First Trip to Six Flags Great America (Homeschool Day, 8/26/13)

Thursday, August 29, 2013 9:11 PM

I spent 5 days visiting some friends in Chicago, and one of the things I wanted to do was go to Great America. I checked online and found out that the first day of classes for local students was 8/26, and I found a coupon code for 50% off tickets for what was “Homeschool Day.” Even though it was going to be 93 degrees and humid, the predicted low crowds and discount sealed the deal. Additionally, with these particular friends, future plans never seem to materialize, so I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity.

We arrived at 10:30AM, and my friends used the restroom while I chatted with a kind Six Flags employee. He was trying to be helpful with his “best advice,” but he gave me the order of roller coasters to ride that I’m sure every guest would follow, starting with Superman: UF. I tried his advice anyway, but it was as I expected. There still was only a single line of guests to the station, so we decided to wait anyway…

Superman: Ultimate Flight (1): This was the slowest line I've ever experienced for a B&M. The crew didn't seem like they could even handle the 2-train operation, with consistent stacking. What appeared to be a 15-minute wait ended up being 40 minutes. While I seemed to enjoy the ride at Great Adventure (my first B&M Flyer), I just wasn't very impressed this time. I enjoyed the first inversion, but the rest of the ride lacked substance and seemed very short. Many exiting this ride seemed like they really enjoyed it though.

The Dark Night Coaster (1): You know it’s going to be a hot day when it’s already unbearable around 11AM. We went to this coaster mainly for the AC, but it was barely on. There was no wait, so we rode anyway. It was as I remembered at Great Adventure. I like dark coasters, so I enjoyed it, but it was a short and mediocre one overall.

Vertical Velocity (1): There was only a train wait and an oddly high percentage of guests were staring at the ground, wearing Jesus & cross shirts. Having ridden Wicked Twister many times and Possessed at Dorney, there wasn't much new here for me. Why is the back of each seat covered in padding? Were people running into the seats?

Little Dipper (1): Smooth, tame, and short.

Yankee Clipper (1): It was time to cool down, and I got abnormally wet for a flume. Brown water poured over the front of the “log,” drenching my shorts and shirt. But it was so hot, that I appreciated the gross-looking liquid. The double-down drop was fun.

Batman (1): Alright, I gave Six Flags a pass at Great Adventure, figuring the AC failed, but I had the exact same issue at Great America. I joked, “This hot, smelly sewer is the most realistic theming I've ever seen at a park.” Seriously, once you enter the “sewer,” there is no air flow. It was unbearably hot and humid, and the trash cans gave off this awful rotting smell. You could see the sweat pouring off people’s faces within minutes, and it added a disgusting sweat / BO smell to the mix.

The wait was under 10 minutes, but if it had been any longer, I would have left this time. Batman is a decent ride, but it’s just too short for having to wait in a sewer. Interestingly, I did not experience any of the leg numbness / pain as I had on the clone at Great Adventure, so this must be something to do with my hydration level, blood sugar, or general health.

American Eagle (1): Finally a queue that might be more drawn out than Flight Deck! It was a journey to get to this, and the layout was unlike any other wooden coaster I've been on before. With its giant helix, it sort of felt like a combination of Son of Beast and KI’s Racer, minus the bashing. But like SoB, the giant helix didn't do a whole lot for me, and I decided I liked KI’s Racer better.

X Flight (1): My wait for the front seat nearly blinded me. I think it may have been a piece of gravel/rock from the ground, but I got a direct hit less than an inch from my best eye. Three days later I still have a smell welt. I’m so thankful that didn't turn out worse.

As for the ride, meh. I have not been GateKeeper’s biggest fan, but it’s clearly the better ride. B&M Wing Riders seem slow, heavy, and mediocre to me, and this one strengthened that opinion. I tested the harness as is, and it was uncomfortably tight, the ride had all the unpleasant hopping, and it was unsatisfyingly short. There was barely a wait though!

Lunch at JB’s Smokehouse BBQ & Sports Bar (1): I asked an employee for somewhere to eat with AC, and this was his suggestion. The place had no doors, so the AC was weak, but we were hungry. We asked the cashier what size the patties were (1/4 lb, etc.). She responded, “I don’t have a scale, but the triple has 3 patties, the double has 2, and the single has 1.” I looked at my friends with a smile. A friend asked, “Well about how thick are the patties with your fingers?” She pinched them nearly all the way together, as if they were pieces of paper. Another smile to my friends, we just decided they were probably Steak-N-Shake-like and ordered the triple burgers.

My friend put our drinks down at a table, while I searched for a cooler one. I found the perfect table with an AC vent directly above, and I rushed to go get the drinks before someone took it. I ducked under a metal pendant light to reach for the drinks, and I slammed it on the way out. It made the most exaggerated “DING!” noise, and I turned around to several tables holding back laughter. I smiled as I rushed back to the table where the sirens sung.

Our burger order was up, and out came these massive creations 5 inches high. The patties had to be 1/3-1/2 lb each, and I said, “There is no way we can finish these things.” My friend speed scarfed his down to prove me wrong, while I immediately surrendered a patty. The burgers and waffle fries were actually pretty good….definitely better than the burgers I've experienced at Cedar Fair parks.

Demon (1): After eating the massive burgers, we appeared to be growing demon babies inside of us that needed to be birthed out of the mouth. Fortunately, I didn't birth my demon baby, as Demon was one of the smoother Arrow loopers that I've been on. I liked the tunnels and theme, it seemed to be well-maintained with all lights working, and it even had a custom Demon song. It had sort of a fun 80s vibe to it, but like most of the coasters in this park, it was too short.

Raging Bull (1): We could have walked on this, but the back seat was recommended at Beast Buzz, so we waited for it. With that little hop in there, the first drop was awesomely snappy, and I understood the purpose of the back seat. The rest of the ride was decent but trimmed, and it seemed to have more of B&M’s turns (that I find kind of dull) rather than a focus on airtime hills (that I love) like Diamondback.

Viper (1): Why would they turn this particular ride backwards, even for a limited time? I've got a riding technique down for PTC-trained coasters such that even coasters like Mean Streak don’t bother me. When going backwards, I couldn't see the track to defend myself, and it just felt dangerous. I had to lean against the backrest to avoid getting my back whipped around, and it just compounded the roughness. Not fun at all.

Whizzer (4): Finally I got to experience something fresh at this park. Sometimes I think of Schwarzkopf coasters as old Intamin’s. They’re smooth, quick-feeling, fun, and strange / innovative. I enjoyed the bizarre toboggan trains and the great views of the spiral lift. Then, there was a nice layout low to the ground that worked wonderfully with the terrain.

Ragin’ Cajun (2): This was the most fun I had on a ride all day. It was close to the end of the day, and we were totally exhausted from the heat, emotionless, and quiet as the home-schooled kids around us. Seeing my friend’s girlfriend slam into the bar on the harsh turns of the first half and making gagging noises started to make me laugh, and then she got laughing at the noises I was making. My friend in the middle started punching me on the corners to add to the intensity, and once we got to the spinning part, we were in uncontrollable delirious laughter.

I don’t think I've ever spun that fast on a ride, and once the car arrived in the station, it continued to spin insanely, with us still laughing, “Make it stop!” I got off the ride barely able to stand, and I said, “Want to ride again?” They replied “Yes.” Our second ride was every bit as fun as the first time.

Roaring Rapids (1): The rapids water rides are like Water Roulette. Some will make it back to the station untouched, and others will wind up drenched. My friend’s girlfriend sat out of our game, but I challenged my friend with about 30 minutes left in the day. As always, we sat at opposite sides of the raft with rules that you can’t move. My friend took a water bomb right to the face and was totally drenched mid-Rapids. I was apparently only taking rocks and lamps to the face this day, as I didn't get wet at all. I won this round – no wet ride home for me…

I wanted to finish up with another ride on Whizzer, but the double-decker carousel looked intriguing along the way. We hopped onto the second deck, enjoyed a relaxing ride, and headed back to Whizzer. The Whizzer crew seemed to be having fun, and we stayed on for a few laps without having to exit. Even though the park was technically closed, they weren't telling us to exit (season pass time?), but we were content and headed back to Chicago.

Overall, I enjoyed my day in the park and had some very fun moments, but I've clearly been spoiled living between Cedar Point & Kings Island. Many of Great America’s coasters felt like fragments of what they should have been, and it seemed like they were missing an epic coaster like Millennium Force or The Beast. Goliath looks sweet for next year, and I hope to return with cooler temperatures and the same low crowds.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:25 PM

Your last paragraph is what got the vote up for me. I've always thought of SFGAM as a park with so many good rides missing an epic one. Goliath may bring the epic.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:32 PM

I figured you were voting up the cross t-shirts and homeschooling.

Nice report, Jephhhhh. I need to get back there some day soon.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:34 PM

Homeschoolers are not something that would grab a vote up from me, but cross tee shirts would.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013 10:36 PM

Well, at least you're not entirely hopeless..

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Friday, August 30, 2013 1:37 AM

wtf is homeschool day.

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Friday, August 30, 2013 3:11 AM

I have been to Great America 13 times this season. Batman backwards was awesome and locals are use to the smell. Viper backwards is epic and NEVER does this ride bang you around it's a joy beginning to end. I'm sad it's turning forward after Monday but still a great coaster. X Flight always has a short line why do you think we are getting Goliath so soon. I agree with everyone this park needs a kickass coaster X Flight is smooth but very enjoyable not a super thrill. I'm not surprised Raging Bull was a let down with the coasters of Ohio, we just deal with it here. The last 5 years me and my friend don't even ride Superman yes B@M can build a bad coaster at this is it. V2 I love it much better then Wicked Twister. Just the elevation and location are perfect and so long holding brake. Just remember Cedar Point copied V2 X Flight only making them bigger. However Batman's pacing is intense and Raptor lumbers along. 22 years later Kings Island finally will take the crown just watch. Also remember Kings Island is flat ride lacking. This is not the case at Great America or Cedar Point. When you visit again stay away from the hot days coasters are slower in the heat. Ride Batman in 50 degree weather your legs will tingle for hours. At least you have 3 major parks to go to like we do so in the end it's all good.

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Friday, August 30, 2013 6:17 AM

^Firstly Viper doesn't let you down because it's a replica of Cyclone. Secondly, X-Flight was poorly and cheaply designed imo so I agree. Everyone knows the story with Superman, it sucks, blah blah blah. HOWEVER! Wicked Twister is one of the best rides Intamin ever constructed. I will not stand for your denunciations, sir! Nowhere will you find on a launch coaster such thrilling twists and such an exhilarating, WEIGHTLESS launch! [repeat three times on the Lake Erie Beachfront]. The rest of your post is plain gobbledygook.

And I'm still wondering what homeschool day is, you know. (and what he means by "locals are used to the smell", in reference to Batman.)

Last edited by bjames, Friday, August 30, 2013 6:19 AM
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Friday, August 30, 2013 9:38 AM

bjames said:

Viper doesn't let you down because it's a replica of Cyclone.

This statement would probably make some people who rode Psyclone balk.

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