After the roughest two weeks of my life (medical issue, not cancer but it was bad) I was happy that I was able to go on much anticipated trip to Great Adventure. We renewed our Darien Lake passes for really cheap, they mailed them to us a week ago, and we were all set to go.
After the 4.5 hour drive from Syracuse through the snow and cold, we finally made it to the park at about 3:00 on Thursday. As we pulled in the lot looked a bit more crowded than expected. We saw Ka testing on the way in but unfortunately it never opened Thursday. Now I'm no way familiar with the what the parking situation was before and aside from the confusion with the automated parking paying machines, it seemed pretty organized. Much like SFNE, there are lots of colorful "disney-ish" signs.
The following rides were closed Thursday:
-Batman TR (opened at 6)
After making getting on our jackets, hats, and gloves (it was about 45 degrees with wind) we made it into the park. Unfortunately I underestimated the crowds and I was disappointed to see that nearly every Orthodox Jew was there for some get together. It's nice to see them all together and have fun but you'd think they'd have some common sense and bundle up a little bit more, as they all had the traditional black clothes on that could have easily been worn when it was 70 degrees out.
We first headed over to Nitro, figuring it wouldn't be to bad of a line. I was a bit frustrating to see half of the first queue full but I was just happpy to be there. After about a 30 hour wait we finally were sitting in the back seat. One thing to mention is that the rides have all these new signs in the queue saying 120 minutes from this point, 90 from this point etc. While that's good and all, it's amazing how close they are together. Literally you "weave" through 3 rows and apparently the wait drops an hour lol.
Anyway, as far as Nitro goes, my first ride I wasn't that impressed. The drop was ok, it didn't really have the "kick" that the Superman brothers have off the top when you sit in the back seat. It was very smooth, there was some airtime, but it wasn't anything too spectucular. The helix was the only somewhat forceful part and the bunny hops were fun. A bit tame but it was pretty good. It was running two trains and the third is in pieces behind the transfer shed.
The Wiggles World area looked nice, it should be good for the kids. Very clean and colorful, and it should bring more people to Movietown.
My family insisted that we give Skull Mountain a try. With two trains running, we hopped right on. We sat and the back and I have to admit, the first drop caught me be surprise and I got a nice little "tickle" in my stomach :). The ride was smooth and better than I thought. The capacity for an indoor coaster was good too.
I was craving some loops so we headed over to Medusa. SfGadv pulled a Cedar Point and Medusa was running all 3 trains with a wait just down the stairs. The only issue is that the park is so understaffed that they only have 2 people on the platform. Medusa's small crew was awesome and they managed to do a great job getting trains out despite not having enough workers.
Our first ride on Medusa was in the back seat and I must say I was VERY impressed. The ride was smooth as glass, it was forceful, the pacing was excellent, there was no headbanging, and it was pretty long. It was alot better than I expected and one of my favorite rides in the park. We ended up getting 3 rerides as the line pretty much disappeared. I really like the floorless concept; it feels like you are flying.
Despite being pissed off about Toro and Ka, Medusa put me in a much better mood. After a quick boring ride on the Runaway train we headed towards Superman:UF.
I've been waiting years to ride a flying coaster so this was an exciting moment for me. Although there were two trains running, the entire process seemed to take a while. We probably waited 10-15 minutes which wasn't too bad. I don't think B&M could have designed more comfortable trains. The ride itself was pretty fun. The pretzel loop wasn't as intense as I was expecting but I enjoyed it. The barrel roll at the end was awesome, I wish that they had another one in the middle of the ride. My only complaint with this ride is that they did a terrible job theming it. I mean the entrance is nice, but the queue line? SFNE's Superman puts it to shame! And what the hell are those "sunshades" for? It's just a red canopy, without the canopy! Do they cover them in the summer?
It was getting to be a bit late so as my parents went to grab the car, we headed to Nitro for a couple last rides. Much to our surprise, Batman was opened so we decided to take a ride.
I had never been on a BTR before and it was about what I expected. Kinda short but smooth and intense. The ride itself isn't that big but it packs a punch and the Gotham City Park theming was kinda cool at least in comparison to Superman's theming.
We made it just in time for 2 rides on Nitro. Once again, the ride was just ok, nothing spectalular and the fact it was so cold didn't help matters.
We headed back to the Bordentown Hampton Inn about 20 minutes away. The hotel itself was really nice, we always have good luck with Hampton. After some TV it was off to a really comfy bed.
The next morning my mom wasn't feeling so well so my dad, brother, and I decided to hit the park on our own. After driving for 30 minutes to get to a darn drug store to get my mom some medicine, we finally made it back to the hotel to pick up my brother and we are off. The roads in the area were such a pain; it was nearly impossible to turn around or do a U-turn.
The weather Friday was a bit better. Still cold but the sun was shining. We pulled into the parking lot which was much less crowded than Thursday. After making our way through the gates we decided to head to El Toro to see what the deal was. There was a crowd of people waiting at the entrance and maintenance was in the station filling the train with dummies. My dad opted to wait in line while my brother and I got a few rides on Medusa. There were 2 trains running and a station wait. The ride ops didn't seem to mind rerides (score! :) ) so we rode a handful of times. Once again, this ride is blast and one of my favorite beemers.
We went back to El Toro and met up with my dad who was still waiting. It began testing and we waited a 1/2 hour before giving up. In the mean time I bought a quesadilla which was good and a hot dog, which wasn't so good.
We headed to the Golden Kingdom to check it out and see what the deal was with Ka. The lady said that it was closed due to the weather and that it might open later. Grand.
Working our way back across the park we decided to give Great American Scream Machine a try. I really enjoyed the drop and vertical loops but after the MCBR it was a bit too rough. Not a bad ride but kinda outdated and it takes up alot of space. Superman appeared to have a long line so we decided to skip it.
Trying to get out of the cold, we decided to give Spongebob:3D a try. After about a 10 minute wait we entered into the briefing room and watched the annoying preshow 1.5 times. The show itself wasn't too long but it was actually pretty fun and I enjoyed it. I wish Cedar Point would put something like this in, the kids really seem to like it.
We grabbed some lunch at Papa John's pizza ($6.99 a slice) and decided to head to Nitro. On our way over we noticed that Robin was testing and it continued to do so for the remainder of the day. We waited about 15 minutes for Nitro and got a back seat ride. I enjoyed the ride much more that time. The airtime, speed, and drop all seemed to be better.
My brother and I took a front seat ride on Batman, grabbed some Ice Cream, and got our caricatures done. After getting of BTR, I saw a Supervisor and asked him about Ka and Toro. "We just opened Kingda Ka and we're working on Toro." Awesome. One thing that's worth mentioning was the amount of management that was visible throughout the park. It seemed as though each coaster had at least one operator with a tie on and supervisors saying "Hi, how are you doing today" we present throughout the park.
My dad ran to the car to drop off our caricatures and then we headed to Kingda Ka. After taking a ticket, we proceeded into the line. When we got in line, 2 trains were running sporadically and we slowly crawled through the queue. At this point I was dying of thirst and of course this is the one line that has no vending machines and the guy ran out of snowcones right before I got too him.
I really like what the park did with the Golden Kingdom. It's well themed and pretty and all, but Kingda Ka just doesn't have the ambience that Dragster does. It's just so BORING. I mean the whole jungle thing is cool and all but it's not very "alive." It's hard to describe.
After 2 hours and a complicated experience at the lockers (why the hell don't they put the lockers at the entrance rather than 9/10 of the way through the queue?) and a fight that almost broke out with the security guards regarding the ticket system, we finally made it to the station. By this point they were running all four trains. We got in line for the blue train which apparently is the smoothest. Next in line, what happens? It breaks down. At this point I was nothing short of pissed. I was dehydrated, tired, cold, and just wanted to ride the damn thing. After about 20 minutes of listening to the ride op attempt to entertain the ride finally opened and we hopped in. Kingda Ka has the worlds most boring station. I kept on waiting for "Ready to Go" but it just wasn't there ;).
We pulled out of the station pulled up to the launch. The breaks drop we roll back a bit and BANG? No, hesitate...launch..launch a bit faster...and faster... What a weak launch! I mean, it eventually gets to 128 and it's fast but honestly it sucked. On Dragster the second the light hits green, you're sucked into your seat, but this thing just hesitates. The changing gears thing everyone mentions wasn't nearly as big of the deal as the crappy takeoff. Luckily the rest of the ride made up for it; I really enjoyed the drop, view, and bunny hill. The ride was fun just too things:
-Dragster has an atmosphere that this thing doesn't come close to matching
-The launch doesn't have the "bang" that even Storm Runner has.
Well things really started to go my way as we pulled into Ka's station I saw a Toro train with people on it fly by. We quickly headed over there and entered the 1/3 full queue. The ride was only running 1 train but I didn't care I just wanted to get on it. After about a 40 minute wait with a couple delays we finally made it into the back row. The 2 ops checking restraints we speed demons and the supervisor at controls seemed to have everything under control getting trains out ASAP and being extremely clear about the instructions. The really weren't stapling at all which was a treat.
Out of the station and up the FAST lift we made our way around and down the drop. Holy mother of Batman, the first few hills were pure ectasy. Extremely smooth and airtime like no other. The turn around was awesome and we were entered into the second half of the ride I was blown away with the sudden sharp turns, and more moments of great airtime. The last stretch seemed a bit slow but what a ride. Easily the best wood coaster I've been on and my new #2 coaster right behind Millennium Force.
After buying the picture my dad decided to get the car while we took it for another spin. We waited about 20 minutes and took another back seat ride in the dark. And this time it was even better. The trains themselves are comfortable and as usual Intamin's lapbars are perfect assuming you fit into them. The only thing I'm concerned about is that there's pretty much zero padding. It's not a problem at all because the ride is extremely smooth, however I hope this thing ages well because if it becomes rough over the years the trains might be a problem.
At this point it was about 8:30 and we decided to run to Medusa to catch a final ride. The ride was down to one train but there were only 4 other people riding. We ended up riding 5 times, hopping seats, front back middle, you name it we rode it. I was in heaven on such an awesome coaster. It was cold but I haven't had so much fun in so long and the ride ops were awesome.
After an awesome ending to the day we powerwalked back to the car, grabbed some McDonalds, and went back to the hotel.
It was kinda torture with Kingda Ka and Toro closed most the time but the last few hours on Friday were awesome and I'm so happy I was able to get on both.
Overall, considering how early in the season it is I found SfGadv to be an awesome park. Flat rides were lacking greatly (they could use a drop tower) but operations were excellent with all coasters but Toro running multiple trains. The only major complaint was that all the food places were FREEZING, there wasn't really anywhere to go to warm up.
Thanks for reading and HAPPY EASTER! :)
Ride of Steel said:
My only complaint with this ride is that they did a terrible job theming it. I mean the entrance is nice, but the queue line? SFNE's Superman puts it to shame! And what the hell are those "sunshades" for? It's just a red canopy, without the canopy! Do they cover them in the summer? -Dan
I agree with you there...the Superman queue does kinda suck. I wish they would put new theming in...make the entire queue line look like the Fortress of Solitude...now that would rock.
And yes, they do cover the metal into a canopy in the summer.
I think it the interaction with the midway. Just think how exciting it would be if the crowd could see each train launched. I think that's one of the things Dragster has over Ka.
My sister made the same comment about the length of Medusa as well. She hadn't ridden it since opening year, and she was kind of shocked at how long it kept going on.
It's interesting the comment you made about Kingda Ka's station/queue and being kind of bland. I will agree that The Golden Kingdom section kind of feels removed from the rest of the park (which isn't a bad thing), but I'll have to check out Dragster in June to see what you're talking about.
One thing is for sure is that it's fairly easy to get night rides on Kingda Ka, because even from the queue of El Toro, you can barely tell it's running! The only real indication is to watch the warning lights on the tophat rapidly blink on and off as a train passes by them.
Papa John's pizza ($6.99 a slice)
We grabbed some lunch at Papa John's pizza...
And that's what they're banking on...literally. ;)
You are lucky-LUCKY, I say, to have had a decent time at this park.
I am very jealous. Every time I get to SFGAdv (which is not very often at all), I have to wait in line for an hour or 2 for the rides that they actually decide to open.
8 Bucks for a slice? Is it a double slice? Did that include a drink? That is extremely steep.
It seems that in order to have a better chance of getting on all of the rides at GAdv, one has to go 2 days in a row.
Remember, how they started pretty strong last year...but were unable to maintin quality by the start of the summer season. I can only hope that the reports stay positive.
I will state the obvious...that the weather for most of last week was in the 40s and there were periods of snow flurries at times. (Not for the massive amount of peeps that they will get Memorial Day Weekend).
I don't like Popa Johns, but I saw on the web site that chippy's Fish is no longer listed. That would be a big bummer.
Also, does anyone have anything to say about Rolling Thunder this year? I was hoping they could re-track or fix it in some way, as my kid is now tall enough to ride it.
On a personal note -> RideofSteel --> I hope your health issues area thing of the past by the time you read this. That comes first. *** Edited 4/9/2007 2:33:17 PM UTC by Richie Reflux*** *** Edited 4/10/2007 12:29:31 AM UTC by Richie Reflux***
I like both rides for what they are, but I definitely prefer Medusa's location and queue to Nitro's, which is ugly and pretty uninventive.
I think I can add a few things:
Kingda Ka had a launch annoucement and of course, the horn. Neighbor complaints resulted in this being removed. Who knows if they will actually replace it with something localized to the launch area so they don't disturb the peace. And the launch tends to have that strange hesitation in the cold. Its got some punch in the heat of the summer ;)
El Toro is simply having issues with 2 trains ops due to the cold. They are actually having troubles keeping one train warmed up enough to complete the circuit. They stopped even prepping the ride (minus the structure inspection) in the morning because it simply wasn't worth the risk of saddling. They should know...
Nitro, while generally forceless but still fun, is definately sucking in this weather lately.
Rolling Thunder I'm happy to say has definately recieved some TLC :). While I have yet to ride it this season (because I knew better), many people I know have come back to say its actually running very well. Even better, both sides are working at the same time with all four trains ready :).
And finally, the best deal in the park is the Papa Johns bread sticks. Forget the pizza. At $2.50, the bread sticks are a steal!
We seriously need to hope these crews stick through it this year. Many veterns have made a return this season and if they don't get screwed over, will likely be there right through the heat of the season when things had usually began to slip. So hopefully this year things will actually improve instead of decline.
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