Thursday, July 12, 2001 12:22 AM
I didn't even have plans of going to Six Flags America this whole season, but Joe Cernelli had a "bring a friend free" pass that came with his Six Flags season pass. He invited me to put it to use, and I, of course, obliged.
It's a four-hour or so drive from Uniontown to Six Flags America. Though I only got about three hours of sleep the night before, I ended up staying awake for nearly the whole trip, lasting from 7:00 AM to about 11:30 AM when we arrived at the park. We only stopped once to grab breakfast at a McDonald's about 30 miles out of DC. From there, it was right to the park.
Joe had been here earlier in the year, but this was my first trip ever to the park. Since I had no plans of going this year, I really had no idea what to expect. I didn't read up on anything except checking out what their coaster lineup was. The standout must-ride for me was Superman: Ride of Steel. Having ridden Six Flags Worlds of Adventure's X-Flight, Batwing was attractive, but nothing that I could get really excited over.
After a quick stop at the bathroom, we entered the park. The entrance midway is a well-done Colonial theme. Very nice. I followed Joe's lead (remember, I had no clue where I was going), which took us to Joker's Jinx. A few things about this ride freaked me out. First of all, what twisted mind thought up the layout for this thing? Second, launched rides always give me the willies. And third, its notorious for head banging, something nobody likes. Regardless, as any coaster enthusiast would, I didn't let it freak me out and rode.
The wait was about twenty minutes and was our first introduction to the phrase, "If you are not waiting for the back seat, please move the line forward." More on that later. After checking out the train and bulky padding on the restraints, I settled in and got ready to ride. The launch was pretty intense, more powerful than I was expecting. After seeing a fellow get some sense knocked into him the cycle before, I decided to make sure to keep my head against the headrest.
The launch is great, sure, but the rest of the ride boggles my mind. I wouldn't say it's rough, because the padding is very soft and doesn't hurt at all when you hit it... But you hit it a lot. I can't imagine riding this without that padding. What could possibly cause the train to shake that bad? The trains? The track? The design? Whatever it is, it needs fixed, preferably with lap bars.
After Joker's Jinx, we moved down the midway to Superman: Ride of Steel. The wait was moderate, between five to ten minutes. They ran two trains all day, but only once did we see the crew actually dispatch the loading train before the second train hit the brake run. As Joe put it, "They don't even make an attempt to be fast!" Oh well, the crowds stayed down and we never probably didn't wait more than 15 minutes for it.
I've only been on one other Intamin hyper, which happens to be a giga, Millennium Force. With the height and drop angle, the first-drop floater air makes sense to me. I honestly was not expecting the same on S:ROS. As soon as the train clears the lift, it's as if you're thrown straight out of your seat. It only lasts for a second or so, but it's pretty alarming, especially on one's first ride. The turn at the bottom, which I expected to be pretty intense, turned out to be smooth as glass. The second hill doesn't provide as much airtime as the rest of the coaster, but it's nice regardless. The first helix is great. It might sound cheesy, but that helix made me thrust my hands out in a Superman-like way every lap. Also, there are very few things funnier on a coaster than watching all the hands of the people in the right-hand seats pull their hands down as fast as they can when exiting that helix. There's a huge support that hangs over the track, and apparently, you can actually touch it. I wasn't about to try.
The third hill gives some great airtime. In a way, it's "ejector," but in another way, it seems "floater." Whatever it is, it's great. Another helix follows. This one seems a bit too long, maybe 180 degrees too long. It does give you a nice break between moments of insane airtime, though...
The return run consists of three hills. The first is at an angle to the lift while the second two are parallel to it. All three deliver punishing airtime that'll make you think twice about putting your hands up for the on-ride. After a slam into the brake run and, as I mentioned, a wait there, you're off the ride and on your way back to the bulk of the park.
Here's a design flaw though, I think. When you're back at S:ROS, with the exception of Batwing, there's really only one way to go -- back to the main section of the park, around Joker's Jinx. Joe and I both noted that a path from the S:ROS/Batwing area over to somewhere by Roar would take a lot of steps out of one's day.
We checked the line on Batwing, but decided to skip it and save it for later.
We moved to Roar, a GCI woodie, which was a walk-on. Joe said the same went for his trip earlier in the year. We couldn't understand why more people weren't waiting for this ride, as it really is a good one. It's no Lightning Racer (or Wildcat, for that matter), but it's a great woodie.
Next on the agenda was Mind Eraser, a Vekoma SLC. I guess it has something to do with the fact that it's tucked away in a far corner of the park, but this ride was empty
. I often use the term "walk-on" just to describe a one train wait, but we literally walked up the entrance ramp, into the station, and on to the ride. I've only been on one SLC before, Serial Thriller at Worlds of Adventure, but that was at night last season, meaning I didn't remember it much. (In fact, the only thing I do remember from that ride on Serial Thriller is Joe's juggling act, trying to grab his hat and glasses from falling to their untimely death in Geauga Lake.)
Maybe I've got a big head or my ears stick out too far or something, but this ride did a number one me. Not out-and-out head banging, but it seriously tore my ears new ones. I dropped a couple off-color remarks during the course of the ride, but since that area of the park was pretty dead anyway, it's not a very big deal. ;)
On our way back to the heart of the park, we stopped to watch The Wild, Wild West Stunt Show. I had seen people filling into the stands on my way to Serial Thriller and decided to take a look on my way out. I ended up watching the show to the end. It's really a good show. It's not a stunt show of Orlando proportions of course, but it does have some interesting fight scenes and even managed to startle me a few times with some cap guns. (It's more of a comedy than a stunt show, I think. The "What's the matter Colonel Sanders? Chicken?" line from the Mel Brooks movie "Spaceballs" was a nice touch.)
From there, we moved over towards Two Face: The Flip Side, a Vekoma Invertigo. I've been on two boomerangs, but never an Invertigo. Just like the boomerangs, going backwards through inversions freaks me out. The wait was pretty quick, just like the ride. Fun, but nothing spectacular.
The next logical ride was Wild One, an old woodie. The five-minute wait was filled with me trying to figure out which Steely Dan song uses the term "wild one" in it. Luckily, I remembered it's the classic "Do It Again."
This was the first ride we noticed anyone using the FastLane system. Apparently, unlike Worlds of Adventure, it's free at Six Flags America. (As I mentioned, I haven't been keeping pace with SFA news and whatnot, so I had figured it cost $10 as well. I was wrong.) Since they don't have time slots and it doesn't cost anything, I honestly can't find any reasoning behind offering FastLane.
As we were headed towards the lift, I saw a big group of friends all run up the exit ramp, apparently to use their FastLane pass. Since only one row is reserved for FastLaners, one pair of riders was still waiting when we got off the ride. I had to stop and think for a second... our wait was about three trains. With the FastLane pass, their wait would be about, oh, three trains. What genius came up with the name "Fast"Lane? (I realize that this is an isolated incident, but I still thought it was funny. I don't like the idea behind FastLane to begin with, especially when you have to pay for it a la WoA.)
We walked past the hysterically short (;)) Intamin drop tower, only to find a dead end. Second dead end (for all intents and purposes) of the day. A bit annoying, but nothing to ruin a fairly fun day so far.
We decided to take another lap on Superman, then checked Batwing's wait. Still long, still one train operation. Joe decided to go to the car to grab his camera. I decided to stay in the park and partake of a SnoBiz snow cone-type dish. $3.75, but I haven't had a SnoCone in years. That coupled with the fact that it was hot (the weather and the attendant ;)) sat me down for a good 10 minutes with some ice and syrup. Yum.
Joe found that his battery was dead, and we went in search of a new one. All of the places in the park were sold out, so after another lap on Superman, he put it in a locker and we queued up for Batwing.
Now, I'm no expert on this, and I'd like someone to check my logic and/or math, but I tried to work out the PPH. I timed the time the seats rose from the track to the time they started moving to the lift at almost 3 minutes exactly. From that point to when they came back up again was roughly 2 minutes. That's 5 minutes per cycle. Keep in mind they're only running the one train, which is six four-across cars for a total of 24 seats. At five minutes per cycle, they'll do twelve cycles in an hour. At 24 people every cycle, that's 288 people per hour. Am I wrong? If not, that's dismal. If I am, do tell me why.
The wait ended up being a little over an hour long. The queue is shaded (and also protected from flying sandals, which we saw a couple of), so it wasn't that horrible. A guy behind me was really brightening our spirits with his comical banter, so that helped pass the time a little quicker. I should mention hearing someone on a cell phone say they're waiting in line for "The Batman Joint" is always good for a chuckle, too.
I'm not trying to compare X-Flight and Batwing, but there are differences. X-Flight has a much better view than Batwing, but Batwing probably takes the prize for fun. Flying close to the trees adds a bit to the effect. The whole thing felt more intense to me than X-Flight, but I guess that's just my mind playing games. Regardless, a great ride that seemed to go over great with the general public. I heard a girl behind me say she wasn't riding anything else the rest of the day. Why? Not because she got sick, because she didn't want to ruin the buzz. :)
We took another lap on Superman, which brought us to about 6:00 PM. A long drive awaited us, so we decided to head on home after a quick stop in the gift shop. (I try to get something small from every park I go to. With Six Flags, though, it's kind of hard to get something that actually has the name of the specific park on it. Luckily, I found a Six Flags America key chain.)
It's a nice park. Not too big, but not too small either. The only thing that really bothered me was the design of the queues on the major coasters. Each one seemed to cause a clog at by the back seat. When some are standing in line waiting for the back seat, the people behind them don't know that and just wait for them to move. Meanwhile, ahead in the queue, people are loading and there's empty spaces available, but the people are hesitant to ask if the can move forward. So, finally, almost like clockwork, "If you are not waiting for the back seat, please move the line forward. If you are waiting for the back seat, please allow others to pass." Sigh. It could be avoided pretty easily. Either set up a back seat queue like many other parks have, or don't put the queue rails so close to the ends of the station so it's obvious to guests that they can pass without being line jumpers. (Which, might I add, also stems from this problem. People see empty spaces in front of a coaster train, so they take it upon themselves to slide under the rails and jump on.)
That's my only real gripe with the park, but there's one other thing that I noticed. I guess it doesn't really matter, but the inconsistent theming seems silly. I mean, there's an entrance to Gotham City under Wild One. The Batman theming stays true with the stunt show, the Batmobile, Joker's Jinx, and Riddle Me This. Then, as you get closer to Ride of Steel, it slowly evolves into Superman theming with the Daily Planet gift shop and the Krypton Comet, until you're standing on that huge "S" ready to get on that great hyper.
Then, all of a sudden, you make a left turn, and bam! Batwing! We're back to Gotham City! I wonder why they decided to put that coaster all the way back there. It's really separated from the rest of the park. It makes me think there'll be expansion back there down the road. But the real question is...
Will it be themed to Batman or Superman? ;)
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