I got home from my DJ gig around 4:30am... napped from 5:30 til 6:30... BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ of the alarm clock... by 7:30, we were on our way out of Wrigleyville, greeted with gray sky but fortunately no rain...
When my friend Stefanie & I arrived a little before 8:30, the day seemed doomed. Although Chicago was merely overcast, Gurnee, IL was consumed by a severe thunderstorm. ERT on Raging Bull & Viper was cancelled, which was somewhat disappointing... but we wouldn't let that get us down.
We met up with our friends Jason & Ryan, then waited for a while at the front gates with the other dedicated Coasterbuzzers. I spoke briefly with a nice enthusiast couple (I didn't catch their names, but I think they are visible in one of my photos from the Mardi Gras parade). We discussed "Ragin Cajun" and how it compares to "Timberland Twister", the new spinning coaster at Camp Snoopy... and touched on various other subjects. It was refreshing to speak to people who are even more excited about rollercoasters and amusement parks than I am.
Soon we all decided to go collect our tickets from Stephanie at the guest services center. She informed me that ERT was cancelled (which I was aware of), but that Six Flags had decided to treat us to 2 Fast Pass cards and 2 free drink vouchers apiece for our trouble, which I think was quite classy of them. The park can't control the weather, so I wouldn't have expected such generosity. For those of you who don't know, the SFGam Fast Pass entitles you to entry near the front of the line on most busy attractions 4 times per card (making for a grand total of 8). The pass normally costs $15, ,so to be given 2 of these babies more than made up for missing ERT.
I joked with my friends that the park might consider my vintage "Demon" coaster t-shirt inappropriate, seeing as it featured the old logo that had been removed under pressure by conservative, religious groups... but I wasn't really worried. By the time the gates opened at 9:30, the rain had stopped. By 10:00, when the rides opened, I think a little sun even started peeking out of the clouds... which made me thankful that I slathered on that SPF 45 sunblock (I burn quite easily... hehe).
Overall, we had a tremendous day. The staff I encountered were quite friendly - amazingly, so in fact. I was actually offered a hand towel by one of the cleaning crew after washing my hands in the men's bathroom. I've never experienced that sort of courtesy in any park - not even Cedar Point or Dollywood! SFGam is my home park, so I've been going there for quite some time, but I've got to say they've been running things better than ever lately. It almost reminds me of the old Marriot days.
HERE IS A RUNDOWN OF OUR COASTERS FOR THE DAY AND MY IMPRESSIONS...
RAGING BULL (3 Rides - Back, Front, & 3rd Row)
Still as wonderful as ever. Smooth, fast, with some quality airtime & the most comfortable coaster seats ever built. The front seat was better that I remember it... the sensation of being "pushed" over the hills combined with the enhanced smoothness rivaled my normally preferred back seat experience.
DEJA VU (1 ride - Front)
We entered the queue shortly after the ride opened (about 10:40am, I think). It was closed every time I visited in 2003, so I was anxious to have a go on the big green machine for the first time since 2002. It was just as intense & fun as I remembered it, but not as scary. I suppose it seems a bit tame after my Top Thrill Dragster experience last fall, but it still delivers quite a punch. We only waited 15 minutes, but I still say it's worth an hour queue. And for what it's worth, the ride-ops were really cranking people through... usually managing 2 or 3 minutes between cycles. Easily the best crew of the day!
V2 (1 ride - 2nd row)
I love riding this coaster with first time riders. It scared the crap out of all my friends. My housemate Stefaine was completely freaked out by the experience, especially the "holding brake" (which I neglected to tell them about... *snicker*).
BATMAN: THE RIDE (2 rides - Front & Back)
Most everyone has experienced this intense little coaster, either the original or one of it's numerous clones, so I don't really have much to report - except the new coat of yellow paint looks nice enough, although I think I preferred basic black.
Apparently someone puked in the queue while I was in line, which shut the ride down for about 10 minutes while they cleaned up the mess. I understand the need for this, but I've gotta admit, the powered stuff they put down to sanitize the area was noxious and almost unbearable. I had to breathe through my shirt until the line started moving again.
SUPERMAN: ULTIMATE FLIGHT (2 rides - Back & 2nd row)
This B&M flying coaster is a great addition to the park. Best seat on the ride is the back row on the far left side. The back offers the most intense G-forces in the Pretzel loop, and some incredible facechopper effects if you sit all the way to the left.
As a whole, the ride seemed a little less intense this year then it did in 2003. Maybe I'm just getting used to it.
AMERICAN EAGLE (1 ride - Red Side 2nd from back)
I chose to ride forward this time, as I already experienced the old bird backward several times in 2003. It's running smoother than ever, but jamming on the breaks before the train enters the giant helix really sucks the intensity out of the 2nd half of the coaster. I remember getting some serious airtime on the bunny hills leading back to the station in years past... not so much this time.
VIPER (1 ride - 2nd from back)
A fun woodie with a few decent jolts of airtime. It's running better than ever this year. They've even added an on-ride photo. I'm not as big a fan as some buzzers are, but I've got to admit this slick little snake's got bite!
WHIZZER (1 ride)
A classic. Always brings a smile to my face. Not too thrilling, but nostalgia wins. Weeeeee!
SPACELY'S SPROCKET ROCKETS (1 ride - first time!)
I've been wanting to ride this stupid thing for several seasons, but I always chicken out... basically because there are an abundance of signs posted prominently in front of the queue stating that adults must be accompanied by a child. Today I noticed several trains being dispatched sans-children, so I decided to give it a lap. I even got an on-ride photo!!! (you can tell I wasn't expecting it... heh).
Spacely's is my 99th coaster! Not sure what lucky 100 is going to be (maybe RAJIN CAJUN when it finally opens to the public... haven't decided yet). My CBuzz track record says I've been on 97, but there are 2 kiddie coasters I rode in my youth that I can't remember the names or locations of. I think one was at a carnival & the other was in a shopping mall.
Oh well... Sprocket Rockets is no "Woodstock Express" or "Runaway Reptar", but at least I finally got on the darn thing.
REVOLUTION was my first spin on a Huss Frisbee. All I could think during the entire experience was "Gee, this would be a lot better if it were twice the size and we were seated facing outward... can't wait to ride Delirium at PKI!"
ICE MOUNTAIN SPLASH was my only water ride of the day. Apparently the park has done something to this old flume ride, because we got absolutely drenched on this thing. In years past (during it's days as "Yankee Clipper") I'd barely gotten a light misting.
And finally, we closed our day with a relaxing turn on the classic COLUMBIA CAROUSEL - which would have been quite pleasant if it weren't for the constant announcements about a "Tornado Warning" and some completely unnecessary seat belts attached to all the horses.
The new Mardi Gras section looks great, and the street performers and lively parade have dramatically improved a once dead section of the park. I'm anxious to visit a month or two from now, once they have everything completed and the rest of the new rides up and running.
Lunch in the picnic grove was a real treat, and we all appreciated the goodie bags Six Flags provided for us as an added bonus. Sure, they mostly contained clearance items from the gift shop, but it's the thought that counts. I made a point to get a goofy, unflattering photo with Sylvester the cat this year, but I didn't have much of a chance to introduce myself to some of the other Coasterbuzzers, as I was mainly trying to entertain my friends.
Speaking of silly snapshots, I noticed that some of the on-ride photo staff were really relaxing the "no vulgar gestures" rule, which I found quite amusing. The folks at one particular coaster even sold someone a photo of himself flippin' the bird to the camera, but they did inform the customer that "ummm... we're really not supposed to do that... but I guess just this one time..."
Even though I wore my old T-Shirt, I decided to save my beloved DEMON (the classic, themed Arrow looper) for my next visit... and I opted not to even attempt IRON WOLF for fear the my head might explode (the old dog is not aging well).
I also didn't take too many photos this time, as the overcast conditions weren't exactly optimal for getting good shots, but I've got 26 posted in my Webshots gallery.
Click this link if you'd like to see 'em!
or the direct link...
I'd like to thank Jeff, Stephanie, & Six Flags Great America for another amazing event. I will definitely be back for Coasterbuzz Con 2005!
*** Edited 5/24/2004 9:10:42 AM UTC by djgreghaus***
The Southwest Territory section is the biggest difference. When they added that (and Raging Bull) it really propelled SFGam into a whole new league.
I also got my cuz on V2 for her first ride and scared the crap out of her by yelling "OH NO WE'RE STUCK" on the holding brake. I laughed for about 10 mins afterward.
I saw your Demon shirt at lunch and made me try to find my old hat with that logo. No luck as of yet.
I hope you and your kids had as great of a day as I did!
I wasn't sure if anyone else was taking pictures of the parade, so I figured I snap a few quick shots and post them. If anyone sees themselves in the photographs and wants them taken down, I'll definitely do so. I certainly don't want to offend anybody.
Otherwise, feel free to download any of the images I have up there...
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