SFA FrightFest 10/10/03

Associated parks:

I left Chicago for Richmond Wednesday night. I would be going to my 10 year High School Reunion Saurday, but my wife wouldn't be joining me till Saturday morning. What to do Friday night? Coasters, of course! VACoasterFreak (Tim) would be home for Fall Break that weekend, too, so we conspired together.

PKD, my home park through my whole life, former employer (Caricature Artist), and still my sentimental favorite amusement park, wasn't opening for Fear Fest until Saturday. BGW was open, home of some of my favorite steel, but Tim didn't have a season pass there and was short on funds. He had a coupon for $10.99 admission to get me into SFA, though, so that made our decision for us.

I first visited this park as a kid when it was Wild World. It was the year they bought Wild One, and they started featuring it in their TV ads. I wandered the park looking for it, getting dumb looks from ride attendants when I asked where the Roller Coaster was. Turns out they didn't install it till the next year. It was basically a Waterpark with some flat rides. Fun, but nothing special.

My next visit it was called Adventure World, and they were putting the finishing touches on Typhoon Seacoaster when I went (Which, of course, was already being advertised like it was open). I found a much improved park with a great woody, my first SLC, first Intamin drop ride, and my first Arrow shuttle loop. I lived in Richmond the year they rebranded as Six Flags and couldn't wait to try Two Face and Joker's Jinx. I moved to Chicago a year later, and never made it up to the park.

I was looking forward to seeing how it had aged, trying to put out of my mind all the negative things I've read about the park online. Plus, I would be hitting my first S:ROS as well as my first Vekoma Flying Dutchman. This would be a good trip. Since it was FearFest, too, I was planning on hitting as many of the Haunted attractions as I could, crowds permitting. Turns out there wouldn't really be much crowd, as when the gates opened at 5 there were maybe 100 people waiting to get in. Score!

Running back to Gotham City (where Superman lives, of course) PBR was closed, but there was no sign in front so we had hopes it would open later in the night.

I had high hopes for S:ROS, as MF was previously my only sit down Intamin. It didn't let me down, from the insane feels-like-more-than-90-degree first drop, crazy fast turns to its great pacing (love the straight sections sooo much), airtime, and corkscrew hill (what an awesome element!)
The bunny hops into the station look ridiculous, like something you'd build in RCT when you don't really care how realistic you're making it. I have to say I think this is the best steel coaster I've ridden. It has some really unique pacing and elements, and is just a ton of fun. Unfortunately, 1 train operation and stupid seatbelts that confuse people would keep me to 4 rides of this monster. I could've stayed on it all night. Unlike...

Batwing. It's all been said before... great layout, bad Vekoma trains. I really liked the flips. After a headbanging back of the train ride I was going to give it another chance in the front, but it broke down. No big loss.

A quick roundup of the other coasters...

Wild One: Fun fun fun. Shorter than American Eagle, but so much more enjoyable.

Roar: Got three rides in a row. Enjoyed the power, roughness seemed under control. Agree with others, though, that it's not as fun as it looks like it should be.It was my first GCI, and I really liked the big sweeping laterals.

Mind Eraser: I liked this the first time I rode it, and I liked T2 at SFKK earlier this year. This time, though, the shuffling was unbearable. Wish I'd worn a cup.

Two Face: Ugh. I hate coasters that are nothing but high G loops. This ride was just too much work (Had to do the whole 'Tense lower body' thing to keep from blacking out.

We also did all the 'Haunted' stuff at the park, which was mixed. I felt like the overall atmosphere left a lot to be desired from a Halloween event. Despite some nice decorations around, there was no 'creepiness' to any areas of the park like there are at Knott's, where it can be scary just to walk down the street. Some fog machines would be nice.

Hall of Manors:Typical plywood maze, and not enough actors. Nothing really clever here.

Zambora:Expected this to be a maze, not a 'show'. Was nice to see a classic Pepper's Ghost illusion. Thought they should have pushed it a little more after the 'escape', like in Alien Encounter at DisneyWorld.

Brutal Planet:Some nice theming, and good monsters. Poor pacing, though... Haunted Houses are always scariest when you know there's someone in the room with you but you don't know where. It was always obvious where folks were going to be jumping out from, so no frights for me. Not quite worth the five bucks.

Haunted Train: Ummm... yeah. What a world of missed opportunities. The only impressive thing was this one guy who actually jumped off the top of a school bus. That's athleticism.

We didn't see any shows, but did hear one announcement for us to 'come to the theatre and get Hippotized by the Hippotest.'

In all, my only complaint with the park was the slowness of loading. I think it's a two part problem... ride ops who have no motivation and GP who don't know how to fasten a seatbelt. Getting on Mind Eraser there was actually a Ride Op EATING A BURGER while checking restraints. Burger in one hand, the other pulling on OTSRs. That was definately a first. On the whole, though, it was a good park with a nice collection of mostly well maintained rides. Worth the trip by any score.

Touchè, teacher, touchè.

Vater's avatar
Nice TR, Brian. I do give this park a lot of grief, perhaps more than it deserves. I've had both great times and lousy times there, but of course the lousy times seem to stand out more. I, too, wasn't impressed with the haunted portions of the park when I went last year. Glad you had a good time, though. S:RoS is certainly worth the trip alone--and I'm right there with ya--I looove those straight sections!

Why is it that the folks I met at SRM all come to my neck of the woods the same two weekends that I go out of town? Argh! ;)

-Mike Buscema

'No matter how skilled the designer is, every time we push the envelope we learn new things about coaster design.' --Dana Morgan

You want fog? Unfortunately, you missed it. On Saturday and Sunday, there was so much fog in lower Gotham City it was ridiculous. And, they were using plenty of pyro on the train ride. A new haunted attraction was added last week also called "Street Scream Theatre" in front of the former Sky Escaper. Not quite sure what that's all about. They did have a person "spooking" some of my riders tonight on Krytpon Comet (Chaos). Finally, they gelled the lights on Tower of Doom red this week, so it looks pretty erie, at least the top half does.

While I can't make any excuse for the guy eating while loading-he should have known better, but he might not have had a break at all, which is common on Fridays. It was nice running into you and Tim, if ever so briefly. Thanks for visiting.
Did anyone ever bother trying out the seats on the KMG Tango? And if so, were they male?

nasai's avatar
What I want to know is what was blowing fire over near Superman, and what the heck was the zombie-on-a-motorcycle thing? ;) Weird.

Glad you had a good time, Brian. Heck, Jeff and I were there for the first night of Frightfest, and we broke SROS. At least you got more than one ride. I only got a 2 person in the train ride, which only barely got us over the hills. So much for that sweet ejector air.
Between Dill pickles and Donuts, my secret awaits.
*** This post was edited by nasai 10/18/2003 3:07:53 PM ***

No offense to Jeff but it seems like every time he sets foot on that ride he breaks it.

Red lights on TOD? sounds interesting & is something I'm gonna have to check out when I'm there next week,they really need to do something with the sky escaper site though...I mean how many more seasons are we gonna have to go through with a big fence just sitting there when a new ride could easily fill it's location?

nasai's avatar
Dude. Wrong Jeff! I'm sorry. I meant Peabody ...but yes, if any Jeff rides it, watch out! Doom is spelled J.E.F.F. ;)
Between Dill pickles and Donuts, my secret awaits.
nasai said:
What I want to know is what was blowing fire over near Superman, and what the heck was the zombie-on-a-motorcycle thing? ;) Weird.

No, seriously, what was with the motorcycles? Anyone? And I'm still convinced the fire near Superman was the Flaming Bobs. ;)

Nice TR, Brian. I fed the fishes at Indiana Beach one last time for you on Labor Day weekend. There were so many, and they were so big, that by closing day small children were walking over them to the Galaxi. ;)

-Dawn, got to SFA after Rob & Jeff broke Superman :(

So what was the exact problem on S:ROS anyhow?I sure hope it was something minor & not another broken lift chain.

Now that would certainly ruin everyone's day if the chain were to snap for a 4th time,as you remember the lift chain broke a total of 3 times back in 2000.

nasai's avatar
The problem was one of the proxies was sensing a
"ghost" train on the lift. Therefore, it would shut the ride down on the lift... over and over and over and over... etc. You get the picture. After our ride, it never re-opened.
Between Dill pickles and Donuts, my secret awaits.
I was at the park today. Spoke with one of the mechanics who said the same thing. Their having a problem with the proxies on the blue train. S:ROS was running two trains until about 1:30 when I noticed the red train was stuck on the lift. It was then running very slowly going into the station. It never reopened while I was at the park.
Intamin Fan said:
While I can't make any excuse for the guy eating while loading-he should have known better, but he might not have had a break at all, which is common on Fridays.

Nope, she was talking about just getting back from her break... in fact, the lead was annoyed at her for being late.

Dawn, thanks for the visuals. I don't think I can eat the rest of my lunch now. Those things were sooo nasty. What a life.

Do you know if they leave them in the lake all winter? I can just picture them under the ice, still lying on top of each other with their mouths gaping open, praying their little fishy prayers that someone will happen by with popcorn.

Touchè, teacher, touchè.

Was it a big burger from the park, or did he bring it to work with him?

"Step on that lapbar and make it nice and tight!"

It was from the park, looked like it was from an employee Cafeteria or something. When she was done with the burger, though, she cracked open a rice krispy treat she must've brought from home.

Touchè, teacher, touchè.

That's nothing,while in line for Penguin's blizzard river I noticed the lead op sitting at the controls eating an entire box of chocolates!

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