Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
I am going to try to organize this trip report as best as I can. I have so much to say regarding the park, the event, and the rides that I had trouble figuring out where to even begin. Hopefully, this will not become too muddled.
This was my first ACE event, and I actually finally bit the bullet and joined ACE because of this event. It was worth my yearly dues just for one day like this at Great Adventure. The park opened an hour early so we could have ERT on Batman and Nitro. Nitro ran into trouble with the third train, and ERT was seemingly eaten away as the third train was removed from the track. Also, ERT on Nitro was started nearly 15 minutes later than scheduled. Great Adventure reps unexpectedly and very generously announced that because they had experienced unforeseen problems with Nitro, our ERT would be extended for approximately a half an hour and keep it closed to the general public during this time. It was a cool thing for the park to do for us, and loud applause was given by all.
ACE recently lost a member at the young age of 38. As a tribute, they did a speech in the Nitro loading platform. Since this was the woman's favorite coaster, they also kept her favorite seat on one of the trains closed for ERT and attached flowers to the clamshell. Obviously, I never met this woman, but she was dear to ACErs, and their love for her was plain to see. It was touching.
ACE and Great Adventure coordinated tours of Kingda Ka, Rolling Thunder, and El Toro. There were also history tours available, but only one tour was allowed per person due to the popularity of the tours versus small amounts of tour guides. My friend Jaya, my husband, and I opted for a 5:15 pm tour of the 3 coasters I listed above.
Oh, what a tour it was! We were given orange caution vests to wear, and then we were taken directly to the field/gravel area between the launch and return track of Kingda Ka. We were basically given free reign to walk anywhere within that area, including directly under Ka's summit. I had never been able to fully appreciate the magnitude of this beast's power and size until I got to peek in the window to the hydraulic room and to twist my neck at an impossible angle to gaze up the middle of the 46-story tower. Also, it was never more apparent to me how many people really don't follow the loose article policies. The summit base of Ka is a veritable graveyard of shattered iPhones, sunglasses, wallets, and car keys. Even as we toured, an eyeglass lens floated down like a transparent flower petal and landed at a tour member's feet.
From Ka, we wound our way over to Rolling Thunder and El Toro. We got to stand right next to RT's lift hill and wave to riders and cheer them on. We saw the usually hidden back half of Toro, a few leftover pieces of Great American Scream Machine (no, they wouldn't let us have any of them), and even took us to see El Toro's new engine and discussed possible future replacements for Rolling Thunder. No current bids are apparently offered from major coaster firms at this time. I did offer the Dos Toros Locos idea to the tour guide, or as an alternative, an RMC junior coaster...with a barrel roll. Called El Torito. I got a few chuckles, but if a new "little bull" pops up in RT's spot, you know where it came from!
Dinner was a decent Mexican buffet and raffle. ACE had a ton of door prizes for raffle, and my husband won the very first one (which he gave to me. It was a small plush El Toro bull...very cute). My friend Jaya also won a shirt, and my friend Kate won a Kingda Ka tiger. Mike and I won nothing. As he said, "Not even a f-ing pencil!!". *laugh* Many thank yous and speeches were made, and it was a nice break. However, it was kind of disappointing. Why, you ask? There was no gravy!
The park shut down El Toro for 1.5 hours so we could ride uninterrupted. One of the only drawbacks to travelling with enthusiasts is they all know that the back seat is where it's at. I'll speak more on that in the ride section though, and the ERT timing in the park section.
Last was a Rolling Thunder tribute, but we were so exhausted that we decided to skip the tribute and just ride Rolling Thunder on our own. Still, it was cool to see all those enthusiasts joining Six Flags to honor the soon-to-fall RT.
The Park: Good, Bad, and Ugly
1) Nitro and Batman are starting to look a little shabby and in need of paint. Same with Superman. Green Lantern's chain lift is so coated with grease at the top that it splatters everywhere. Dark Knight's movie screen was out. Usually Great Adventure's attractions aren't too "worn" looking to me, but there were definitely some shabby areas noticeable.
2) ERT on Nitro was nearly 15 minutes late starting because they were still testing. Why? I'm not being a snarky enthusiast here; I am seriously curious as to why a park would not do test runs far enough ahead of time that they couldn't be ready when they say they will be. Also, then they could have avoided stalling ERT further with third train issues and most likely irritating the GP who were not able to ride Nitro on opening for an extra half hour. If they test too early, could temperature changes alter something and make earlier test runs irrelevant? Are they not allowed to run trains before a certain time of day because of a nearby resident population? Is there another reason for waiting until the last minute? They didn't do this for Batman, which was ready to for immediate ERT.
3) El Toro was closed to the GP from 7p-8:30p. However, the park closed to the GP from 9p-12am for private ACE and Out in the Park participants. People were seriously pissed about the closure of Toro. Logistically, why not just close the park at 7 pm to the general public, then do the ERT for ACE, then allow Out in the Park to join in at 8:30? It would anger the GP less (I could see where if I paid a full admission ticket and then wasn't "allowed" to ride a premier attraction while 350 other people were, I'd be peeved) and logistically be less of a hassle. Shorten your hours, and people will still pay for those hours. Tick people off, and you lose customers. The ERT was wonderful, and Great Adventure did a fantastic job of running it smoothly, but perhaps another approach would go over more seamlessly?
4) Most of the staff was friendly and helpful but the Green Lantern button pusher and restraint checkers were so snarky, snappy, and rude, I saw people looking at each other like wwwooowwww, was all that necessary? The one female restraint checker actually got visibly angry at a male guest who was concerned that she had not locked his belt or checked it (they did posture checks first and then restraint checks). She yelled at him "RELAX!" and then slammed the bicycle seat up into his family jewels as she checked the shoulder harness. When the poor kid recovered and his testicles descended from his stomach, he laughed and said, "Well, I guess that was a big f*** you to me", but he was still obviously uncomfortable. I felt bad for the kid. He never got snippy with her or anything, just scared, and that's how he was treated. Never saw that at GrAdv before.
5) We were not required to wear hardhats during our tour. I couldn't help but wonder what a cell phone dropped from the top of Kingda Ka would feel like on my head. I was a little nervous as a result.
6) The nachos at the Boardwalk stand are $10, but they're huge, fresh, and tasty. Best deal I've seen at a park in awhile. I ordered the buffalo chicken nachos, and they were spilling over the sides of the container and nearly bending it in half with the weight. Awesome!
7) I liked the new locker system. A little intimidating to use at first, but very reasonably priced and easy to use once you figure it out. Much better than $20 lockers that you can't switch to different locations.
8) I am so pleased to see Great Adventure working with the LGBT community to offer their own event. I know many parks are supportive on this issue, but to actually witness the event, I was touched. Okay, and I was amused at the amount of men in booty shorts and sequin superhero capes. Not kidding. Even Jaya was shocked at some of the stuff she saw, and she's seen all sorts of crazy. It was great.
9) The newer smoking areas I saw were much improved from older smoking areas. They were bigger than their older counterparts and had benches and tables.
10) The newer plush Toro bulls are lighter in color and much cuter. They look more like little calves. Not a complaint...just really cute.
Nitro (2 rides, one front middle right, one back center right; ERT): Nitro in the front was running so gorgeously fast and smooth. I got actual ejector air everywhere. The back, in contrast, was so filled with vibration and "potholing" that I felt a little sick after my second ride.
Batman (1 ride, front left seat, ERT walk-on): Another great B&M ride that rode like a dream. Head-bangy for sure, but felt so snappy and agile. A bonus: My husband was doing a dead-on Christian Bale gravelly-voiced Batman impression while singing the Batman theme song. I couldn't stop laughing.
Dark Knight (1 ride, walk on): Very fun, efficient crew. Unfortunately, the ride has not changed into something better. My husband's Batman shenanigans continued though, so there was that.
Green Lantern (1 ride, front right center, about half an hour wait): Well, I asked my husband how he liked his first standup coaster, and he said in a high falsetto voice, "I'm Batman?" He was not a fan, but I bent my knees to avoid another knee injury, and I thoroughly enjoyed my ride. I was in the minority of my friends that liked it though, so I got no more rides.
El Toro (5 rides, 1 back right, 1 second to last left seat, 3 #5 car rides in various seats, ERT): Mike G. and I rode Toro twice, no volleying or boxing required. Toro is rougher than it used to be, but it still is smoother than any other wooden coaster and some steel coasters as well. While it has lost some re-rideability, this is not due so much to roughness as it is to hhhhooollllyyyy shNike intensity, speed, aggressiveness, and airtime. The plush bulls may have gotten cuter, but the big wooden bull has gotten meaner. Best damn rides I've had on it since my very first rank-shattering, game-changing, life-altering ride 5 years ago. Mike and I were raving like lunatics both rides. Then I rode once with hubby, then twice with Jaya, and all rides were just insane.
Rolling Thunder (second to last seat, left side): Other than one jarring moment I felt in my tailbone and lower back and the horrible noises in the first turn, I felt for the first time like I was riding the RT I rode in high school: Smooth, some great air, and way faster than my last ride a few years ago. After such a fun ride, I was sad they couldn't make a complete rehab on this work. Rumor has it that all RotB participants get a piece of RT when it is dismantled though, which is neat.
Well, that is everything. Whew! This was a memorable event, Great Adventure is doing an admirable job of nearly everything, and I had a blast. I didn't ride much, but there was so much to do that I didn't miss my usual power riding pattern. I can't wait for the next event!
"Riding of the Bull Cinco." Your spanish is reprehensible sir: "Cabalgué El Toro cinco veces"
^^ I laughed as I realized that my title could be misunderstood. The event was actually called Riding of the Bull Cinco because this is the fifth year the Riding of the Bull event took place. It was not an attempt to speak Spanish. That would've been the saddest attempt at Spanish ever.
Also, I know my name sounds masculine, pero soy una mujer.
^But you rode it five times. Regardless of the event name, that still translates to cabalgue el toro cinco vecesLast edited by bjames, Monday, September 9, 2013 2:59 AM
And don't you owe Ms. Bunky an apology?
Couple of other notes from the event, to supplement bunky's excellent recap...
My party of (usually) four only got one ride on Nitro in ERT. We had no anticipation of the extension, and moved on to Batman, where I had three rides.
I got four rides on Toro during the ERT. My two rides in the very back were awesome, the others more than decent. I actually took the LEFT side on my first run with bunky, hence the lack of fisticuffs in a battle of the sexes.
Maybe it had to do with the spirit of the event and the nostalgia of knowing it was my last ride, but that run on Rolling Thunder was pure bliss. Not rough, not slow, didn't even seem as screechy as usual. It's been many years since I had that good a ride. This is probably my third or fourth-most-ridden coaster in my lifetime. Adios, old friend. The tribute was just a slide show with dramatic music, shown on a screen near the ride's exit. But it was well done, just the right length, and poignant. Attendees were given a certificate to obtain a piece of the ride when it's demolished.. that was a nice surprise. My friend Jennifer actually shed some tears.
Considering I was in the park for about 14 hours, I didn't ride that much:
1 Runaway Train
3 Sky Ride
1 Rolling Thunder
1 Kingda Ka
I didn't partake of the Mexican gravy-less buffet, as I don't eat Mexican food..I did have some ice cream, a popsicle, and a churro which were available. I had a meatball hero from Primo's which was quite good, and a slice of pizza later.
Although I'm not a picture taker, I thought the tour was pretty cool, especially being in the belly of Toro, and giving RT a goodbye hug. I was a few minutes late for the History tour, but joined it in progress. Once I realized we'd likely be walking a large chunk of the park in the increasing heat, we bailed and got food and liquid refreshment.
Following the RT sendoff, we hit Kingda Ka with a 45 minute wait. I haven't had a night ride in a few years. Like Lightning Racer, I enjoy this ride more at night. Unlike Lightning Racer, it's not a favorite of mine to begin with.
I'm feeling sore yesterday and today, but it's the good kind of soreness. As I've gotten older, it's more difficult for me to spend a long day at a park, and I need to rest more than occasionally. But I'm actually proud of the fact I lasted the day (left at 11pm)Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Monday, September 9, 2013 11:19 AM
I missed getting the certificate. I wonder if I can call Six Flags and request one...
Everyone who registered for the event actually gets one apparently. I just checked.Last edited by bunky666, Monday, September 9, 2013 12:44 PM
Yeah, but I do think you need the certificate. It's numbered and notarized. I'd check with GA *AND* ACE.Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Monday, September 9, 2013 1:21 PM
Hmmm...I'm gonna have to check with my rep a little further then. Maybe he misunderstood my question.
Did you decide what park you're doing for your birthday yet?
I was there and left right after the Rolling Thunder tribute. Best ride of the day for me was the safari ride which we went to at 10:20am before the GP got down there and i was on the 2nd truck out. I also got my last ride in on RT and like you it was smooth fast and not squeaking like it used to. Yes if you did not receive a certificate you can still get your piece of RT from the park, just email the NJ Rep and he will get you a certificate which you have to redeem at the park next season for your piece of history. lol
Last edited by gamerguy, Monday, September 9, 2013 5:16 PM
^But you rode it five times. Regardless of the event name, that still translates to cabalgue el toro cinco veces
The verb would more likely be montar, since that's used for both riding roller coasters and for riding livestock.
And past tense would be yo monte (with an accent over the E) El Toro cinco veces.
I used to be a Spanish major in college...just didn't feel like arguing a silly point. Hehehe...
^I tried using the alt-key function to create that e' - character. Someone was up too late one night writing 404 error messages.
I personally can't wait for the Por Favor Mantanganse Alejado De Las Puertas Cinco event at Disney. It should be muy awesome.
Correct Spanish would be "muy awesomo."
The off-season has officially arrived.
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