Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
Knoebels, Elysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Friday, May 4: Six Flags Great Adventure
Weather: Began cloudy, ended very sunny, warm, sticky, and humid.
Crowds: Fairly Light (Teenage Paradise School Day)
Overall Park: 7/10
Best of the rest: Runaway Mine Train was unexpectedly a very good mine train with a fairly surprising pop of air on the last hill before the turn over the pond (6/10). Skull Mountain was a little more intense than I expected (7/10). Dark Knight had some very well done scenery turning an average mouse into a fun, family coaster (6/10). Kingda Ka never made a cycle the entire trip (whatever, I forgot it was even there). Rolling Thunder, while smoother than expected, was relatively uneventful lacking any considerable air (5/10).
El Toro: First ride of the day met with one-train operation, and the second was being worked on by maintenance; Ended up being about a twenty minute wait. Sat 6:3 with the advice of the popular opinion of the coaster community and it was a great decision. The out-and-back beginning was filled with excellent airtime on every hill, and the turnaround was very forceful. However, after coming around the corner into the twister section, I was met with the most extreme, unexpected ejector airtime I have ever met on any coaster. I must admit, while fun, the first ride in the morning was the least extreme compared to subsequent rides at the end the day were amazingly even more intense. New #1 Woodie for intensity (10/10)!
Bizarro: To my benefit, this fantastic coaster was lost in the shuffle by the general public. 3 train operation on a slower day was met with a virtual walk-on all day. I’m a sucker for zero-g rolls and cobra rolls, so this ride edged Dominator as my favorite floorless. The special effects were only icing on the cake to an already excellent ride. Although, the mist-barrel effect on the interlocking corkscrews was very effective. (9.5/10)
Nitro: Unfortunately this was the only major let-down. It’s not that the ride is bad, it’s actually good, but I really was expecting a great ride. The air was there, and the helix before the MCBR was intense, but the entire ride was lacking something. Tried it both near the front and the back, but I was met with similar results both rides. Props for the three train operation on a slower day though. Maybe I just talked this one up just a hair too much? (8/10)
Batman, The Ride: Big things really do come in small packages. I particularly enjoyed the loop-roll-loop beginning. Combine that with the intense, mangled mess of corkscrews and tight turns, this coaster was all anyone could ask for in an invert. It didn’t even seem as short as the stats would dictate. (9/10)
Green Lantern: Oh you standup coasters. It’s hard to process how popular these seem to be with the general public (at least the B&M ones). This was the longest wait of the day at about 45 minutes. I understand that the abundance of signs and operator spiels should do the trick to inform riders on proper riding, but people are ridiculous. Pay attention for just one minute and getting these trains going would be so much easier. I sympathize with the ride ops on these coasters as a ride former ride operator myself. As for the ride itself, GL is not what I describe as painful, but just not very comfortable at all. (6/10)
Superman, The Ultimate Flight: Sad as it may be, this was my first B&M flyer. The pretzel roll was very intense, but the rest of the ride is more of a wee than a wow. I can’t wait for the day I try some of the larger coasters of this type such as Tatsu, because this coaster has potential. (8/10)
General Park Observations: Unfortunately, I haven’t been to a Six Flags park since before the days of Shapiro as I live in the Northwest tip of PA, so I was excited to see this park. While the park was very clean with friendly staff and had an excellent collection of coasters, the place had an overall worn feeling. Gardens and some brick paths weren’t without some weeds. Queue fences on some attractions like Superman were bent with shoddy, quick-fix reinforcements. And some of the coasters, particularly Nitro and B:TR could use a power wash (like Kumba), and some fresh paint wouldn’t hurt. In addition, some of the smaller paths outside of the main midways were weathered/cracked with several pools of water from a previous night. However, like I said, I was very impressed with the staff, both ride operations and security, and coasters, but the park looks to be in need of some TLC to bring it up to the standards of some of its competition in terms of visual appeal. Despite being rough around the edges, I am very glad I made the just less than 7hr trip to ride some great coasters to start off the season.
P.S.: I still can’t get over the “Visual Scan” procedure by the ride operators. So funny watching the perfectly executed hand over forehead with the repeated about four times perfect 180 degree body motions.
Saturday, May 5: Knoebels
Weather: See Six Flags Great Adventure
Crowds: Moderate, but unexpectedly busy for May (as busy as a warm mid-summer weekday a couple years ago)
Overall Park: (10/10) Can anyone not love Knoebels?
There is just something about this smaller, community park that I can’t describe. The atmosphere simply can’t be beat. Even with the old-school gravel paths, portable trailer-mounted attractions, and even single train coaster operations, I just love this place.
Before diving into the coasters, their flats are great. Old favorites such as Scooters, Flyers, Looper, and Satellite combined with newer favorites like Power Surge (unfortunately down for maintenance) and Downdraft make for an awesome collection. Combine that with milder favorites such as Giant Wheel, Pioneer Train, and Haunted Mansion makes for the ultimate traditional family park.
Black Diamond: Obviously not built for the thrills is a unique combination of coaster and dark ride. The scenes were built to perfection, and the spinning tunnel was an effective bonus. Not as perfect or scary dark ride as Haunted Mansion, but a very effective tribute to the coal mines of Pennsylvania. (8/10)
Twister: The excitement to ride Twister after only having time for one ride before was elevated even higher upon observation of extensive re-tracking. Twister has a way of teasing riders of the upcoming intense rides by giving great lateral g’s on simply turnarounds off both the first lift and the second coming into the first drop. Riding in row three welcomed an exciting ride with some decent air on the crest of the hill after the first drop and on some of the drops following the large helix. Riding in the very back welcomed an even more out-of-control experience further enhancing the “Beast-like” helix. Discomfort wasn’t even thought of on both rides, just pure wooden twister greatness. (10/10)
The Phoenix: Last, but not least, the crown jewel of Knoebels, the famous Phoenix. First off, it was a nice surprise to see some more re-tracking on the first drop and up the following hill (just shows how much Knoebels cares). Made three rides: Two in famous 1:3, and one in 4:2. Air was extreme in both seats, but the most extreme was of course my favorite seat, 1:3. The Phoenix is by no means out-of-control like Twister, but the extreme air puts the biggest smile on my face that I will ever experience on a coaster. Even with El Toro as my new number one edging Phoenix, this is still my number one traditional woodie (10/10).
Few things of note: I will always be impressed with the fast coaster loading by Knoebels even considering the hassle eliminated without having seatbelts, but I do think two-train operations were needed for the day, even if they didn’t expect the crowd that arrived. Another thing is Knoebels height requirements on Twister and Phoenix. How do they get away with 42”? Not that it’s a bad thing that more people can ride as a result, but it’s just puzzling how intense and ejector airtime-filled coasters can be deemed acceptable for 42” without seatbelts. Especially when many coasters of similar size and same train design post a 48” requirement. Interesting.
Nitro: Unfortunately this was the only major let-down. It’s not that the ride is bad, it’s actually good, but I really was expecting a great ride. The air was there, and the helix before the MCBR was intense, but the entire ride was lacking something.
It's a very controlled experience like most B&M hyper coasters. I love the ride.
Discomfort wasn’t even thought of on both rides, just pure wooden twister greatness.
Awesome. I need to check it out this year. Perhaps for PPP.
AJ, just curious as you didn't mention it. Was this your first visit to GAdv?
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
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