SFGAdv (5/27) and SFA (5/28): Outsider's Perspective

Associated parks:
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Monday, May 30, 2005 5:56 PM
Being a Chicagoan with an annual season pass to Great America, I was excited to visit the east coast (DC) with a buddy and hit two new (for me) Six Flags parks.

On Friday morning, we headed from DC to New Jersey at about 5:45 AM, hoping the early 9 AM opening to Kingda Ka for passholders on Fridays was more than myth. We arrived at about 9:40, and a sea of humanity (over a hundred people) was waiting in the park, but not able to enter the Golden Kingdom area. We showed a security guard our passes, and, bingo, he opened the gates just for us! Yeah baby!

Before I go any further, I'd like to comment that the park is much more atmospheric than I'm used to, with lots of trees/shade and some cool tunes piping through the speakers. Its a great looking park with a cool feel.

It seemed to take nearly 5 minutes to walk through KK's incredibly long qeue. (What a nightmare if it were full!) We walked straight into the station, and it looked as though our wait was going to be four or five trains for first car, second row. Anticipation was high, as this coaster was an awesome-looking beast. Finally, we were next up, as the people in front of us boarded their trains and were set to launch. Unfortunately, several minutes went by...no launch. The car was wheeled in backwards back into the station. Unbelievable. After about 20 minutes, there was finally an announcement that KK was having regular hourly maintenance. That sounded like BS to me, why send people out to the launch only to bring them back in backwards? Anyway, after about 30 minutes, they got the ride up and running again. Our total wait, including breakdown, was about 45 minutes. Not too shabby, I'd say.

The first thing I'd like to mention about KK is that, for me at least, the lap bar was painfully constrictive. Just sitting in the station, the bar was exerting serious pressure down on my upper legs. Very uncomfortable. The shoulder restraints are a non-factor, however.

About the ride. On one hand, it is an awesome coaster in terms of size and especially speed. This ride is all about speed. It really is something else, and I'm very glad to have ridden it.

Yet, after I got off, I have to admit, my reaction was,"That was not that great". Here's why: Past a certain point, I think additional speed does not equal additional fun, and may even be counterproductive. Part of the problem, I think, is that it is nearly impossible to keep your eyes open with the wind screaming into your face so intensely. (Check out the on-ride photos). Would goggles enhance the experience?

The twist on the way up was nice, and the drop was certainly fun, though it was all about speed, not air. The second hill is better than nothing (read:Dragster), but its nothing special.

For me, Kingda Ka was an extremely intense experience, and certainly a unique experience, but I think Intamin's impulses are more "fun", as are Vekoma's Giant Inverted Boomerangs. I probably wouldn't wait more than 45 minutes for another ride on KK.

Next up: Medusa. A nice ride with a cool element near the beginning. Sort of a cross between Raging Bull and Iron Wolf. I don't think the floorless element added anything to the ride, however.

Next was the Mine train ride. My complaints here include slow loading and tiny lapbars. The lapbars created a rough ride for the thighs. Not one to ride again, though a good "beginner" coaster.

After this, we did the Dolphin show. I liked it.

Next was one of the highlights of the day, and one of the things that separates Great Adventure from other SF parks: The Wild Safari. This was great! I particularly liked the zebras. One stuck his nose straight into our windshield! Felt like Jurassic Park. The safari offers a great getaway from the lines and the heat. Did SF buy this when they built the park?

After this, we hit Raging Bull 2, er, Nitro. The ride's line needs a canopy, as we waited an hour in some fairly hot conditions. Anyway, just like Bull, awesome smoothness and solid airtime. I like the ride's added hills and maybe its tiny edge in intensity, but I think Bull has a more interesting layout. I'll call it a draw.

Nest was a solid woody, Rolling Thunder. I will say, however, that this park is a little lacking in the wood department. This is a good wood coaster, and was my 4th favorite ride of the day, but its not quite as good as American Eagle and definitely not as good as Viper at SFGAm.

After this, we hit the "Spirit of the Tiger" show. This was lame. I want to see the tigers, not some new age guys in suits dancing. Hopefully this show will improve.

Next was the highlight of the day: Batman and Robin: The Chiller. I expected the ride to be good, but it rocked! Great intensity, not too rough, and a high "fun" factor. A cross between V2 and Deja Vu, only without the vertical spikes. This was easily my favorite ride of the day, a very pleasant surprise.

Throughout my day, I had been cursing my home park SFGAm for removing Shockwave, because GASM was such a strong visual presence. Even though I hated riding Shockwave, the look was great. As we were heading out of the park, I opted to pay tribute to my old frienc Shockwave by riding it one more time in the form of GASM, which seemed to have surprisingly long lines throughout the day. For whatever reason, this ride is more popular than Shockwave was. In any event, I am cursing SFGAm no more. This ride was horribly rough, just like I remembered Shockwave. A lame end to an otherwise great day.

Bottom Line: I was very impressed with Great Adventure. Its an excellent park. Some nice topography, clean, great rides, good ride ops, good tunes.

In summary, I'd rank the rides as follows:

1. B&R: The Chiller

2. Nitro

3. Kingda Ka

4. Rolling Thunder

5. Medusa

6. Mine Train

7. GASM

Will follow with SFA TR shortly....

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Monday, May 30, 2005 6:07 PM
Where both sides of the chiller running? If not what side was running? They do have Q canopes for Nitro but they must not have put them out yet. Why no Superman? And you do we know we are getting a new woodie next year right to make up for RT.

Great report!

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Monday, May 30, 2005 6:24 PM
They were running only the Robin side. It was a blast!

I didn't ride Superman or Batman: The Ride because we have those rides at SFGAm.

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Monday, May 30, 2005 8:19 PM
Superman, Nitro and Kingda Ka are waiting for the canopies. Maybe in the next 2 weeks.

Glad you had a good trip. And I agree, the safari is very under-rated :)

I hope SFA went just as well.

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Monday, May 30, 2005 8:25 PM
I agree with your assessment of the Rocket Coasters. I didnt get to ride Ka, but I did ride TTD and came away with the same impression.

Nitro, IMHO, rocks the socks off of Raging Bull and I used to be a HUGE Bull fan boy.

As for GASM, I loved it. It was a lot less rough than Shockwave was. I really don't miss Shockwave, to tell you the truth.

I loved the safari too. Great extra for the park!

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Monday, May 30, 2005 8:26 PM
I'm just curious. Some people on another site said that he has no idea what I was talking about when I said that SFGAdv was getting Balder from Liseberg. I'm not sure if I'm right or not about that. I was trying to find the thread where we talked about it.

He is a ride-op for KK and heres exactly what he said. "First off, no its not going on the other side of Kingda Ka, its going where Viper used to be..

Secondly, Were not getting a used ride..I have NO clue where you heard that..."

Some other people said that it will be a custom layout and will be the tallest and fastest woodie. Also they said it would be an out-and-back design.

I'm not sure if I was right or not but, any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Monday, May 30, 2005 9:33 PM
With the addition of a top-notch woodie, this park will be amazing. At that point, I just don't see another park with a better collection of coasters than this one.

Bob, maybe I'll have to re-read your old trip report to get details, but Nitro and Bull feel like basically the same ride experience to me. You might be able to convince me to give Nitro a small edge, but not by much. And GASM? As I said, I was surprised that the ride had a line, as Shockwave was always a walk-on in its later years. While it may not be quite as rough as Shockwave, that doesn't say much. Its still awfully rough. But if the locals still like it, I guess you might as well keep it.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 12:24 PM
GASM has good and bad trains as well as good and bad seats. I've gotten some of the best rides in years this season but also some of the worst. They really have done a nice job bringing it back to life though (besides the paint).

I'm curious, where did you sit and which train was it? Unfortunately, the red train is the best but they seem to be doing more work to it.

Oh, and you need to come back to hit the Batman side of Chiler. It rules over Robin which is also good. Expect a late June opening of the Batman side.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 12:44 PM
I rode Shockwave at SFGAm once, and it was smooth as glass. One of the smoothest rides I've ever been on. I guess I just picked the right seat. (Very last row on the red train.) I thought the ride was very intense yet very fun.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 2:51 PM
For all the grief that Shockwave got, I personally felt there were only two "bad" spots on the ride. The wretched turn into the midcourse brakes (which you would not notice sitting in the back) and the mid-course itself (because they had them turned up so high you came to a dead stop).

GASM otoh, I found to be a bumpy, shakey, vibratory experience from start to stern. I'd dare say I almost hate GASM-II, just because it's so close in looks to SW, but rides like crap compared to SW (IMHO of course).

But once again, I must stress, I like Hercules...

lata, jeremy

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 2:56 PM
I liked Shockwave as well. I'm actually looking forward to Gasm...
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 3:28 PM
They had it flying through the MCBRs last friday when I went Jeremy. I guess Superman has revived the popularity of GASM, because the line was relatively long. It felt a little (not much) smoother too...and the paint job.....jeezaloo...it looks brand new!
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 8:01 PM
Jeremy, you mean you liked Hercules:) Medusa as with almost any floorless except for Hydra (which should be ridden all the way in the back) should be ridden in the front row to get the full floorless effect. Any other row and it's just like any sitdown B&M. Don't you love the Mine Train and what it does to your thighs?
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Wednesday, June 1, 2005 10:38 PM
I rode GASM in the middle, maybe slightly towards the back.

Are there any differences between the two (SW and GASM) besides 3 feet or so in height? I read somewhere that slight modifications were made, but can't recall what they might have been.

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