Six Flags Great Adventure - 9/5/11 - Labor Day

SFoGswim's avatar

Being Labor Day weekend, I had very low expectations for the park. I’d never been to Great Adventure before, but from what I’d heard, it didn’t sound promising. With rain in the forecast, I tried to temper my expectation even further. My sister and I were in town from Atlanta for a wedding and took advantage of some free time.

The day began with the opportunity to pay $20 to park my car. Twenty. Dollars. I knew exactly what it was going to be before I even set off on this trip and it still managed to shock me. I did appreciate being able to pay for parking with my credit card sans attendant, though. #1 source of slowdown in lines is apathetic workers, so this thrilled me.

Park opened at 10:30 and we got to the front gate at about 10:40. We already had our tickets, but even if we hadn’t Six Flags was selling them online for a $30 special for that weekend only which I think is a pretty great deal.

I had toyed with the idea of buying a Gold THE FLASH PASS™ because my trip to Cedar Point last summer was all but ruined by unreasonably long lines. I was worried that they might sell out too quickly, so I walked to the Flash Pass building first and noticed that Kingda Ka wasn’t listed as one of the available rides for the day. Then the attendant informed me that it wouldn’t open today. This upset me only a little because, while it was one of the three rides (+El Toro and Nitro) I was looking forward to, I’ve ridden Dragster, so it wasn’t too big of a deal. He also noted that Green Lantern would be opening later in the day. Because Chang was truly one of my least favorite coasters when it was at Kentucky Kingdom, I couldn’t have cared less what Green Lantern was going to do. Decided not to buy the Flash Pass and that ended up being a great decision: it simply wasn’t needed.

For one, the crowd was shockingly small on that day. The longest I waited for a ride was 20 minutes for Superman Ultimate Flight. Many times before lunch, I was even able to stay in my seat and ride twice because there was no one in the station. This was aided by the fact that Six Flags was running all its operating coasters at maximum capacity.

Rides, in order:
Nitro – B&M hyper coasters are pretty much my favorite breed. Goliath @ SFoG and Apollo Chariot take up 2 of my top 4 spots when it comes to ranking coasters. Nitro, while it doesn’t quite have the kick of the other two, it still very, very good and will join the other 2 B&M’s that I’ve ridden in my top 5. Three train operation made for no wait in the morning—got to ride twice in a row. Then in the afternoon I waited maybe 15 minutes.

El Toro – I am not a fan of wooden coasters. In fact, I pretty much avoid them at all costs. I can handle Great American Scream Machine @ SFoG, or perhaps Blue Streak every once in a while, but anything else you can forget about. But, as we all know, this “wooden” coaster is different in every way. I know I’m a little late to the party here (by 5 years), but WOW does this ride kick some serious butt. It almost feels like a ride that someone made in RCT all the way through and then when they tried to test it, the first hill ended up being too tall for the rest of the ride. But rather than fix it, Intamin just went ahead and built it anyway.

The ejector air on this thing is unbelievable. And it’s also really, really smooth. And the fact that the cable lift catches the train each and every time so effortlessly is a great accomplishment all by itself; Déjà Vu wishes it could do something like this. I love that this coaster doesn’t really have any section of sustained positive G-forces. The first turn does feel a bit long, but other than that, it’s pretty much perfection. The drop after the second turn (right before the zig-zags) made me involuntarily scream out loud the first 6 times I rode.

The El Toro crew was pretty much on fire all day, too. Not sure if the one kid is a coaster enthusiast, but Dan, you did an awesome job. I was impressed with their high level of effort even with the short lines. This ride easily, easily jumps to my #1 overall and my sister and I pretty much spent the period from 3:30 – 5:00 riding over and over again with waits ranging from 2 trains to 10 minutes. A lot of the downtime was spent just walking from the exit back through the queue.

Bizarro – the “new” audio system was disabled and I’d ridden Scream! before so… eh. This ride threw me around a lot less than I thought it would which is a plus.

Superman Ultimate Flight – really missed SFoG’s dual loading stations here. Wouldn’t have mattered on a day like this, though, because the line wouldn’t have been “past the split” anyway. This ride doesn’t really thrill me in any way after the pretzel loop.

Skull Mountain – pretty cool little ride. Wasn’t too jerky except for a bit at the end. I see the appeal of dark/indoor coasters, but I don’t understand why they have to be pitch black. There is literally only one small section of the track that is illuminated.

Dark Knight – entertainment value of the pre-boarding video was a lot greater than that of the actual coaster.

Runaway Mine Train – classic Arrow mine train. Not really much more to say. It was fun to ride over the water on the ending turn.

So, like I said, Flash Pass was absolutely not needed. But, after seeing all the queue line configurations, I would have been pissed if I had bought it anyway. The merge points are simply too far away from the stations to hold any sort of value. If you get in a virtual queue for Nitro and then your time comes, you probably still have to wait 20+ minutes in the actual line with standby riders from where you enter. All of the Flash Pass merge points at SFoG are in the station which means 1 or 2 trains maybe. Great Adventure just has a terrible setup.

The rain never came, but it stayed overcast all day which was great because it kept the temperature down and the sun off of us. I once praised SFMM for covering pretty much every part of every queue line, but it seems like Great Adventure just doesn’t care; there is almost no shade to be had when waiting in line.

So I’m disappointed I didn’t get to ride Kingda Ka, but I am super pumped that I was introduced to the likes of El Toro. Why aren’t there more of these in this country? Seriously. No, seriously. Park seemed relatively clean, didn’t encounter any terrible workers, crowds were terrific and I got everything done that I wanted to in about 7 hours (with an hour break outside the park for lunch). Maybe Great Adventure isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Or maybe I just caught it on an exceptionally good day.

Last edited by SFoGswim,
Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!
Tekwardo's avatar

For one, the crowd was shockingly small on that day.

Not as shocking as you'd think. Labor Day, for whatever reason, tends not to be too bad for crowds. I was at GADv last year on Labor Day and it was like you described it (Though Ka was running, which was a reason for me to go, since I'd missed it on my 2009 visit).

So for all of the whiners (Krause!), go to Great Adventure on Labor Day! ;)

FWIW, I was at SFoT for the Saturday before Labor Day this year, and SFNE the Saturday before Labor Day last year, and the parks had light crowds. Sunday, as AVMatt right guessed, seems to be the day everyone goes to the parks for that three day weekend, as Sunday last year was buiser at Compounce, and Matt was at oT this year on Sunday and the crowds were much bigger.

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

Dan? Blond hair, pretty young? I haven't seen him this year..last time was on Superman last season. Really nice fellow, and he IS an MF shirt struck up the conversation the first time I talked to him.

Glad you loved Toro. That las hill remains the single most insane airtime moment(s) I've found on any coaster.

The amusement park rises bold and are huddled on the beach in a mist

CoasterDemon's avatar

Mike Gallagher said:

Glad you loved Toro. That las hill remains the single most insane airtime moment(s) I've found on any coaster.

Ride Zippin Pippin. 2nd to last speed bump in the front car. Quick, before they 'fix' it :)

LostKause's avatar

I didn't go to Kings Island the Sunday before Labor Day because I was afraid of crowds. I have overcrowded-parkaphobia. :)

rollergator's avatar

CoasterDemon said:

Ride Zippin Pippin. 2nd to last speed bump in the front car. Quick, before they 'fix' it :)

LOL....exactly. I tend to think of that as the "only in Wisconsin" hill...absolutely brutal! :)

The Toro hills are extremely powerful, and of longer duration - that "bump" on ZP is very short in duration, but hyper-aggressive.

SFoGswim's avatar

Mike Gallagher said:
Dan? Blond hair, pretty young?

Yeah, he was pretty young, but not sure about the blond part.

Welcome back, red train, how was your ride?!

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