Sunday, April 29, 2001 2:18 PM
This past Thursday I went back to the place of my collegite schooling, central Illinois. After spending Thursday in Decatur with my cousin/best friend and participating in an alumin banquet @ U of Ill on Friday, I decided to spend Saturday @ the park formerly known as Six Flags over Mid-America (now Six Flags St. Louis).
A little history of the park and my relationship with it, SFStL was the thrid and final Six Flags brand park built completely from scratch *as* a Six Flags park in 1971. It is also one of the few SF parks to litterally have six flags flying outside its main gates. Like its sister parks SFoT and SFoG (the other two original SF parks) all the flags are different and have historical significance. SFGAm also flies six flags outside of its gates, but all of them are the current USA flags.
SFStL will always have a personal attachemnt for me as it was home to two of my most significant coaster memories. My first *adult* coaster was the Jet Scream coaster back in 1984 and the first time I ever got stuck on a coaster (and had to walkdown) was on the River King Mine Train in 1987. But enough of reflecting, I'll get to the current day.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For those that remember my TRs from last year, I ranked like coasters via the "Griswold" scale. This year I have abandoned ranking coasters, as it has gotten too hard, and I just dont feel like thinking =]!
After an easy three hour drive from Champaign, Il (in my rented Ford Mustang) I arrived at SFStL, paid the eight buck parking fee, flashed my SFA season pass and proceeded to "have a great day at Six Flags Saint Louis" (TM). Just as I made my sharp turn to the left church-like bells sounded the time as 2pm (nice touch). Well there was *really* only one coaster that really jumped out of the park at me so I went there first. After about a 40min wait, I found myself face to face with "The Coolest Coaster on the Planet"
MR.FREEZE (Premier Rides LIM shuttle)
Freeze sits as the capstone of the DC Comics Plaza area of the park. The queue line, like most of the queues in the park, was massive. Fortunately, is was only sparsely populated and only about 15 min of the line was outside the "Snowy's Ice Cream Factory" station house. Inside the line splits and I chose right. It was really cool watching the transfer tables work. I could never really understand how that worked, mostly because I was under the impression that both sides had to operate simultaneously, but each side is independant of the other. (jeremy! Stop boring everyone and just tell about the ride!) Oh yeah =]. I went straight for the front because of the view and I heard everywhere else was really rough. Well that front seat ride was really cool. The 'tophat' inversion is truely a masterpiece, even moreso (IMO) than Kumba's camelback inversion. And heading up that spike you feel the LIMs grab you and shove you just a little higher. The return trip is just as fun and *suprisingly* no headbanging at all. The only part that had a *hint* of trouble was exiting the wraparound curve backwards. But that was it. I was somewhat impressed by the ride.
After getting a little turned around, I headed to the back of the park to shake hands with the newest addition to the park and CCI's largest coaster to date:
THE BOSS (CCI terrain-twister woodie)
After a brief set-up caused a delay in the 2-train operation, extending my wait to about an hour, I was seated in the back row. Boss is one mean coaster. It is hard, relentless and doesnt give a damn what you think. That's how a woodie should be! I happen to like really intense woodies, but I can see that MANY people will call this coaster rough. There were more *intense* spots on this coaster (IMO) than I remember on Sonny. But like any other CCI coaster, BOSS sports killer air, awesome lats, and a layout that always keeps riders guessing; all marks of a good ride.
Next, I continued clockwise to the parks Granddaddy coaster. The coaster by John Allen who, like me, is this year turned 25:
THE SCREAMIN' EAGLE (John Allen terrain-dogleg-out&back)
First of, i love looking at huge white-painted woodies, and Screamin Eagle would be a beautiful coaster to look at. I say would because it seems like SE hasnt been painted in quite a few years. Anyway, I jumped in seat 1.2 of the *minimally padded* PTC train and was off. Like it's younger neighbor Boss, SE is agressive right from the start. From the lift there is an *almost unbanked* swoop curve to the right into the first drop and immediate bunny hop. Then you climb up the thrid hill which is actually the longest drop into a ravine. Here's were the Eagle really make folks scream. I dont know what it was, but it seemed like there were no pullouts on this series of hills. Like the train would just get to the bottom of the hill and flatten out, slamming the riders into the seat. With the *minimal padding* SE threatened to do some readjustment to my spine. It was brutal, and so exhillerating. Again, not a ride for "wussys" =].
Continuing around the park I noted the decorative 1920's-ish Chicago theming, especially noting the Rainbow/Falling Star (Adam, which one is it?) themed to an old streetcar. I also ran across:
THE RIVER KING MINE TRAIN (Arrow runaway mine train)
This coaster features 3 lift hills. On my previous ride (1987) I didnt make it past lift number 2, before the ride set up. Turns out I didnt miss much. You all pretty much know how unthemed Arrow mine trains are and this is no different. One thing to know is there *is* actually an airtime drop towards the end of the ride, and it happens in a tunnel (bonus points). Too bad the stench around there was pungent (and not in a sweet way).
Well I next went to an Arrow-esque Vekoma coaster
NINJA: The Blackbelt of RollerCoasters (Vekoma multielement)
I love how the entrance to the queue was 'guarded' by two ninjas. Had I been with friends, I can envision many pictures of us 'playfighting' with the ninja guards. But since I was solo, I simply walked onto the last seat. Notable things about this ride are 1. the first drop doesnt get anywhere NEAR the ground; its a good 20ft up. 2. the 2nd inversion, a sidewinder, crosses under the lifthill and the return tray for the chain provides a *very effective* head chopper. As for the rest of the ride, the only thing notable was that I hit my head real, REAL hard on one of the turns before the corkscrews. Also (and I only realize this now as I'm writing), Ninja turns out to be my 100th coaster ridden. Talk about going out with a bang (rimshot please =]).
Anyway, I next proceeded to the final adult coaster in the park. A mirror image clone of argueably the most intense invert to date:
BATMAN: THE RIDE (B&M inverted multielemet)
It was really weird seeing my ride but not being in SFGAm. The SFStL version (affectionatly known as namtaB since it is a mirrored clone) does not have the benefit of the tree footchoppers that have sprouted around the original. Also, the StL queue is much more extensive in terms of size, but IMO, not as well done. It seems strange to me to not hear Prince's "Partyman" before riding. Anyway, I scored the back right seat and felt the full intensity of B&M's early work. Now I dont know if it is because I'm just getting old or my recent (bad) habit of not eating at all before venturing to a park, but for the second time in as many weeks I began to grey out on a coaster (the other time was on Two-Face @ SFA). I also noticed that both times I didnt scream/yell/whoop/or holler. I guess those stories my mom used to tell me (that the "TINGLER" would get me if I didnt scream) had some truth to them after all. =]
Anyway at this point, I decide that I need a food break (and just a break in general) and I realize it was only 5:30pm, which means I rode all the major coasters in only 3 and a half hours, not bad IMO. I went to the "1904 Classic" stand where a footlong chili-cheese dog, fries and a large drink waxed me for like $9.45. Now I realize why the gate/pass price is so cheap. While eating, I went over the map and found they had a version of my favorite flat ride, the Rotor, called Tom's Twister. I walked over there to find it, but then didnt think that my stomach was ready so I went and rode BOSS again, this time in the front car (1.2).
(WARNING: Gerstlauer train rant follows)
In the back, the G-trains dont seem much different than any other trains I've ridden. They track well and they look good. However, IMO, they have no place on a coaster like BOSS. CCI are masters at designing, what I like to call 'air-laterals'; that is where at the tops of bunny hops, the train is sharply banked. I like these because they give the sensation of floating to the side. However, those blasted U-shaped bars are killers on the thighs. Though the *new* restraints may be wider, they aren't very well padded. BOSS has the unique distinction of being the second coaster to give me a bruise. The other being its G-train laden sister Villian. Strong Lats + U bar = PAIN.
Well I next went to the Twister (rotor). I was glad to see one open at ans SF park after the unfortunate business with SFGAm's Cajun Cliffhanger. Hopefully CC will return to thrill more SFGAm guests. One thing I did notice though was on Twister, the floor didnt exactly *drop*. It kinda slowly receeded. One of the big thrills was watching the reaction of the other riders as the floor went *FWOOM*, and left riders pinned to the wall. Whatever, I still enjoyed it. It also left me dizzier than usual. I had to literally ask if we had stopped moving yet =]. And no, I didnt puke. Side note, there were these little kids who rode it like 3 or 4 times in a row. It must be great to be young and insane =].
It was now just getting dark (circa 7:30pm, park closed @ 10pm). I figured I get in one more ride on Freeze (to check out the back), then hit BOSS in the dark and call it a night, as I was getting tired. There was still a little light when I first got to Freeze and the line was inside the building, so I took my time and took some pictures before joining the queue proper. By this time, they were only using one of the sides, so the wait was a little longer than it could have been but still not bad (like 20-25min). For this ride I sat in the back seat...OH-MY-FREAKING-GOSH! This semi nite ride was incredible! On the 'out' run, the visual of watching the whole train twisting directly below you exiting the tophat was stunning. And when we hit the spike and the LIMs kicked in, I felt like I was floating the whole way up; all the while seeing nothing but this cloudless light purple sky with a sliver of a crescent moon just hanging out. It was very surreal. Then on the return run there was amazing hang time in the tophat, along with the same visual described above. That one ride sealed Freeze as my favorite coaster in the park and a favored coaster of mine in general.
I then went back a grabbed a middle seat on BOSS for a night ride. I heeded the advice of our own RobCoasting, and held on to the grab bar. This made the ride much more tolerable on my thighs, though I didnt really like the vibrations in my hands and arms. And I of course like to thow my hands up anyway. I have to say again though, BOSS is a force to deal with. That dude is a beast (pun intended).
While in line for BOSS a cat told me that Screamin' Eagles line was really short, so I went over there and was able to get two quick rides near the back of the train. On the first one, they kept the tracer lights off, so the ride was pitch black. That's an experience for the archives.
Well all in all, I liked SFStL. Mr. Freeze is one of the better coasters on the market and isnt jerky like the Premier 'spaghetti bowl' coasters. Batman is ...well Batman. And while BOSS and Screamin Eagle may not be the "best" one-two woodie punch, they may be the "most intense". And when you add in Freeze and B:TR that's four really powerful coasters.
Once again I apologize for such a long report. One day I'll learn to make them short =]. I'll holla.
--"Mr. FREEZE: Have an ICE ride!"
Sunday, April 29, 2001 4:03 PM
Excellent TR 2Hostyl! One of the best I've seen. I'm not completely familiar with Mr. Freeze. By what I've seen, the ride blasts off(from inside the building, correct?) shoots off quite a few feet, goes straight up into the top hat, comes down the other side and... I have no clue where it goes from there. Up a spike straight ahead of that? I hope I'll be able to get over there in the next couple of years. Hopefully, something big will come soon. The only thing pulling me in now is Freeze and Boss. That's not enough for a 7 hour or so drive. Anyway, glad you had fun and again great TR. I hope to hear more from you.
PKI-Wooden, Helix, and Kiddie Coaster Capital of the World!
The First and Only Gigabuzzer bigger than Millie, rising Faster than Maggie, and pulls more BS than MS ever will!!!