I'll preface this TR with a little bit of advice;
The folks I went with included one guy who hadn't been to the park (or on a coaster) since '86, and a younger couple who hadn't ever been to anything larger than a county fair. If you feel yourself getting a little jaded towards the whole coaster-geek-hobby bit, I highly recommend going with coaster neophytes. I got almost as much enjoyment out of watching their reactions as I did riding myself.
In the lot at 8:45, in the park at gates open, we were about 20th in line for our first ride. Just as Bob said, at 9:45 the gates open for....
Superman: Ultimate Flight
See review from here
We were fortunate to be on the first train of the morning, and off in time to wait just a couple of minutes for the ropes underneath the railroad tracks to drop. As most ran to get in line for Batman, we instead get on the second train of the day for...
Highs: An always fun launch, and I think the 5th cycle is running a little higher/faster this year.
Lows: After riding Wicked Twister, I don't like the straight rear spike as much anymore.
The Verdict: The most coaster fun you can have in a narrow stip of land (besides an Anton shuttle loop)
NOTE: There was no evidence of the holding brake "chatter" that I experienced at Last Blast a year ago. I'm convinced that the previous chatter was caused by our nearly empty train.
For this ride, I have to admit to being a little mean to my friends. I said nothing about the holding brake on the back spike. When going backwards on the 4th cycle, there was the pull up, the pause, and then the loudest "OH SH**!!!" that I've heard in a while. Ah, the joys of messin' with your friends' heads! Off of the ride, they said that the first thing that went through their minds was that the train was stuck up there. Tee, hee, hee!
Upon exit, I looked over towards The Monument, and notice the cable pulley on top of one of the towers was turning. Ah, testing! We cruise over and stand along the fence, wait about 15 minutes, and were on the third train of the day on.....
Highs: The first pull up and the last hang down on Tower #1, the fun vertical drops, and the nice view from the inboard seats.
Lows: A little rough (but not as bad as last year), and very little legroom for those same inboard seats.
The Verdict: A very cool ride that, if not for the two strikes against it (capacity, reliability), should be a sure-fire people pleaser.
I really consider myself lucky, as in my four visits to SFGAm during the existence of the 'Vu, I've gotten to ride it each year ('01, '02, and '03).
At this time it was merely 11 o'clock! Thinking of capacity, we headed over to the Whizzer, only to find full queues and a line extending towards the railroad station. Ick! So, a little bit of backtracking brings us to my park favorite.....
Highs: The best/most comfortable seats/restraints/trains on any coaster. Period.
Lows: If the third hill trim brake was a small country, I'd release Ebola on it, and then ****ing nuke it!
The Verdict: The big boy is still bad @$$
I was amazed to find the line for this only to the FastPass merge point. We were able to do three total laps in under 40 minutes!
RIDE ADVICE: If you want air only on that third hill, ride in the front. If you want it everywhere else, the back is the best!
These laps were where I enjoyed a great moment of appreciation for our hobby. In the morning, I had 3 very nervous people in line for S:UF. We're talking shuffling of feet, anxious looks towards the exit, even a pre-park bathroom break where I'd wonder if we had a puker goin' on. By the middle of or time on the Bull, our almost-hurler was quickly back in line before the rest of us had decided on a third lap! I love that no matter how old you are, or how mild-mannered you may be, a few laps on a big ol' coaster and we're all a bunch of giggling, grinnin' kids!
It was noon and were getting hungry, so we headed back to the car for our picnic lunch. By this time the lot was packed! I was amazed that we had gotten in 6 rides before noon on such an obviously crowded summer Saturday. It just goes to show that "timing is everything". Back inside, the crowds and lines were just nuts. We passed up a full (and I'm talking other-side-of-the-bridge full) B:TR queue and meander to...
Highs: It's not every day you get to ride the first B&M.
Lows: So much headbanging, I thought I was Suzy from the Ramones song.
The Verdict: Walter and Claude, you've come a long way baby!
It was really nice to see the newer coat of paint on the ol' Wolf. Maybe SFGAm's maintenance guys could teach SFKK a thing or two. Next was a ride on...
American Eagle (Blue/Backward)
Highs: Big, old-school seventies style up the wazoo
Lows: More ****ing trims, and stupid dividers next to your arms so you can't hand-slap with the other train.
The Verdict: I wish I could have ridden her back in her heyday. Now just a castrated old-timer, seemingly put out to pasture.
As it was approaching my time to leave, the crew decides they want to take a go at....
Highs: Arrow fun without too much Arrow pain, the "rock" formation in the middle of the second loop.
Lows: If I go by the first tunnel soundtrack, the Demon is actually Celine Dion??? (I'll buy that)
The Verdict: Proof that a little bit of theming goes a long way to making an O.K. ride kinda cool.
It was then that I had to make my exit from the group. As it worked out, this visit was the perfect complement to my first one of the year, as combined, I hit all ten of the coasters. I actually enjoyed the large crowd, as I got to see how operations worked with everything at full capacity. This trip just cements my opinion of SFGAm being the true jewel in the crown of the Six Flags' properties. Keep up the good work, gang!
Edit: fixed grammar on Eagle review
"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
*** This post was edited by EchoVictor 8/4/2003 2:59:43 PM ***
In your review of American Eagle, you brought up the "stupid dividers next to your arms so you can't hand-slap with the other train." Yes, they may seem annoying, but I'm pretty sure they are there for good reason, especially on the blue train. I'm fairly certain that they were installed to keep riders from banging their arms on the wooden wall/supports that you fly by at the end of the giant helix before the bunny hops. You'll notice that the dividers are higher on the right side of the blue train, whereas both dividers are the same size on the red. It seems like the "chopper" effect comes much closer to the train on blue and since blue also runs backward, I'm guessing that the bigger dividers are there to protect riders who can't see what's coming.
It's too bad you had a mediocre ride on the Eagle. I experienced two of my best rides ever on the old bird earlier this season (both Red & Blue)- smoother than usual & fast with some incredible airtime. The re-tracking on the helix seems to have helped tremendously.
*** This post was edited by djgreghaus 8/4/2003 3:14:39 PM ***
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