It's good, it's bad, it's home: Six Flags Over Georgia, 8/7/07

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 12:01 AM
As a Georgia native and lifelong state resident (more or less) Six Flags Over Georgia has been my home park for some 30 years, and despite occasional flings with the Cedar Points and Disneys of the world, I keep coming back, though in my "old age," not necessarily every year.

Regardless of how well or poorly it's currently being run, I have a sentimental attachment to the place, having first come with my (late) father in 1976, by 1980 giddily riding the three coasters the place then had to offer. Today it was time to pass the coaster bug on to the next generation, so I brought my four-year-old daughter, who was brimming with enthusiasm, I'm happy to report.

I'm not so happy to report that it was one of the hottest and smoggiest days of the year thus far, but we managed to combat high humidity and high-90s mercury with water bottles, water rides (plus a stop in Skull Island) and lots of air-conditioned breaks.

After a few warm-up kiddie rides we hopped on Wile E. Coyote's Canyon Blaster, which exceeded my expectations. (I've visited the park since it's been installed but I've usually skipped it.) For a scaled-down family roller coaster, it ain't bad, and that positive-G spin through the tunnel is terrific. It's also instantly repeatable, so we did, staying on for a second spin.

Next, I figured that if she could handle that, the clanky old Dahlonega mine train should be a piece of cake. She's technically only 41" inches tall, but nobody stopped us and she got her first "big ride" early. (God only knows how many times I've traveled on this 40-year-old beast over the last 30 years. Hopefully it'll stick around long enough for her to rack up the same record.) She had a blast, but I had to use my arms to keep her from thwacking into the confines of the seat, as there's a lot of give for a young 'un there.

After some more tame fun you thrill-addicts probably don't care about, my wife showed up in mid-afternoon to cart her off and leave me with about three hours to hit coasters unencumbered on a lightly-attended day.

My first stop was the Georgia Cyclone, which wasn't the hottest idea. This one was rough when they installed it (yes, I remember) and it's only gotten worse, and the hard-foam seats don't help. I got beaten up (I expect to find bruises tomorrow) and as I got off I could feel a strain in my neck. OK, I'm old, so I'll spare you the aches and pains, but this one ain't much fun anymore.

And here comes the predictable SFOG complaint, observed on nearly every coaster I tackled -- a dawdling, socializing ride crew kept trains stacking by not dispatching them quickly enough, and also didn't even make an effort to fill every seat when there were lines. Disney it ain't. Nor will it probably ever be.

At Georgia Scorcher something happened that I'd never seen before. As I got to the front of the line, the ride op dispatched trains with no riders, then disappeared. Later I discovered she'd taken a bathroom break, leaving all of us to cool our heels. (Figuratively. It was about 95 F by this point.) Is there no routine backup for these jobs? Maddening.

I'm not a huge fan of stand-ups, as they tend to box my ears. The Scorcher is better than Cedar Point's Mantis in this regard, despite sharing a designer in B&M, but it still isn't my first choice, and yes, my ears took the punishment from the rolls, though the loops and drops are great and quite smooth.

Next, a trip down memory lane and the pride of 1978, the Mindbender. I don't think this one has ever ridden better, and with each passing year I'm in awe of Anton Schwartzkopf's elegant design -- two inversions with nothing more than a lap bar needed, nice spells of air time, minimal supports and a layout that embraces the landscape. I'm calling it a classic and daring anyone to disagree. Thanks to a light line, I got a welcome second pass.

(While on the Mindbender I got a good look at the concrete slab for the now-departed much-missed Freefall, which had always been one of my absolute faves. Can't believe it's gone, and Acrophobia is, to me, a poor substitute.)

Next up, the B&M suspended Batman, which seems about the same as when I first rode it. Nothing but element after element with scarcely enough time for anticipation and, depending on your mood, enjoyment. Five inversions and not a whole lot of track in which to get it done. I've always thought the theming was some of the best I've ever seen though. They've really got the Gotham urban decay nailed.

Then it was under the bridge and up the hill to Goliath, the second reason I came. (And now, with the little one at home, the first.) I am a huge huge fan of this one. Lots of speed and TONS of air, particularly in the back -- I made sure I took my hands off the lap restraint over every hill to get maximum float. The only other two hypers I've ridden are CP's Magnum XL and Millennium Force, but I don't remember this kind of airtime on either of them. And major kudos for no shoulder harness. I made sure to hit this one more time before heading out for the night, you betcha.

I checked out Superman: Ultimate Flight next, but the line was still close to 45 minutes on a really light day. Unfortunately the right time to hit this had already come and gone, so I bid the famous pretzel roll goodbye and took my now-mandatory trip on the Great American Scream Machine. As it turned out, I had an empty seat next to me, so I thought about my dad and tried to enjoy this grande dame like I thought he would if he were still around.

Next year, I'll bring my girl back and keep the family tradition going. Hopefully in 30 years or so I'll be able to bring a grandchild, something my dad never got to do. *** Edited 8/8/2007 4:03:21 AM UTC by 404NotFound***

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 6:00 AM
Great tr! Mindbender rocks till the end (fanboy ;)
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 6:58 PM
Reading your TR sure takes me back! I haven't been to SFOG since, oh, about 1997. :( :( Not for lack of wanting! I love that place. Mindbender is one of my all-time favorite coasters, and I'm dying to try Goliath.

I'm sad that they got rid of Free Fall. It scared the snot out of me, but it was FUN! I'll never forget riding it one slow day, screaming my head off as we fell, and gasping for breath at the bottom, only to have the ride op ask if we (my sister and I) wanted to "do it again"! Before I could yelp out "no!" sis had told him, yeah, sure, and up we were going!

My friend's dad used to live in Atlanta, and a couple of summers we went and spent a week with him, going to Six Flags every day. It was so great-- early June, weekdays so there were no crowds...

*Wistful sigh*

CatPurrson

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 7:14 PM
MindBender is INDEED a really solid good ride.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 7:22 PM
Slightly OT as far as coasters and rides, but anybody miss Buford Buzzard? About tie-dye shirts: "It looks like a box of crayons threw up on your shirt!" :)

I got a chance to talk to the "voice" of Buford one day. He was a pretty cool guy.

CatPurrson

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007 9:01 PM
Buford Buzzard, ha. Totally. And God help you if you were from Alabama (as are, seemingly, about 60% of the attendees on any given day).

Since they're celebrating the 40th this year (SFOG has five years on me), I had a few other erstwhile faves:

Chevy Show
Shows with actual live musicians (not just live singers or "singers" as the case may be)
The Mini-Mine Train (coaster #1, summer 1976)
Z-Force
A quieter carousel hill without the loud Hanson Cars
The pre-WB, pre-PacMan Spanish Fort, with "haunted" interior
Casa Magnetica
Tales Of The Okefenokee
Spindle Top
Sky Hook
The quiet back entrance
The Drunken Barrels
Log Flume #1 (queue now the overflow line for Scorcher)

And of course:

The Great Gasp (RIP)

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Friday, August 10, 2007 11:48 PM
Buford Buzzard on how to find Alabama: "Go west 'til ya smell somethin' and south 'til ya step in it!" :) He was hysterical. I got a signed picture somewhere! :)

The Great Gasp was fun, too. I wish I'd been there when they had the Monster-- I love those things. The Viper was fun, too. Z-Force wasn't bad, but I like HILLS, man! :)

I got over my fear of coasters at SFOG. We started on the Mine Train (I still think it's fun, durnit), then went to the Cyclone, the GASM, Z-Force, then the (incredible) Mindbender. ("Welcome to the incredible Mindbender. As you approach the lift, please remember to keep your head against the headrest, and your hands on the bar in front of you...) We tried it the other way 'round once, but that didn't work out so well... :D

I'm going to be moving up near Carowinds soon. I hope it grows on me like SFOG did-- not that I don't like Carowinds, I just like Six Flags better.

CatPurrson

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007 12:05 AM
Great review. I agree about Freefall, when I went, it was closed because of a haunted house and I did not get to ride it. I have ridden other first gen drop rides and love them. Acrophobia is just not the same. I also agree that Goliath is great. The first drop is the best that I have experienced on any coaster I have been on. The pretzel loops on the flying coasters give a similar intense experience. I wonder how the Superman ride at Six Flags New England compares. About the park staff, you are right on target. I found the staff at Georgia's six flags one of the worst. Not caring, innefficient and totally inept. Wouldn't it be something to take your grandkids on the Scream Machine or Mindbender someday? That's what's great about the classics, many generations have ridden them and will continue to in the future.
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