In Tekno fashion:
For three or four years, I’ve known that Agawam, MA was supposedly home to the world’s best coaster. I’ve been skeptical and haven’t put a whole lot of effort into making it there because, number one, it’s Six Flags and I have the normal jaded view of Six Flags, and number two, I usually don’t follow enthusiast like/dislike trends, so I figured it wasn’t worth the big trip for me.
Well, with the fiancée in Wildwood, and it being my birthday weekend, I figured it was time to finally give it a shot. After leaving work at 2:00pm and driving for the better part of nine hours, I arrived at my Homewood Suits in Windsor Locks, CT. Very nice place, I recommend it for all you hotel snobs like me, as it was the only Hilton property within 50 miles of the park that was under $100 for the night.
In the morning, I got rather turned around by the roads in northern Connecticut and southern Massachusetts, but after a couple of u-turns, and a friendly gas station attendant, I’m on Main St. (off of Elm – how quaint … ) in Agawam, and pulling into the parking lot for Six Flags New England. First thing that hits me is that this place seems really overdone for what is supposedly a “second tier” Six Flags park. An elaborate footbridge, and trams that run no more than a half-mile loop at best from the smallish parking lot to the base of the steps give the impression of a BGT, IoA or Disney style park – and the similarities don’t stop there! After parking near the front as I was one of only a couple dozen cars in the parking lot by 9:45am, I walked over the bridge and purchased my season pass, as this was only stop one on a two-Six Flags park tour for this weekend. Season pass processing was simple and relatively quick and I was out into the park for my first ride of the ’05 season, you guessed it, Superman: Ride of Steel.
Superman: Ride of Steel (11/10) – Roller Coaster god, thy name is Superman. As I approached the ride, the first thing I noticed is that pictures cannot do the tangle of track at the end of this ride justice. The amount of twists, turns and hills is ridiculous, it looks like modern art, and it seems impossible to trace a travel path through the mess. I ended up waiting at the front gate for about 15 minutes before they actually opened the ride at 10:30. I was pumped as I figured I’d probably get two quick rides before the lines filled in, and as I followed everyone as we all ducked under the bars, I headed for the back as I got to the station as there was already a sizeable (3-4 rides) line for the front seats. I met a very nice lady, Kathy, who may or may not be “enthusiast” enough to be a Coasterbuzzer, but knew enough to ask me if I’d been on before, and get excited that I hadn’t. I said I was a Cedar Point homeparker, and we talked about the Point for a bit while the ride ops checked everyone thoroughly, which wasn’t unexpected, but still really dragged down dispatch times. Finally, I’m off on what was supposed to be the ride of a lifetime. I’ll save the details for later, but that first ride, I got off thinking I had experienced some anticipointment. While the ride was great, it didn’t blow away my list, I put it somewhere in the upper middle. Then Kathy told me I had to experience the front. Well now, this was the Superman I’d heard about.
From the moment the train crests the hill, the front seats are pure coaster perfection. A steep drop, a rush of speed, a smack of air pressure through a tunnel, a steep ascent, a pop of air, powering through an overbank, whip turn, more pure speed, air pop, bottom out, mega air pop, bottom out, air pop, whip turn, crushing lateral, air pop, crushing lateral, bump to let you know it means business, more crushing lateral, whiplash-worthy air pop, crushing lateral combined with tunnel air pressure smack, air pop, air pop, air pop, air pop, crushing lateral, brakes. Every move is powerful, every move is intense, it’s like a perfectly orchestrated piece of music. The timing, the elements, the speed, it’s simply perfection. Get out and ride this one folks, in the front two seats, and enjoy it because they broke the mold with this one, it’ll never come out this perfect ever again.
I ended my day with 1 2nd to last seat, 5 2nd seats, 3 front seats, the last being a front seat, on the true King of coasters. The line never did materialize, the most I waited was about 40 minutes and 39 of that was due to a breakdown. There were only two breakdowns of the ride, one that was the ride op dropping the measuring stick on the track and they had to wait for maintenance to reactivate after the e-stop and the second I’m not sure of the cause. Most of the time, the second seat and even front were never more than a 2 or 3 train wait. I tried to describe the feeling to my Dad and fiancée and the best I could come up with was take Millennium Force, up to the last overbank, and tack on a double-length 2nd half of Phantom’s Revenge. Absolutely incredible.
So after the first trip on Superman, I took some pictures of the spaghetti track, although like I said, I don’t think any do it justice, and I moved on through DC Comic land. Again, this little park, nestled in historic New England I feel rivals IoA in their superhero theme. The details, the characters, the ride names, everything felt like I was in Orlando. And this didn’t stop at the superhero area, the kids areas, the Looney Tunes areas, what I could see of the water rides, all of the theme was top-notch, well executed, well maintained, and very impressive. Way to go Six Flags, you really hit a home run with this little park. After passing on Nightwing for later (which looks like an Enterprise combined with a Volare – sort of an Enterprise on crack) and some Joker building which I couldn’t figure out, I headed over through some confusing pathways to the SFNE contribution to the various Batman coasters.
Batman: The Dark Knight (9/10) – about the only things I could find wrong with this ride were that it didn’t last long enough and that you had to ride it in the same day as you rode Superman. Put this ride in any park other than SFNE, SFGAdv or Cedar Point, and it’s the star attraction. Again, the timing and pacing are great, but that’s to be expected from B&M. From the time you’re off the incredibly steep lift (is this B&M’s steepest?) to the end of the ride, it’s just attack after attack of elements. The sort of ¾ dive loop is cool, and the inline seems to last forever with mega hangtime. I rode this thing 5 times today, never with any wait. A very worthy supporting role for Superman.
After getting my kicks on Batman, I decided to knock down the rest of the SFNE lineup before going for any flats or rerides on the big boys.
Mind Eraser (4/10) – I don’t understand why I haven’t learned yet that when lines are non-existent, skip the damn SLC as it’s line is always the longest, and the ride sucks. I waited probably 20 minutes for this thing. You can tell your dispatch times are awful when you actually have a buzzer to warn people when the train’s actually MOVING. Horrid headbanging, Geauga’s is still the only SLC I’ve ever found even the slightest bit enjoyable. Best thing I can say about it is it’s platform offers some awesome views of Superman for pictures.
Thunderbolt (6/10) – I guess if it didn’t look like it belonged in that rotting park in Japan, this one might be better. The first drop was decent, but then some shuffling got my attention and I went into avoid-pain mode and sort of don’t remember the rest other than at the end thinking that this seemed a lot like a level-ground rip-off of Kennywood’s Jackrabbit. Anyone else ever see that similarity?
Flashback (7/10) – Your standard boomerang, until you look a little closer. What’s with the trains on this thing? They’re a weird shape and actually have padding for your head. I find boomerangs to be silly fun, and this was no different, until I got extreme vertigo coming backwards through the station and nearly vomited on myself. I don’t know if it was the taller “jail” doors being more in my line of sight, or what. I always get a little bit of a sick feeling on the final stop on boomerangs, but this one almost went over the top. I’m a little gunshy to try another boomerang now.
Cyclone (6/10) – Oh the potential is so great it hurts because of how badly it’s executed. On paper, the layout is incredible, probably top-10 material here, but the actual coaster is horrible. For all the beauty and grace of the symphony that is Superman, Cyclone is the 3rd grader monster band concert that the parents plug their ears for and then tell little Johnny it was good. It seemed through the entire ride I kept thinking, ok, this is what would be great after this element, well, there it is in front of us, ok, any time now, ok, what’s with the delay here, ok, well *now* we get what should have been next. There are oddly placed straight sections, the train slows to a crawl in some spots, the last two hops are very badly either in need of repair or reprofiling, and the entire coaster looks awful and needs some TLC. Plus, it’s so far in the back, it’s hard to find, and it’s rather desolate and lonely in the station. Again, so much potential, but the execution just isn’t there.
Mr. Six’s Pandemonium (7/10) – I’m getting hooked on these spinners! Another longer wait, but the natural low capacity contributed to that. Being a single rider, I got seated with a Mom and her little girl. Well I sat caddy-corner from Mom and that made for some great spinning. I think I much prefer the Maurer spinners though. The layout here is less intense, more kid-oriented, although considering the location of the first installation of these models, that makes sense. Still, not a bad ride considering its size. This ride, as someone said when the announcement was made, is also designed to be easily renamed Pandemonium. Anywhere that Mr Six is mentioned, it’s a sticker that’s easily replaced, or a picture that sticks way off of its mount that could be removed and no one would know the difference.
As for flat rides, I was never able to catch Nightwing as both times I was going for it, it was broken down. I did ride the Joker ride which was, well, ok. I ended up joking with the kids I got sat with, but it would have been more fun had I actually known the people I was on the ride with. I was going to ride the Wal-Mart version of the Hawk-48 a-la Aero 360 at Kennywood, but I had too much stuff in my pockets and didn’t feel like dealing with a locker.
I left the park at about 4:30 a happy camper! I had finally found coaster perfection, the one that has it all, the one that is a symphony of steel, and I had “listened” nine times! One spin on the supporting cast, and five total on the “best of the rest” and I was ready to save up for my next trip (late addition – this puts me at an even 130 – not too shabby if you’re into that sort of thing!). I WILL be back to SFNE, hopefully sometime this year. I went out on a real high note, with front-row rides on Batman and Superman back-to-back. Superman left enough of an impression on me that when traffic literally stopped for an hour and a half due to a horrendous accident on I-84, I was still able to “ride” Superman a couple more times in my head! SFGAdv is calling my name tomorrow, but as I’ve been there before, I won’t be doing a TR unless something really unusual happens.
Peace out bros and bro-ettes, hope you enjoyed reading!
Edit: as usual, paragraphs do not import from Word once you hit the "Submit" link ... *** Edited 5/2/2005 4:04:24 AM UTC by Impulse-ive***
SM really is outstanding, I only got to ride it three times when there, but twice late at night and I loved every second of it.
I hope to get to SFNE this year. Gonna try and tag a long with my sister and her family as she visits In Laws in Mass.
Superman: Ride of Steel (11/10)
So I guess you didn't care for Supes either, eh? ;)
I am a WOODEN coaster freak, first, foremost, and most every place in between....that being said, RoS is plain SICK, flat-out the most insane thing ON PLANET EARTH...:)
Nice TR, Brett...gotta get myself back to New England, LOL...
I *really* liked Riverside Cyclone, but I'm an admitted masochist, so no news there...
bill, looking forward top more of those "Mister Sick's" rides...;)
You must be logged in to post