After the fatigue of driving all the way to SFGAM from Maryland on Monday, and doing back-to-back parks yesterday SFGAM in the morning/Indiana Beach at night(Tuesday), it was time for a motel time-extension. Since our target park SFSTL didn't have a whole lot of stuff to do relative to SFGAM, we weren't too worried about time. We had already done one Hurricane Harbor at SFGAM, and the one at SFSTL didn't look quite as impressive.
After getting the 1/2-hour time extension (it was funny to see we were the last car on the parking lot), we were off to our destination. It's going to be ridiculously hot according to Weather Channel. We almost gasped when we saw a piece of earth that wasn't flat on the way. I soon realized that it was just a landfill.
We get into the city and are met with an insane amount of slow traffic, so much so that gowithgravity is taking tons of pictures of the Gateway Arch, and I even snap one with my camera phone. Finally out of Illinois is a site for sore eyes—cliff walls with vegetation. Finally we get to see some terrain.
Arriving at the park, we are met with a welcome sign–it's only $10 to park. Our first impression of the park is that it's awesome looking. Built into a hillside, again, we are so happy to see terrain. Making our way to the entrance though we are met with an unwelcome sign–a sign talking about the concealed weapons law in Missouri and how guns aren't allowed. Us East Coast people aren't used to this. Thankfully, they also include a pamphlet with your souvenir map detailing what's not allowed in the park. It's basically like a laundry list of stuff that motorcycle gangs carry around.
We arrived sometime around 12:30p.m. and I had to take care of business. Stopping right inside the park, I stop at one of the many stalls. What I didn't know was that there was no toilet paper, and now I'm quite angry. I pull my underwear and shorts up and move to the next stall to find–you guessed it–no toilet paper again. I've now gone from angry to livid. Finally on my third attempt, I find some toilet paper.
I come out of the bathroom and I'm quite angry, but I promise gowithgravity that I won't make a scene at Guest Relations. I didn't want to start off on a bad note. I left my comment and we were off to explore, but first I was really thirsty. There's just one problem–where the heck are the water fountains when you need them?
We ask an employee and he points down the way across from Batman the Ride. Walking down the path, I'm instantly reminded of SFOT and it's paths that only allow you to see a little bit ahead of where you're going. We find the next bathroom, but where are the water fountains? After looking around, we finally see the old-school concrete pedestal-style fountains that would be prevalent throughout the park.
First up was Ninja. I have to say that it looked better in The American Rollercoaster book with the old red paint job. That's alright, we're not here to judge paint, we're here to ride. This Vekoma/Arrow ride was actually pretty decent to ride and the ending helix looks really nice since it's has flowers (hint: SFA). The head-chopper coming out of the one turn underneath the chainlift was awesome. From the station of Ninja, you could see the third hill of the River King minetrain.
So, since we had seen part of The River King Minetrain, why not ride it? We see a happy sign, and that's an empty station. It's not a bad layout, but if there's one thing lacking, it's padding on the back of the seats. We went up the hill and hit Screamin Eagle next. Man, is this an awesome ride. It looks like a classic woodie, and it is, even if it isn't as old as say Wild One. The drops near the end due to the terrain are awesome. We pass by the transplanted Intamin drop tower now known as Superman Tower of Power, and decide we might ride it later.
For me, there's something far more pressing calling my name and its name is Excalibur. The ride that eluded me five times at Great Adventure is actually running! The flat ride junkie in me is beyond excited. Nothing can prepare you for the weirdness that is an Evolution. Sitting in our Vekoma-made seats, we're off.
We're off and spinning counter-clockwise to the structure. This is really weird. It kind of feels like staring out on an Enterprise, except that you can't stop. The g's are also pretty heavy, but tolerable. We get to the top and now we're spinning looking at the boom. Luckily, this part has been shortened because gwg said this is the part that made many a person puke at Great Adventure.
We unfortunately have to look at a dormant Mr. Freeze to our left. We knew it would be closed but it didn't make it any better. It felt okay to me that it was closed since I had ridden the mirror image in Texas, but damn, I feel really bad for gwg to not get the experience. He calls it a really nice looking sculpture, and I concur.
We both came to the consensus that we had ridden Batman & Robin the Chiller at Great Adventure, so it wasn't like we were missing a De`ja´ Vu, which would've totally sucked if we had at Great America. One missed coaster out of a whole trip isn't bad.
The Boss part I
gwg is a huge fan of terrain coasters and loves to design them in No Limits, so naturally, he was very excited to ride The Boss. I wasn't feeling so excited since I knew it had the Gerstaluer trains. I mean The Villain wasn't bad, but it was in its first year when I rode it and the current reports on it weren't too good. Twisted Twins wasn't bad, but it wasn't that fast either.
The Boss is a monster and both Matt and I can't believe how much property it takes up. I have to admit that since I don't have a high-speed internet connection, I don't get to see many P.O.V. videos. gwg, on the other hand, has Comcast and has seen a whole bunch of videos, so he knew the layout pretty well. About all I really knew is the first drop into the structure and what I could see of the ending.
We sat near the front for our first ride, and I'll have to admit that I really don't remember much of anything except for pain. It was so rough that I couldn't concentrate on the ride at all. I came off the ride and my shoulders were in a lot of pain. It's as though my body was a conduit for all the vibration.
I came off saying I'd never ride it again. I called my friend Shannon from the park and told her how much it sucked, while Matt went and rode it in the back again. While he rode I went into the bathroom where they have a huge wooden-box blowing out cool air out of the bottom. It's a shame they're no rides in here:)
So gwg comes off The Boss and tells me it's a lot smoother and it's like The Legend. I start to contemplate riding again–like maybe later. [skip to The Horrible Mistake or The Boss part II]
We left the area and passed a dormant Mr. Freeze while taking a look at a new batch of super hereos. It's interesting to see how the characters have different shapes from park to park. Also in the same area we come upon our next ride, Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Swamp. Scooby-Doo is out there greeting passer-bys as well. On a day that's as hot as it is today, it would suck to be that person.
We get into the queue, and it's incredibly twisted, kind of like a stream. This is the first boat-based Sally shoot-em-up for gwg and me, but the second Scooby-Doo based ride, as we've ridden Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Mansion at PKD. Coming down the staircase, you are greeted by a duel-loading station. Each of the tiny boats seats four people.
This appears to have all the same sets as the PKD version, but we like it better. As usual, gwg beats me. We then walked over to the far end of the park to check out their log flume, but first we saw a pathway covered in colored chalk down by the kiddie coaster. We saw tubs of chalk sitting there and we decided to leave our mark.
We then headed for a ride on the log flume. It was your standard issue flume, but what happened afterwards wasn't standard issue at all. They take your picture on the drop and at the photo booth afterwards, there was a sign posted saying that taking a picture of your picture is theft, and you could be kicked out of the park (or something to that effect). I see gwg pointing his camera towards the video monitors and I stop him in time.
We headed back towards the front of the park to pick up the backwards Batman credit. The queue is incredibly long, and there isn't much in the way of themeing except for the obligatory police car smashing into the fire hydrant. The inside of the station however, is a different story. Placed above your head is a huge Batman logo. We waited for the front row since there wasn't much of a line and it turned out to be one of more benign Batman's.
We went back and got another Ninja round, and it was in one of the loops that I noticed an abandoned teacup ride sitting below. I checked the map just to make sure we didn't miss anything. It didn't look like a graveyard, so I find it strange that they just left a ride in place.
After seeing the Gateway Arch, we had decided to do a few more rides, get something to eat and head there right after. When you've traveled all the way from Maryland, you might as well take in a major tourist attraction, right?
Intamin drop tower rides are a dime-a-dozen nowadays, but with the terrain of the park, I thought it would be cool to take it in from way up high. I've got to commend Mark Shapiro for changing the color scheme and theme to Superman Tower of Power. It looks amazing. Matt is a little bit skeptical about getting in the queue, since we want to hit the Arch and they're only using four of the sides, but I convince him that the queue doesn't look that long. Twenty minutes later and we were on, and also got our desired row looking out towards The Boss.
One thing that is very odd about S.T.O.P. is that the cars don't all drop at the same time. They seem to drop at random intervals. I figured we'd be the last car to drop, but we were the first. Well, it's the first time I can claim to have ridden a drop tower in two different states. On a side-note, S.T.O.P is located right near Bugs-Bunny National Forest, and I've got to say they did a great job with it. The Rush Street Flyer—Chance Falling Star themed to a streetcar— which is nearby, also looks amazing.
The Horrible Mistake or The Boss part II
We were still aiming for dinner since we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, and we still were aiming for the Arch. But first, it was time for last rides. And here's where I made a terrible mistake. gwg wants to get another back-seat Boss ride and I'm willing to give the coaster another chance. gwg even makes sure I know that I'm doing this under my own freewill. I assure him that I am.
We sit down in the last row and our off. At the bottom of the first drop, my lapbar goes down another click, and now I'm trapped for the remainder of the ride. Since I have very little back fat, I'm a conduit for the vibrations of the ride. I can't move at all. In short, I'm getting jackhammered throughout the whole ride. My heart is taking the brunt of the vibrations as well. I'm keep yelling "Ow!" over and over again as I have my hand over my heart. Luckily, I'm able to walk off the ride, and I'm still holding my hand over my heart. My ride photo even has a picture of me holding my heart. There's one I wouldn't buy:)
I say to gwg that I just need to sit down for a little while on a bench. My heart is feeling very heavy. We sat down on a bench in front of Excalibur, which I'm hoping will reopen so I can get one more ride before we leave the park. As crazy as it sounds, I'm just hoping the pain will go away like after my last Hercules ride. Still content on getting to the Arch, I make a call from my cell phone and get directions and information.
Yeah! Excalibur reopens and I feel okay to get another ride. Since there were so few people riding, they wanted to balance the ride and they tell us to only sit in certain color cars including red. Now, it's funny, where I come from I don't see any shades of red. Matt says that the car we're sitting in is red, to which I tell him, no, it's a dark purple. Maybe color-blind people have trouble with their reds and purples, and it's easier to just say red. Maroon would be pushing it. I don't know:)
Even though Excalibur is a high g-force ride, I actually found it quite relaxing after the experience on The Boss. So that was going to be a wrap on SFSTL, except that I wanted to stop in the gift shop on the way out. I saw a really cool S.T.O.P. shirt that actually had an accurate drawing of the ride on it behind Superman, so I decide to get one. The girl asks me if I have a season pass and I tell her that it's for Six Flags America and not St. Louis, but she still makes the call to make sure if I can get a 10% discount or not. So I patiently waited a few minutes and got the discount.
I tell Matt that on the way out I'm going to make a second stop at Guest Relations to complain about The Boss. We wait at the window inside the park for a few minutes and no one shows up, so we exit and someone catches us on the other side. I told the lady what had happened and that I had experienced some chest pain about a 1/2-hour ago. She asks me if I want to go to First Aid and gwg talks me into it. Screw the vacation, it's my health we both decide. We're also the longest point away on the trip with potentially three more parks to go.
A nice young man from the park walks me over to First Aid, which is over by the log flume. On the way he spouts the corporate talk about how we engineer our rides to be safe, blah, blah, blah. They sit me down in a chair and take my blood pressure and it's a whopping 160 over 90! The last time I was at the doctor it was 120 over 82, so I knew something was desperately wrong. They also start an IV on me.
So far, I'm passing all the "tests" with flying colors, such as where I live, my age etc. It's a while before they let gwg come back to see me. The woman says at one point that I'm starting to look a little gray. She asks if I'm about to pass out, and I said that I was feeling that way, so they reclined my chair back a little bit further. The gentleman says that my blood pressure in the meantime had only dropped a point and I'm worried. Since First Aid is kind of limited, they asked me what I wanted to do and said it would be a smart move to go to the hospital.
I'm still holding my hand over my heart and things feel heavy. The ambulance shows up and we leave for the hospital. Once again, I'm passing all the tests with flying colors, but the heart still isn't feeling much better. Most people tend to get really nervous and worried in these kind of situations, but I'm making conversation most of the way to the hospital. They have me grade my condition–1 being the best 10 being the worst several times on the trip. After giving me some baby aspirin, things finally start to improve on the pain scale.
They drop me off at Des Peres hospital and the trip seemed like it took forever. They get me into a bay and hook me up to all kinds of equipment. They draw four blood samples for testing and I wait around. They keep telling me that my friend Matt (gwg) is out in the waiting room and he'll be in shortly. Again, it seems like a lot of time goes by. Once again though, I'm keeping my calm. When he finally does get into my bay, I can tell he's not doing so well with the whole thing. He said it was very odd to drive my car without me being in it. I guess that would be odd.
A man comes in a little bit later and does a chest X-Ray and leaves (someone tells me later that was to make sure I didn't break any ribs). Finally the RN comes back and says that the blood samples are all clear and that the only thing they showed was that my muscles were working. Well, thank God for that!
I'm cleared for all activity, but the doctor wants to talk to me before being discharged. Before he comes in, gwg and I talk about how it sucks that our next park is supposed to be Holiday World, and how we've both been looking forward to The Voyage all year, and now this. The coaster that has been described as being the most intense wooden coaster ever built, and will I be sidelined?
In a really slow Southern draw the doctor says [paraphrased] "Sir, I would advise you to check out the intensity rating on the rides if they have them. I would start with a low number. You might want to also stand at the exit ramp of the ride to hear any comments from the riders." That last bit of advice is actually really good advice.
He really wishes that I could go see my primary care physician, but that's four days away at the earliest. He also wanted me to get a stress test and a cholesterol screening. I try to explain to him that I go to the gym all the time and that I prefer high-intensity aerobic activity like the stair-climber. He then mentions the legendary runner Jim Fitz–a guy who wrote books on running and died from a heart-attack [sidenote: what he doesn't tell me and I research later is that his whole family had a history of high blood-pressure and Fitz wouldn't get tested].
Leaving the hospital, gwg decides this is one night that he won't tell his parents exactly what happened that day. He has a deal with them to check in with them each day, and he knows that if he mentions what happened, that the trip will be over. We talked about how the rest of the trip was going to work out as well since we had lost our night at the Arch. After talking it over, we decide to kill SFKK on Friday. We'll go to the Arch in the morning, and go to HW in the afternoon/evening.
While I'm nervous about going to HW, gwg and I decide that he'll ride The Voyage before me and give me a report. I'll also start out with the Raven, and if that doesn't go well, then I won't ride anything else. It would suck not to ride The Voyage, but it would also suck to go home in a body bag also.
I decide to fill my parents in on what's going on the following day, and both parents are worried, but have confidence in gwg that he'll protect me from making anymore bad mistakes like riding SOB or The Racer at Beastbuzz, both of which I didn't like much at all in 02'.
How could the same two people who designed my favorite coaster of the whole trip–Cornball Express–design the worst as well? The answer? The Gerstlauer trains are just simply unacceptable for a coaster doing the speeds The Boss does. There's absolutely no padding to absorb the shock, except you. You may ask "Well, how come gwg enjoyed it and you didn't?" gwg and I have very different body types. While we may be about the same height, gwg is stockier than I am, and has more body fat (no offense). I can still hear the horrible noise of The Boss in my head, and it's now several months later.
A whole lot of praise has been thrown the Gravity Group's way for their designs, but I believe they have a major embarrassment in St. Louis. You can change your name all you want, but it's still your work. Could it be Six Flags fault for their lack of maintenance? Possibly, but I thought Screamin Eagle was great and I didn't find any flaws with it on our two rides. Should Six Flags go the Holiday World route and buy PTC trains, like they did for The Legend? I think it would be a very wise move on their part, and could change the ride for the better.
When I returned from the trip, I saw my primary care physician and they did an EKG test, which came back fine. He then ordered a more extensive test called an audio-cardiogram. This involves shooting out very low frequencies with an ultrasound-like wand and taking different pictures of the heart and vessels. I get a notice a week later saying nothing is wrong.
Why I waited so long to say anything on here:
The season was early and I didn't want to take a chance that anything I said could make me a liability, therefore banning me from Six Flags America and any other Six Flags park.
It also took months to get all the medical bills in, which turned out to not be bad. The ER visit was knocked down to $50 or so (from $2500-ish) for now, and the ambulance ride was fully covered (which was like $500). The heart test would've been $865, but was only $25. I was sitting in limbo wondering if I'd be able to financially afford going to Great Adventure, or any other park.
Had I had a pre-existing condition, I would've taken full responsibility for what happened, but that was not the case. As it is, I'm still out $90 (including $15 co-pay for the primary-care doctor), but I think there's a fat chance of seeing that recovered.
Do you think Shapiro would care that he's got a very family-unfriendly coaster sitting out in the midwest? Stay tuned.
.. but isn't it kinda your fault upon riding The Boss a second time? For example, when I last went to Carowinds, Hurler was running horribly and my neck was a tad sore. That's the park's fault. If I'd gone a second time and wound up in worse shape, that's mine. I knew it was a miserable POS and I knew better than to ride it again.
Personal responsibility: it's a good thing.
I don't mean it as a insult or to be mean but maybe you should lay off the woodies. Theres a huge difference between say Cornball and Voyage and Boss. Cornball, phoenix and some others are playfull, The Boss is pure force.
To be fair, I had the bar come down several times on boss as well, so maybe your complaints are legit. It's no fun.
Trust me, I beat myself up hard about getting back on again, but, there was no way of knowing that it would be that more violently rough in the back. Why do you think Holiday World got rid of the Gerstlaurers at their own expense? Just to keep coaster enthusiasts happy? Highly doubtful. I guarantee you they had a long log of customer complaints, and probably injuries from riding. That's not good for business when you've only got two major coasters (at the time).
Ultimately, CCI was trying to save the wreckage of their business by providing the piece-of-crap trains that are the Gerstlaurers. I think it's up to Six Flags to do something about the situation. They obviously got the motivation once to do something about roughness with all the Premier coasters, and that was with management who wasn't promoting a family atmosphere. I'd like to see the current management get it right again.
Personally, I can't stand Gerstlauer trains, but I also think that the individual lapbars on the PTC's are horrid. Give me a Millennium Flyer or Century Flyer with buzz bars anyday!
While I loved The Boss I remember it was a very intense ride when I rode it back in 02 and I don't doubt that people have been injured on that ride. I-Fan is simply stating his reasons why the park should improve on their maintenance of the Boss or why they should replace the trains with something a little more comfortable to ride.
Should he have re-ridden it and not taken responsibility for it? Absolutely not, but I don't think Intamin fan is out to blame the park, I think he's out to have the park improve the ride so that they don't go through the same experience as he did.
*** Edited 10/25/2006 4:35:28 AM UTC by thrillerman1***
I had a similarly bad experience on Mean Streak in 1998. I rode it once, got incredibly roughed up, then went back for a second ride later in the day hoping it would be better. Nope... it was worse. It the only time in my nearly 20 years of riding that I wanted to get off a ride while it was moving. I was getting brutally jackhammered, and my head was getting violently jarred. Of course, being 20 at the time, I didn't know that I should've said something to someone. I just got off the train when the ride was over and tried to recover. Didn't tell the ride ops, didn't go to First Aid, didn't go to guest relations. I was likely very mildly concussed...snot was jarred out of my nose on the ride, and I was left with a headache for four days (and I get migraines, so I know about headaches). And that's not to mention the bruises up and down my back.
Unfortunately, I've discovered that a lot of parks have rides that are this brutal, and they still put people on them (Son of Beast and The Rattler, to name a few). If you don't say anything, park management's not going to know. We all know plenty of people who just assume that wooden rides are "rickety" and are supposed to be that rough.
But as you point out, not everyone has the same ride experience, even sitting in the same car. The friend who rode next to me on Mean Streak had a mild headache, but never felt as battered as I did. The ride ops and maintenance crew may never experience those horrible rides when testing, either.
I don't know if one negative comment will get the ball rolling, but enough of them will get parks to make changes (again, see The Rattler). As the most current crop of wooden coasters begins to age, I imagine parks may begin to overlook wood altogether and go with plug-and-play or just plain steel.
Like I said, I had Bosses bar come down and come down hard a few times. I've only been there once, in 2003 and that day me and my brother got over 40 rides. Last year my brother returned and though he said he didn't find it rough. It wasn't running like it was in 2003.
Perhaps it's just gotten worse.
Ever consdider that one wasn't direct result of the other?
Glad to hear you are feelng better though.
If a ride sucks, ride it again next year if you want to give it another chance. Otherwise, don't expect different results. Some rides (like Son of Beast) don't ever get better.
On another note, I'm one of the "lucky" few that have experienced "The Boss" with PTC trains, as they were used on it for media day since the G trains weren't yet up to the task. I got the largest (and frankly ONLY) bruise in my 30 plus years of coaster riding. It was *not* a pleasant experience. YMMV.
As far as Excalibur goes, I do pretty well with flats in general. It was also the excitement of actually seeing it running for the second time. Believe it or not, the only flat that's ever made me feel like I wanted to puke was Pirate's Flight at SFA, and that's because it goes around and around in a circle.
Jeff, if I'm physically okay, why did I tell the story? Because a lot of people wanted to know, and I wasn't giving any information out at the time. When you and I talked at BeastBuzz, I hadn't any further tests done either, so I was still being very cautious.
Yikes, I do remember hearing they used the PTC trains on The Boss on media day. But, didn't those come off of Screamin' Eagle which some people say has smaller seats than most PTC trains?
Deporat, I don't know much about food and blood pressure. I'm not a dietician (maybe I should look into it). I remember Jeff saying recently that enthusiasts don't get elevated heart rates earlier this summer.
We ate cereal for breakfast (our normal breakfast until Sunday to save money) and unfortunately never got anything to eat at SFSTL. It was so darn hot that we just kept drinking water, which from what I've read can make you feel like you have a full stomach. We had planned on leaving around 7pm and getting something to eat right after also to save money.
Roar for instance has gotten so bad lately due to a combination of poor maintenance & those god awful PTC's & they really should consider switching to M-flyers.Now I havn't had the displeasure of experiencing the G trains on any woodies around here <thank god> but why,if these trains are so bad do the parks not do something about it such as coughing up the extra bucks needed for a train better suited to run on the ride's twisted layout?
I mean if they can take action to correct the headbanging on the premier launchers<JJ,Freeze,Chiller etc.> why not do the same for the woodies? BTW I-Fan,I also share your sentiments about pirate's flight as well as that ride makes me sick...I can tolerate flying carousel just fine & even rodeo but PF just messes me up.
Intamin Fan said:
Deporat, I don't know much about food and blood pressure. I'm not a dietician (maybe I should look into it). I remember Jeff saying recently that enthusiasts don't get elevated heart rates earlier this summer.
Well, that was a generalization that Jeff pulled from his ass. Sure, there is at least some emprical evidence that so-called 'adrealine junkies' typically need more and more simulation to elicit the same response, but clearly, that doesnt apply to everyone. If you monitored my blood pressure on a drop ride, you'd see a rise just like in "normal" folk. I'm not ashamed to admit that I still get those nervous 'butterflies' on most thril rides.
Or maybe I'm just not an enthusiast. ;)
--who was apprehensive on SFMW's V2
I still think this thread reeks of attention whoring.
Gerstlauer *does* do good stuff. Try out one of their spinning rides....just not wood-coaster trains....yikes! Like Premier and B&M before them, steel coaster manfacturers do not good wodd-coaster trains make....or something... :~P
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