SFNE 7-10-04 How SFA got the shaft

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Monday, July 12, 2004 3:46 AM
Have you ever had one of those trips that you’ve always talked about, but never done? Well, that was the Six Flags New England trip. My riding partner and friend Matt and I had talked about riding S:ROS for many years now. Finally I said let’s go this weekend, if we can both get our schedules to match.

We both talked about actually getting reservations, instead of winging it as we had done in the past, not always getting the cheapest results. I searched and searched online for places, went through some of the discount sites, and finally settled on the Baymont Inn in Windsor Locks, CT (near Bradley Airport). I got so frustrated with the online sites, that I called the hotel directly and got exactly what I was looking for–two double-beds for $71.99 a night ($79.99 after tax). Make no doubt about it, any of the hotels/motels around SFNE are expensive.

We left Millersville, MD around 6:20pm, which of course meant we would hit some pretty bad traffic. We were doing pretty well, until I made a bad mistake. I needed a restroom and there was a reststop (Vince Lombardi) just after the end of the Jersey Turnpike. Unfortunately, I made a turn too soon and got onto an access road to the Sporting Facillities instead. This is where a friend with an atlas comes in real handy. We quickly figured out we would need to get back on the Turnpike again. It only costs us .70 and 15 minutes, but it still sucked. This time I made sure I got it right, and encountered one of the worst road systems I’ve ever seen. It’s like someone designed the access road to the reststop based on some spaghetti they had for dinner. Roads kept merging into each other, and you really had to follow the signs carefully, or you were screwed.

Our second time waster came courtesy of the George Washington Bridge. It seems like we lost a lot of time waiting to pay our $6 in tolls. I was never as happy as when we finally got out of New York and crossed over into Connecticut.

We woke up a little bit late the following morning, but went down to the lobby for a killer spread of breakfast. There was waffles, frech toast, pastries, bagles, coffee, and orange juice. So we’re cruising down I-91 towards the park and suddenly the thing I was so focused on not forgetting, got forgotten. I’m so used to having a Six Flags pass, that I forgot my printed ticket. Luckily, we weren’t that far down the road. This time we took the scenic route instead, and we were still able to score a parking spot at what I would like to call “Undercutters Parking”, because they were only charging $5 to park at their business (If you ever there, just look for the car with the sign going through the roof).

Since there was barely a line, we hit Batman the Dark Knight first. They were assigning seating which is good for increasing capacity, but we would’ve gladly waited for the front seat. We both liked it for its rapid pace of elements, and agreed that SFA should get something similar.

We checked out the line for Mind Eraser (SLC) and passed as they were only running one train. We passed a dormant Chance Inverter (no loss there), as well as Twister (Topspin). Oh well, there’s other Topspins to be ridden. Walking around the park to get to S:ROS, we quickly realized how screwed SFA has been in appearance. SFNE has excellent themeing and appearance.

So now for the reason we drove six hours. We enter the queue for S:ROS and the line isn’t that bad. This will be my first time seeing the new restraints, so I’m kind of anxious about that also. It’s no exaggeration to say that the track takes up much of the park, and the parts by the station are completely confusing to watch. After a mometary breakdown, we sit down in what we are imagining as coaster nirvana. The restraints are different for sure, but not as bad as I thought. The Intamin seatbelt has been replaced with a regular PTC-like belt, and it has a loop at the end of it facing the attendants. You quickly find out this is so they can tug on the loop to get it as tight as possible. There are shin pads also, but they are fairly tiny and didn’t bother me. After the seatbelts are tightened, another attendant comes by and makes sure your bar is real tight. Can you say “Stapled”? I knew you could. Hey, whatever keeps this coaster operating and makes sure that there’s no possible way someone could ever die again, I’m all for it.

The trip up the lift reminds me of Millennium Force as I’m sitting to the left. You can’t really see much, except for the river to the left. The first drop happens, and it’s just out of control from here on out. After the overbank, it’s airtime heaven, even though I’m stapled. Two parts really stand out–the hill by the photo booth, and the dive into the mist-filled tunnel. I remember seeing stars through the first helix also. We got back into the brakes, and couldn’t believe what we just rode. It absolutely lived up to the hype. One word describes the ride and that’s “RELENTLESS”. I was also blown away by the amount of grass, and trees inside of the track. For those who haven’t visited SFA, we mostly have a dust bowl.

Needing something a little calmer, we rode the indoor Chance Wipeout (Trabant) called The Joker’s Wild Card. It wasn’t bad, as it featured lots of Intelligent lighting fixtures (moving lights), but it didn’t go backwards, which is the whole fun of a Wipeout. Next, we checked out Nightwing, a Huss Flyaway (or Project 34 for those who remember the ads). I couldn’t understand why they needed Lo-Q for it, until I saw how long it took for them to load. Wouldn’t you know it, while we were waiting to board, it broke down. We decided to tough it out, as this was another reason I drove six hours North. After about 20 minutes, we were finally able to board one of the strangest flats that I’ve ridden yet. The only way I can describe it is it’s like taking a Dartron Cliff Hanger, mix it with a waffle maker, and then throw in an Enterprise for good measure. It’s actually fairly comfortable, but I’ll warn you that the g’s at the bottom are pretty vicious.

It was time to eat, and thus came one of our many surprises of the day. I order a full pie, and out comes a pan pizza already sliced, not the flat bland pizza you usually find at amusement parks. Between the two of us, we almost couldn’t finish the pizza. It was delicious for.

Next, we moved onto Poison Ivy’s Tangled Train, which I believe is a clone of Blackbeard’s Pirate Train at SFGadv. We walked onto the long train, and it was unbelieavable how many trees were planted inside the course. In fact, you can barely see the track. If you’ve ever wondered where all the trees went at SFA, they’re all at SFNE.

It was time for some wood, and we rode Thunderbolt next (one train). After about a 20-minute wait, we rode a very pleasant classic. It was fairly smooth and there was definitely one good pop of air that took us both by surprise. While there we checked out the Scream! S&S Towers which were running two sides. It appeared to me that they were running a combo program on both (I could’ve been wrong), but that still didn’t make either one of us want to wait for it.

So on we went into Crack-Axle Canyon. Matt and I both once again felt robbed by the appearence of this western-themed section, in comparison to SFA. Our first stop was at Houdini-The Great Escape, which is a virtual clone of the Great Adventure ride. We walked into the pre-show (which never happens at SFGadv.), and found it very surreal. We looked around and couldn’t find any differences. Once inside the room, we actually had a whole section to ourselves. I looked around to spot any differences, and did notice that there was no chairs or crystal ball like the New Jersey version. We still half expected to exit the ride next to the Skycoaster:)

We then waited one cycle for Tomahawk (Frisbee), which was running a really good program. Then we walked over to the Rodeo (Breakdance), which was–well, a Breakdance. It was interesting that they had barrels instead of cows.

Exiting the culdesac, we headed for the large woodie called Cyclone. Neither Matt nor I had any idea what to expect. All I know, is that they were running one train, and the load time was very long. After an agonizing wait, we rode a very “interesting” coaster. There were moments of greatness, followed by “Why?” There were weird transitions, and dead spots. It reminded me of the Rattler at SFFT, except without all the pain. Leaving the queue, we noticed a non-operational Time Warp (Vekoma Air Jumper). I’m not too crushed as it looks just like another Zamperla Hawk 48, which aren’t that terribly exciting.

It was then time to get the Boomerang out of the way. The more I ride these things, the less I like them. This version has the neck holder, but it doesn’t make much of a difference. Passing through the North End/Looney Tunes Movie Town, I notice that their Shipwreck Falls actually has a wrecked ship. Note to SFA, you’ve been screwed.

On the way to Hurricane Harbor, we caught a ride on Buzzsaw, a Magic Carpet ride. It was pretty good, but I still think DaVinci’s Cradle at BGW is better. I think we checked on Mind Eraser again, and passed for the second time.

What can I say about Hurrican Harbor? It’s big. No it’s huge. No it’s ENORMOUS. There are waterslides everywhere. We waited for only three of them, however, as you know what capacity monsters waterslides are:( We first rode Cannonball Falls-the Green speed slide. It was fun, but the payoff seems so little after the wait. Next we went over to another reason of my six-hour drive, Tornado, one of those crazy Proslide Funnels. We had to wait in one line just to get a tube, and then waited another half-an-hour or so to ride. (While in the line I noticed a Chance Alpine Bobs called Kontiki with a Hawaiin theme. It was really well done. Why couldn’t have SFA done something similar with their Alpine Bobs is a mystery to me). Tornado was fun, but it didn’t blow my mind. We chilled out in one of the activity pools, complete with all kinds of waterfalls and geysers. It was time for one last slide, and it was the green Lagoon slide. The best part of H.H. is that it’s free with the park admission. I would love to visit H.H. again when it’s not so busy so I could check out more of the slides, but time didn’t allow for it. Once again, it was painfully obvious that SFA has been screwed in the waterpark department.

We rounded out the night with three more rides on S:ROS, and we decided that the middle seats were the best on the train. I suggested one more ride on B:DK, with the hopes that we could catch one more ride on S:ROS. We get over there and the line still isn’t bad. The misters are on so strong in the line that it’s hard to see past them. We were once again assigned seats, and we got near the back this time. It’s definitely a little bit rougher back there, and I tagged my ears several times on the OTSR. Nothing too painful though. We checked out the line for the one-train Mind Eraser for the last time, and we said screw it, we’re not waiting an hour for an SLC, credits be damned. So we quickly walked back to S:ROS, and ended off the night with a fairly dark ride. As were leaving, we watched a train or two, and then noticed that another train got stuck on the lifthill. Good old Intamin.

In conclusion, we really liked SFNE, and would like to visit again in a few years. They have a lot of rides for a cheap price (I only paid $32), and S:ROS kicks ass. Lake Compounce TR next.

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Monday, July 12, 2004 1:13 PM
What? no SF season pass for you this year I-Fan?

It sounds like SFNE has done a good job on their theming but you've gotta keep in mind that alot of what SFA has already gotten in the way of theming was already there before the SF conversion.

Still SFA's coyote creek has some very good theming to it,now if only they can do that in other sections of the park.

You know what SFA really needs? they really need a good old Huss Troika on the old sky escaper site,after going to PKD on saturday & riding triple spin for the first time I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with the ride & it has a pretty low puke factor as well.

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Monday, July 12, 2004 2:56 PM
Well, the cats out of the bag. No, I don't have a season pass this year. Let's just say that Six Flags America and I aren't exactly good friends. They weren't too happy about some of the comments I made about the park, mainly about its cleanliness (which by the way, SFNE had no problems with). I also couldn't justify $90 this year (after the parking pass), for a park that I've increasingly grown to dislike. I love the rides, but I grew tired of fighting with people at the park over line-jumping and other misbehavior.

I think another part of the problem is that I'm starting to see things your way BFSFA. Six Flags Inc. is suffocating the park by not investing in it the way they do other parks in the chain. We should've had a new waterpark a while ago. We keep hearing every year that one is on the way, and each year we keep getting stuck with the same old tired waterpark that dates back to Wild World days. Why is it that SFNE has 30 waterslides (I believe that is the number), two wavepools, two activity areas, two pools, and more?

If you had seen the Kontiki, the Alpine Bobs, you would've seen a park that took the time to theme the ride, instead of having it look like a carnival cast-off in the wrong section of the park. How hard would it have been for SFA to have repainted the panels to have a Penguin theme, and also repainted the cars? SFNE's actually had a bamboo fence running around the inside also.

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Monday, July 12, 2004 4:10 PM

Intamin Fan said:
I was never as happy as when we finally got out of New York and crossed over into Connecticut.

HAHA, I made the trek from SFGADV to the Lake and SFNE around the same time of day, proboably took the same mess of roads, waited as long to pay the GW toll. I felt Exactly like that when we finally got out of New York. The kicker was there were bums begging for loose change on the side of the highway around NYC, just becuase they new traffic would be stopped there every day. Horrible Interstate system.

Although I have not ridden thew SFA superman (have ridden the SFDL one), I think your opinion is dead on. The SFNE version is just non-stop madness while the others just kinda meander out and back with a few nice spots of air. Add the foliage, tunnels, and the river and it's a near perfect ride in a perfect setting (except it's under SF management ;))

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Monday, July 12, 2004 4:36 PM
Can you do me a favor and post your trip report @ SFNE.com, its a fansite and I know they would love to hear your perspective of the park compared to SFA, A lot of people there say the park is filthy and has no scenery or themes, and its just not true, if you post yours there they will read how a first time visitor LOVED the park.
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Monday, July 12, 2004 6:47 PM
I've seen pics of the SFNE version & happen to agree that the theming on it looks fabulous when compared to the generic off the shelf package that SFA chose to install.

As for HH at SFNE as opposed to PI at SFA I believe it once again has more to do with just what the current owners/management had to work with when Riverside was re-branded,SFNE's waterpark definitely looked a whole lot better(from what I've seen in pics of course) to begin with before the renovation than SFA's waterpark ever has.

I'm suprised that more than half of SFA's waterslides at PI havn't been condemned yet for possible structural wear & tear,most if not all of those slides are well over 20 years old & havn't been changed since they were installed.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2004 11:18 PM
I visited SFNE last summer and I found the park absolutely amazing. I thought all the coasters (except the SLC and Poison Ivy's) were all amazing.

Everything said about Superman is dead-on. The ride is fantastic and claims my number one steel spot. Batman is my favorite B&M to date. The ride is great great, element and element and the Zero-G roll just hits the spot for me. That definately put it over the top.

Woodies are fantastic. I enjoyed them both to full extent. I was greatly surprised by both of them. Thunderbolt was airtime filled when I went and as was Cyclone.

I think theming and landscape at the park is just gorgous. My favorite Six Flags park with ease. Having been to SFA, its easy to see that SFA has gotten the shaft indeed, can we say screwed.

You mentioned you were going to Lake Compounce, which contains my all time favorite coaster Boulderdash. I'm looking forward to reading your trip report on that one. I'm either going to attend Cedar Point (based on TTD's performance lately, probably a no) or SFNE/Compounce in late July/early August. Haven't decided yet.

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Saturday, July 17, 2004 6:28 PM
Nice trip report. The ride ops on SROS have really been hustling it up "post accident". Two train operation, four ops on the platform checking belt and bar, I was impressed. I am puzzled as to why you think the middle seats are the best. I would say it is a tossup between front and back, front for the view and back for the air.

As for getting through NYC, one "alternate route" is to cut through Staten Island over to Brooklyn and take a ride on the Cyclone.

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Saturday, July 17, 2004 8:20 PM
You know, 80 bucks for a motel room really isn't too bad for this time of year.

And I agree with your opinion on Cyclone. One second is great, and the next leaves you wondering. Thunderbolt is great, though. That thing will surprise you! *** Edited 7/18/2004 12:21:05 AM UTC by PT300***

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Saturday, July 17, 2004 10:52 PM
I am the only one who doesn't get much out of SFNE? Don't get me wrong, S:RoS is my #1 steel also, but I've found that the park has pretty bad ops, pretty bad policies, and no regard for guest service.
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Saturday, July 17, 2004 11:27 PM
Tsk tsk. I'm from New York, and the one thing you learn early on is avoid NYC when traveling. The tolls are horrible. :)

If you wanted a cheaper bridge crossing toll, try to cross further up the river. I think the Tappen-Zee is the last 'expensive bridge.' After that, they cost $1.00, up to south of Albany, where they become free.

If you want a nice, scenic drive, with a some nice stops, and avoid most traffic all together, take The Palisades Parkway all the way to it's end at Bear Mountain. From that exhange you could hit West Point (very, very nice in the fall) Bear Mountain State Park (also, very nice in the fall). From that exchange, go across the Bear Mountain Bridge, and follow 9D North to I-84. (You gotta go through Beacon though, and 9D going into Beacon is horrible, very bumpy) Then follow I-84 east where it hooks into I-91 (or whatever road leads to SFNE)

PS: If your the artsy type (art museums and the like) you could check out DIA:Beacon. (ALthough, most of the locals, including me, 'don't get it' as it's mostly modern art.

I love sharing local info. :)

*** Edited 7/18/2004 3:51:43 AM UTC by RCT_MASTER***

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Sunday, July 18, 2004 2:55 AM

JDB said:
[ I am puzzled as to why you think the middle seats are the best. I would say it is a tossup between front and back, front for the view and back for the air.]

I am the "Matt" who went on this trip with Intamin Fan, and on practically every other coaster I would agree with what you just said, although I am still partial to the view and "breeze" in the front. We both hit the brakes, riding in the middle of the train and were both quite perplexed that the ride was actually better there "airtime/intensity-wise. On our Superman (SFA), the middle seat gives you some incredible floating airtime, but the New England middle seat just seemed to be the one with an equilibrium of 'pop' and 'pullover' airtime. In the middle, it just never felt like the train was trying to catch up with you, or you trying to catch up with it. Just all out relentless.

But like you, I also was puzzled as to how the middle seats were better. I don't know how exactly, they just were. I now know why this is considered the #1 steel coaster. Unbelievable ride all over!


*** Edited 7/18/2004 7:30:58 AM UTC by go with gravity***
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Sunday, July 18, 2004 3:36 PM
The intensity in the vallies is greater in the middle seats and the air is a little more balanced between ejector (which the front has) and floater (which the back has) but it's not quite as sharp as either extreme. I prefer the enormous ejection action in the front, myself. ;)
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