Six Flags Great America - CoasterBuzzCon 5/22/04

Associated parks:
None

Monday, May 24, 2004 12:37 PM
All Six Flags parks are not created equal. I think more than ever now that SFGAm actually belongs to another company.

We arrived in Chicago Friday evening and stopped at Itto Sushi on Halsted in the Liconln Park area. I've decided that the thing I dislike about Chicago isn't the size of it, but rather the density. Everything is packed in tight and the cab drivers are insane. That's not fun when you're used to being able to drive your car everywhere.

After dinner, we took a wrong turn in the most ridiculous downpour I've ever seen. We eventually passed Wrigley Field, which looks like more of a dump in real-life than on TV (and Mike/onceler assures me the inside is about the same). Eventually we made it to our hotel.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Deerfield, about 20 minutes south of the park. At $90/night, this place is a steal. It's a fairly nice hotel, and the breakfast (not continental crap, but actual cooked food) and evening "reception" (free booze) is a nice touch. It's the third time one of us has stayed there. Good service keeps you coming back.

Saturday morning, the sky was not looking pleasant at all. We met up with our contact at the park and drove around to the park op office where they were forming a game plan to deal with the weather. It was clear that ERT wasn't going to happen. They weren't even comfortable testing the rides, let alone running them.

They quickly decided to offer everyone two FastLane passes, a $30 value, as well as free beverage coupons. I was sold, and I thought that was more than fair. In fact, it was in some ways better because we were able to get on a whole mess of rides with virtually no wait. Good times!

I met a bunch of people and will forget names I'm sure, and shortly thereafter we entered the park. We ran into Scott/ShiveringTim, Kara/STChick, Draegs and DJ Tobe and decided to hit Superman first since I still hadn't been on it. One side note, we used a locker, which was an OK deal at $5 all day with unlimited in/out.

B&M's restraint system is much better than the Vekoma counterpart, no doubt about it. The ride does lots of neat things. The pretzel loop, however, is just a bit much. I felt like my head was going to burst. After that, it was a nice smooth "flying" experience that I really enjoyed. As Stephanie mentioned, the real enjoyment from a ride like that would be best with lots of those sweeping turns and more rolls. I agree!

We walked from there through Mardi Gras, where unfortunately, Ragin' Cajun was not yet ready for prime time. What a bummer that is. They weren't running the new Top Spin yet either.

We hit V2, and I enjoyed it. Being toward the back of the train on this version of the Impulse is not really very exciting. I was pleased though that launches in both directions, except for the first forward, were pretty strong.

Scott spotted Deja Vu running when we got off, and it was obvious that the ride that has escaped so many of us must be conquered. They really need to consider a cross-over point in the park. The giant loop takes forever to get around. Mental note: Place across from Cartoon Network area sells beer.

Deja Vu did break down once while we were in line. They managed to get it back up, and we got to ride. I've never liked the backward part on boomerangs when you're near a particularly intense part of the train, but as Scott theorized, the elements are so big that it's not that intense at all. What a stupid design, by the way. Nice going Vekoma!

The sky looked a little threatening, so Steph and I decided to hit the beer stand and meet up with the others while they hit a few flat rides. Note to self: beer on empty stomach = quick buzz. Let's ride Batman, FastLane style!

Batman looks absolutely stunning with the new paint. It feels smooth as ever. With the thumping techno in the station and the buzz, I was feeling pretty good about all of it. The first inverter, sure, but still one of the best designs. I don't care how many are out there.

We revisited the beer stand after that, and the three kids went for nap in the car while Scott joined us for Raging Bull. Bypassing the line... thank you. Took a nice back seat ride. Bull is a great ride, as are all of the B&M speed coasters. I still like Apollo's Chariot best, but Bull was a ton of fun. More fun than I remember, which I attribute either to the alcohol or the fact that my other rides were in the rain.

Next up, Whizzer. Short line, yeah, but I've got a pocket full of FastLane tickets, so who cares! The park made the right choice to save this ride over Shockwave. It's very unique in so many ways, and its cover in the trees makes it a nice escape. I think it's their duty to keep up on the ride as long as possible. It's a classic.

Eventually we ended up back at the picnic grove for lunch. Food wasn't bad (chicken was a little dry), and the park gave us all gift bags with lots of stuff. Nice touch! I thanked everyone for coming and we distributed the left-over FastLane's and beverage coupons.

We left shortly thereafter, as we pretty much hit everything we wanted to hit. We went back to enjoy the swank accommodations and relax a bit.

The next morning we went back in to town to the Chicago Diner to pick up a vegan German chocolate cake for Steph and our friend Nicole (she was at the event last year).

It was a good weekend... and I was really impressed the way the park took a bad situation and made it right. I don't think anyone missed having the ERT at all. While a slightly stronger emphasis on capacity would be helpful, SFGAm is light years ahead of any other Six Flags park I've been to in terms of ability to show guests a good time.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 1:22 PM
Jeff, there should be another beer vendor in the Farmer's Market area right next to Deja Vu. Might make the buzz from beer --> Raging Bull last a bit longer without the walk through 1/2 of the park. For people that like to have a few beers at the park, you should try to make a trip to Six Flags Mexico. You can walk around the park with your beer, not confined to a certain little section.

Also, next time you come to Chicago, we'll have to take in a Cubs game. You don't really have to enjoy baseball as long as you enjoy cerveza's.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 1:26 PM
I agree that the fastlane passes were great.

I too thougt that the pretzel loop was a little too forceful as I felt too much pressure on my spine.

Overall, great park. It is true that they need to focus a little more on capacitiy. A couple extra ride ops on each platform and perhaps making sure that the employees don't just call each other on the phone for fun would be a good thing.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 1:39 PM
The pretzel loop is almost overly intense in the back and even the first drop almost pulls your faster than you think you can take at that point. The rest I really enjoy in the back, but it's much more reridable towards the front. Batman in the back... Oh my! I almost couldn't stand after that ride. I needed to take a little break after going through those forces, but I still love it. Bull, Viper, and Whizzer delivered as well as I remembered.

Getting 3 re-rides on Viper without leaving the train before closing was nice. Dawn and I thought we were going to be really cool again like we were at Kentucky Kingdom and get the last ride of the night on the park's best woodie... But that didn't work out. What will we do with ourselves now that we can't claim such an ultimate coolness? ;)

I think you would really enjoy SFOG as well, Jeff. That's the closest to a "Is this really a SF park?" as you can get to Great America from my experiences.

+Danny

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Monday, May 24, 2004 1:51 PM
I have found (thanks to CB Con 2k3) that riding Superman as close to the front as you can gives for a much more enjoyable ride. Rather than feeling the forces slam you down into your seat, you float into the pretzel loop. IMO, row 2 is the optimal row to ride it in as the front row line is long and row 2 seems to be the quickest wait out of any of the rows.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 1:57 PM
I rode in row 2 twice, the back once, and somewhere in the middle twice. The second row is fine except for right at the bottom of the loop. Not that big a deal. I really love the ride. Diving into the loop is fun as is just flying around afterwards.
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Monday, May 24, 2004 2:15 PM
Gah! How can you call the Friendly confines a dump? It's not a dump, it's 'historically accurate' (except the the crappy row of skyboxes)
Sewioswy, Wrigley may have godawful food and look a bit run down, but at least it's not named after some dumb cellular company. No, it's named after a BUBBLE GUM company. Which is much cooler.
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Monday, May 24, 2004 3:33 PM
I love Wrigley and I am a die hard Cubs fan.. but it is a dump compared to the modern stadiums. With that said, I feel more comfortable in the "dumpy" stadiums. To me, there is more of a sports-like atmosphere in those places. It is probably do to the fact that I was raised on places like Wrigley, Old Comiskee, & The Chicago Stadium.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 3:52 PM
onceler: You would have loved Third World Country Stadium...er I mean County Stadium in Milwaukee before they tore it down. It was a serious dump!
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Monday, May 24, 2004 5:49 PM
Ok, next year if the Cubs are in town during this deal we'll have to chip in and buy Jeff a ticket to a game. I will agree that the place is kind of dumpy but that's part of the character of the place. You have to attend a game (Like I did Sunday night) to really appreciate the place.

I should add that I've scored rooms at the Embassy Suites where Jeff stayed for $40 from Priceline a couple times on a last minute deal. Try it sometime when you're looking for a last minute deal.

Just wanted to echo some of the things other have said. SFGAm did a great job taking care of us in light of the ERT being cancelled. I would agree the Fastlane Passes were great as it was easier to get on more rides that way.

When I was using one of the beverage coupons the person waiting on my asked what ride I got stuck on. I told her it wasn't for that and about the missed ERT and what they did for us and she said something like "They gave you Fastlane Passes? They never usually do things like that!"

Even though Adventureland is really my home park since it's closer I spend much more time at SFGAm and as others have said most of the time it doesn't seem like a typical Six Flags park. I really don't mind the 4 hour drive from Iowa City several times during the season when things go well, as they usually do.

I cetainly enjoyed meeting the faces that go with the screen names. Thanks to Jeff and Steph for putting together a great event. And, thanks again to SFGAm for treating us right. *** Edited 5/24/2004 10:14:44 PM UTC by Brad G***

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Monday, May 24, 2004 6:03 PM
With all of the Irish pubs in the neighbourhood, I could probably enjoy myself.

Weird... you know, I've consumed alcohol three times in the last six months, and it sounds like that's all I do in this TR!

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Monday, May 24, 2004 6:22 PM
You just choose your consumption times wisely. Now where are the watering holes at PKI??
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Monday, May 24, 2004 11:21 PM
The Gump joint and the "gas station" across from Vortex come to mind...
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Monday, May 24, 2004 11:40 PM
I see you are well prepared for alcohol consumption at Beastbuzz. :)
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 12:37 PM
Oddly enough, I'm hoping for a Buzz on beast, but I don't drink Beer, so it looks like some girly, fufu drinks for me since PKI dosen't have hard liquor...

Nice TR, though, and wish I could have made the trip back up to Great America!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 2:33 PM
No Viper? Shame, shame.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 2:45 PM
I ended up skipping Viper because they weren't taking FastLane. I did get a lap on it closing weekend last year though. Still scares the hell out of me. Not a hands up ride for me at all.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 4:28 PM
Got to ride Viper last ride of the day at the coasterbuzzcon. The guy was just about to close the gate when we got in :)

Too bad they closedRB's gate before 9pm. I was disappointed

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 4:36 PM
You must have been the couple that came into the station just as the air gates for our "supposed to be last ride" just closed. Then they had to run the next train to accomodate you two. Stole our last ride status! How dare you! ;)
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004 5:47 PM
No, no, no! We got the last ride, they got the ride after last!
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