New England 9-18 to 9-21-15. Two parks, one fair. Part 2.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015 11:37 PM

Ok. Have you ever had one of those days when everything you do is followed by the phrase "Well, I suppose we shoulda..." ? Our day devoted to Six Flags New England was just that. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Let's start with the discount tickets from the hotel. When I checked Saturday night, they opened their drawer to reveal stacks of em at 38 bucks a piece. I decided to get them Sunday morning, I'm not sure why, but they assured me they had plenty. When I went back the morning crew had none. Turns out they all have their own bank, the morning people had all sold out and there was no way to get to the other drawers that were counted and locked up. Jim raised a little polite hell, but even the M.O.D was at a loss to help us. The best thing they could offer was a coupon from their visitor's book that gave a 17 dollar discount off the gate. Still not a bad deal, but I should've bought them Saturday night.

We got to Agawam and found the park, finally. And that was only after many wrong turns because Jim, who was driving, relied on his device for directions when there were plenty of road signs pointing the way. (Grrrr...) As we entered the parking lot it was clear that the park was going to be very busy so we decided to pony up the extra 5 dollars for preferred parking. They gave us a receipt, sent us back through the parking lot, back out to the road into traffic, and into a difficult left turn to the lot. They also sold parking there, so we wasted about 20 minutes driving around the lots, but who knew? And it was still a bit of a walk to the gate.

At the entrance we got in a long line at the ticket window. Finally there, we were told since the coupon had no bar code we'd have to go to guest relations to purchase. There were several groups ahead of us at that (one) window and they all had big problems. When it was our turn they looked at our stupid coupon and had no clue what to do. At long last we had our tickets in hand only to look over and see at least 50 people in line at each turnstile. All with strollers and bags that needed checked, and most with season passes who's fingers didn't seem to recognizable by the scanners.

Seriously, I could have built a meth lab in the time it took us to get into that freakin' park.

Once in, I made up my mind to get cheerful and look forward to a new park with rides I'd been dying to try. Not so fast. We looked into Flash Pass, but at 95 bucks a person for the type that would give us Wicked Cyclone and Sky Screamer (world's tallest!) we decided it just wouldn't be worth it. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad,... right?.....

We walked straight back, past Thunderbolt with its great neon sign, past Scream, and into Bizarro-ville. I stood in awe, finally able to see in person one of the world's greatest rides that I had thus far only experienced in photos and videos. We got to the entrance and I was pleased to see the line was short (was everyone at Wicked Cyclone? Probably...) so after a five minute wait we were in the second to the last seat. Yay! The ride was awesome, so full of great hills, airtime, and wonderful curves. It was lengthy and thrilling from start to finish. It was truly one of the best rides I've ever had and I finally knew what all the fuss was about. As much as I love Millenium Force, this ride was better. The lap bars were a bit of a knee knocker, there was no soundtrack, and most of the effects didnt work, but I didn't care. Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
So, did I put Jim on a bench and grab as many re-rides as I could while the getting was good? No. I was more worried about touring the park and making sure I got all seven of the new rides I needed for my list. Did I care that they involved a Vekoma SLC, a Zierer junior, and a Mauer Wild Mouse? No. The credit whore in me told me to keep moving, so we did.
The Mouse With the World's Longest Name was good, although I figured out later I'd already ridden it at Kentucky Kingdom. (dammit) The SLC wasn't painful and the Batman floorless was quite fun. I liked them both and they were practically walk-ons. Jim was happy to sit with his phone and a Coke and get a little work done while I did all that.

I decided it was about time to head to the other side of the park and see what fresh hell was waiting over there. We stopped at Thunderbolt which I was quite interested in, as it's from 1931 and is a Harry Traver and Harry Baker creation. It was one train op, as usual I reckon, and it was there I was introduced to SF's screwed up operations. As many of you know, they load any and all FP's first, starting with the back of the train. When we finally entered, we grabbed the first available seat toward the back and got yelled at as they insisted we follow the line and fill all available seats from the front. Me, not seeing the sense in this, started to feel all entitled, but dutifully moved, (muttering the whole time) to some middle seat.
I thought the only wooden coaster they have now was good in spite of the long wait and inconvenience. It was fast and the tops of the hills felt kind of squared off giving some good pops. I would've liked to have ridden it again, but alas. Time to move along.

I was excited to know that they had Houdini's Escape, a Mad House ride, as I like those. But we got there to find it closed in preparation for a haunt conversion of some sort. Goliath and Flashback had hellacious lines, but that was ok. I had ridden them both at their original locations. I originally thought it might be fun to try Goliath with the new trains, but no. With a full queue and dispatch intervals at about 5 minutes I decided it wasn't worth it. A look at Pandemonium revealed a 90 minute wait so we moved on to Wicked Cyclone.

We got there to find the ride closed. There was a handful of people standing around the entrance, and the gum-chewing ride op gave us the usual story. (It's down for mechanical reasons and no idea how long it might be...) So just as I had finished telling Jim I wasn't about to leave that god forsaken park without riding this new RMC conversion they started testing. Yay! And testing... And testing...
After about a half hour of that she let us in and we joined the line of people who had refused to leave when the ride went down. Once again dispatch intervals were at about 5 minutes, there was only one train (!) and we moved along slowly. When we finally got to the bottom of the steps they announced the ride would be down while they moved the second train to the track. We were welcome to wait, but it would be some time so maybe we'd like to enjoy other rides in the meantime. NO! As Effie put it, "I'm stayin...I'm stayin!"
Some thirty minutes later they resumed operation with guess what? One train. We never saw the second train. After what amounted to about a two hour wait we were finally on. We were close to the back (the guy tried to get us to move, but I gave him my death glare) and then there was an argument amongst the ops as they had apparently miscounted the Flash Passers. I didn't feel like that was my problem.

So. I'd like to give this new ride a glowing review, but I'm afraid my grouchiness over the matter gets in my way. It was good, for sure. The ride is nice and smooth, as expected, and the elements are thrilling, particularly the first drop and the last slow roll. I suppose upward forces are plentiful, but stapled in like that made it mostly just painful. The ride is super loud and the trains feel very heavy, it that makes any sense. As we disembarked Jim said "So? What did you think?" and I just said "Aw, who cares?" I was inconsolably bitter.
Being that it was my first visit to the park I never rode Riverside Cyclone, but I can imagine WC is an improvement over it. Maybe if I ever get back there I'll have a better experience overall. Or, at least I'll head there first.

To wrap up, I'll report we skipped Sky Screamer as it was painfully slow and the queue was full with about an hour+ wait. We did get Pandemonium, and we jumped ahead when they needed a party of two. It was one of my favorites of the day, as we lucked out with lots of good spins. Then we went back to Bizarro and to my dismay the line had reached about an hour and a half. No, but thanks anyway. The park was about an hour away from closing, so we headed to the gate, but only after I thanked Jim for bearing with me and being a good sport. He was so sweet, and said he had a good time in spite of it all. And he got his picture with Daffy Duck on the way out, so he was a happy camper.

I'm spoiled. And not just in general (which I freely admit to) but by the beautiful Cedar Fair parks in my home state. I'm used to going during the slow times of the season and with a season pass to back me up, springing for the occasional FastLane if necessary. I'm sad to say that I've never had very good experiences, especially over the last decade, with any of the Six Flags parks I've visited. I hate to join that chorus of complainers, but this time I just can't help it. And maybe the sharp contrast to my previous day at Canobie contributed to my overall attitude as well.

So the day was full of shoulda's. SO full. But I'm glad I finally got to cross this one off my bucket list and I did add add, by hook or crook, seven new rides to my list. Plus I took one of my favorite rides of my whole life and for that I'm grateful.

I know this was lengthy. If you stayed with me, then I'd like to say thanks for reading! Part 3 may come along later with a much shorter story (promise) about the Big E state fair.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015 5:55 AM

My last visit to SFNE a few years ago (2013, I think) also involved some one-train operations. I actually thought SFNE had better-than-average crews for a Six Flags park, but yeah...there's just a noticeable drop-off in operational quality compared to, say, the CF parks of the world.

I'm glad you liked Bizarro. It's easily one of the most enjoyable coasters I've ever ridden. Even without the effects running or the soundtrack blaring, it's just a ridiculous amount of fun. There's a lot of variety to the layout, and it keeps you interested from beginning to end.

I'm sorry that Wicked Cyclone didn't do much for you, but hopefully that's due to the experience you had waiting for it more so than due to the ride itself. I also agree on your issues with their policy of piling in Flashpass users. I remember waiting well over an hour for the SFOG Batman because they were, at times, devoting a train and a half to Flashpass riders. It was out of control.

I'm glad you still came out of the day feeling grateful for the experience, though! It really is a fun park, and not just because of Bizarro.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015 2:56 PM

Great report. What an experience! Bizarro is outstanding but I wouldn't give it an edge over Millennium Force. On my 1st trip to SFNE Bizarro had a soundtrack and on my 2nd it didn't; I actually liked it better without the soundtrack, which I found to be a distraction. Your take on Wicked Cyclone is interesting. I've been dying to ride it but am not 100% convinced that it's worth making a special trip although it undoubtedly is a vast improvement over Riverside Cyclone, on a par with Mean Streak for being one of the most boring coasters I ever rode. As to SFNE, of the 5 Six Flags parks I've visited this one is by far the least hospitable. I found the staff to be unfriendly, sometimes to the point of being rude, and the ride ops did nothing to try to create an amazing experience. A lot of people dis Great Adventure but the ride ops at that park have always given 110%.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 10:54 AM

Sucks.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 11:46 AM

High Five!

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 4:15 PM

You should check into parks a lot more before you visit them. Sfne has single rider lines on, Bizarro, Goliath, pandemonium, flashback, scream, splash water falls. Next time your going to visit the park message me and i can meet up with you and i guarantee you will have a good time there.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 5:55 PM

I enjoyed my visit to SFNE, but it was during ACE's 2013 convention.

My pal Mark and I were staying with a friend of his, who, well, forgot we were staying with her and so opening night of the con our con badges were locked inside her house. I called a friend inside the park and several park team members were quickly at the gate to escort us in, provide us with temporary badges and take us to the opening night festivities. I was overall impressed by the staff.

That said, I followed my usual M.O. of avoiding the park outside of ERT and con events, so maybe the team members I interacted with were on their "best behavior"?

Superman/Bizarro/Superman and Thunderbolt were far and away our favorites, though being long time Catwoman fanboys we enjoyed Catwoman's Whip too.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015 11:45 PM

I forgot to mention Catwoman's Whip, Slith, but we enjoyed it. I always loved the one at Geauga and rode it every time. The side to side forces are always surprising (especially for a single rider, which I always am on that one). We both said "whoa" a couple of times! It was just one trip around, though. At Geauga it was a two-lap ride. Who else has one of those, New Jersey? Anyway, for a junior ride it's one of the best. Everyone can ride and that's a plus.

And speaking of single riders, gamerguy, there were no single rider lines on any of the rides we rode, and believe you me, I looked for them. In fact I just now double checked with Jim to make sure I was right, and he concurs. (unless they're hidden up the exits, or something, which in itself would be weird) Besides, when I'm on a date I don't want to spend the day riding with strangers. And rides like Goliath, Flashback, Scream, and Splashwater Falls were of little interest to us on this trip, so I can't say for sure about those. Hours were short, and I needed to make sure I was able to get the new rides I "needed".
I certainly didn't mean by describing the foibles of the day to leave the impression that I was blindly walking into the place. This is a park that has been on my wish list for years and years, I looked forward to it, and I studied up as much as any one person should probably do. (you clearly don't know who you're talking to, lol). But trust me, I had our path layed out.
I will say I was taken by surprise by the amount of guests that day, although it came clear they were all in on the cheap. Season passes were, what, 58 bucks? And a local lady, a guest, told me that if they visited before the Halloween season started, which I think is this Saturday, they all got free parking for the rest of 2015 and 2016. Oh, and they could bring friends with them for 25 dollars as well and I saw a lot of that at the gate. And that was another thing, I sensed a lot of those bring-a-friend ticket holders were having a hard time figuring out what to do with them. They caused delays and unhappiness at the entrance as well, and those were the guests piled up at the guest relations window. I'm not sure how this Ohio boy would have known that, or how it would have changed things for us. We only had that one day to go.
Truthfully, the only real regrettable parts of our visit involved the piss poor operations on Wicked Cyclone, not my fault, and the fact that I didn't take advantage of multiple morning rides on Bizarro which I'll take the blame for.
Anyway, not to cry too loudly. It's done, I finally got there, and I'm not sure if, when, or why I'll ever go back. But thanks for the offer.

As far as Six Flags parks go, my best experiences, for some reason, have been at the original three, Arlington, Atlanta, and St. Louis. The other 'acquired parks', to me at least, are hot messes. And I've heard complaints in recent years about the FlashPass implementation and I'm here to agree. Cedar Fair parks seem to have the edge in how they balance the haves and the have nots, at least.

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Friday, September 25, 2015 7:21 AM

The single rider lines are not really visible on a couple of the rides, in fact there's no sign at all on pandemonium but all the rides i listed you have to use the flashpass line. If anyone is planning a trip to a new england park, you can get all the inside info on my website or fb page.
Sfneonline.org

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Friday, September 25, 2015 10:06 AM

SFDK has one of those giant Zierer kiddie rides called the Cobra.

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Friday, September 25, 2015 1:01 PM

Zierer makes some REALLY cool rides. The Flying Carpets crush, they make THE Wave Swinger of choice, and their coasters can be surprisingly good.

Sorry about the Wicked Cyclone issues - I'm still sitting with just the one RMC conversion ride myself (iRat), hopefully next year will result in at least something of a return to coaster travels....and maybe even a "brand new" RMC ride...thinking Outlaw Run. Definitely need to get back to New England at some point though, Jill's utterly disappointing ride on Supes was a shock to me. "THAT'S what you've been raving about for 15 years?"....

I've been to SFNE close to a half-dozen times, have never seen their Houdini operate (thinking the ride may have escaped).

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Friday, September 25, 2015 11:06 PM

We were at SFNE in the Spring. Having ridden the Cyclone pre and post topper track, Wicked Cyclone is a major upgrade. What a ride. We both agreed it was a lot of fun.

Love Bizarro, but loved it better as Superman. First time we rode it at Bizarro the audio was on, and I enjoyed it. This past visit no audio. Glad to see they are theming it back to Superman. Its one of my favorites, but my wife loves Intimidator at Kings Dominion more.

We actually bought Six Flags passes there for the first time in about 6 or 7 years. Like you hates your day at SFNE due to poor operations RCMAC that's we generally skip Six Flags passes and visiting SF parks unless its a new one that we haven't been.

The rest of their collection of rides are just ok. We didn't ride the Starflyer either. Just didn't want to wait. We did get to ride Houdini. We both enjoy that. The one at SFGAdv seems to run more reliably.

We only live 90 minutes from SFA and haven't been in about 8 years. We hate that park. Wicked Cyclone and Bizarro were our reason for making the visit. It was worth it. I love their spinning coaster as well. We had a few good laps on that. Getting paired up with strangers and watching their faces makes it worth the wait alone. Fun little coaster.

Hersheypark is our home park and the past 3 seasons we've gotten Hersheypark, Cedar Fair, and Busch Gardens passes. Six Flags is afterthought after visiting those parks.

Lake Compounce was amazing as always on this past visit. Boulder Dash is one of my favorite wooden coasters.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015 10:58 PM

I had the chance to get up to SFNE this past weekend. Wicked Cyclone was my second RMC and my first RMC conversion. Like on RCMAC's visit, it had periods of technical difficulties and was running one train during most of my time there. My first ride was in car 2, row 2. It was thrilling, and loaded with airtime, but I was surprised by some pretty extreme vibrations. It wasn't rough exactly, but it was very distracting. I did manage to get a vibration-free ride later, in car 5, row 1. Does it have something to do with being in a wheel seat in the second row of a car? Or did that car just happen to have square wheels?

gamerguy said:
You should check into parks a lot more before you visit them. Sfne has single rider lines on, Bizarro, Goliath, pandemonium, flashback, scream, splash water falls. Next time your going to visit the park message me and i can meet up with you and i guarantee you will have a good time there.

The park is doing something wrong if one is required to do a ton of research in order to have a good time. How is anyone supposed to know about the single rider line on Pandemonium, for example? There's no mention of it in the park map, and no signage anywhere at the ride. Most park visitors are not going to do research before a day at their local amusement park.

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