Great Escape 10/17 good park, GREAT staff

Monday, October 18, 2004 3:58 PM
Left Ottawa ~8:30, cruised through to Lake George, stopping only for coffee, donuts, gas, and for the friendly border guard (who practically waved us through - no ID check to enter the US?!). At 1:00, we stopped for lunch at the McDonalds a couple miles north of the park - never again (1/10).

The Great Escape

Our two guests (F=friend, age 34 & K=kid, age 10) bought $35 day-passes and rode Rainbow while my wife (age 29) and I (age 30) bought and processed $60 season passes. (We originally intended to buy $20 day-passes online - see other thread for details http://coasterbuzz.com/forum.aspx?mode=thread&TopicID=39816.) Season pass processing was very fast - less than 5 minutes. (It took us 20 minutes for SFDL passes in May 2001.) The weather was cool (10 C / 50 F) with scattered showers. It rained from 4:00 to 5:00, clearing out most (but not all) of the lines. Alpine Bobsled was the only coaster closed all day.

We headed straight for Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon, which we knew was slow-loading. But we didn't beat the rush - the line was already 60 minutes, so we skipped it.

Canyon Blaster (7/10)

This was new since my last visit. It's actually a pretty descent mine ride with two lift hills. SFGE put a lot of theming in here, including horses, cowboys, miners, a broken stage coach, a crashed train, mining shacks... It's no Big Thunder Mountain, but it's better than what we saw at CP and GL a week ago. The line around 3:00 was 5 minutes, and a walk-on in the evening. (For our second ride, my wife and I covered our eyes – you don’t get the theming, but the coaster is much more thrilling.)

Comet (9/10)

I'll admit it, I never thought of making the 4-1/2 hour drive to the Great Escape until I saw the Comet on one of the Discovery Channel's top-10 shows back in 2000. Shortly after seeing the show, I made a little detour on a Lake Placid road trip, and I've been a huge Comet fan ever since. Sunday, it was running smooth and fast, and the height intimidated K and F a bit, but once we assured K that it didn't go upside-down, she was eager to ride. It was running with only one train, but the crew was efficient and the line moved relatively quickly. After a 20 minute wait, we got the back two rows of the train, and the Comet gained another couple fans. F: "That was the best coaster I've ridden this year… maybe ever!" K: "I want to do it again! Can we ride again? Please?!" We didn't repeat it right then and there, but we did return for three night-rides, where we compared the very back with the very front, and made faces at the camera. (Back seats get more air – from the top of every hill down. Front seats, not so much, but catching air as you zoom up the hills is still lots of fun.) We only stopped riding it to ensure we caught Steamin' Demon before the park closed.

En route to the Boomerang, we rode the Sky Ride (4/10, slow gondola with only one station) and Flying Trapeze (5/10, swings). It was fun, but riding the swings was very cold and wet. Rain started coming down harder, so the girls stopped for hot drinks while I ran back to the car (across the street) to store our Comet ride photo and grab the shell for my fleece.

Boomerang (ride onls 6/10, ride with ride-op enthusiasm 7/10)

The rain had mostly let up by the time we got to the Boomerang, and there was only 4 people ahead of us in line. They went to the back while we put F and K in the very front. (F's favorite ride at Paramount Canada's Wonderland is The Bat - another boomerang. K didn't like going upside-down, but was willing to try it again.) The ride-ops were in great spirits, poking fun at F, saying she had her eyes closed before we even left the station. While F definitely didn't close her eyes, K did. K later reported, "I managed to open my eyes for the backwards loop, but I had to close them again. We don’t have to go upside down again, do we?"

Walking back towards Ghost Town, we stopped at the Trick-or-Treat Trail, where K did the fastest trick-or-treating I've ever seen. The rest of us walked through and said 'hi' to all the chilled staff, and K was waiting for us at the end. After sampling her treats, K and I went through the cave. I convinced K that we should stomp like monsters throughout the cave. We stomped on, peeking around the corners to make sure no one was ahead waiting to scare us. About half-way through, I heard stomping behind me, I turned around thinking it was my wife or F trying to scare me. Nope. Stomping along between me and the two other girls was a bloody-axe-wielding monster. I froze and just about screamed. The monster stomped past me, but K was racing through, not looking behind. I called, "check this out," and she turned around to see this monster just two feet behind her. Her scream might still be echoing through the caves. :-) My wife hates being scared and she and F were quite thankful that the monster entered the caves ahead of them, not behind.

Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon (8/10 with eyes closed, 6/10 with eyes open)

It was still raining, so we decided to wait indoors. The line was less than an hour, but still long. It takes 30 to 45 seconds to dispatch each 2-passenger car (160 to 240 riders per hour). Remembering how 'not dark' it is inside the building, and thinking about K's eyes-closed ride on the Boomerang, I decided to close my eyes on this one too. (K was certain there would be more monsters inside -- there was no way she would open her eyes for the duration of the ride.) F and my wife rode in the train ahead of us. It wasn't dark and because they could see everything, they didn't think it was very thrilling. K and I followed, eyes closed, screaming with every dive and curve -- we had a blast.

After riding NACAC, we re-rode Canyon Blaster (me and the wife, eyes covered in the back, K and F with eyes open in the front) and did our 3 night-rides on the Comet, and dodged chainsaw-weilding Handsome Hal and other monsters.

Steamin' Deamon (just the ride: 6/10, re-rides and staff enthusiasm: 8/10)

Close to park-close, we headed to Steamin' Deamon. It's hard to find unless you know where you're going (and I didn't). With help from the photo-booth staff, we found the entrance tucked away in a corner of Ghost Town. We walked right on. The four of us rode in the very front car. This coaster qualifies as 'just another Arrow Looper.' The loop and both corkscrews were pretty smooth, but there's a powerful jolt in the transition from loop to first corkscrew. When we pulled into the station, I was prepared to get off with my last coaster of the season under my belt. But then the ride-op jumped up like a cheerleader and yelled, "Who wants to go again?" Of course, everyone loves a re-ride. Then another, and another, and another... Some riders bailed after two rides. F and I bailed after four. But K and my wife stayed on for seven consecutive rides! This is the same K who earlier in the day didn't want to go upside down again. Another cosater enthusiast is born! Thank you Great Escape staff!

And on our way out the exit, who should we meet, but none other than Handsome Hal (without his chainsaw). Still covered in gory make-up, he was thanking everyone and shaking our hands, saying, “I hope you enjoyed your day at the Great Escape. It’s been great having you.” What a great way to end a roller-coaster season.

We were a bit bitter about the internet issues and the weather was unpleasant, but the staff at Six Flags Great Escape made this day perfect! WOW! I haven’t seen this kind of staff enthusiasm since visiting WDW.

We left the park shortly after 8:00, stopping to eat at Pizza Hut just a couple blocks south of the park (7/10 for food, 2/10 for cleanliness). We had a long, rainy drive home, with no delays at the border. Went to bed at 2:00 am, grinning ear-to-ear.

[edit line-breaks] *** Edited 10/18/2004 8:02:02 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth***

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Monday, October 18, 2004 4:37 PM
I was there for Octoberfest and saw the same friendly staff that you encountered. I must have been there on a bad coaster day though. I found the Comet to be a major disappointment (perhaps my expectations were just too great). I've heard it gets better as the day goes on, but unfortunately we had to leave early :(

I don't know how your wife and Kid stayed on Screamin Demon for 7 rides. After one ride, my head felt like I had been in a fight with Mike Tyson (Yes even my ear hurt).

Anyway, glad you had fun. It is a charming little park.

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