GADV - 4/17/03 (COLD!!!)

Associated parks:
None

Friday, April 18, 2003 7:28 AM
I live in the DC area, so my home parks are BGW, PKD and SFA. Every now and then, I get a chance to travel up and down the east coast to visit other parks. I had been looking forward to visiting Six Flags Great Adventure for a long time, especially in recent years since they have added so many great coasters.

I had a couple days off from work, so my wife and I spent Wednesday in Philadelphia checking out the historical sites and planned to spend the next day at GADV. The day in Philly was BEAUTIFUL! Sunny skies, 80 degrees. Perfect theme park weather. But, as many of you know, the next day was cold, windy and threatening rain.

I am someone who believes that weather doesn't matter. If you have a theme park trip planned, you need to push forward. In these days of over-hyped news and weather, it's never as bad as the forecasters predict.

So, we arrived at GADV at 10AM, paid the $10 parking fee and used our SFA season pass to get into the park. Because of the weather, most of the fountains were off and a lot of the food stands and restaurants were closed, but I could tell this would be a great place to spend some time during the summer. The theming reminded me of SFOG.

The crowds were incredibly light in the morning, so we headed to Nitro before it got crowded later in the day. An attendant told us that Nitro wouldn't open for 45 minutes because the track was too cold. I am a coaster enthusiast, but I'll admit, I don't know everything about coaster procedures. I'd never heard of a B&M coaster's track being "too cold" to run. Is that even a possibility?

We decided to save Nitro for later and headed over to Skull Mountain. I had been told that in order to enjoy this ride, you have to go in with lowered expectations. That's exactly what I did and it worked. It wasn't the fastest or the tallest, but I love indoor coasters because you can never tell which way you're headed next. It was a fun first ride of the day.

Next, we headed over to Batman: The Ride. I had ridden its clone at SFOG the first year it opened, so I was excited to test the GADV version. They were running two trains, so there weren't any lines. This was one fun ride! Someone else mentioned in their TR that they had actually felt air during the corkscrew and I can report the same. The first drop is also pretty good. I am used to looking at Alpengeist's first drop, which is amazing. Batman's is much smaller but still packs a punch.

We watched the Robin side of The Chiller test for a while and it was having trouble heading up the first part of the cobra roll, so we decided to move to the other side of the park to see what it had to offer. We stopped at Houdini's Great Escape (mostly because it was indoors) and really liked the surprise inside. I wish my home parks had more indoor themed rides like this one. I think that is what PKD is missing right now. Maybe they'll get a version of the Scooby Doo Haunted House ride sometime soon.

We stopped by to take a look at Superman: Ultimate Flight, but it was still closed off to everyone but the media. It also looked like Great American Scream Machine wasn't running, so we kept walking and I took a few laps on Rolling Thunder while my wife got some hot chocolate. I had heard mixed reviews about this ride, but I liked it. I caught some air on most of the hills and I got thrown around just enough to leave me without a headache. I'd love to see what this ride is like when they race. They were running two trains on this coaster as well, so it let people get multiple laps.

Next we saw Viper and it wasn't operating. I know this ride gets a bad rap, but I would love to try it out for myself. If for nothing else, the ride looks different than anything else at the park. Any idea if/when this will open again?

Then it was time for one of the rides I was looking forward to most, Medusa. I had seen this ride featured on Discovery Channel coaster shows, on coaster DVDs and even on Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. It was amazing to see in person. I especially liked the entrance where guests can walk right between the cobra roll. I had heard that this ride usually has monster lines, but because of the weather, there was hardly anyone in the station. We walked right on and had two great laps. This ride has some amazing airtime. The zero-g roll into the cobra roll is probably one of the best coaster experiences out there.

Next we moved to the Runaway Train. It had a couple of nice drops and helixes, but I didn't like it as much as the Cedar Creek Mine Ride at Cedar Point. Although, GADV's mine train does a nice turnaround right at the water level that is very cool.

As we were walking towards the Loony Tunes area of the park, we saw that Great American Scream Machine was running. We walked through the line and saw that once again, no one was in the station. They were running two trains so we hopped aboard in the front row. I was expecting a head banging experience like no other, but surprisingly, I didn't hit my head once! This ride has a great first drop and I liked the butterfly inversions towards the end of the ride.

We noticed that Superman: Ultimate Flight had opened to the public, so we decided to check out the line. It was long, so we went to the Character Cafe for some lunch. This is probably a good time to talk about the staff at GADV.

Overall, they were friendly, helpful and looked to be enjoying their jobs. One thing I noticed though is that there seemed to be a lot of on-the-job training going on. A lot of employees were having trouble with the cash registers and some of the ride crews were a little slow. It was nice to watch the older employees helping out the younger ones. I completely understand this and don't mind waiting a bit longer so that employees can get acquainted with SF procedures. But I could see other guests getting angry at having to wait 15 minutes for a chicken sandwich. Of course, this was only the 5th day GADV was open, so people need to be more patient early in the season.

Anyway, our chicken sandwiches and salads were good. (Of course, nothing compares to the food at BGW!) This lunch also gave us an opportunity to warm up. Over lunch, we decided that this was the coldest theme park experience that we had ever had. But cold weather = short lines. So we could deal with it!

After lunch, we decided to wait for S:UF, no matter how long it look. So we got in line and it looked like around 250 people were ahead of us with two trains operating. The sun actually came out a bit, but as we climbed the stairs to Superman's station, the wind was blowing hard! Man it was cold! To make things worse, the ride ops started having trouble with one of the trains and after a 15 minute delay, they took the train off the track and continued with one train operating. After another 10 minutes we were on the ride.

It's amazing to watch people's reactions when those trains tilt forward. Even though you see the people before you get on the ride, nothing prepares you for that moment when those trains tilt forward leaving only the harness between you and the ground.

The climb up the lift is incredibly thrilling. GADV and B&M wisely put nothing between the track and the ground. When you're climbing that lift hill, there is absolutely nothing blocking your view of the ground. The flying time on this ride is fun and the pretzel is totally intense. It took be by surprise so much, that I forgot where I was for a second. There is also a great flying turn that gives you a great sensation of really flying.

My only complaint about this ride is the theming. I know it was opening day, but it would be great to fly over something other than dirt and straw. There is really a lot of potential here for an awesome experience since you are facing down for most of the ride.

S:UF did have some problems that day. At one point, I saw two trains of people stuck (in the flying position) in the unload area. Engineers and mechanics were running around frantically trying to fix the problems. I'm sure GADV will work out all the glitches before the summer. Bottom line though, S:UF is a great ride. I liked it better than Batwing at SFA because of the flying position up the lift hill and the pretzel. I'm sure B&M will be making larger versions of this ride in the future. That should be fun.

Next we headed over to Nitro. My favorite coaster is Apollo's Chariot at BGW, so I was really excited to ride the one of the latest versions of the Speed Coaster from B&M. Unfortunately, they were only running one train and the dispatch times were incredibly slow. While in line I was wondering, "if the track needs to stay warm, why not run more trains?"

Oh well, after a 1/2-hour wait, we made it to the front of the line. Just as we were ready to board, a whole group of 12-year-olds with one of those Q-Bots came running up the exit ramp. I started laughing because I figured that they would jump in our row. And sure enough, they did. As they got in the train, one of them looked up at us and yelled "Suckers!"

Now, I am a calm, rational adult. I'm not ever going to pick a fight with a 12-year-old just because he called me a "sucker." That's me. But, the guy in line behind me obviously felt differently because he almost jumped over the air gate to pummel that little brat.

This leads me to question the whole idea of Six Flags' Fastlane. I am sure that this type of thing happens all the time. I'll bet that there have even been bigger altercations during the crowed summer months. Think about it: hot weather, crowds of people frustrated at the long lines, and then some rich kid with a suped up PDA cuts in line and calls you a "Sucker."

I understand that this is America, and if you have more money to spend, you can rent things like the Q-Bot to make your GADV experience better. But to me, the way Disney does it is much better. Every guest in that park is treated equally. Every guest has access to the Fastpass system. It's not perfect, but I'll bet there are less fistfights over its use. Plus, I've never been called a "Sucker" at Disney.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. Back to the TR:

Nitro was a great coaster. I am having trouble remembering the experience because the wind combined with the cold made me forget a lot of it. I do remember being surprised at the first drop. I was expecting the first drop to be like Apollo's Chariot where you drop 3 feet, level off and then drop the 210 feet. I liked Nitro's drop much better. The first turnaround was also a lot of fun and the helix was intense. The bunny hops back to the station were good, but I liked the airtime on the ones on Apollo's Chariot a bit better.

The speed on this ride was incredible. This is definitely one of the best coasters on the planet.

After that, we decided that we would save some of the other rides and coasters for another day. We had to drive back to DC for another event, but we wanted to drive through the Safari before we left.

If you haven't done this before, you should check it out on your next GADV trip. It was a lot of fun and amazing to see animals so close to your car. There are also individual AM radio signals that broadcast in each specific section of the park. This way, you can hear about the animals that you are seeing.

The funniest part of this had to be where you drive though the baboon section. There was an attendant standing at the entrance warning that the baboons could do serious damage to your car. She wasn't kidding. Around 5 baboons jumped on the car behind us and wouldn't get off! It was hilarious and a great way to end the day. By the way, in the baboon section, there was a piece of coaster track used as a jungle gym for the baboons. Does anyone know what this was from?

Overall, it was a great day at GADV. It didn't rain at all and the lines were basically non-existent. I can't wait to head back when it's warmer to see what this park is like during a normal weather pattern! Plus, I want a chance to ride Batman and Robin: The Chiller.
*** This post was edited by MikeJK 4/18/2003 11:34:09 AM ***

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Friday, April 18, 2003 7:41 AM
Nice report! I hope I can go to safari when my parents get their car fixed. I really want to see those animals cause I love dangerous anmials. Snakes, Lions, Tigers, etc. I hope I get to see those baboons attacking a car when I go.
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Friday, April 18, 2003 9:52 AM
Very wel written and enjoyable report, Mike! It's quite refreshing to read a TR from someone who hasn't been on a bazillion coasters and doesn't know each and every little minute detail of the ride. When I was reading your TR it was like being in line for the coasters for the first time again. Good stuff!

Glad to hear you liked Nitro, too. My #1 coaster! I can't wait to get back up to SFGAd in June.

Again, thanks for the report!

Joe

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"No honey, the monkeys have already done enough damage on this trip." - Guy coming out of front gate at SFGAd

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Friday, April 18, 2003 9:56 AM
The coaster track is from GASM. It used to be the top of one of the loops before they were reinforced.

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Be polite and ignore the idiots. - rollergator
"faster, cheaper, and more often" that's somebody's new sig -UpsideDawnGrrrl
My shirt in my photo seems to be for "Aging Bull"

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Friday, April 18, 2003 3:24 PM
Isn't Baboon Damage hilarious? Man, I do love that Baboon Damage.

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Dave

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Friday, April 18, 2003 3:59 PM
I did the safari for the first time last weekend and it was WONDERFUL! :) I couldn't believe it. The only one I had been to was the African Wildlife Safari near CP about 15 years ago.

It took us an hour to get through the GADv one. The biggest thrill was watching some of the medium hoofed guys (gazelles maybe) get into a big fight charging and banging their horns together. The other amazing part was that it was feeding time, and we got to watch a dozen bison run full blast over a hill. That's something you can't see around America anymore! :)

Oh....and take the monkey option. It's worth it, even if it costs you a wiper blade!
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- "I used to be in the audio/visual club, but I was kicked out because of my views on Vietnam........and I was stealing projectors" - Homer Simpson
*** This post was edited by Peabody 4/18/2003 8:00:27 PM ***

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Friday, April 18, 2003 5:30 PM
Monkeys are nothing! We had a group of giraffes try to eat our roof rack. The cold weather didn't seem to bother them!

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Eastcoaster

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Saturday, April 19, 2003 10:36 AM

Peabody said:


Oh....and take the monkey option. It's worth it, even if it costs you a wiper blade!
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I think you underestimate the full scope of Baboon Damage. Believe me, the baboons are very thorough in their work. They're not only after your wiper blades, they're also going for your mirrors and even your children.

Is there any limit to how far these baboons will go? Perhaps. But I, for one, have yet to see them reach it.

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Dave

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Saturday, April 19, 2003 7:52 PM
Is there an option to not drive your car through the safari. Perhaps a bus or something?
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If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.
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Saturday, April 19, 2003 8:12 PM
Not that I saw. The only option is the "monkey bypass"

They stop every car and give you a paper warning you about the monkeys. I can see why!

The safari was amazing....I can't wait to go back to SFGAd

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- "I used to be in the audio/visual club, but I was kicked out because of my views on Vietnam........and I was stealing projectors" - Homer Simpson

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Monday, April 21, 2003 2:31 PM
Yes there is a bus tour but of course extra charge but not much. I forgot I think $12 or something, or less.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2003 11:28 AM
Do they still have the white Bengal tigers. I remember when I did the safari many moons ago that was the big hit. I also loved the safari. I could never persuade my friends to go though :(

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Krimson n' Kream, Spr 98
*** This post was edited by Antuan 4/23/2003 3:29:33 PM ***

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003 12:33 PM
Nice TR. My son and I are planing a east coast park trip this Aug. Now I'm really excited!
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