Labor Day at Six Flags America - 9/7/15

Friday, September 11, 2015 11:44 AM

Six Flags America has always held a special place in my heart. I spent a huge part of my younger high school-ish aged years visiting Six Flags America on essentially a weekly basis and even worked there for a summer. Living across the Potomac River from Maryland in Northern Virginia, SFA was only about thirty minutes away and was by far the closest park (with Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and a hand full of others as much as a couple hours away). It wasn't the greatest park but it was a short drive away and had a solid line-up of rides with very little lines. It was a great place to have as a home park growing up and I was very excited to make my first visit there since moving away from the area several years ago.

We started our day getting 2016 annual passes processed. Six Flags was running a special around Labor Day weekend where annual passes were being sold for $49.99 which includes admission to all Six Flags parks as well as parking. We do not have plans as of yet to visit any Six Flags parks next year, but that was too good of a deal to pass up and I'm sure we'll find time to stop by a park or two next year.

After entering the park we made our way to the first of the two new roller coasters added since my last visit - Apocalypse which debuted back in 2012. This stand-up coaster has a bit of history behind it; it was the first B&M coaster when it opened in 1990 as Iron Wolf at SFGAm, and for a brief time was the world's tallest and fastest stand-up coaster. After hearing mostly negative reviews for the ride both in its time as Iron Wolf and its current life as Apocalypse (most critiques mentioned its roughness and uncomfortable stand-up trains), I had fairly low expectations. After waiting a couple trains we were off in the front row (could have walked right on any other row) - I was pleasantly surprised by the ride. Although it did have a couple jostling transitions, particularly towards the end of the ride, I thought it was mostly smooth (even smoother than some other B&M coasters I've experienced recently such as Incredible Hulk and Kumba) and had some neat theming along the ride's course including crashed airplanes and a small explosion. Overall it was a better experience than anticipated and a nice start to the day.

From Apocalypse we made our way to the second new credit of the day - Ragin' Cajun. This ended up being the longest line of the day as it took us about 20 minutes to board while everything else was a walk-on or one train wait - not bad for Labor Day. This ride is a standard Zamperla spinning wild mouse coaster which also began its life at SFGAm with the same name. This ride may take the cake as the most intense wild mouse coaster I have even been on. The spinning was insane and I don't think the trim brakes along the way slowed the ride even once. By the time the ride was through we were staggering to the exit.

Wild One was next on the agenda and we jumped on in the back row with no wait. The ride was a bit more rough than I recalled it being in the past, but still had great airtime over every hill and an out of control, lateral filled, helix finale. Considering the ride's age (it was first constructed in 1917 and was moved to Maryland in 1986) and aggressive layout its understandable that it has some roughness and I still think its among the most underrated wood coasters out there.

After Wild One we went on the park's newest flat ride (or what they call coaster) the Bourbon Street Fireball. This massive looping ride is very thrilling and a little nauseating as it turns you upside-down more than seven stories up repeatedly. It is a nice addition to the park's ride lineup which had seen several flat rides retired and not replaced. I still miss Iron Eagle and Enterprise, for example.

After a brief stop for lunch at the Saloon in the Coyote Creek section of the park we hopped on Mind Eraser. We rode in the middle of the train and it was just as awful as I remembered it being.

Following Mind Eraser we went on the front seat of the twisted GCI woodie Roar. The ride felt more smooth and had a bit more airtime than I recalled it having the last time I rode, still a very solid ride.

The final themed area left to see was Gotham City, home to the last three coasters of the day - Jokers Jinx, Superman Ride of Steel, and Batwing. First up was Jokers Jinx which we rode in one of the middle rows. I always enjoyed the outdoor version of the Premier launched, spaghetti bowl coaster over the indoor Flight of Fear coasters found at Kings Dominion and Kings Island. I love the end of the ride as you rush through the structure on zigg-zagging horizontal turns before the final corkscrew inversion as the supports appear to be only inches away.

Following Jokers Jinx we went for a front seat ride on Superman Ride of Steel. Superman is still the best ride in the park by a wide-margin. While the ride doesn't have a huge quantity of airtime, it has has what I would call quality airtime. Superman only has 5 "moments" of airtime which seems rather small, however, each one is superb. The second hill provides great floater airtime, while the third hill and the final three hills before hitting the brakes each have insane ejector airtime that feels as if the ride is trying to throw you from the train. In the front-seat the ride was also very smooth while it raced over the hills and through the helices.

Last but not least we rode Batwing, the Vekoma Flying Dutchman coaster. Although the ride was only running one train we were still able to go straight on the front row with no wait. While B&M may have created a far smoother, reliable, and more perfectly engineered flying coaster experience with rides like Superman Ultimate Flight and Manta, I still prefer the raw intensity and out of control feeling of the Vekoma flying coasters. Even after countless rides I still get a feeling of nervousness while ascending the lift and waiting for the first roll-over maneuver into the flying position. A small voice in my head seems to always ask "Just how safe is this thing really? What if the restraint fails?" then next thing you know you are facing straight down at the ground more than a hundred feet in the air before hurtling into a twisted mess of track that throws you every direction.

Following Batwing the insane heat of the day was catching up to us and we decided to call it a day after a few hours and seeing all the coasters. I was very pleased with our visit all in all, the park looked clean and well maintained and the employees were by and large extremely friendly. The park seems to be continuing its upward trend and gradual improvement each season.

Last edited by Capitalize, Friday, September 11, 2015 6:05 PM
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