Going to a theme park on a holiday is a crapshoot. Will the crowds be oppressive, or will the GP be at family barbecues and lakefront fireworks displays? We dared to venture to SFGAm on the Greatest of American holidays, the Fourth of July.
Arriving at 9:30, the parking lot was surprisingly pretty empty. Buying Maggie’s season pass at Guest Relations helped to pass the time, we were only in line for a couple of minutes before people were admitted through the metal detectors – when we noted that B:TR would be down all day, along with DelayJa Vu (big surprise) and the Hometown Fun Machine (wha?.) Most of the crowd gathered to the left to run for Superman: Ultimate Flop, but we decided to head for the SW Territory to get some early rides on Viper and Raging Bull, the smartest move of our day.
When the chains dropped, the crowd ran straight for the big coasters – leaving the Giant Drop wide open for us. The ride ops let us ride twice in a row without leaving our seats, and even suggested which side of the ride to sit on for the best view. Caring, enthusiastic, energetic – these were our ride ops. A great way to start our day at the park – especially since we had skipped breakfast!
After getting our feet wet on the Giant Drop, we checked out Raging Bull’s line, which was non-existent. We walked on and sat in the second-to last row. What a ride. This is Maggie’s favorite ride at SFGAm, but Chris was not convinced. We had three rides in a row, each time sitting in the rear of the train. Amazing airtime on the first drop and lots of fun. The trim on the second hill was on pretty strong, but it didn’t detract too much from the ride.
Tearing Maggie away from RB was tough, but we finally got to Viper. The line was perhaps 15 minutes, with a line wrangler at the station to keep things from getting out of hand. We rode in the last train, and were not impressed. Chris was surprised because, in his mind, this is a superior coaster, probably the best ride in the park. His opinion would be different by the end of the day. Surprisingly, it seemed that we were riding on a square wheel, which is very odd for VIPER, as it is normally a smooth wooden coaster. I think that recent rides on such top tier coasters as Ghostrider, Raven, Legend, and Cornball Express may have spoiled us, but this ride on Viper just didn’t make the cut. A later ride in 1-3 restored our faith in this woodie.
Before we ventured out of SW Territory, we jumped on the Trailblazer and the Ricochet. We ate lunch at the Crazed Buffalo (?) Saloon – air conditioned, buffet, table service. Mmmm Mmm. Plus we used Maggie’s AmEx card and got 15% off. Sweet. One more ride on Raging Bull with a 5 minute wait before heading to the other side of the park.
The Season Pass processing center didn’t open until 2PM so we did a bunch of spinny-rides until Maggie wanted to die: Fiddler’s Fling, East River Crawler (the flat ride formerly known as The Lobster), and Condor. Did we mention that it was 97 degrees? And S:UF still had an insanely long line.
To revive our spirits, we got a snow cone from one of the restaurants while we waited for the SP Processing Center to open. Maggie declared her love for the frozen snack industry. We were all better and ready for some more Raging Bull – still the shortest line in the park. On Raging Bull’s MCBR, Chris noticed a train running on Batman!!!! Woo hoo! Not wanting to walk all the way across the park if it was just a test, we walked around and rode RB again (the line was up to 15 minutes by now, not too shabby!) to verify. Sure enough, another B:TR train was spotted with legs hanging out of it. Off we went.
Waiting 25 or so minutes for B: TR was the hottest, sweatiest wait of the day so far, but well worth it for a last row ride. Say what you will, this is a really fun coaster, and in Chris’ opinion, the original is still the best and one of his favorite steel coasters anywhere!!!
We knew at this point that we couldn’t waste a day like this one (light crowds, short lines) without taking a ride on S:UF. We had ridden this once before during SRM weekend , so we knew what to expect. The switchbacks were mostly closed, so we were hopeful… until the ride broke down. Did we mention the humidity? Oh yeah, it was brutal. The sneeze/spit guard netting over the lines gave no shade or relief from the sun. The teenage Limp Bizkit fans in line with us who were making lewd comments about Lois Lane were only amusing for a few minutes. That schtick gets old! Finally the ride started up, and we waited another 20 or so minutes from where we were to get a backseat ride. Total wait: 1:15 or so. Maggie was shocked at the fact that riders cannot leave anything at the station except for flip-flop type shoes. People buy Superman souvenir cups not knowing they will have to cling to them while flying the ultimate adventure. What’s up with that??? Apart from the pretzel loop, this is a rather lackluster ride, and speaking to other guests in the park, we discovered we were not alone. The sensation is that of being picked up by the scruff of your neck, kitten-style, and being carried around by some giant entity. Flying? I must disagree, my friend. Raging Bull’s airtime and minimal restraints give more of a carefree, devil-may-care flying feeling. So guess where we went next?
Three more in a row on Raging Bull, then we called it a day. Oh yeah, and did we mention it was 103 degrees?
Anyway . . .
Good TR. I can't believe Batman was open. I heard it wasn't supposed to open until tomorrow. (Monday)
Enjoy your ride!
Nowhere in Chris's TR, was he dissing the park. So what if he doesnt think S:UF is all that. Not everyone is going to like it.
And DV getting its nicknames is warranted. The thing is still SBNO.
Arena football has arrived in the Windy City. Go "Chicago Rush"
Top Thrill Dragster -- The most intense, unbelievable, and spectacular fifteen seconds on any coaster, anywhere, ever.
Resident Airtime Whore
Great TR, Chris, glad you and the Magster had a nice uncrowded day there. Can't wait to visit this park!
Mike Miller - Con-Quest 2003 pictures now available at http://photos.yahoo.com/bassistist
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