Ride which moves slower than...... ANYTHING! I'm surprised no one has tried to jump off due to boredom or starvation. It is hard to imagine that this park will ever appeal to coaster enthusiasts at any point in the future. Even if they do get a higher profile coaster next year, the lines on that ride will be horrific since there is no competition in the park. The amount of money it would take to make this park great is impossible but for families with kids aged 3-12 it is a pretty successful escape. The Lake George area is pretty special as well.

Friday, August 14, 2015 11:07 AM
birdhombre's avatar

I'm impressed you managed to stretch Great Escape into a two-day visit. ;)

Sad to hear about your experience with Comet, although glad you were willing to give it multiple tries. When I rode it in 2011, it was definitely an unexpected favorite of the trip (whereas Boulder Dash I expected to like, but it was a matter of finding the right seat). Back then, I ranked it just below Phoenix on my list, but it sounds like it's seen better days.

As for the giant frisbees, Fandango is actually more intense than MaxAir, because of the narrower arc. Fandango was one of the few flats that left me a little unsettled, while I find MaxAir to be rather gentle and relaxing.

Friday, August 14, 2015 11:16 AM

We were thinking of going to Great Escape in a few weeks, mainly for the Comet. I am very disappointed in this report.

Any other consensus on if this park is worth the trek for the Comet alone? Nothing else at the park has us interested at all.

Friday, August 14, 2015 12:22 PM
birdhombre's avatar

My visit was somewhat tarnished by a rainstorm, but even if Comet were in top form, I'd be hard pressed to visit again; the park just didn't have much else going for it. The little boat ride was kinda nice, and I do like the setting. Sasquatch wasn't appreciably different from other S&S towers -- a taller Liberty Launch, I guess. And just as a matter of geography, Lake George isn't on the way to any other places I'd be going.

The Alpine Bobsleds were closed the whole time we were there, which disappointed my friend who had ridden then at Great Adventure as a kid, and wanted a nostalgic ride on them.

Friday, August 14, 2015 2:28 PM

Thanks for posting this report. We had been debating between going to Great Escape or the Story Land/Funtown USA combo, and this report pretty much made our decision for us. I'd like to get on Comet at some point as it's one of the 3 coasters in the CoasterBuzz Top 50 that I haven't ridden, but hearing the condition it's in doesn't warrant going that much out of the way for it.

Friday, August 14, 2015 2:44 PM

And that's a shame. We rode Comet at Crystal Beach during a very early ACE Coaster Con and it was so amazing. I'll always remember it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015 9:50 AM

Well I hope this doesn't mean that SF is going to abandon The Comet and not put any more money into it. Has anyone else rode it this year to confirm if it is a lot rougher than a few years ago? We tried three different seats and none were any better. With real short lines, I didn't see a single person both days who got back in line. Kind of telling I think.

Interesting note that the smaller frisbee was more intense than the bigger one. Goes along with the mantra that bigger isn't always better like coasters.

Saturday, August 15, 2015 9:57 AM

I hoped not to dissuade all about going there ever again. The park does have some charm with a great setting, nice touches like the swan boats, long train ride, amusing trampoline and high dive show, and other unique touches. For families on a weekday, well worth the trip. For thrill seekers and adults, there are many better options, however.

Any good experiences in the past with Story Land/Funtown USA?

Saturday, August 15, 2015 5:13 PM

I really liked Great Escape on my one visit about a decade ago. I found it to have a lot more character than the branded Six Flags parks. Comet was also running great at the time, so it's disappointing to hear that they aren't doing such a great job maintaining it now.

Story Land and Funtown are both nice smaller parks. Much like Dutch Wonderland or Idlewild, Story Land is primarily aimed at families with kids. Roar-o-saurus is the only real thrill ride, although there are a number of family rides that adults will find interesting, such as the classic Crazy Daisy and the log flume.

Funtown has a few more big rides, but it is still not a thrill park like Six Flags. Excalibur is a really solid CCI that was running well the last time I was there a couple years ago. They also have a decent water park, Splashtown, which has been recently expanded with several new slides.

Last edited by Mr. Six, Saturday, August 15, 2015 5:18 PM

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