Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
I hadn't visited Six Flags Great Adventure since the last time I went, so it was time to resolve that issue. I wanted to squeeze in a visit during the low season in hopes of getting some serious riding action in, but as you'll discover at the end, I wasn't very successful at that. It was my own fault as I tried to spend a lot of time on photography, but I have to say that as far as getting the shots I really wanted, I was only partially successful. Rides like Nitro, for example, just don't have much in the way of publicly accessible angles, which is a shame, because it means my photo portfolio is often limited for some of my favorite rides.
Anyways, you don't want to hear much about that, I'm sure, so on to the good stuff.
After walking around the parking lot getting some shots of Kingda Ka, I went in to the park and headed to Nitro first. I had to wait about twenty minutes, but I was able to join a three-person group waiting for the front row, so I'd call it a win.
Dear friends and esteemed coaster connoisseurs, that ride was bleeping fantastic. I always forget how good it is. It had all the airtime that we've come to love from B&M, but unlike many of their later endeavors, it didn't let up in its excellence until the final break run. The camelback sequence after the midcourse really offers a stellar conclusion to what is one of the most epic coasters ever built.
I left Nitro and headed over to the boardwalk area because I wanted to get some shots of Superman and Green Lantern at angles that would have been backlit by the time I figured I'd actually get around to riding them (they had a long line at the time), but my efforts were only mildly successful. I left shortly thereafter for Kingda Ka.
Shockingly, the ride had barely any wait (I figured that if Nitro was pulling twenty minutes, this one might be longer, although past experiences at the park should have told me otherwise). I was in the back row after maybe a three-train wait that seemed infinitesimally short given the ride's phenomenal crew. I've been critical of crews before, so I must also be complimentary, and those Ride Ops were cranking those trains out. It was a two-train operation using just one of the four areas of the station, but that was no issue.
The ride was its usual rattle-y self, but it's still such an impressive coaster. The stats are just so exceptional that you can't help but walk away with a level of appreciation for such an extreme experience.
I jumped back around for a front-row lap because I'm too stupid to take note of how unnerving it is sitting at the end of the launch run waiting for the apocalypse to rain down. A kid snagged the open seat next to me and, as we were waiting for the all-clear, he asked me what scared me most about the ride. I have two issues with this:
1) How did he know I was scared? I mean, I certainly was, but I hadn't said anything. Was he psychic?
2) I gave him the wrong answer. I told him it was the anticipation, but had I thought of it at the time, the correct answer would have been, "Kid, what scares me the most is that I've allowed myself to reach a point in my life where I ignore all the common sense I should have and somehow deceive myself into thinking that riding this is a 'good idea.'" It's just so unsettling waiting for a cable to yank you to what is generally double the legal speed limit on most major highways and send you careening up over a more than forty-five-story tower. That's borderline sadistic.
I left with the intention of hitting up El Toro next, but it had a long line, so I subbed in Bizarro. It had a wait about as long as Nitro's, but that was due to the crew being extremely slow. To their credit, they were exceptionally nice folks, a trait I found commonplace throughout much of the day. I remembered the park having generally good employees, but I was extremely impressed during this visit. If only they were a little bit faster, they'd be exceptional, but to their credit, it was more an issue of just not going about things in the most efficient manner as opposed to outright slacking off. Anyways, I was able to pull off the same stunt as I did at Nitro and snag an open front-row seat (to my credit, I don't enjoy being a single rider at all as there's nobody I know with whom I can share the experience, but I'll milk it's benefits while I remain in that position). As for the ride? I've got one word for it.
Was I just anal or ignorant beforehand? Perhaps I was always so bent on driving up my track record that I often didn't really pay attention to a lot of rides that deserved it, but my goodness, I was living it up on this go-round. There were so many little nuances that made the ride much more than a basic series of inversions. A little bank to the left here, a pop of airtime there, and so on and so forth. The inversions themselves were also great, though. I love me a quality dive loop.
I grabbed lunch at the Best of the West saloon, choosing a brisket sandwich to cure my hunger. Apparently, season pass-holders get twenty percent off. I can safely say I didn't know that. The sandwich was actually pretty darn good, too. The brisket was cooked to perfection, and my teeth went right through it as opposed to the stuff that feels like it requires a chainsaw to cut through it but gets passed off as barbecue, but I digress.
I took the cable cars afterward over toward Movietown, and I decided that I'd finally hit up Batman-The Ride. I didn't go for the front this time, winding up much closer to the back.
This ride still had it. It was such a punchy little invert with intensity that its much larger brethren have struggled so much to match. It's still my favorite of the breed (despite a valiant effort on the part of Afterburn), but that would be my only lap on it of the day. There are plenty of other rather convenient parks where it's so much better than anything else there as opposed to the Jersey example that shares its home with numerous five-star hits that I decided not to spend my limited time riding the living daylights out of it during this visit.
I jumped next door to Nitro to find an even longer wait than before, but I was able to pull the same stunt as earlier and grab the front once again. My goodness, what an incredible rush it was. To me, that ride *is* Six Flags Great Adventure. It's the signature B&M at what may as well be their showcase park. On top of that, the scenery is so beautiful, but to be fair, a huge portion of the park falls into that category. I dare say it may be the most beautiful one in the chain that I've visited (which is nearly every single one).
Time was starting to get tight, but I was still good. I jumped over to the front to find my patience rewarded: the lines for Green Lantern and Superman Ultimate Flight were gone. I chose the new kid on the block first.
I rode Green Lantern as Chang at its former home, but I must have been on something, because I viewed it as having basically taken Mantis's grand finale and replaced it with a duller one for the sake of adding an inversion. My opinion may be sketchy again as I haven't ridden Mantis in a few years, but apparently my outlook on the finale had changed, because I dare say Green Lantern is the best stand-up ever built. What an INCREDIBLE ride it was! It has such a spectacular layout and it's so brutally forceful without being super-jarring. If I'd have had more time, there'd have been an encore.
Alas, that would have to wait for another day. I skipped Superman Ultimate Flight, but as a charter member of what I consider the park's "supreme seven," I couldn't make the same mistake twice. I was just about to get on, though, when they for some reason decided to transfer the second train off of the ride. It only held me up a few minutes, but I didn't get why that couldn't wait the less-than-ninety minutes until closing time. Whatever. I was on in very short order, and I had a blast once again.
Much like Batman-The Ride, I discovered that my desire to ride a coaster that has been cloned varies heavily based on environment. Admittedly, where Batman is a genuine favorite (if not *the* favorite), Superman Ultimate Flight is simply a ride I just happen to enjoy a lot without being completely blown away by it. However, where I'm looking to squeeze several laps on it at Six Flags Great America and Six Flags Over Georgia because it's arguably in the top three at both (haven't been on X-Flight), there are plenty of other exceptional rides here, so I wasn't as bummed about getting only one lap as I would be on its twins elsewhere. That said, I'm very glad I rode it, because in all its basic-ness, I just get a real kick out of it, and I'm glad for any opportunity to take a spin.
With six of the seven for which I came out of the way, it was Toro-time. My patience had laid off handsomely again, as the line from earlier was gone. In what seemed like no time I was in the train, tensing up for the sheer horror that was soon to follow.
Good grief, that ride was nuts. What an absolute blast it was. Yes, the ride is known for airtime, but I found myself nearly bursting out into laughter over the zig-zag portion. It was just so ludicrously insane. I love that crazy thing.
At this point, I had a mere nine laps total over seven coasters, so I wanted to round it out with one last hurrah to put myself at an even ten. I considered a third Nitro lap or a second run on Batman or Green Lantern, but having seen the lack of a line at a nearby favorite, I decided to pay tribute to a rediscovered legend and go for one last Bizarro run. I walked right into the back row and had just about as much fun as I did up front.
Despite wanting to keep going, I knew that I'd never reach a point where I'd say I had ridden enough on such a great coaster collection, so I decided to leave with the burning desire to do it all over again and come back another day. I had a long drive home, and I didn't want to push things any later.
All in all, I think my main take-away from the visit is that I feel, oddly enough, like I appreciate parks and great coasters even more than I had in the past. I don't know why it is, but I just get more of a kick out of them these days. Honestly, I think that's fantastic, because it's a great hobby to have. Here's to more great experiences and Great Adventures. Thanks for reading!
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
Awesome trip report! Reports like this make me so superduperfreakinfrackin excited to get more riding done and NOW.
I have never had a problem with Great Adventure being unattractive. Plus, the layout is so simple that I don't find myself wandering around lost and irritated. It is a great park.
I've only ridden three stand-ups, but Green Lantern is the only one I like. I actually rode it twice on my last GrAdv trip and would have ridden again had I not gotten injured. Snappy ride!
Bizarro is an excellent floorless, but the floorless coasters all fit me weird in the restraints, being unable to lock them as tight as other rides. I'm always a little unnerved by the ridiculous amounts of hang time I get on that ride as a result.
Kingda Ka IS a little sadistic, and as much as I'm not scared WHILE riding it, I get nervous preparing for it EVERY TIME. Usually I don't even bother with it unless someone else wants to ride it. You worded your thoughts on it just perfectly...I feel exactly the same way. And I still worry about rollbacks. Not sure if I want one or not. Almost 500 feet backwards just doesn't sound like my cup of tea.
Nitro in the front is amazing. I have no other B&M hyper to compare it to, but Nitro is such a fabulous ride for me. That slow climb to the top still scares the bejesus out of me!
I don't have to comment on Toro. You know. All know.
Again, fantastic report. Glad to hear GrAdv is still working hard to be a great place to ride!
"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band
I really want to ride Toro some day. I would hope it's better than Voyage even though that might be illegal.
Bunky, it's interesting regarding your comments about the restraints on the floorless coasters. For some bizarre reason (Ha! See what I did there?), I always feel like I'm right at the point where I'm maybe a millimeter to thick to get the restraint down one more click under ordinary circumstances. Of course, at some point, the g-forces always seem to snag that extra click at some point during the ride, but honestly, that hangtime is what makes certain maneuvers like the zero-g rolls so epic. I find myself flailing all over the seat through those inversions.
As far as not having other B&M speed coasters to which you can compare Nitro, I honestly still view it as one of the absolute best. I've ridden all of them save Shambhala, LaRonde's Goliath, and Hollywood Dream, and Leviathan and Silver Star are the only two that may best it (and I'm on the fence about the latter). Honestly, I think that there are few rides, period, that are better. Basically, I like to think that if I was told I could only ride one coaster for the rest of my life, Nitro would be a candidate. It's just such a fantastic coaster.
As for the park itself, Six Flags Great Adventure may be my favorite park in the world. I think that's due to the two-fold combination of setting and rides. The whole area between El Toro and Bizarro, the water behind the park and, well, Bizarro's location in general, are absolutely beautiful tranquil areas. Bizarro itself feels like it's almost in a different park. Nitro's location is also really nice, running into the woods, and the river/lake behind the hammerhead is really pretty too. What gets me, though, is that for as dense as New Jersey apparently is in terms of its population, that park feels like it's completely out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it is, for all I know. Either way, the miles and miles of forest and the woods and bodies of water that are in the park as well really make the ride less a collection of attractions bolted on the top of concrete slabs (the exception being the Boardwalk section, which just does nothing for me) and more a genuine "park."
That leads me into the part about why I love the rides so much. So many parks that build masses of coasters wind up with a number of poorly-executed installations, be they obvious "filler" rides (SUF is the only one at Great Adventure that I'd toss in this category, but 2003 was definitely the year of stupid for Six Flags) like Deja Vu was at SFMM and Time Warp at Canada's Wonderland, or be they rides that, while perhaps the right type of ride, could've been so much more (Tatsu and Diamondback, for example). Batman-The Ride would become the signature Six Flags Coaster, and it's only fitting that Great Adventure has one. Bizarro ushered in the generation of modern megaloopers, and it still holds its own. Kingda Ka was given a whole new themed area that set the standard for the chain as far as I'm concerned. I just wish there would have been some spectator seating (Top Thrill Dragster is much more of a spectacle as far as I'm concerned, but Kingda Ka was still handled well). Nitro was the ultimate people-mover hypercoaster, much more so than the Intamins, and its setting was exceptional. I won't go on for Green Lantern and El Toro because I've rambled enough already, but suffice it to say that I think both play great roles and were worthy replacements for the rides they succeeded.
Again, I'm bummed that I have to plan so hard to avoid the crowds the park is known for pulling, but I honestly have such a great time every time I go there. It's a wonderful place.
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
Great report and the above post I really agree with. It is a very nice park and even with how often I go, I still keep wanting to return to the park as often as possible compared other parks like Dorney that I got tired of with less visits.
So maybe this is finally the year that people quit mindlessly parroting that the SF parks suck?
I can dream, right?
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
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