Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
Four years since my last visit (and four long years at that), the opportunity presented itself to return to one of my favorite parks, Six Flags Great Adventure. As things would turn out, I would also have the opportunity to pursue a career as a Six Flags Mythbuster. Unfortunately, given the high number of myths busted and ensuing shortage of future myths, I'm not sure it would work as a long-term career.
Anyways, I headed to El Toro first as it was still under construction on my last visit (I had gone early in the year and, as such, had to see a mostly-built but not-operating ride). I tossed my stuff in a locker and headed in to an extremely short wait. In an effort to keep the station from getting mobbed, they wisely had stationed a crowd-control employee at the end of the last set of switchbacks to limit the number of people heading up. While waiting to be sent to the station, a couple nearby was talking about one of the rides or something when some other guy (not with them, mind you) began rattling off every statistic and bit of trivia about every stinking ride. This was the first myth I would tackle.
Myth: People cared about every last bit of trivia and such that this guy was rattling off.
Fact: I now see why he was a single rider. Myth busted.
Seriously, it's one thing if you're riding together. It's another to just interrupt somebody's conversation and bore us all to death. Geez!
Anywho, after only a few minutes, I was heading up to the station. Once up there, I saw that it would be only a couple trains' wait for any row but the front. However, I've been in a huge front-row mood lately and wanted to take my inaugural spin up there. As I was about halfway through my wait for the front, the ride went down briefly, resulting in many of the people in front of me leaving. Next thing I knew, there was only 1 trains' worth in front of me.
The problem fixed, four people who were in front of me, who I thought had left, jumped back in and squeezed me out of the way. Jerks. I let it slide, though, as I'd still moved up quite a ways. Also, the crew was blazing through checking the trains, resulting in little to no stacking.
Myth: Six Flags employees are not of the caliber of their counterparts.
Fact: They're often as good or better. Myth busted.
This would be a recurring event throughout the day, especially as far as the ride crews were concerned. Many were lightning fast and pleasant as they did it. If I had to give the nod to a particular crew, I don't know that I could. El Toro's was certainly up there, though. They were better than most crews I've encountered at any park, Six Flags or otherwise.
Finally up for the next train, a single rider waiting for row two asked if he could join me. I said sure. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Fact: Everything. Myth busted.
A kid behind me asked a few seconds later if he could join me, not hearing that the second seat had already been claimed. Before I could say that I was sorry and that the gentleman the next row over had claimed it, the guy who would be joining me, in a rather abrupt tone, took care of it for me. That wasn't all this guy was up to, though. He was previously talking about Palisades Park to people who I don't think were even acknowledging him and pointing out they weren't around for that, then told me that El Toro was better than the previous ride that occupied the same station (Viper), which I apparently was around for either. Now, I've been told I look younger than I am, but I'm pretty sure I don't pass for a 5- or 6-year old. Oh, and I've been on Viper, and yes, El Toro is better. Anyways, back to the ride.
Well, one last quick thing. As we neared the top of the lift, my fellow front-row rider pointed out that we were approaching the summit.
Myth: I, despite being in the front row right beside him, could not tell where I was and really needed the notification that the summit was near.
Fact: with my glasses on, which they were, I could see just fine. Thanks. Myth busted.
El Toro was AMAZING. The airtime was everything I was led to believe it would be, and I loved the vicious zig-zag finale. Butter-smooth from start to finish, and with a killer first drop and stellar layout, it's far and away the best wooden coaster I've ever been on.
Arriving into the station, the ride op making announcements pointed out that there was no line, and encouraged us to go around again. Apparently, that meant a lot to my fellow rider, as the second the lap bars popped up, he launched out of his seat like he just found a live grenade in it and shot like a bullet out of the station and back around. I took a more leisurely pace and opted to go for one more spin, choosing a back row experience. The crowd-control ride op not present, I found myself enjoying a walk-on.
I loved the ride up front. I LOVED it in the back. I've never before experienced airtime like that. It didn't feel like a nice upward push for quality floater air. It didn't feel like a nice pop of ejector air. It was more like getting launched out of the seat with the train seemingly getting yanked HARD out from under me, and me sustaining said air for several seconds at a time. Easily the best air I have ever experienced.
That finished, I decided to go to Kingda Ka in case the wait wasn't too bad. Apparently, wasn't too bad translated into ride crews desperate to even fill the trains. I decided I'd wait the 15-20 minutes and ride up front for the first lap as my one previous lap, way back in 2006, was somewhere in the middle after a half-hour wait or so.
I didn't like the severe jolting that occurred at the base of the tower on the ascent and descent both, but wow, what an incredible rush. The air was actually quite good on the airtime hill as well. Upon exiting, I swung back around and took another lap in the middle somewhere, pretty much walking right into my seat.
Next up was Bizarro. The wait was only a couple trains long, and I'd ridden up front already when it was Medusa, so I chose a row near the middle/back. The audio wasn't working too well, so on my second lap, I chose somewhere near the front-middle, which suffered from the same problem. What annoyed me was that on both laps, I could faintly hear other seats with working audio. Seriously, if it requires moving two seats from the back row to store the equipment, make sure it works consistently. I've read reviews complaining about the same problem, so it should be fixed or removed, and it doesn't really matter to me anyways. As much as I appreciated Six Flags making an effort to beef up the theming of a previously miniminally-themed ride, it came off a little tacky at points.
Myth: The Bizarro "improvements" made an already good ride better.
Fact: Even if the audio worked, it only marginally increased the ride's quality. I liked the old colors and a 4-seat back row better anyways. Myth busted.
Don't get me wrong, it's still an extremely good ride and a very enjoyable, re-rideable floorless. I just don't know if the Bizarro re-theme did anything for it one way or another. I will say, though, that the drill-like thing set by the corkscrews was pretty cool, and placed well for a nice close-call.
I chose then to make the trek across the park toward the other ride I was quite excited for: Nitro. Along the way, I made an observation. I passed a couple where the young girl had a massive pair of sunglasses on. Seriously, how are those things considered fashionable? I see them everywhere.
Myth: Those mammoth sunglasses look good on your girlfriend.
Fact: They don't, but I do. Zing! Myth busted.
I finally made it over to Nitro, which would be the first real wait of the day. I chose the front row, never having ridden it up there before. It was probably a good 30-35 minute wait overall, but I wanted to check it out.
Nitro was just as good as ever, and is one of my all-time favorites. It may not be the most intense ride ever, but it is very re-rideable and extremely enjoyable, and, seeing as it was one of the early additions to my track record during my formative years as an enthusiast (and the ride that first unseated Millennium Force as my #1), so I have a little bit of a nostalgic attachment to the ride. Dorky? Yes, but I don't care.
I went back around for a 15-20 minute wait for a row towards the back, which was also quite enjoyable, and then decided to get some delicious popcorn and fresh-squeezed lemonade before resuming the riding entertainment. My wallet hurt, but at least both were quite good.
I decided to add my second new credit of the day afterward: The Dark Knight. I rode the Six Flags Great America version last year, and found myself quite impressed yet again at how Six Flags managed to make a Mack Mouse pretty cool. Was the theming Disney quality? No, but it was still massively impressive, even using actors from the movie in the pre-show. I'm not a huge Wild Mouse fan, but the ride is worth experiencing for the line alone. Very nicely done, Six Flags!
I went across the midway to Batman - The Ride next. I would actually get three laps in without ever getting off due to the absence of people waiting for anywhere but the front. As much as I love the ride up front, I ride several of them each year and can always do it again later. The age of the ride showed during some nasty shuffle exiting the second loop, but the ride is still arguably B&M's most intense creation, and still one of my top 5 rides.
Myth: In the years since the first B-TR graced the planet and the coaster world with its presence, it has been surpassed by later inverted creations like Raptor, Montu, etc.
Fact: If there is a better invert, I haven't been on it, despite Afterburn coming awfully, AWFULLY close (it being the only other inverted coaster in my top 10). Haven't experienced the European ones or Pyrenees yet, but they've got an extremely tough act to follow. Myth busted.
It's a testament to the quality of a ride when, being experienced in a half-full train that lacks the momentum of a full one, still delivers a more intense experience than most. B-TR is still, in my opinion, the most fun you can have traveling upside-down.
I went back over to Nitro for what I thought might be one lap. It wound up being three. It was at most a one-train wait (assuming I didn't walk on), so I kept going around. I rode mostly in the middle, where I discovered the ride really came into it's own. The floater air was great, and I love the dive-bomber drops. I don't think I've ever crested the second hill without looking off to the left at the ground so far below. What an amazing ride.
Having to sadly bid farewell to Nitro, there was one more ride I wanted to hit up: Superman Ultimate Flight. Like everything else, it was at most a one- to two-train wait, so I was on in pretty short order.
Myth: Superman Ultimate Flight is lame.
Fact: Superman Ultimate Flight is a wildly enjoyable ride and loads of fun. Myth busted.
I love that ride. There's nothing about it that's particularly stand-out, but it has always been quite enjoyable, and I love the pretzel loops. I had a great lap, but rather than walk the mile long queue for a second lap, and figuring I'd probably get a spin on the Georgia version in a couple weeks, I decided to end the night with a little more style: a closing lap on Kingda Ka.
That final lap on Kingda Ka would probably prove to be my one genius moment of the evening. As I had done earlier in the day, I opted to head over to the far side of the station which often seemed to be the side where riders were needed. I went to the back portion and walked right up to the air gates (which I believe had already been closed with the train loading). The moment of genius came when I discovered that the front train on the far side was being cleaned after someone got sick, so our side was the only side moving. I was on board in short order and off for a great closing ride.
Myth: the stratacoasters are one-trick ponies and pretty mediocre.
Fact: if so, it's the baddest trick in the book, and far from mediocre. Myth busted.
I went back to Superman to get my stuff out of my locker and headed out of the park after one of the best days I've ever had at any park. But real quick, one last debunked myth.
Myth: Six Flags justifies purchasing Flashpasses by running rides at reduced capacity and/or with slow crews.
Fact: Six Flags Great Adventure didn't get the memo. Every coaster I rode was running every train they had (El Toro ran both, Kingda Ka ran all four, Bizarro all three, Nitro all three, Batman both, and Superman both). Stacking, while present, generally wasn't too bad, and on the rare occasions when it was, it wasn't for lack of effort on the part of the ride ops. The crews universally ranged from very good to exceptional, and they had the great attitudes to match. Myth busted.
Major complements to Six Flags Great Adventure for inspiring what I hope becomes an annual tradition of a late-September Sunday trip, what with the lack of lines (keep in mind, there was a big event as well yesterday and there were still barely any waits) and the phenomenal service that may have been the best I've ever experienced at a regional park, with some employees easily Disney-quality. Yes, Disney-quality.
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
Glad you found out the truth. :)
Oh, I've always known the truth. I was praising the SF parks I went to last year, an I've always thought the Texas parks were great. However, the service delivered yesterday was better still. For that reason and others, Six Flags parks are among my favorite parks to visit. Those myths are what I've heard others say, not myths I actually believed.
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
Glad you shared the truth. :)
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