Day One: Dorney Park (5/28)
Park impressions - beautiful park. Yes, there's a lot of concrete, but it has to be one of the most beautifully landscaped and manicured parks out there. Reminded me of a golf course. It's also a small park. It doesn't help that you can see the entire park in one glance. I had read other trip reports that mentioned DP being dead on Saturdays. It sure was. One thing that stood out to me was the park's bizarre choice of music. I heard the most mellow and thrill-park-inappropriate music... "More Than Words" by Extreme while in line for Hydra??? It just seemed to underscore how dead the park was. For once, Venga Boys might have been more appropriate.
Steel Force - I was surprised it wasn't more intense. There's plenty of Morgan floaty air, but no ejector air. I loved the turnaround, though. Nice, out-of-control feeling. 4/5
Laser - intense... a little too intense for me. Scorpion is more my speed for a portable Schwarzkopf. Might have ridden it more than once, but the loading time was awful. It took them 3 minutes just to get enough walk-ons to fill half a train. 3/5
Hydra - meh. Yeah... just meh. I just don't know if the smaller B&M floorless rides are all that exciting. I liked the big corkscrew, but that was pretty much it. Every time a train came back to the station, people looked utterly indifferent. No applause, no cheering. Meh. And, yes, the vibration is there. It's not uncomfortable, but it's distracting. 3.5/5
Talon - mmmmeh. Admittedly, inverts aren't always appealing to me. Talon's got all the ingredients, but it didn't blow me away. I did enjoy the brief moments of airtime, and it was as smooth as could be. Mid-size inverts just confound me. People seem to love them (Fire Dragon, Talon), but I seem to like them either really big, or really small. 3.5/5
Thunderhawk - Dorney tore down the wrong woodie. Little to no air, brutal laterals in the turnaround. I know it's a classic, but it classically sucks. 1/5
Overheard while in the park: "This park is nice, but it's not as nice as that other park we went to." And someone exiting Hydra shouted, "I'd rather ride Nitro."
Day Two: Six Flags Great Adventure (5/29)
Park impressions - I thought I could beat the crowds by arriving early. I was wrong. Got to the front gates at 9:30... and everyone was already there. It took me a half-hour to finally get into the park. I was stunned that there were 1) so few entry gates, 2) that security was so slow, and 3) that there was no one working the parking lot. There were also no parking lot indicators (no Bugs lot, no Daffy lot, no lot A12 or B5... nothing).
But aside from that, I was stunned at how beautiful the park was. I loved the trees! Trees everywhere! And the lake was great. I only wish they didn't conceal with so much. They could really model the back of that park after the old-time lakeside parks.
Kingda Ka - made a beeline for KK as soon as I made it through the gates. Once I got to the entrance, the queue was moving for a solid 10 minutes before it came to a stop. That's how much queue there is to fill. I ended up waiting 1 hour and 45 minutes for my ride, but it would've been closer to 1 hour were it not for a few glitches. One glitch left a train out behind the station for a half-hour alone. And not a single announcement was made the entire time. It might be nice to tell the people stuck out in the sun that they're working on trying to get them back in the station... Someone also passed out while in line, causing a small scene. Security reacted promptly, though.
As for the ride... I liked it better than Dragster. Sure, the horn doesn't have the same effect as the tree light and engine sounds on Dragster, but the bunny hill makes up for it. Maybe KK is fickle, but I had a great ride. Good launch, although having been on Dragster already, it wasn't as mind-blowing this time around. I got great air cresting the top hat, and great air on the bunny hill. Maybe it's because I wasn't stapled very hard, but I loved it. 4.5/5
Nitro - I was so suprised by this ride. I've heard so many people badmouth it, but I loved the air I got on this ride. There's air everywhere, except for on the hammerhead, but that's cool too! It definitely beats Apollo's Chariot and Raging Bull in my book. I got in two quick rides before the crowds started filtering toward the back of the park. 5/5
And that was it. I stayed at the park until 7:00, but the crowds were horrendous. Several rides weren't operating, or were having lots of trouble. By noon, every ride had at least a 1-hour wait, and there really wasn't anything there that I wanted to wait that long for. Mind you, I've been on Batman, Superman, and GASM in their other incarnations at SFGAm. And I might have waited for Medusa and The Chiller, but I knew I wouldn't enjoy them nearly as much as I enjoyed Nitro.
I did have a good time at Great Adventure, and it exceeded my expectations. It just seems like they're bringing in WAY more guests than they can handle, especially when they can't get all their rides running consistently. Oddly enough, KK seemed to run pretty consistently during the day. And the Nitro ride ops were fantastic. Even when there was a station wait, they were checking restraints very quickly and dispatching the trains as fast as possible.
Day Three and Four: Six Flags America (5/30-5/31)
Park impressions - why did they stop landscaping halfway through the park? The old part of the park is so nice... lots of trees, lots of shade. Then you get to Wild One and it looks like someone designed the park in RCT sandbox mode... with no trees. Plunk a ride down here, plunk a ride down there, plunk down some food kiosks... and there you go.
Ride ops weren't particularly speedy, Superman and Batwing were only running one train, and the bridge near the front of the park smelled like vomit. For two consecutive days.
Superman - got two quick rides on Monday as soon as the park opened, and I'm glad I did. I broke down shortly after 11:00, and I didn't see it reopen the rest of the day. As for the ride, I guess I was expecting more. Nitro blew me away, and Superman underwhelmed me. The first drop bothered me the most. I like feeling airtime all the way down the drop, but you start hitting your seat halfway down the drop on Superman. It just seemed way too short, especially compared to Nitro. The other hills were fantastic, though, but the helixes (or helices, if you will) just seemed a little boring. I didn't feel like I was going particularly fast, and the fact that they were so far above the ground buffered that sensation even more. The restraints also hampered my enjoyment a little. It's just too confining, and I'm a skinny guy. It is a great ride, but I was expecting more based on all the rave reviews it gets. 4.5/5
Batwing - horrible loading, horrible restraints, but a very fun ride! Everyone was right... put B&M trains on a Vekoma course, and you'd have a superb ride. 4/5
Wild One - very nice ride! I didn't really feel much more than floaty air, but this ride seemed to be more about laterals. I love the double-down that weaves its way under the lift hill, and the helix at the end is incredible! I'm amazed that a ride that old, and a ride that has been relocated can be running so well. 4/5
Roar - another nice ride. I was totally surprised by the airtime on the first drop. Granted, I was in the last seat, but I was out of my seat the whole way down the drop. The ride was a little violent, but not painful. Very peppy, very strong, definitely enjoyable. 4/5
And that was that... the park was dead on Monday, and beyond dead on Tuesday. Again, I'd been on Two Face and Joker's Jinx in their other incarnations at other parks. And I'll get around to riding an SLC one of these days. Why does SFA's Superman have so much trouble? The park has lots of potential... it just needs to run rides more efficiently. And landscape the back of the park, for crying out loud!
Final thoughts: Dorney Park is a nice little park... why don't more people go? Great Adventure is amazing, but they really need to move guests better, especially when Kingda Ka is going to be bringing more guests than ever through the gates. And SFA... SFA confuses me. I think Six Flags' purchase of the park caused it to go through some awkward growing pains. They need to tie that park together a lot better. Maybe by connecting the Wild West area to Gotham City to make a big loop.
Last, but not least, the tolls out east are brutal. Brutal!
Up to 109 coasters now, and I'm pretty satisfied. I've still yet to ride an SLC, though. I imagine I'll hit the one at SFAW one of these days.
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