PKD 9-05-04, Pt.2 - SFA

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 3:21 AM
After a somewhat disappointing day at PKD, my wife and I decided, on the spur of the moment, to make the 1 ½ hour drive to Six Flags America. We spent most of the morning trying to figure out how to get there, as the crack staff at our 1-star hotel had no idea. Thank goodness for 411.

We were hoping that with it being a Sunday, overcast and threatening to rain the crowds would be light, but after I took us well over an hour just to get parked and through the front gate we feared the worst. But our luck changed while we were waiting to get in the park as a nice couple offered us a “buy one-get one free” coupon, and the crowd seemed pretty light.

Our first ride was Jokers Jinx, and as we hoped, almost no line. The restraint system was similar to the ones used on the woodies at PKD, so of course I didn’t fit well, but the ride was pretty smooth. What a great ride! I didn’t expect such a thrill from such a compact layout, but was pleasantly surprised.

Next up – Superman. Now, after what happened on a similar ride in New England, I heard the restraints had been modified. After a few trips to CP I was familiar with the Intamin restraints and was afraid I might not fit. I’m not sure what was changed but I got in just fine. I did have trouble with leg room. The front seats of each car have a large metal support for the lap restraint that forces you to maneuver you legs to either side of it, plus your ankles are restrained making it very uncomfortable. Having ridden MF at CP I was expecting a lot, and this coaster didn’t disappoint. The ride seemed a bit rougher than MF, but my wife and I got much more air time on this ride (always important to my wife). The last two bunny hops coupled with the last quick turn to the right really gave you a thrill at the end when you are least expecting it. The problem with the leg room made for a very uncomfortable ride.

Next up was Batwing. Line looked short, barely using up the first two cattle catchers in the queue line, but the line barely moved. Load times were over 5 minutes in some cases. They really need a better load system for this ride. After riding this, my wife and I have now ridden all three Vekoma flyers, I have to say X-Flight (or whatever it’s called now) at Geauga Lake is still the best of the three, with Batwing second and BORG a way distant third. Haven ridden but XF and BORG at least four times each I found Batwing to be much smoother and more comfortable than BORG. The track layout was almost identical to XF and way better than the layout on BORG. This would be a fantastic ride if they could just figure out how to get riders loaded faster.

Lunch was next on the agenda. After waiting longer at the concession stand than I did for Superman I can see why not many Six Flags parks win any Golden Ticket award in this category. Lucky for us the sky was still overcast with a small shower starting to fall, and not that hot at all.

Our next coaster was Roar. As I’ve said before, I don’t like woodies, but I ride ‘em to get ‘em in the count so I toughed out Roar, which I found very similar to Mean Streak at CP. A little rough but a very thrilling ride. If I can lose some weight and fit into the ride better I might actually like to try this coaster again.

Next over to Mind Eraser. A bit of a wait here, about 30 minutes or so. What I noticed about the queue is how the ride seemed to be on the far perimeter of the park, with the queue looking out into the woods. Gave it a real nature feel. I was thinking it was too bad the ride wasn’t themed to take advantage of that. The time might be right to re-theme the ride, as this particular coaster looked in dire need of a coat of paint. We waited for the front seat for this and regretted it. This ride tossed me around worse than any inverted coaster I’ve ever been on. My head was slammed into the restraints so hard I could feel my ears burning. No need for an Arrow at this park – Mind Eraser has it covered.

We made our way over to the other side of the park. It was barely two hours since we arrived and we only had two coasters left, so we were making great time. Unfortunately, Two Face was down for maintenance (there was a sign at the front of the park, so we were expecting it). No great loss, we’d done a similar ride at PKI last year.

So on to Wild One. Not much of a line here. Again a woodie, so not my favorite, but still a good ride. A little rough as we came back, but some good bunny hops that even gave ME some air even though I was strapped in pretty good. Oldest coaster in the park but still a goodie.

We decided to finish off the day with another ride on Superman. We thought about riding in the front, but the line was considerably longer and given my problem with the leg room in the front of the car on my last ride, we opted for the last row of seats. We enjoyed talking coasters with the Navy Cadets and their instructor from Annapolis. The instructor had a “Son of Beast” waist-pouch and was a seasoned coaster vet, taking a few cadets on their first Intamin coaster. These Navy guys might be flying fighter jets some day but looked scared as hell when they came back to the station after their ride. The back seat turned out to be a great ride, and the leg room was still tight, but nowhere near as bad as in the front.

On a side note – I did see several people, not much bigger than me – with problems fitting into the restraints on SROS, so I guess my fears were well founded.

We finished off the day around 5pm, just as the rain, which had been threatening all day, began to fall. Overall, a great day – got in for half price, did eight rides on seven coasters in just under six hours. Overcast skies, so not too hot, crowds were light – all in all, well worth the trip.

Kestrel

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 6:59 AM
Sundays are always a great day to visit SFA. The only reason I can fiqure is the locals are still in church and you can get most of the coasters done in a couple of hours.

As you found out, JJ is the same coaster a Flight Of Fear. Going head to head, I like FoF better than JJ because it is indoors and has some "effect" lighting. However, compare FoF to Poltergeist at SFFT and I would give the Poltergeist the nod since they don't trim the ride.

Batwing has all kinds of problems, from lathargic staff to severe problems with the seat safety sensors on the rides. All the rides at SFA suffer from a general public that doesn't understand how to load and unload a coaster. You just see it most on Batwing because it runs only one train, one side of the station.

Roar can be a great woodie. SFA keeps the tracks on both wooden coasters well greased. I have found the middle of Roar gives a better ride than the front and a smoother one than the back. Black train does better than teal train for some reason, and the final curve heading towards the brake run is rough.

Some people have said Mind Eraser is smoother in the front. Haven't had the best oppurtunity to try yet. They appear to be testing paint types on Mind Eraser. Unfortunately, the paint is still red.

Not only is Wild One the oldest coaster in the park, it's the oldest in the Mid-Atlantic. Opened in 1917 at Paragon Park in Hull, MA. The park closed and the owners of Wild World (now SFA) bought the coaster and moved it. It's been reprofiled a couple of times but still has it's great wild ride. I always enjoy sitting in the front row.

Glad you were able to fit in the restraints on Superman. I've found the rear of each car seems to have more room. Another trick I have found is to bend your leg back, so your toes are touching the ground and your heel is off the floor. You get little airtime on this coaster in the middle but lots in the front. If you didn't get to ride on the right side of the train, it's well worth it just for the banked turn after the drop. You get some awesome air on the first hill and extreme almost endless air on the second. You are right, the bunny hops at the end do their best to toss you into the green storm water management pond as you head back toward the station.

I guess SFA doesn't do the amount of business yet that makes it necessary for them to prep the various meal platters like they do at PKD or BGW. If they did, the food would get cold. The end result is a longer line but fresher food.

Glad you had a good time at SFA.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 11:41 AM
So Two face is still down? I hope they get it back up in time for FF as it is still a smooth ride when compared to ME.

Now what I heard the other day as to why it's been down recently is because it got stuck yet again on lift #1 for 45 minutes or so,I find that hard to believe however as there were no media reports about it unlike the frenzy of "live coverage" that took place last year when it was stuck for nearly 2 hours.

Batwing's layout is the exact same as X-Flight at GL,but at least GL seems to run at least two trains on XF while SFA has only managed to do so very rarely with Batwing.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 12:34 PM

coasterguts said:
As you found out, JJ is the same coaster a Flight Of Fear. Going head to head, I like FoF better than JJ because it is indoors and has some "effect" lighting. However, compare FoF to Poltergeist at SFFT and I would give the Poltergeist the nod since they don't trim the ride.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't comparing FoF to JJ be the same as comparing FoF to Poltergeist? Poltergeist and JJ are exactly alike, including the lack of midcourse brake. Now, I haven't ridden Poltergeist, but if it rides just like JJ, how could one prefer FoF over JJ, but not over Poltergeist?
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Sunday, September 12, 2004 7:23 PM
I rode all four spaghetti bowl coasters in one summer after the modifications, and Poltergeist had the edge by far, followed by Joker's Jinx, then FoF at PKD, and in dead last due to roughness, FoF at PKI.

You made an interesting comment about the restraints though. How are the Premier restraints in anyway similar to the lap bars on the woodies at PKD? You could definitely draw a line between the restraint on Son of Beast though and the LIM coasters though. *** Edited 9/12/2004 11:24:31 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 7:24 PM
I rode all four spaghetti bowl coasters in one summer after the modifications, and Poltergeist had the edge by far, followed by Joker's Jinx, then FoF, and in dead last due to roughness, FoF at PKI.

You made an interesting comment about the restraints though. How are the Premier restraints in anyway similar to the lap bars on the woodies at PKD? You could definitely draw a line between the restraint on Son of Beast though and the LIM coasters though.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 7:42 PM
Vater -

Part of the way through the tunnel on JJ the ride doesn't continue to gain speed, it levels off but still maintains it's spped. FOF gains speed all the way through but has a mid course brake which JJ and Poltergeist don't have. Poltergeist accelerates all the way out of the station and into the roll with no mid-course brake. Also, JJ hasn't been the smoothest coaster this year.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004 9:15 PM
Coasterguts said

" Some people have said Mind Eraser is smoother in the front. Haven't had the best oppurtunity to try yet."

I have ( well the one in New England but still) and it is smoother in the front. It is smoother and also you get the effect that the supports are going to chop of your legs. Much better in the front.

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Monday, September 13, 2004 10:58 AM
Coasterguts - understood. I was unaware that Poltergeist was faster than JJ.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004 8:16 PM

Intamin Fan said:
You made an interesting comment about the restraints though. How are the Premier restraints in anyway similar to the lap bars on the woodies at PKD? You could definitely draw a line between the restraint on Son of Beast though and the LIM coasters though.

Well, they LOOK similar - both have large orange bars that click into position. On FoF and JJ the bars were held securely by seat belt-type restraint that clicked onto the lap bar. Whether the restraints on the woodies were identical I can't say for sure. All Iknow is they looked the same and sure felt pretty much the same to me.

Kestrel *** Edited 11/4/2004 12:40:02 AM UTC by Kestrel72***

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004 8:21 PM

BATWING FAN SFA said:
Batwing's layout is the exact same as X-Flight at GL,but at least GL seems to run at least two trains on XF while SFA has only managed to do so very rarely with Batwing.

Batwing had two trains running at the time, although they started the day with only one. At the time we rode, they had the second train running and we had to wait nearly five minutes on the brakes out in the open while we waited for the only train to start up the hill. At least on BORG you're under cover while sitting on the brakes.

Kestrel

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004 9:21 PM
^That's exactly my point.

It's only on rare occasions that SFA ever runs two trains on the ride....now I've been lucky enough to experience multi train op on Batwing but only once or twice a season,I just don't get it why on crowded days (saturdays in particular) that they choose to operate only one train resulting in lines that fill the entire queue & sometimes stretching just outside onto the midway.

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