Monday, July 23, 2001 5:03 AM
I took my second trip to Six Flags Great America last Thursday. It was the first time for my wife and first time for me since 1993, when my youth minister, spurred by a video of Batman: the Ride I showed him, planned a youth group trip from Sabina, Ohio to the park.
During that first trip, a Saturday, it was so crowded that I was only able to ride 5 rides: Iron Wolf, B:TR, Shockwave, the Great American Eagle and Power Dive (a total of 9 rides). This time it was a Thursday, though I was unpleasantly surprised at how crowded it was.
However, this trip did a good job of making me forget why I hated my previous trips this year to SFWoA, SFKK and SFMM. The teen-agers were well-behaved, the park was clean, the flowers and trees were nice, etc. My only beef would be it seems to take forever to walk to where you want to go.
Anyway, this trip was part of a week-long trip to Chicago, where we did many fun things, including: shopped downtown, saw the Cubs beat the Royals 7-4, saw Blue Man Group (thanks to the urging of friends and also someone on this Web site who sells tickets for the group), went up the Sears Tower, visited the art institute, rode the Ferris wheel on the Navy Pier, and more. If anyone has questions about any of that, I'd be happy to discuss them over e-mail. But now, on to the park.
We arrived at the park about opening time, 10 a.m. It was about a 15-minute walk from our hotel, the Country Inn and Suites (highly recommended). We could see Shockwave and the Eagle's helix from the parking lot.
I was there for Raging Bull first and foremost, so we quickly walked in that direction, but first stopped at Whizzer. I didn't even go into this section of the park in '93. We waited 2 trains and were on. The spiral lift is cool, but very inefficient. The ride was pleasant enough, with the trees and such, but not as interesting as I had hoped.
Having added that to my track record, we zipped over to RB. My wife was feeling a bit woozy due to taking Dramamine, so she sat out while I waited about 10 minutes for the back seat.
I never dreamed I wouldn't like this ride, but it didn't blow me away. I love Apollo's Chariot, but for some reason this one didn't do anything for me. I like the air on the first drop, but it didn't seem as strong as AC or even PKI's Vortex. The rest of the ride was mostly devoid of air, I suspect thanks to two sets of trim brakes. Nor did I feel any significant positive G's. It was fun, but certainly not one of my favorites.
OK, having passed Viper for my zeal to ride RB, we now went back to that wooden twister, where I waited about 30 minutes for the back seat.
I had heard this was underrated, but I expected something akin to Psyclone, but faster. What I got was more like the Legend and the Raven combined. Not only was there so much air on nearly every drop (not RB's floating air but violent, out-of-control, flying-from-side-to-side air), but also intense laterals just like in the Legend's helix. The double dip off the second turnaround is great, and I loved all the little twists in the track. I rank this right up there with the Legend.
On the way out, I picked a flower for my wife from the weeds under RB, but it didn't help her feel better. Nor did the blue Italian ice that took this kid about 10 minutes to scoop out ("I've never done this," he said). I played a couple of lame video games while he scooped. I also admired Deja Vu, where there was no activity or testing going on at all. It's a shame. Although they have stopped advertising the ride, they apparently have no qualms with calling everything around it "DEJAVU"...as in, Deja Vu Plate Break, or Deja Vu Sno-cones, or whatever.
We made our way about the park. I balked at the huge line for the Eagle, instead opting for Iron Wolf. My wife took a bench and I jumped in the line. In about 20 minutes I was in the front row, with new Mantis-like harnesses. This ride is as fun as I remembered, back then when I had no idea I was riding the world's first B&M. It is insanely powerful and intense, despite having only two inversions. I almost lost my sunglasses due to a couple of hard head-bangs. Still, I'd rate this over Riddler's Revenge and Chang, and only slightly behind Mantis.
At this point, we were both very hot and disgustingly sweaty, and my wife felt she would pass out from the heat and medication, not to mention the lines were getting too long (Iron Wolf's was three times as long as it had been when I started in it), so we decided to head back to the hotel for a while, and I would come back later. We hit the pool and hot tub, watched TV, got a pizza, later got supper at Chili's, and finally about 7:30 p.m. I thought the crowds would have died down enough to head back. My wife dropped me off at the gate.
Well I was wrong; the crowds were still there. I stopped first at B:TR, but most of the queue was full. So I headed back for an obligatory ride on the Eagle, which I hated last time. I waited a surprising 30 minutes for a seat near the front.
I witnessed a funny/scary incident. As the train before mine came in to the station, the ride-op said, "During the last ride, the lap bar in the last [unoccupied] seat was just flapping around. Should I rope off that seat?" Duh! She did, which took about 5 minutes.
Then I got into what has to be the most uncomfortable seat in history. Each seat has an annoying "arm rest" that makes it impossible to either put your arm down in your lap or put it up on the side of the car. Very awkward. I waited another 5 minutes while a small boy was deemed too short to ride. He started bawling, causing the whole line to boo the ride-op. Sheesh.
So after all this, I was not expecting a great ride. Surprise. It was incredible! This may be the best wooden drop out there. I must not have been paying attention in '93. The helix at the end was just like I thought it should be: spiraling faster and faster, then popping out of the massive wooden structure with a huge pop of airtime. The ride back had some air, then the trim brakes killed what would have been a nice helix. Still, I was very pleased with the ride.
Now, it was getting dark, so I hoofed it on over to Demon. I was very impressed by the theming on what is basically an Arrow loop-screw, which includes: a tunnel with sound effects before the lift; a cave between the two loops; a rock formation inside the second loop; a cave with lights and sound effects after the loops; and a corkscrew that goes over a waterfall and the train tracks.
I got to ride this one with a girl who looked about 9 and who looked like she had never ridden a looping coaster before. She didn't say anything to me and I didn't say anything to her, but after it was over, she looked at me with a small grin, and I could tell she loved it.
Did I? Well, despite the great theming, it *is* just a loop-screw. I like the straight track between the loops, probably made necessary by the removal of bunny hops that were previously there. Other than that, nothing special. Still fun, though.
Now it *really* was getting dark, so I jogged to RB. I found a full queue. Disgusted, I ran to Viper, where I also found a full queue. What is going on here? It's 9 p.m. on a Thursday - shouldn't the park be clearing out?
Well, I couldn't leave without riding B:TR, which I had skipped this year at SFMM. I ran over there and found the line just at the sewer-pipe entrance. Good.
This ride is very nicely themed as well, with the curvy queue and flowers, the random junk lying about (a toilet?), the pipe with the moldy vents (at least I hope that's theming). But they certainly didn't anticipate the popularity of the front seat. The line for it is marked off through the station, down a hallway, down two flights of stairs and around the corner.
Front seat is the place to be, though, and this time the line was at the top of the stairs. After 10 minutes in line, I waited 15 in the front seat line before getting on. By this time it was pitch black outside.
Now this is an incredible ride. I don't care if every park in the world gets a clone of this. It hits about 55 mph and doesn't slow down one iota. I noticed some headbanging, but not enough to distract me from the ride.
Now it was 9:30 p.m., and I figured I should head back. I checked the Vertical Velocity line: still full. Since I already rode this twice this year at SFWoA, a mere 2.5 hours from my house, I passed. I also passed Shockwave on my way out, deciding I was done with coasters for the day. I *also* passed the cheesiest parade of all time ("We're havin' the time...of our lives!!!").
Overall, a good time. Nice work on this one, Six Flags.
A side note: Do *NOT* come here on a Saturday. As we left our hotel for Columbus at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday (that's a full 1.5 hours after opening), we noted cars backed up from the main entrance, a full 12 MILES down the interstate. That's 3 lanes of solid traffic. And I was complaining about Thursday's lines...
Thanks for reading.
Tuesday, July 24, 2001 5:08 AM
I recently went to SFGAm too! However, I only went on 2 roller coasters: Raging Bull and Viper (after that, I was shot for the day).
You see, the last "roller coaster" I'd ridden was a small portable one called Jackrabbit.
Like Den, I too went immediately to RB. I went on it because my group assured me it was "a very smooth ride". Well, one thing definitely impressed me: the lift hill's height. The view from the top, just before you start down that hill, is permanently frozen in my mind!
After that, my group went on Viper (I didn't mind the wait, since I was still recovering from RB). I thought it would be nothing after RB. I was wrong; I screamed on the first drop, as I had on RB's.
The only other things I went on that day were the observation tower and the go-karts, although my group went on Vertical Velocity, Iron Wolf, two of the water rides, Shockwave (I think), and American Eagle. My group leader and I also took a wrong turn trying to get to the Pictorium and ended up right by Deja Vu. (No, they weren't testing it.)