SFGAM 7/19:An hour and a half of doom

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Monday, July 21, 2003 6:58 PM
It all boils down to one thing...I love the Season Pass. The freedom to visit the park at any time I damn well please is simply one of the coolest things in my "repetender". (To quote mid-90's Dusty Rhodes,CoasterDude may know what I'm talking about) So Carter and I have no qualms about leaving Frankfort at 7 o'clock on a Saturday evening for an hour and a half drive,followed by an hour and a half at the park.

After grabbing road Pepsi,we make a quick diversion to the New Lenox Big K. It's time to buy Carter some shoes. I have no need for quick footwear,I am wearing the dog-eared 1997 Nikes that have carried me through 6 and a half years of GAm,Opryland,SFStL,a few Indiana beach trips,and six sojurns through Walt Disney World. While she selects the appropriate shoes,I select a three pack of sound effects CDs (it promises "Fun With Sound"),and $4.99 cassette copies of Poison's Greatest Hits,and an Elvis TV special. The Elvis tape features "Trouble",and several gospel songs,which,when played loudly waiting at a stoplight,will cause severe trauma to those around you.

Got the shoes,and we're off to a quick detour to the toy aisle,(lots of Orn Free Taa's and Taun We,for you Star Wars geeks) then off to the registers. Waiting in line,we have a quick discussion about how I hate Chapstick. Ah,it's time to hit the road.

Saturday nights on 294 are pretty easy heading northbound. Only one stop to use the public restrooms at a local Wendy's,and we make the right off of Grand Avenue at about 8:45. It's time for a surprise,of course. The parking gates are never manned this late,(what time do they stop collecting that outrageous ten dollars?) but the second we clear that,we see that the overflow lot is being used...heavily. Of course,security diverts us to said lot. I think the last time I parked here,I could ride the Delta Flyer,and the Edge was still operational. Think about it.

There's a lot of people leaving,but still a hell of a lot staying. Oh,damn. No showing of Adrenline Rush this late. I still prefer a viewing of To Fly,just to see that guy who looks like Count Dooku waving at young boys from a hot air balloon. The Bull's line isn't bad looking,but simply isn't moving. Two minutes of debate,and the line hasn't moved an iota. We need something to drink,so we head for the vending machines near the Orbit. Damn things won't take a crisp dollar,much less our crumpled remainders. I estimate two,maybe three cycles of wait for the Orbit,so we go for it.

I still remember this as the Orleans Orbit, (showing my age) and the Old Chicago version was the first flat I was ever on. We still enjoy it for a quick thrill,and the sick air we receive at the apex of the revolution is always surprising. The line always seems to provide us with some human hilarity, (such as the sallow,sniffling young man we dubbed "SARS Boy") but not so tonight. I need a quick pit stop,so it's off to the bathrooms near the SW Territory bridge.

As loud and uncouth that a good portion of GAm guests are on the midway,their loud idiocy in never more apparent than in the acoustic nightmare that is a public bathroom. I leave hastily,muttering something about my next career change involve "eliminating most of the general public".

The line for the Bull seems to be moving better,so we hop in. Halfway through,it's 9:40,and we realize that there's simply no time to ride the Bull,and head across the park to get into Superman's line by 10:00. The Viper is chosen as our alternative,so at least I'll have a good night ride on GAm's custom woodie. Once people understand the Front Row To The Left concept,we stroll into the station with a one cycle wait for the last row. Someone has torn open a fist-sized hole in one of the Bull's walls,and there's a surprising amount of styrofoam inside. It's impossible to resist taking a small piece of the "rock" wall,and that's something that I'll show proudly to my friends. I love having a small gap between thighs and clamshell. Carter,however,prefers to be sealed tightly into the seat. We're off!

The sight of the entire train vanishing rapidly at the edge of the drop is incredible from the back row. Nothing beats that wicked pull down that drop,and the nighttime tunnel is pitch black. I could still do without the trims,Carter is already pre-conditioned to laugh at me before we crest that cursed incline. Who doesn't love the Bull,anyway? Great capacity,wickedly smooth,it's simply one of the park's best coasters.

It's 9:55 by the time we disembark,just enough time for a somewhat lesiurely stroll to the Viper's queue. Twenty feet in,I remember why I hate his line configuration. The wood and wire ambiance has me thinking about the opening 15 minutes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,and it's lovely depiction of cattle processing. Suddenly,we hear the thundering of feet behind us. It's a throng of loud,ill-mannered teens. It's 9:59,they're in the line,guaranteed a final ride on Viper...and they're running. One of them yells something about people moving slow,holding up the line. Of course,the only response is to grasp my beautiful woman's hand,and slow to a snail's pace. I hate people running up my back,especially when there's absoultely no reason to do so. We are not without mercy,however,and let them scamper by after about 50 feet. I think we've made our point.

Viper's queue house is sparsely populated,and thus void of the usual debacle of confused guests. We select a row near the back,Carter doing her usual grumbling about being forced to ride yet another "useless" wooden. This is the same girl who stated that the Eagle's next rehab should include some gasoline and a match. So when a woman behind us asks what the ride is like,Carter zealously launches into horror stories of bruises,contusions,and other physical maladies unleashed upon you during a ride on the Viper. Hey,the girl may hate woodens,but she can tell a Vekoma from a B&M at first sight. You don't find a mate like that everyday,so I forgive her views. Just when I think she's about to lauch into the story about the vicious whipping we received last year on SF St Louis' Boss,it's time to board!

LOTSA room for air with this lap bar,something I excitedly point out to Carter. I receive a muted grunt as a response,and we're off! The Viper is terribly underrated, and one of the few layouts I have yet to memorize. It's deceptively fast,and has vaulted the Eagle recently as the park's best wooden monster. I'm hooting and hollering like a drunken teenager,oblivious to Carter's "how much longer" look. One of the best elements is still that nasty sharp curve into the final brake run. And with that sudden brake,so ends another "day" at Great America.

Or does it? Six people wait for our train at the station,all in forward rows. Then,the blessed announcement..."If there is no one in your row,you may ride again." Carter is halfway up and out of the seat,but with a quick grab of her belt,and a lightning-fast lowering of her lap bar,I put a stop to that. "Re-ride." I say. What she responded with is probably against this board's TOS,so I'll just leave it to your imagination. The second ride is seemingly better,as I'm yelling at top volume this time. It's just like mini-ERT,and I may be sleeping on the couch tonight.

Viper's exit is even worse than the entrance,and this time,I'm letting nobody by. You'd be running to a gift shop,kids. I'm doing you a favor. I'm glad it ends that way, however. It's really good conditioning for Carter's first trip to WDW this September. She needs to get used to seeing a cash register at the end of every experience. The shop (lordy,the name escapes me...) is charming enough,in a quasi-Native American sorta way. I particularly fancy the aptly-named "Box Of Rocks",and their shortsleeve cowboy shirts,the likes of which I pray I'll never have to wear at a horse show someday. We select a maroon and teal cave-drawing-style plush. He's supposed to be "playing a flute". Sure looks like he's smoking something to me. Ah,only one person in line in front of us. We'll be eating country fried steak and chicken crispers at Chili's within a half-hour.

And that's were everything breaks down. The woman in front us is buying one of those horrid,dead-eyed Native American dolls,but there's no clerk in sight. What happened? Did she desert her post,leaving us to fend for ourselves in this quaint little shop of leather doo-dads and cheap jewelry? She's nowhere to be found. A full three minutes later,she comes out of the back,looking weary and holding a cardboard box. It is then that the nightmare becomes clear. This woman in front of is buying a "collectible" from a theme park store at 10:20 at night...and she wants the original box. Um...lady? Wasn't QVC created for stuff like that? I just want my $4.50 plush and a double shot of Southern Comfort. It takes another 5 minutes of (patient) explaination to this woman that the "original box" is indeed "gone",and was probably placed "in the garbage". It seems to barely sink in,however,as the woman then asks for the "certificate of authenticity". (Which we of course later learn should be "in the box") Mark up another 3 minutes of waiting as the concept is repeated yet again to this dense doll enthusiast. Her husband then decides to purchase a length of rope candy,oblivious to the fact that we are standing,well...next. And of course,what does this nimrod do?

He asks for a receipt. For rope candy. Hunger pangs are starting to eat us from the inside,and this genius asks for a frickin' receipt. Thankfully,they're out of our way,and the exhausted looking clerk gives us some sort of pity discount. I resist the urge to ask for the "original box" for my plush,and we hit the pavement. Walking out the exit,we spy a girl who is going to ram headlong into the exit turnstyles by attempting to re-enter the park. Carter and I are both in a position to easily stop her,and prevent her from rupturing her intestines by trying to pass through. We say nothing. The ensuing sound of air shooting out of her lungs may well be the funniest sound of July 2003. It's 10:45,and the lot is still a swarm of red taillights,and people who want everyone to know that they've got really,really heavy bass in their sound systems. We combat that with some saucy Elvis tunes,and we're heading west on Grand by 11:00. Chili's is fantastic,as always,and we resist the urge to get a room at the Grand Hotel and Suites. Neither of us really feel like driving home,but then again, neither of us feels like forking over 125 bucks for a hotel room. Might as well save that money for our next hour and twenty minute commando attack on the park. Or even better,use that 125 for a nice,counter-service meal at Walt Disney World in September. Ah...our obsessions.

Monday, July 21, 2003 7:21 PM
When I was on the second to last trian for Raging Bull a while back, when we returned to the station, only about 6 people were waiting. We didnt get a re-ride.

"Welcome back. When the train stops, push down then pull up on your lap bar. Please exit to your right, and down the exit ramp. We thank you for challenging Raging Bull, and enjoy the rest of your day at Six Flags!"

Monday, July 21, 2003 7:38 PM
I used to work in a gift shop, and I can totally relate to your story. They want the original box, certificate of authenticity, which run it was blah, blah, blah.
If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.
Monday, July 21, 2003 9:31 PM
I just have to ask - are you one of those people when there is someone doing 80 - 85 on the interstate that you like to get them to slow down and keep them behind you if possible? Cause that would be the same thing you were doing with the teens in the Viper que.... LOL

J/K..... I thing most of us are guilty of both behaviours at one time or another. Slowing someone down in the ride que or on the highway!

I guess I am not the only one willing to drive close to three hours to spend less than that actually in the park (I live in Plainfield). You have to be in the right mood to do it though.

Nice TR... but kinda lenghty!

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 5:51 AM
CPLady's avatar And I can't count the times when I've just needed a break and drove the 2 hours to CP for a couple of hours just to ride a couple coasters and head back home again.

Raging Bull is my favorite ride at SFGAm, with Viper second (although I haven't had the pleasure of riding the new Superman yet). I love the back seat on the Bull, and literally giggle the entire ride. Viper reminds me of Mean Streak when MS was new and running trimless, but not quite as rough. I've always had a fondness for wild, rough rides on wooden coasters.

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 5:58 AM

Clonebiscuit said:

This is the same girl who stated that the Eagle's next rehab should include some gasoline and a match.

I agree.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 7:51 AM
Viper was a surprisingly good coaster. Nice Trip Report.

The Millenium Force ride Ops: Squishing you where it counts since 2000.
Track Record: 62 coasters at 17 parks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 8:21 AM

my compliments on a very well written trip report. Instead of the usual we-rode-this/then-went-there/next-rode-this documentary style, I really got a sense of what your evening was like. Keep up the good work!

As to the parking lot denizens and their bass-heavy music selections, next time try something different. If you want to experience some of the strangest looks you've ever seen directed towards you, crank up the volume on "The Ewoks Theme" from the end of the ROTJ soundtrack. It's frickin' hilarious!

"Here's the thing about living in the past. If it was so good, then how come it didn't last? If it helps you, I'll put it in a phrase. Those were the times, but these are the days." - The Human League

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 6:14 PM
Nice TR makes me happy that Jen's favorite coasters are all wood, and violent ones at that :)

If given the choice I'd choose a hamburger over a hotdog anyday of the week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 8:43 AM
Very good TR Clonebuscuit! I was laughing at many points throughout. I can't believe Carter doesn't like Viper thoug, what's wrong with that woman?

Oh, and how was sleeping on the couch? :)

Can't wait to read your next TR!

Top Thrill Dragster -- The most intense, unbelievable, and spectacular fifteen seconds on any coaster, anywhere, ever.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 9:50 AM
Great stuff. Keep 'em coming.

Welcome to coasterbuzz!



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