SFGAdv Wins! 7/15/03

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 7:12 AM
Okay, this began as an email to my brother, so if it's weird at times, that's why. Let me start by saying I've always been disappointed in SFGAdv. Poor maintainance, poor theming, too crowded, lacking in charm. Hersheypark is my ideal park. Anyway, I went to SFGAdv on a Tuesday:

Day began shortly after 10AM. Went directly to Superman. 1 Hour and 10 minutes in line, and that was our longest line of the day. They were operating one train, to my annoyance, but after about half of our wait, they added a second train. Most of the effect of the ride is just a flying soaring. Remarkably not a heck of a lot more interesting than the Nightwing we rode at SF New England, except that of course you weren't just going in circles. It was very disorienting to not face the track, and I had no idea where I was on the course of the ride until it was over. The singular spectacular moment was the...loop? I don't know if you'd call it a loop. It's hard the define the inversions when you're facing that way. Basically, you go up a hill, and then down, so that you're falling headfirst, and the track doubles back under the hill you just came up, so you're face up. It was a unique sensation for a coaster. Melissa and I both ranked it 3, under Nitro and Medusa. We liked it a lot, but were glad that we didn't love it so much that we felt obligated to wait in line for it again.

Then we rode GASM. I used to really like that coaster, but I like it less each time. It's so needlessly battering. And I ALWAYS come close to blacking out on the same two spots. Then we literally walked onto Rolling Thunder. Even if I dislike a coaster, I'll continue to ride it until I have the experience fixed in my memory. I remember not liking it, but couldn't remember much about the ride. Well, as I said, we walked onto it. Not terrible, but it feels like there are no wheels, and the whole time the train is grindingly sliding along the track. Then we walked onto Viper, which was an insane vortex of track, mercifully short. Worth riding however for the awesome heartline roll that ends the ride. That was our first ride on Viper, so any virgin coaster is an interesting experience.

I'd always called Medusa my favorite coaster. We rode it in the heat of midday, a little queasy with hunger. I didn't enjoy it so much. I mean, I loved it, but it didn't give me the orgasmic joy it usually provides.

We ate tacos.

We decided to ride the Sawmill Log Flume. It never looked like much to me, but this log flume put Hershey's to shame, and you know how much I enjoy Hershey's. It's long and relaxing, winding through trees so you don't see the track until you're on it, with two plunges you'd never know existed from the park paths. Also, a nice view of the lake, which seems so hidden from the rest of the park. Then the final mega-plunge. And we got soaked because there are pay-cannons and we were lucky enough to have someone shoot water at us.

Then we left that end of the park and went to ride Pendulum. At this point, it was only like 2:00 and it was clear we could ride lower-priority rides and take our time. We checked out Skull Mountain, but deemed it unworthy of a linewait, and there looked like there was one. So no one was waiting for Pendulum. That's because the ride ops were cleaning up vomit. They were kind enough to tell us that it got ALL over the seats, and basically all the way down the exit path as well. They said it would be 10 minutes. It was more like 20, but we enjoyed the shade. I'd never been on a Pendulum, and this was something you can't miss if you get back there! It rocked! I can't remember if you said you rode it before, or just that it looked cool. Most of these new oversized high-tech flat rides are two slow and mechanical to be thrilling (like that horrible thing that held us upside-down in Ocean City), but this had legitimate thrills!

We saw that Batman (the inverted coaster) had a short line. We looked at each other and said, who cares? Maybe later. B&M inverted coasters can be my favorite type. Like Hershey's Great Bear. But SFGAdv's Batman is just a horrendous knot of headbanging. Maybe earlier in the day, and we both felt a little guilty for skipping such a major ride with a shortish line, but we were so tired and jostled, we just didn't feel like it.

I don't need to say we skipped the Chiller (Batman/Robin boomerangs). I've never been on it and won't until I'm forced. Boomerangs are unsatisfying to me, and the lines are terrible because of the necessary one-train operation. To confirm this, I later heard a guy complaining to someone about how he rode the Chiller and waiting an hour and a half for a 40 second ride.

While in this area, we proceeded to Nitro. I've always loved Nitro. It simply blew me away this time. I don't know why. A coaster depends on how you ride it. This time, I had hands up, legs out, and looked out at the park instead of at the track (I have a tendency to stare at the track ahead on coasters). It was truly amazing. This is the greatest coaster I've ever been on.

We decided to ride Stuntman's Freefall. Neither Melissa nor I had ever been on a freefall drop. I highly recommend it! They always seemed dull, but this was a short, sharp thrill, and we were both pleasantly surprised.

Houdini's Great Escape. The thrill is in the surprise, so I won't describe the "ride" itself. But DO NOT go to SFGAdv without riding this!!! I expected a lame simulator thing, a cheap knockoff of the boring Disney variety of entertainment. If you recall, Melissa and I got close two years ago. We waited an hour. We entered the building for the uninspired (if not laugh-inducing) preshow. We entered the main hall, where you sit in what looks like church pews, ready to undertake a séance. There were lap bars, which intrigued us, but altogether we expected a lame experience. Then they announced that due to mechanical failures, the ride was closed. Sorry. So yesterday we tried again and BOY was it worth it!

In the spirit of riding second-tier thrills, we rode the teacups. Naturally we were stuck with a pair of precocious 10-year-oldish girls who insisted on introductions and also insisted that Melissa and I were romantically linked. I was amused, but Melissa seemed irritated. I protested, naturally, but later when they asked what coasters we like, I said we liked Medusa and Nitro, and the girls seemed to think my use of "we" was evidence of our romantic attachment. ("See! You just said 'we!'") The ride op on the teacups had fun by playing a game of granting a reride to the fastest spinner. I like to spin, but not aggressively so. But the girls wanted to spin and win. I told them frankly that even if we won, I was getting of the ride and getting away from them at the soonest opportunity. We didn't win though, because I the spinning was making them sick, so I had to let up.

We rode the parachute drop, which I'd never seen operating at SFGAdv. It was a short, fun thing that cooled us off in the breeze and gave a good view of the park.

We ate fish and chips.

We rode the Runaway Minetrain. Very short wait. Another pleasant surprise! Only about 10 times better than Hershey's Trailblazer. Okay, a minetrain's a minetrain, but this one moves beautifully through the trees and over the creek. It's not as brutal as Trailblazer, and has a few more interesting track elements, including a nice bunny hill. With low expectations, we both left it smiling.

Back to Medusa. Thankfully! This time it did deliver the orgasmic joy! I love that ride! Maybe this makes me a lame coaster-fan, but I'm not into brutal steelies. Medusa has 7 inversions and delivers a thrill WHILE maintaining a physically gentle experience. That to me is the ultimate in coaster design! Broad soaring strokes, smooth inversions, an attractively apportioned mess of steel track.

Skyride. Nice. A worthwhile wait, as this one covers a nice distance and we were pooped.

Skull Mountain. Walked on. Yet another pleasant surprise! I don't remember it being completely dark. I enjoyed it. The thrill is obviously in the disorienting experience. That track outdoors would be lame.

Congo Rapids. Perhaps a mistake at that hour, as twilight approached. This is a lame Rapids ride. I mean, if you like Rapids, it's worth riding. But Hershey's rocks. This one is short, and relatively boring. As if to mock how lame it is, at one point a ride attendant was standing near the water with two cups of water, which he threw at us. Managed to get wet, though, and since I was staying at Melissa's, I had to wear jeans to work the next day which were still damp in the butt region.

Then, now freezing, we rode Nitro again. Darkness had JUST settled, and the twilight was only dimly on the horizon. And even better experience then before! Riding Nitro in the dark, through the trees, soaring through the coolish air...the greatest ride experience!

So it was just after 9:00 and we didn't want to taint that by riding the jarring Batman, so we officially skipped Batman for the day. One more quick ride through Skull Mountain and we were out of the park in time to beat traffic.

I loved the park. Unlike our experience at SFNE earlier this year, the ride ops seemed OBSESSED with running the rides as efficiently as possible. They were constantly closing, opening, adjusting the length of line-sections based on the demand for the ride as the day progressed. Except for the first hour of running Superman, all coasters seemed to be operating at maximum number of trains. Maybe it was just the sunny sky, but the park was very attractive. I'm always tainted by the unapologetically ugly, utilitarian section that includes GASM and Superman. And Viper and Batman and GASM are inexcusably lacking in fresh paint (and Medusa's working on fading as well). But I appreciated the theming more than ever. Little touches, like the entrance to Medusa going right under the cobra roll-thingy. And Viper is gorgeously themed (wasted on that brutal ride). It helped that on the day we went there were mostly families and less annoying teen-types. And maybe we were just in a good mood, but, as I've noted, each time we took a risk on a seemingly lame ride, we got off it smiling. The flume, the freefall, Houdini, the minetrain, Skull Mountain, the Pendulum, the parachute drop. Give this park a decent woodie and it will have won me through and through!
*** This post was edited by Kevin Kochanski 7/16/2003 11:17:46 AM ***

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 9:29 AM
Did the person operating the parachutes when you rode them have red hair? If so, that was me.


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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 9:39 AM
I totally agree with you on Houdini's Great Escape - it's a fun (and suprising) ride. As far as B&R:TC, the heartline corkscrew is alone worth a 30 minute wait. Going backwards is absolutely insane.

Great TR, btw :)
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"If we knew how safe roller coasters were, we'd lose their thrill" - Daniel Keller

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 10:06 AM
Nice job with your TR, but I have a couple of things to comment on...

I don't think I've ever heard anyone call B:TR "a horrendous knot of headbanging." I've ridden several of the clones, including SFGAdv's, and thought they were all equally smooth. What makes it even more crazy is that you skipped B:TR because of headbanging but rode GASM and Viper, two of the worst offenders out there, IMO! Even if there *was* some minor headbanging on Batman, it's very, very worth it given the wonderfully intense ride. What's up with that?

Second, I think you should definitely give the Chiller a try. I can understand skipping it due to long lines, but not because you think you won't like it. Have you ridden a Premier shuttle? They're great. Chiller is easily the best ride in the park.

And I can't believe you would call Nitro the greatest ride ever if you've been to SFNE. ;)

-Nate

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 11:00 AM
Thanks for the reply, Nate. Here's my further comments:

Re: Batman. Okay, it's not terrible. It's an invigorating jolt. We just weren't in the mood at that time of afternoon, feeling old (at 25) and exhausted. In fact, it's surely BECAUSE we rode GASM and Viper that we weren't up for Batman. If I'd met GASM at that hour, I wouldn't have probably skipped it as well. And that was my first time on Viper, though I knew it's reputation. Perhaps my last.

I'll have to try Chiller now that everyone's telling me to. If I had to pick, Batman or Robin (only Robin was open yesterday)?

And yes, Ride of Steel was awesome. But I've only rode it once, thanks to time limitations and a two-hour wait. These were my forth and fifth rides on Nitro, and I'm only now ready to praise it as my favorite. I need lot's of rides on a coaster to evaluate it so strongly. But you're right...offhand, Nitro could benefit from S:ROS's tunnels and steam jets!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003 11:52 AM
I'm glad to hear that Batman isn't normally one of those rides you skip. It really is one of the best B&M has ever built, I think.

I've only ridden the Robin side of Chiller, so I can't comment much on that. It might be worth riding the Batman side for the unique Tophat inversion, but Robin is certainly a good ride and ultra-intense.

Operations at GAdv are certainly better than SFNE, and I think it's a much better park too. But S:ROs is just that darn good. I think Nitro could also benefit with some forces, which are found aplenty on S:ROS. ;)

I wasn't trying to rag on you or anything, just don't like to see people miss out on excellent coasters. Again, great TR!

-Nate

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Sunday, July 20, 2003 9:11 PM
Glad to see you liked one of my favorites, Pendulum, also known as a Huss Frisbee. I'm surprised someone got really sick on it, as I don't really find it to be all that dizzying of a ride. Of course, I also rode it three times last year during FrightFest. Aww...what idle time will make you do when you have Q-bot. Congo Rapids was my first rapids ride (I believe it used to be called Raging Rapids), and I haven't been on it since 1990/1, but I'm sorry, Hershey's was also lame. I think I got wet once due to them turning off all the waterfalls. It had a great course though. Thank goodness it was a walk-on, or I would've been really disappointed after waiting year after year to get on, only to see ridiculously long lines.

In the peer pressure category, you MUST ride Chiller. Sure they may only be shuttles, and they only last 30- odd seconds, not 40 as the gentlemen said, but man do they kick ass, especially with the lapbar restraints (I can only vouch for Robin, but I'm sure Batman is just as good). The Batman side is insane. The tophat element is the most disorientating element. You can't tell if you're traveling up or down when traveling forwards. Invest in Q-bot and you won't have to wait at all.

Finally, I'm glad you liked Houdini's Great Escape so much. A Vekoma you can be proud of. The spinning room trick has been used in countless movies and that N'Synch video, but who would've known it would've made such a great ride?
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If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.

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Sunday, July 20, 2003 9:57 PM
Put me down as another who says you must ride Chiller next time. You are right about the que sometimes taking forever, you will not regret it!!! Ever since the OTSR's were removed, this ride is awesome. The In-line twist going backwards is worth the wait alone.

The Batman side has not been running at all this year, I believe due to LIM problems. It is unfortunate, as the Batman side is the better of the two. But I still reccomend you give robin a spin the next time you get a chance!!!

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