Great Adventure and Dorney Park

Associated parks:

After having such a good time last summer with my cousin on our Pennsylvania and New Jersey Park tour to Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Knoebels, and Hersheypark; I decided to return again. Because I’ve been to all these parks several times, I decided to just go to two this year, mainly due to new rides (only one of which was open).

Six Flags Great Adventure – August 2nd, 2005

After hearing some so-so reviews of this park, I was pleasantly surprised with my visit last summer and I had an overall good time despite fairly long wait times, some sluggish staff, and several rides being closed. This year was much of the same, and although I wanted to ride Kingda Ka, it would not open until two days after my visit. Knowing it was closed, I still wanted to go to Great Adventure and wasn’t too bummed because I rode Dragster a bunch earlier in the summer.

My day was much the same as last year (I actually rode the coasters in the same order), and I think the park is on the right track to becoming a resort destination. Although I am more patient with lines than my cousin is, I found most wait times to be fairly short and got to ride everything I wanted before we left at five. Since I wrote a full trip report last year, I’ll just do brief comments on the rides instead of re-rating them again.

Batm…well actually just Robin: The Chiller – One of the few “what the hell is wrong here” problems at Great Adventure is the fact that they don’t run the Batman side of the awesome Chiller. Even my non-enthusiast cousin commented on how it would cut the line in half and wondered why they would freshly paint a ride that stands dormant most of the time. Last year the Batman train was in the station, this year it was not. I rode this first and got the first train of the day in the last row. Last year the ride opened a little late but this year it did not. The employees even apologized about having to run another test run at 10:01. This crew was friendly and energetic just like last year. In the end, Chiller is still a kickass ride, although Dragster raped any and all launches of their intensity for me. Please Great Adventure, run both sides of this ride and cut down on 2-hour afternoon waits!

Batman: The Ride – Classic…and running better than last year. This Batman clone felt very smooth and intense this year. I rode front row and had a great ride. It was nice to see the staff working very quickly on this ride.

Nitro – My cousin’s “only reason for visiting Great Adventure" because he hates lines, Nitro is an all-around fun ride for most park guests. The staff on this was very quick and they were running three trains, making this a capacity monster. Rode early and got two back row rides and came back later after a short breakdown around two and got a near the back ride in only 25 minutes despite a full queue. My only complaint is the use of trims after the third hill and that the midcourse brake was on harder this year. Surprisingly, the near the back ride was more intense than the back row ride, go figure. I think it’s time to paint this bad boy.

Superman: Ultimate Flight – After a 45 minute wait without the fun DJ, we boarded the fourth row and were off. I really enjoy this ride and although it’s short, the pretzel is worth the wait alone. The ride seems very popular with the park’s quests and the crew wasn’t stacking too badly. I believe our train only stopped for a few seconds before entering the station.

Great American Scream Machine – Classic #2…also running better than last year, so much so that it deserved two rides. Of course I’m a sucker for Arrows, but GASM was running well this year. With the only jolts being after the drop and before the second loop, GASM looks great with new paint and was really attracting guests. They were running two trains, with the white “liberty” being shelved once again. I think this ride will be here for a while, so why not replace the faded displays of other rides in the queue with something else?

I also rode the Top Spin (Twister?) in this area. I decided to skip Space Shuttle and a stomachache and was pissed to see that erUPtion was, once again, closed for the day. The mechanics were working on it throughout the afternoon, with one climbing to the top of one of the towers to do some tinkering.

Rolling Thunder – Another surprise! After skipping this due to one train operation last year, I got on quickly due to two trains on one side. Seemingly hated by most, including the guys who rode right before me, Rolling Thunder is actually a damn good ride that could be better. If Great Adventure gave a crap and re-tracked, painted, and ran the ride correctly, it’d be a crowd pleaser like Thunder Road. Why let this thing rot under your nose, its got airtime and thrills even without TLC, so fix it!

Medusa- Running two trains with a minimal line, I still waited twenty-five minutes to ride due to a slacking crew and stupid people who couldn’t just sit down in their seats. Medusa is a great ride and should be run without stacking for five minutes using two trains. Maybe if the park gave it more than three operators it could cycle more people! Great ride with a good layout, also a member of the paint me now club.

Kingda Ka – You look so pretty, but you weren’t running… It’s so great to hear some of the b.s. people say about why it was closed. I just held my tongue while hearing everything from “too many people passed out” to “test dummies wouldn’t stay in” to “New Jersey shut it down because it almost killed someone.” I wish I could have at least seen it test. Beautiful station and paint though, I’m sure it’ll be a thriller for years to come. I only wish it had Dragster lapbars instead of OTSR’s, but you can’t have it all. Guess I’ll have to wait ‘till next summer to ride.

Final Thoughts:

I must rant a little about something that pissed me off all day. I also must admit that I see why people hate the fastpass, which I didn’t use. That’s all I’m going to say about that. The rant warranting thing was all these exit passes that groups seemed to have. On damn near every ride, there were tons of people coming up the exit ramps with pieces of paper, causing chaos and slow dispatches of each ride. I don’t know what the deal was with this, but it almost caused a fight at Scream Machine and made Medusa’s line stand stagnant. They put the people in the middle of the trains, but I think groups need to wait in line like the rest of us.

Great Adventure has so much potential and is on the right track, but needs to wise up and get rides running (Batman: The Chiller, Chaos, Daredevil Dive, erUPtion!, etc.). In order to become a resort park, they need to step it up a bit. Some crews (Nitro and Chiller) were “Cedar Pointing It” and doing a great job with riders. They even asked “how was your ride?”

The Golden Kingdom looks fantastic and although the paths are small, the area is sure to be a great investment.

Kingda Ka is going to be a damn popular ride and like all good things, must find its niche in order to operate correctly. I think that you kid yourself if you blame this on Six Flags. They want this thing to run, period.

Great Adventure is no Cedar Point and frankly, not many parks can be. With buy one get one free admission, the price is a steal and the park has some great rides to boot. Most operations are getting better and I think this park will chug along and get stronger every year. I’ll look forward to my visit next year.

Dorney Park – August 4th, 2005

My favorite Pennsylvania Park because of its great rides and minimal lines, Dorney was once again a great destination for thrills.

Hydra: The Revenge – We decided to ride this first in case it had a long wait (which it never did :) ). I really like the color and placement of the ride because it looks great nestled in Hercules’ grave. I think Dorney made a good investment here and although the ride isn’t perfect, Hydra fits well among siblings Talon and Steel Force.

As for the ride itself, it isn’t my favorite floorless (that’d be the Medusas or Kraken), but it’s a damn good ride. While I can admit to not liking only Batman: The Dark Knight, some of B&M’s recent creations haven’t been as dynamic as their older rides. Hydra is a non-stop inversion thrill machine and has enough thrills to be a good ride. The sleek eight row trains are comfy as usual and the station is open, airy, and sleek. The jojo roll is gimmicky but fun and it’ll get you out of your seat. The first drop surprised me with its airtime (no joke) and the tilted dive loop (or whatever it’s called) provides a unique experience. The barrel roll is the usual B&M twist and the corkscrew provides a quick change of direction. I like the lopsided cobra roll because it differs from the usual design. The twist up and hop aren’t all that wild because of the slow speed the train is traveling at, but the final corkscrew and helix are fun.

I rode Hydra in the front, back, and other random rows many times. I agree that the trains do vibrate while traveling the track (my cousin suggested softer wheels may give a smoother ride - if that’s possible), which is strange because it’s only newer B&M’s that seem to do this. The ride is mostly very smooth and the only jawknocks I got were occasional ones on the tilted dive loop and in the pull out of the cobra roll. Although Talon is still the better Beemer at Dorney, Hydra is a wonderful addition and will be fun to ride for years to come. Since it’s new I’ll rate this one and give it a solid **** (out of five).

Talon and Steel Force were both running great this year and I rode in the front, back, and middle of both rides many, many times due to non-existent lines. Steel Force is better than Magnum in my opinion and provides a great drop, some nice airtime, and a wicked helix. Talon is one of my favorite inverted coasters and was running fast and intense this year. I love the wild dive into the drop and the twist is excellent.

We also rode the Screamin’ Swing for half-price ($2.50). I rode the one at Knott’s as well and I think it’s a fun ride. Dominator, Laser, and Revolution were also ridden.

Dorney Park is a wonderful park to visit and provides a great atmosphere, excellent rides, nice employees, short wait times, and reasonable admission. I would highly recommend visiting if you’re in the Allentown area.

Unfortunately my summer is coming to end and although it’s a been a damn good one (Knott’s, Cedar Point, Great Adventure, Dorney Park, Myrtle Beach Parks, and King’s Dominion), I can’t wait to do another trip again next year. When I get my photos back from Target (I decided to leave the digital at home this year) I’ll post some shots of Hydra if any turned out to my liking!

*** Edited 8/10/2005 4:07:03 AM UTC by Willh51***

GADV is working hard to open B:TC but there are many electrical problems with the ride. Basicallly there were flaws in the wiring when it was built.
I'm guessing the exit passes at SFGAdv were due to coaster/ride breakdowns. We issue them at SFOT if riders on the ride for some reason or another don't get to complete their cycle, or if they sit out on the break run for more than like 15 minutes or something. But many of them could possibly also be due to guests making a fuss at Guest Relations about Kingda Ka because they cant read signage or the website.

Sometimes, unfortunately, thats the only way to keep people happy. It sounds like they went a little bit crazy with them, though. Did you stop by guest relations to make them aware of the situation? Many times that is the only way that a park knows it has a problem.

Good to see someone finding good things about their day to a park instead of nitpicking on the bad, and seeing that not everything going on is the fault of Six Flags. You've just restored my faith in human kind I believe ;).

**Edit: Grammar. Apparently I don't speak English. Whoda thunk it? *** Edited 8/10/2005 8:11:13 AM UTC by Xander***

Were qbots a problem?

CP was amazing, going back next June to ride Maverick

The qbots were a bit of a problem on coasters that didn't have a row on each train especially for them or a specific merge point. I would have been pissed if I had one because often times the qbot holders would have to wait at the exit for extended periods of time. This caused a yelling match at GASM. I think the exit passes were more of a problem though.

Anyone know if I've been unlucky with erUPtion or if it's closed a lot?

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