The whole reason I went to SFGE was to compare Phoenix to Comet in similar weather. I almost got it - the humidity and temperature were right, but it wasn't raining when I arrived at Great Escape around 4:00. Click hear for the Knoebels / Phoenix TR.
Boomerang Coast-to-Coaster was running, so I went there first. Good first ride of the day.
Next I thought I would try Alpine Bobsled. Of course, it was closed. Again.
Canyon Blaster – still one of my favorite mine-themed coasters.
Steamin’ Demon – a typical Arrow looper. Smooth in the left seats, headbanger in the right seats.
Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon – I heard there was a line, so I avoided it like the plague. 160 riders per hour is scary low capacity.
Road Runner Express – I didn’t ride it (child required), but it looks great. Actually, the entire brand-new Looney Toons Seaport looks great. This is where all the good staff work.
Comet vs. Phoenix comparison
Bear with me – this is why I went to the Great Escape immediately after Phoenix Phall Phunfest. I can’t make a perfect comparison, but it was close. Of course, the afternoon rides were slower and not as smooth as the rides later in the evening. The ride is very different, depending where you sit. Middle of train – everything is moderate, and in the colder temperatures, the most airtime was on the smaller slower hills rather than the big fast hills. The airtime was not as intense as the middle seats on Phoenix. Front of train – this is a lot of fun because you get crazy air-time going up hills, especially going into the three high-speed 180-degree turns. The Phoenix’s double-up-double-down is awesome in the front and the Comet’s double-down doesn’t disappoint either. Back of the train – the Comet has intense airtime in the back of the train as you descend each hill, but the intensity is not remotely comparable to the hang-on-tight ejector airtime of the Phoenix. Coming out of the 180-degree turns, both coasters had strong laterals, but Phoenix was a bit more exciting, perhaps because it was running in the dark while The Comet was all lit up.
Other Comet / Phoenix comparisons:
Brakes – The Comet uses fin brakes while Phoenix uses skid brakes. Fin brakes seem more abrupt. Restraints: The Comet uses individual lap bars with a seat belt, while the Phoenix has a single-position lap bar. This affects the airtime sensation somewhat, but its biggest impact is on dispatch frequency. Dispatch operations: On the Phoenix, the train came into the station, stopped, and passengers unloaded while riders boarded simultaneously. One ride-op could walk the length of the coaster and check all lap bars, then signaled the lead operator to dispatch the train. On The Comet, after the train pulled into the station and unloaded, the lead operator opened the exit gate while the primary ride-op checked the empty train for personal belongings and unbuckling seat-belts. Then the lead operator would open the gates for new riders to enter, then both the operators would walk the entire train-length checking both seat-belts and individual lap bars. After the check, the lead operator would have to walk the entire platform length to get back to the operator booth and dispatch the train. The Comet dispatch system with two staff takes two to three times the time as the Phoenix with the same staffing levels. With another staff member, The Comet could run faster since the lead operator would not have to leave the booth. As well, the Phoenix was probably running more smoothly since virtually all the riders were enthusiasts compared to The Comet’s mix of parents, kids, teens, and a few token enthusiasts.
Staff disappointments – I used to rave about the staff at SFGE. Not anymore. The only enthusiastic folks were in the Looney Toons Seaport and at Condor. The ride ops at the other coasters were indifferent at best. Also, the scaractors were not as good as last year. They were younger and were not as subtle as the scaractors last year. To top it off, the food service was horribly slow -- the staff disappeared from the front counter for over five minutes when I was waiting to order, and there was a family ahead of me. I want the fun back!
I stayed until the park closed, then headed straight home. For once, the Canadian customs agent knew about coaster enthusiasts and asked like, “You rode that coaster I saw on Discovery Channel last week? Cool!” If only they were all like that. *** Edited 10/11/2005 11:18:01 PM UTC by greatwhitenorth***
Long live the Big Bad Wolf
Granted there are no gates to open and close, but at Phoenix they show that they don't need them. An occasional "stay behind the yellow line" or "off the railing" is all that's needed on either coaster. Maybe it's a different crowd in northeastern PA.
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