My wife and I recently went on a trip up to Hartford, Connecticut which included stops at three area amusement parks; the first being Six Flags New England in Agawam, Massachusetts.
We arrived at SFNE just a bit after their 10:30AM opening after flying in to nearby Bradley International Airport. We started our day heading to the left to ride Goliath with only a one train wait. Goliath is a pretty fitting name for such a massive and wild attraction. The ride had great views while ascending the massive towers and some fun hang time in the huge inversions. The ride was not exactly rough, but it did have a fairly bad rattle where I was seated (row 3, outside, right hand seat).This was my first time riding a Vekoma giant boomerang, and it was a pretty intense way to start the day.
After Goliath we continued along to Wicked Cyclone - the new for 2015 Rocky Mountain Construction wood/steel hybrid roller coaster. We were assigned the forth from back row after only a 10 or so minute wait. I regretfully never had the chance to ride the old Cyclone wooden coaster, but I feel I can say with confidence (based on reviews I read of the old ride in its later years) Wicked Cyclone is a far superior successor. Wicked Cyclone is a non-stop thrill ride. From the insanely steep first drop until the final hills leading into the brakes the ride maintains a breakneck pace and every single hill provides tons of airtime. Perhaps most impressive is how smooth the ride is and how minimal the restraints feel despite the ride turning upside 3 times and having such intense airtime. I definitely now understand why the RMC re-engineered coasters are all the rage and getting such rave reviews.
Following Wicked Cyclone we continued along to Pandemonium (an extremely fun spinning ride) and Flashback (a standard Vekoma boomerang which stands in the shadow of nearby Goliath) which both had very little wait.
The first ride we would need to wait in a significant line for was Thunderbolt which was running one train. Thunderbolt is the park’s oldest roller coaster (opening back in 1941) and is a fun, classic wood coaster. We were assigned a seat near the back and enjoyed a smooth enough ride with a couple moments of airtime. I liked how the ride seemed to get faster and more intense as it went along with some of the most fun drops coming right at the end.
The next ride on our agenda was easily the one I was most excited for - Bizarro. Ever since this ride opened back in 2000 as Superman Ride of Steel it has been rated near the very top of every coaster ranking year after year (and for several years was voted #1). I told myself "one day, I will finally make a trip up there and ride that ride!" Today was that day, and thankfully Bizarro more than matched the hype. We waited approximately 30 minutes before boarding the back row (I was relieved this was one ride we got to choose our seats). Bizarro had everything I loved from the Intamin hyper and giga coasters I have been on but cranked up to 11. Every hill offered insane airtime and the over bank turn and helix had tons of positive g forces. I walked away with a new favorite steel coaster and only wished I got to to the park to experience it sooner (before the Bizarro makeover) because the only things that detracted from the ride for me was the onboard audio and the bulky, restrictive lap bars (can't imagine how great this thing was with the former, less constraining Intamin t-bar restraints).
Following Bizarro we were feeling pretty hungry and went across the way to Johnny Rockets (not bad, not great, as expected theme park food). Next up were two smaller DC Comics themed roller coasters, which both had little wait. First we rode Gotham City Gauntlet Escape from Arkham Asylum which is a standard wild mouse coaster with some Batman theming. I did like that each car was themed to a different Batman villain; for example Scarecrow, Joker, Two Face, and many more all had their own car traversing the ride circuit. Catwoman's Whip was the next ride, and was a nice family coaster. I liked how close the ride came to the surrounding plants and supports (one support especially close to the track even has padding on it, I’m guessing to help protect long limbed riders who try to reach a bit too far out of the train)
Although I have been on a few Vekoma SLC's and know they are going to be a rough ride, I am not one to pass up a credit, so we went on Mind Eraser. This was definitely among the more rough and less enjoyable SLC'S I have been on. Thankfully we only had to wait a few minutes to ride.
The final roller coaster left to experience (only skipping the Great Chase kiddie coaster) was Batman The Dark Knight - a small, compact B&M floorless coaster. We lucked out and found ourselves assigned to the front row after a 20 minute wait. The ride, while small in stature, provides a quick, fun and fairly forceful ride. The interlocking corkscrew finale had a bit of roughness, but it was a fun ride all in all.
Now that we had been on all of the roller coasters one time each we set out to do some of the other rides and get a couple re-rides on our favorite coasters. The rides we experienced were:
- Houdini: The Great Escape - I had been on this same attraction at SFGADV and was looking forward to seeing it again. I think it’s a really cool experience, almost feels out of place in a Six Flags park with its story and high level of theming and detail.
- Tomahawk - Nauseating, spinning, craziness - but in a good way.
- New England SkyScreamer - We had to try the world’s tallest swing ride. I liked this a lot! You get really magnificent views from 400+ feet up in the air, definitely not for the squeamish about heights.
Before heading out we took one more ride on Wicked Cyclone (assigned the same seat as earlier in the morning - kind of bummed they wouldn't let us move or wait for a different row - still a great ride). And two more rides on Bizarro now that the line subsided a little bit, once more in the back and the final time in the front. The front row is amazing and was the perfect way to end the day.
All in all we had a wonderful day and SFNE is definitely one of my favorite Six Flags parks, probably my overall favorite at the moment. The light crowds and excellent weather definitely helped make it a great day, but I also attribute the positive experience to the great employees (better than any other Six Flags park in my experiences) and the setting of the park. The location right along the Connecticut River with mountains off in the distance was lovely and the park maintains a touch of its long history (dating back to 1870) in past lives as Gallup's Grove, Riverside Grove, and Riverside Amusement Park . My only nitpick issues of the day were:
- $25 for regular parking. Highest I have ever seen any park charge (and the lot is quite far from the entrance, it is a bit of a long walk or tram ride to the gate).
- Not being allowed to choose your seat or wait for for a specific row at most rides (it would be nice to have that option, especially at Wicked Cyclone).
We spent the next couple days exploring stuff outside of the amusement parks including downtown Hartford, Penwood State Park, the Heublien Tower (can’t recommend seeing this if you’re in the area enough), and taking a train to NYC to walk all over Manhattan for a day seeing various sights. Additionally we stopped by a few local breweries. If craft beer interests you I highly recommend going to City Steam Brewing, Willimantic Brewing, and Thomas Hooker Brewing (they do open house events on some Fridays where $10 will get you unlimited beer tastings from 5-8pm and a pint glass as you exit, awesome way to rub elbows with locals and a great deal). After a couple days of sightseeing and adventure, we spent our final day visiting two more amusement parks - Lake Compounce and Quassy.
Our day started at Lake Compounce which first opened back in 1846 (making it the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the US). After entering the park we veered right and started our day with the first coaster we came across, Zoomerang - the park's Vekoma boomerang. It's worth noting this is a nice looking and surprisingly smooth boomerang.
After Zoomerang we stopped by Bleakstone Manor, home to the Sally dark ride shooter called Ghost Hunt. This was a pretty fun ride with some neat effects and admittedly one good scare that startled me a bit towards the end. Definitely a fun dark ride!
Next up was the main attraction - really THE reason for us to visit Lake Compounce, Boulder Dash! This ride season after season is voted one of the best wooden coasters on the planet, and on paper it looked like I would agree. Boulder Dash has everything I could want in a coaster, especially its beautiful location. The ride travels all around the side of a densely wooded mountain before ending with a series of airtime hills along a scenic lake. After waiting about 15 minutes (a little disappointed there was only one train running all day, but the line was never too long) we were flying through the forest in the front seat. Every single hill had insane airtime and the leaves and branches of the trees were only inches away. The final series of hills along the lake are absurdly fast and filled with airtime, the ride never seems to slow down even a little bit until you hit the final breaks. Boulder Dash completely blew my expectations out of the water and easily became my new number one coaster - knocking Voyage and El Toro down to second and third respectively.
After a ride on Boulder Dash we went to the other wooden coaster, Wildcat. This classic old woodie built in 1927 is way more rough and aggressive than I was expecting. We rode in the back with no wait and spent the entire ride bracing ourselves and holding on for dear life. Once was enough on this ride.
Looking for something more calm we made our way to the park's old trolley which runs along the lake and takes riders to a chairlift which goes directly up a mountain at the back of the park, and a white water rapids ride. We only rode rode the chairlift and had a nice relaxing ride while enjoying the incredible view.
After hopping on the trolley back to the rest of park we went for another lap on Boulder Dash before checking out the other rides the park had to offer. Some of the highlights of Lake Compounce’s other attractions included Down Time (an S&S drop tower), Thunder N’ Lightning (S&S Screamin’ Swing), the Saw Mill Plunge log flume, and the American Flyers flying scooters. After seeing those rides along with a couple others we went for one more ride on Boulder Dash before grabbing some food (the Potato Patch and fried oreos near the front were great!) before calling it a day and heading to the next destination - Quassy Amusement Park.
Quassy is located approximately 30 minutes away from Lake Compounce and is a wonderful small (only 20 acres) trolley park which has been around since 1908. We got to the park at 6:30PM and bought two after 5pm wristbands for $12 apiece and were on our way. The park was only open until 8pm but in that hour and a half we got a lot done. We went for around 7 rides on the parks "junior" coaster Wooden Warrior. Although small in size, Wooden Warrior is filled with incredible airtime. I highly recommend riding in the back seat where you experience the most airtime. We also got to ride the parks YoYo and Frantic flat rides which were both fun. We ended the day by just sitting and relaxing by the beautiful Lake Quassapaug (which the park is built next to) as the sun set. Quassy was a wonderful small park and I’m glad we made the drive over to see it.
For coaster junkies and amusement park aficionados Hartford is a fantastic destination for a trip. We got to see three separate classic amusement parks all within about 45 minutes to an hour of one another, and got to ride a few of the best roller coasters on the planet (not to mention all the other cool stuff the area has to offer). It was a great trip, and I hope to make it back in the future.
^glad you had a great time at my home parks. Actually BD has been running only 1 train since opening day and has been riding rougher than it has the past few years. SFNE may not be the best SF park in terms of coasters or rides but it definitely has the most charm then any other SF park.
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I was there last weekend myself. I hope to write up some TRs very soon (but don't hold me to that.) but here's a few things
LC Friday: BD was running 2 trains. It was middle school field trip day. I wouldn't have wished it upon my worst enemy. But they were running 2 trains.
SFNE Saturday: Barely recognized the place. It's been many years though. Back when SROS was still SROS.
Quassy Sunday: Never been here before. Wooden Warrior was perfect. I could not have imagined it would be so good.
That's all for now.
Not so random question: Is "Gotham City Gauntlet: Escape From Arkham Asylum the longest coaster NAME?
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
You braced yourself on Wildcat, but not on Boulder Dash?
Not nearly as much - Boulder Dash I was holding on to the lap bar relatively lightly and just enjoying the ride. We only rode in the front seat where it wasn't too rough. Wildcat was easily among the roughest coasters I had ever been on.
^ It is by a wide margin the longest name of any coaster I've been on at least, lol.
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