Tuesday, August 6, 2002 11:52 AM
Six Flags: Worlds of Adventure
(or, the Yankee makes it to Ohio)
So after months of speculation, i finally got off my butt and drove out to the Midwest to ride some of their famed rollercoasters. First off, I want to say thank you to the people that suggested that i visit WOA in a recent post about X-Flight. I wasn't going to, but i'm very glad that I did. As you can see, i liked it so much i decided to spend another day there.
Also, as you can see, this report it long. Very long. In fact, it's 6 pages in Microsoft Word. I was that annoying guy in school whose teachers complained that their papers were too long. I assure you, however, that it's as enjoyable to read as I could have possibly made it. I've also tried to break it down so you can skip to the sections you care about, if you wish. So, without further ado, here's a description of my two-day excursion into Six Flags: Worlds of Adventure.
My Ride Rating System
Being the perfectionist i am, i couldnt just rate the rides on a 1-10 scale. So, instead, ive decided to do so on three different 1-10 scales. Heres the deal:
1st number = Excitement factor of the ride. This is self-explanatory.
2nd number = Uniqueness factor of the ride. How original was the concept for this ride? Is it a clone? Does it deliver something that other rides of its type dont?
3rd number = Re-ridability. Is this a one-timer, or a ride that you have to run back around to ride over and over again?
As always, 10=mind-shatteringly incredible and 0=just plain sad.
Designer: CCI Type: Wooden double out and back
So, after an all night drive through such scenic locales as upstate New York and Erie, PA, and an energizing chicken whopper sandwich, I arrive at the park. I walked through the gates, and notice none of the rides towards the front of the park are running. Hmm
So, I walk in the direction of the Villain, only to find a nice employee blocking the queue line telling me that its closed due to incoming weather. "Is this a common occurrence," I ask, recalling many an afternoon shower at my home park of SFNE. "No. Were actually in the middle of a month-long drought. People are dying and stuff from lack of rain." So, people of the Midwest, please send all personal thanks for single-handedly ending your drought with my terrible luck to the e-mail at the end of this post. Anyway, Jeff (the nice employee) let me into the station to wait the storm out. An hour or so later, I get to ride in the seat of my choice I chose the front.
This was to be my first CCI experience. I was excited. Initially, I appreciated the layout of the ride, but found the front seat to be a bit lackluster. This is definitely a ride that takes a few rides to really appreciate. So, next I ride in the back. I thought I was going to die. The restraints on the train were primarily metal, and primarily digging into the sides of my leg quite painfully. After several rides over the course of the next two days, I finally found the trains sweet spot the second to back car, front seat, right side. This seat delivers airtime galore and highlights the out-of-control lateral transitions without banging my legs into submission. All in all sweet CCI goodness, plus minimal lines made the Villain my all around favorite ride at WOA.
Final rating: 8/8/9
Batman: Knight Flight
Designer: B&M Type: Floorless
After a couple of walk on rides on Villain, I was ready for some steel goodness. Batman was just opening after the aforementioned storm, so I thought Id give it a whirl. Now, floorless coasters dont excite me very much. Theyre generally not particularly thrilling, and I dont find the floorless aspect of the trains nearly as innovative as the Stand-up or Inverted models. However, B:KFs layout was surprisingly good. It dares to break the typical B&M formula, forfeiting a couple of inversions in favor of a speed fly-by and an overbanked turn over the station. These are definitely fun, and let you really feel the 60+ MPH speed of the train. The vertical loop and cobra roll are standard, but fun. The flat spins come very quick and seem to have been designed to add intensity they could have been spread out more, but are quite close together. What I liked most about this ride, however, was that the ride not only had the classic B&M inversions, but also had great positive Gs (especially in the end helix) and even airtime! Yes, airtime on a floorless. Much more exciting than Medusa, and a classic ride.
Final rating: 7/7/7
Superman: Ultimate Escape
Designer: Intamin Type: Impulse
After painfully passing Serial Thriller to head towards the front of the park, I noticed S:UE testing in the distance. Having heard the horror stories about this rides line, I decided to book it towards the Man of Steel. Fortunately, the line was less than I had anticipated, and quickly I was on the station waiting for the front seat. This was to be my first experience with an impulse ride, and I was more than full of anticipation. In fact, I hadnt been this excited to get on a ride since the first time I rode an "upside down" coaster when I was 9. So, can anyone who knows anything about physics or engineering explain to me how those towers can sway like that and not snap completely off? For anyone whos never seen an impulse in person, the pictures cant do this feature of the ride any justice the towers literally look as flimsy as a flagpole. Mad props to Intamin for this design feature.
So, as for the ride itself was it any bit as good as I anticipated? Yup. Even better, in fact. I screamed like a little girl (no offense to little girls). My first ride on this ride was perhaps the most liberating experience Ive had in years. This may have partially been due to the lack of sleep, however. My only qualm with the ride is that after 10+ rides it began to get a little less thrilling, but still quite fun.
Ride tips: If you get to the park and X-flight is down, hold off on Superman, as everyone will line up for it. Once X-flight opens, the crowds drop Superman like a bad prom date, and youll be able to ride over and over without waiting. Also, if youre a slightly hefty individual, like myself, ask the ride ops nicely, and theyll do the best they can to help you. Dont curse at them, or theyll promptly throw you off the ride. And it really is your loss.
Final rating: 9/10 (only because it was the original)/7
Designer: John Miller Type: Wooden "Classic" (yeah, I had to check RCDB on this one)
Since is was right across from Superman, I figured it was time to give this ride a try. Again, I painfully had to pass up Mind Eraser. The first thing I noticed about this ride is that it looked different from any other woodie Id seen. The second thing that I noticed was that the cars still had the original restraint device, and no seatbelt! Could this be my first ride on a "Coaster Classic?" I was definitely excited. However, the ride proved to be far more jarring that I had ever imagined. The airtime was good, but the forces at the bottom of every hill sent painful jolts throughout my entire body. The laterals threw me from one side of the train to the other, and with no seat belt, this was a terrifying experience. Im usually a "hands up" kind of guy, but this ride made me hang on for dear life! I have never felt so frail and fragile on a ride before this one really showed me what I was made of. Overall, I thought that this was a gem of a ride, and was glad I got to ride it, but the pain of the experience made this my last ride for this trip.
Final rating: 8/8/4
Designer: Vekoma Type: Flying Dutchman
So, after more than a few rides on Superman, I noticed a train on the track of X-flight. Immediately, I ran to the line which was already forming outside of the queue. This was odd, I thought, that theyre only letting people in one by one. Of course, when I got to the ride op, I understood why. You cant get in line before getting rid of all your loose belongings, and emptying your pockets. They check. I suppose you could try to lie, but as the lockers were only a quarter, I figured this couldnt be a typical Six Flags money-making scheme. So I complied and the ride op let me go in without waiting in the line again. The line was quickly beginning to get larger, but fortunately someone noticed that I was a single rider, and let me right on the train waiting in the station. After fiddling with the elaborate restraint system, the guy next to me finally figured it out and helped me out. Now I saw why the loading time for this ride could get sticky.
So, after the ride lowered us into the lying-down-on-our-backs-so-we-could-get-blinded-by-the-glaring-sun position, and the gentlemen next to me commented "What the ---- have I gotten myself into," we were off. I must say, going up that lift is truly an exhilarating experience you cant see where youre going, so you just put your faith in the fact that the ride designers know what they were doing. Of course, the ride designers were Vekoma, so I was a little concerned. Even though I was expecting it, nothing can describe the first time the ride flips you over into the flying position. The entire train simultaneously cried out "Oh S---!" and we were hurtling head first towards the ground. What an amazing sensation! The "boomerang" turnaround was cool, but the most amazing part of the ride was the vertical loop. Taking it on your back was so bizarre, because its the exact opposite sensation that you would have on a normal vertical loop. I definitely wasnt expecting a sensation quite so unique. The in-line twists were taken at a painfully slow pace, which made them very rough and somewhat painful. I hope on future versions of the ride they do away with them and try another element. I thought the ride was over, but the final helix was so incredibly intense, I couldnt believe that the ride hadnt been re-tracked yet. And so did a young woman on the ride, who was balling her eyes out and screaming when the train returned to the station. And I couldnt quite blame her this ride was easily the most intense Id ever been on. Apparently she had blacked out, and the paramedics had to be called. I felt lucky to have ridden when I did, but definitely felt bad for this woman . All in all, I liked it enough to brave it again the second day, but found it much less thrilling due to the fact that I was anticipating the sensations. I was a little disappointed at this, but I still think its a great ride, and possibly the best Vekomas come up with.
Ride tips: This is easily the most popular ride in the park, even though its a year old. I can see why, as it runs very sporadically and most people were commenting that after several visits, they still hadnt gotten a chance to ride it. So, either run to it right at the parks opening, or keep a close eye on it all day and run to it if you see any signs of life. Also, this ride is very intense. No, no. I mean, VERY intense. So, obey the signs and take the crap out of your pockets. Its not worth getting hurt or losing stuff over (if you look close in line, youll see the fields of lost sandals and hats underneath the ride). Also, obey those signs that tell you not to ride if you have chest pains or back injury, even if you normally dont. And if youre pregnant, I wouldnt even think of riding. This ride puts an extreme amount of pressure on your chest, and already caused at least one person to stop breathing that I saw.
Final rating: 8/7/5
Designer: Arrow Type: Steel looping
After a good night sleep at the lovely Solon motel (no, really. Its one of the better places Ive stayed, and the innkeepers were friendly), I returned to the park to hit the coasters that I missed, and ride Superman until my eyes bled. On my walk to the Villain, I saw that the Double Loop was actually running, so I hopped on for a walk-on ride. Its not a great coaster, but I wasnt expecting much. The first hill actually had some decent air in the back seat, and at least it wasnt completely falling apart like more modern Arrow loopers Ive seen. Worth a ride if theres no line, and a great starter ride for the kids.
Final rating: 4/5/2
Raging Wolf Bobs
Designer: too indifferent to check RCDB Type: Wooden Double out and back
So, with the intention of walking the entire loop of the park and checking out the "Wild Life" side, I walked in the direction of RWB. The line was short, so I figured Id ride, despite all the nasty things Id heard about it. I sat in the back seat, and found the ride quite boring after the first drop. It lacks any airtime whatsoever, and the "bobs" arent really bob-like at all. The ride wasnt all that rough, as Ive heard some describe, just uneventful. It would be a great ride to bring your kids on if you didnt mind them being jarred around a bit, but thats all I can say that would make me think twice about calling for its destruction in favor of a new ride.
Final rating: 2/5/2
Designer: Vekoma Type: Boomerang clone
After riding Superman a bit more, I decided that since no one else was riding the Mind Eraser, I might as well. It looked lonely. And as usual, I regretted it. Actually, I dont have all that much against Boomerangs the Flashback at SFNE is usually worth a ride, as its the only non-continuous circuit ride there, as well as the only one which goes backwards. But with S:UE right next to this one, it paled in comparison. And it seemed rougher than other clones Id been on. After leaving with a headache, I opted to ride Batman again, just to remind myself of how a steel coaster was supposed to feel.
Final rating: 4/2/2
Designer: Vekoma Type: SLC clone
Since I was there, and the scenery was pretty, I decided to ride. The line was a walk-on, as compared to the hour or so wait that it had the day before. Weird. The only other SLC Ive ridden is Mind Eraser at SFNE (how original, six flags switched the names of the Vekoma clones to make me think I was riding different rides). Well, I must say, this one was much, much smoother, and made me realize that the layout of the ride is actually pretty good. As I said, the lakeside scenery on this ride is excellent, and it really added to the experience. The second hill which flips you horizontally and makes you look like youre going to kick the station gave some good airtime, and the drop after it came so close to the trench in the ground it made me cringe. Which, let me tell you, made for an exquisite on-ride photo. I wouldve bought it, except then I realized it would make me the ultimate coaster dork to have an on-ride photo of a ride I rode by myself. All in all, its a good addition to the park, if for no other reason than to keep the lines down on the other rides. Sure, a Batman clone would be preferable, but with Knight Flight right next door, that doesnt seem very likely now does it.
Final rating: 6/2/5
I had heard from my friend Jeff at the Villain that there was a day this season where absolutely nothing was sold on the entire Wild Life side of the park. This is unfortunate, because I really enjoyed the fact that it existed. Would I have gone to the park if it didnt? Of course. But walking through it made for a nice mid-day break. I suppose that its that mentality that provides the reason for it not doing much business though. So, I think that although the Wild Life/Wild Rides theme is nifty, Six Flags really needs to add some major rides to this side of the park, because it would make the crowds much more bearable on those tiny midways.
Walking from the RWB path, the first thing you encounter is Happy Harbor, a neat little cove that features several obligatory flat rides (Pirate Ship, Yo-Yo, etc) as well as a net climb that made my four-year-old inner child whimper. And there were no little kids to be found on it whatsoever. What an unfortunate waste, I thought. This was a really neat area of the park, and were I with my family, or even with some of my goofy friends, I wouldve spent much more time hanging around there.
Next comes the first of several animal attractions. The Shark Experience was definitely interesting, although what made me want to leave as soon as I did was not the uninteresting qualities of the attraction, but rather the fact that it was eerily deserted. There werent even any staff around waiting eagerly to spout off useless shark facts. It looked like some sort of bizarro Sea World Orlando. The Dolphin exhibit was next, and Im sure the show they have there is exciting, but Ive seen plenty of dolphin shows and didnt stick around. Mission: Bermuda Triangle, although it may have been the premiere simulation attraction in its day, was lackluster and boring. The film itself was poorly narrated by an obviously underpaid actor, was terribly edited, and made absolutely no sense (how did we end up from the surface to the bottom of the sea in 5 seconds? At least make something up!). Please tear it down, or replace it with something more along the lines of Spiderman, or even Star Tours.
After this section of the park, comes Animal Adventures, containing several open zoo-like exhibits, and shows featuring tigers, killer whales, and the Batman Stunt Spectacular. Im sure these shows were up to Six Flags par (which isnt very good), but I didnt stick around to find out. The sea lion exhibit was definitely cool, but the animals seemed a bit unruly. Even the staff hinted that they had trouble training them, but the staff that I witnessed did seem to genuinely care about the animals. I hope this aspect improves in the future, because even if the park is deserted, Id like to at least be given the illusion that the animals are well taken care of.
The pearl diving show was going on when I went past, and seemed like it would be a thrilling proposition for kids, as well as their parents (they get to keep the pearls they find!). Also, the penguin exhibit was kind of neat, but as with the Shark Experience, seemed eerily deserted. I hope the penguins are being taken care of, as there seemed to be quite a few of them trapped on a really small faux-island. But, what do I know about the social habits of penguins.
Overall, I was very disappointed to see that there werent more people enjoying this unique and wonderfully themed area of the park. Most of the folks there were families with small children. Hopefully, the addition of the alleged Hyper-coaster next year will get more older people to see that they are missing a huge section of the park with some major attractions, and genuinely fun animal moments. This is definitely a reason to make a stop at WOA and not just bypass it in favor of Cedar Point, especially if you have children. And remember, theres a separate entrance to the park on this side if you want to totally avoid the crowds completely.
Overall, I really enjoyed WOA, and will definitely return in the future. Classic rides like the Big Dipper, mixed with modern marvels like S:UE and the Villain make the park a totally unique, and worthwhile theme park experience. If you just want to ride the coasters, theres no reason to spend more than one day at this park. However, the park is certainly big enough to entertain an entire family for at least two days. Although the Wild Rides/Wild Life idea was unique, I think what makes combination Thrill Ride and Zoological parks like Busch Gardens and Sea World work is the integration of the two aspects. Keeping them separate only creates a more isolated experience, and allows for one type of visitor to easily miss the other aspect entirely, and therefore be much less likely to return to "see what they didnt see." In my humble opinion, Six Flags should dump their traditional "cram as many coasters into one small area" style and allow for more spacious theming. If so, this park could develop over the next few years to be their most prized property, and perhaps even a vacation destination.
And as for folks like me who were planning on bypassing this park on their way to the much more famous Cedar Point, give this park a try. Especially if you already have a SF season pass. The two parks are really completely different animals (no pun intended), and I really hope that SF realizes this and doesnt start the whole "we need to distract people from Cedar Point" scheme. I found it an equally worthwhile theme park visit, mainly due to the fact that all of the rides at WOA were completely different than the rides at CP, and hopefully will stay that way. Actually, I was disappointed with CP for building Wicked Twister, seemingly with the mentality of dethroning WOAs signature ride. Well, they havent if that in fact was their intention, and if I were a CEO of either company, I would work with the other park to provide two completely unique theme park destinations. But, more on that later.
Oh, and props to Coasterdude22. Even though he didnt make it to the park like he was supposed to, he did treat me to a fabulous night of all you can eat chicken wings at the Quaker Steak and Lube. I was most impressed (and very full). =P
Thanks for muddling through this rather verbose review. I hope that you appreciate the time and detail I put into it, and dont juts flame me for making it "too long to get through." I warned you it was wrong, and for literate-minded people. Thanks again; your feedback, positive or negative, will make me feel like it was worth the time I took writing it.
Still to come: Cedar Point (or the Yankee tries cheese-on-a-stick).