Six Flags over Texas is the oldest park in the chain and aside from Six Flags Great Adventure, it is one of the best. The good thing is that while driving up to the park, you can see the whole thing. The park is reasonably themed especially in the Texas section and on my visit, the park was clean except for some gum here and there. The park staff was not terribly efficient and not very friendly either. On this visit, there were three shows going on in the park at the same time. On the main stage by the Wildcatter, there was an imitation KISS band which were actually quite good. The impersonators had the mannerisms down quite good and I actualy sat down for a while to watch and I usually don't have much time for shows. Also there was a good Motown band by the Looney Tunes area and a country-western band by the Oil Derrick tower. There was also a gunslinger show which was good as well. The new Six Flags regime seems to be doing their thing which is improving the parks intangibles creating a better atmosphere not necessarily through more coasters. I like that. Now if they could improve the staffs at these parks because that part still sucks.
The first ride I rode was the Wildcatter, which is a first generation drop ride. The drops on these are very good and this one was much smoother at the bottom of the drop than the one at Magic Mountain. Overall this is one great ride. There is much airtime to be had on the drop. The color scheme was odd as the track and the top were red and the frame was a dark purplish tint. I was surprised the park was even running this, since it rumored that it will be torn down later this year and sold for scrap. Good view of Judge at the top. 10/10
After three spins on the Wildcatter, I rode my first coaster of the day, Judge Roy Scream. The queue for this ride goes through a tunnel and then up some stairs to a dated looking station. It looks like they haven't done anything but maybe a few repaints since 1980. I kind of adds to the classic feel of the coaster. The ride itself doesn't look like much, but I rode in the back seat and experienced some major airtime on the first drop as well as on the drop after the turnaround. Overall, this was a fun ride and a pleasant surprise. I remember riding this as a kid and coming out of my seat, as I did on this day as well. As with most older wooden coasters, the bottom of the drops could be a bit rough which was not helped out by the restraits which come up to your rib cage, so if you don't brace yourself you are in for some minor pain. There were some major brakes on this ride especially on the top of second hill, which keep this coaster from being what it really could be, which is an insane airtime machine. 9/10
The mine train had too long of a line, so the next ride I rode was Runaway Mountain which is an indoor roller coaster. The queue of this ride provided some good shade from the afternoon heat, however, the cave was leaking in some parts which was not good. The ride itself was actually quite good for the type of ride that it is. There are a couple of downward helixes that are intense on this ride. Overall another pleasant surprise.
The upward power shot side was not working on Superman, which is my favorite part of the S&S air powered drops so I skipped it and went on to the Shockwave. This is the parks oldest major roller coaster and is actually not the first to feature consecutive loops, but actually the second. The lifthill has a unique sound to it and the train then goes into a turnaround into the first drop. The drop itself is not that great even in the back seat which I was in, but the point of it is to build up speed for the loops whichwere very intense as always on these types of coasters(Swarzkopfs: Revolution, Mindbender @ Canada & Georgia , Shuttle Loops, ect.) There are two more drops after the loops and there are some surprising negative G-s on these, giving a great ending to the coaster. Overall, Shockwave is a unique boxed-track coaster. 8/10
I skipped the Flashback because I have ridden many boomerangs and while they are not bad, they are too short and I'm getting bored with the layout. My next ride was on Batman: The Ride. Everyone has ridden one of these at least once. They are very good coasters and very reliable. This was a typical good ride on a Batman model. 9.5/10
My next ride was a short walk over to Mr. Freeze. While the Batman queue was not well air-conditioned and the staff were very slow in dispatching it, my wait for Mr. Freeze was the opposite. The queue is well conditioned and the staff were somewhat efficient on this ride. Waiting in line can be fun watching each of the trains launch and seeing people's reactions. The launch isn't the most powerful, but the ride is great. The upside-down tophat is a great inversion and the turnaround to get to the spike is surprisingly intense as well. The spike is more of a rest period than anything, but there is a second launch which propoles the train all the way up, so it can complete the backwards circuit. This ride is completely different and MUCH better backwards. The tophat going backwards is the highlight of the ride. 9.5/10
My next ride was on the Texas Giant. Back when this was built, it was the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world. It seems, though, that since Titan was built, the park has neglected the maintenance of this ride as it is no longer the main attraction. In 1999, this coaster won the Golden Ticket for being the best wooden roller coaster in the world. Before the train dispatched, it came to a stop before the lifthill. I looked back to see what the problem was and the ride op who was trying to unbuckle a seatbelt that wouldn't cooperate, was standing up in the seat yelling at the other ride op who dispatched the train with her in it. Anyway, the first drop had a very strong brake applied to it just as it was about to gain some good speed almost killing the ride immediately. The train bounced so violently that the seat divider dug into my side giving me a nasty bruise. This ride was horrible, one of the worst rides I have ridden. There was a long brake during the middle of the ride and the people were begging the employee sitting there to stop the ride about 100 feet in the air! This ride gets good ratings on various websites I visited before the trip. Those people must be some pretty big SFOT homers to give this piece of junk a good rating. Either torch this thing or maintain it properly. As it is, it's a waste of space. It's so bad it's un-rateable.
My last ride of the night was Titan. I rode this three times, one in the front, middle and back of the train. The first drop was best in the front seat, actually giving some good airtime, in the middle it was a bit lame, and in the back seat, it could have given some tremendous air, but my lapbar was stapled to my legs, so the drop ended up feeling like it did in the middle of the train; no air. The second turnaround/drop combo is good(no air though) but the bunny hill that follows gives tremendous airtime no matter what seat you are in and is the highlight of the ride in my opinion. This is where the good part of the ride ends as there is an overly-intense and uneccessary upward helix which leads into a sudden brake. This is the part of the ride they added to the Goliath model at Magic Mountain to try to make Titan better. Another helix is not what this ride needs. The problem with the layout is the helixes in the first place. I rode this at night and was fine, but in the afternoon Texas heat, I can understand why people say they blackout on this ride. It's a good re-rideable ride for the first drop, bunny hill and dip coming out of the mid-course brake which makes the person in the left seat deel as if they will fall out(hint: always sit on the left). After the midcourse brake follows the downward helix which is the part people say they black out on. I was fine, but again I rode at night when it was cooler. I wish they would have a series of bunny hills to end this ride like all other good hypers out there instead of the crappy helix duo. A helix is supposed to be a transition element; it is way overdone on Titan. This ride is also a near clone of Goliath at Magic Mountain so I already knew what to expect and Goliath was better. 7/10
Overall, I liked the park, here are a few suggestions. This park should consider relocating the Silver Bullet (Looping Star) from Frontier City when that park is torn down as well as rebuilding the Excalibur mine train from Astroworld, which has been sitting in a field at Frontier City for quite some time. The Silver Bullet was originally located at the Texas State Fair so in a way, it would be returning home, and the Excalibur would return to Texas as well. I never rode the Excalibur at Astroworld but I heard great things about it. The addition of these two family coasters would solidify this park as one of the best family Six Flags parks out there with it's recent addition of 10 family rides last year. I forgot to mention that I rode the swinging ship ride which brought back memories for me as well. It's still running in good shape and it's nice to see SFOT taking good care of it.
This ride gets good ratings on various websites I visited before the trip. Those people must be some pretty big SFOT homers to give this piece of junk a good rating.
Sorry you had a bad experience on "America's Coaster" the Texas Giant. Personally it's my fave at SFOT and a top 10 wood for me and it's NOT my home park!
I marathon on it for at least an hour a day when at SFOT, while Titan, Freeze, and Batman are absorbing the bulk of the crowds!
I think the good ratings you saw is reflective of the fact that different people have widely different tolerances and opinions regarding "roughness". One man's "roughness" is another's "agressiveness".
I've always seen mixed reviews regarding this ride (ranging from gushing praise to "unridable") for this reason. I LOVE it's physicality, twisted layout, and it has some nice air when running well; but then again I've always had a history of loving aggressive woodies than many consider rough or unrideable (Myrtle Beach Hurricane, Villain, Hershey Wildcat, to name a few)
This park should consider relocating the Silver Bullet (Looping Star) from Frontier City when that park is torn down
Regarding Frontier City, did I miss something about that park expected to be closing? In any case SF no longer owns it but I do REALLY miss Excalibur and with Astroworld's Viper gone Frontier City's Schwarzkopf is, I believe, the last "Looping Star" model left in the US. So hopefully it will always run somewhere.
Shockwave is such a gem. What I LOVE about it is it's really not about the loops. After the loops are over with it becomes a sublime symphony of potent ejector airtime, enjoyed to it's fullest in the classic lap-bar trains, and as such is only one of just two steel coasters with inversions in my steel top 10 (the other is it's equally sublime sibling, SFOG's Mindbender) *** Edited 8/15/2007 3:35:42 AM UTC by Frontrider*** *** Edited 8/15/2007 3:45:38 AM UTC by Frontrider***
I also love Georgia Cyclone for the INSANE backseat ejector air on some of the drops, especially drop 2. I had no problems with Rattler being rough but I can see that the ride has been tamed; I enjoyed it for what it was.
I guess it just comes down to different people have different taste, and things that make coasters less re-ridable for them. Rough, physical woodies cause no problems for me, but many people could easily outlast me on smoother high g force multi-inversion shoulder harness coasters. One or two laps is usually enough for me on those, and if I never ride a Vekoma Boomerang again, I wouldn't lose any sleep! :)
As for Titan, its not really fair to just compare it to all other hypers in the US (with the exception of SFMM's Goliath and possibly Raging Bull) because it ISN'T an out & back airtime machine. It IS a twister and the helixes (helices?) are what set it apart and make it different, and enjoyable, IMO.
About Titan, why else would you have a bunny hill in the middle of the course like Titan does if it isn't meant to be an airtime machine. Basically, Six Flags over Texas just wanted to copy Magic Mountain and stuck an uneccessary extra helix on the thing so they could say the thing was different AND better than Goliath. Texans are strange like that. Also in a place as hot as Texas, it was not wise to build a coaster that subjects riders to 4 g's for 5 straight seconds TWICE in the same circuit. Thats just asking for trouble.
I managed only two rides on it this trip. My first ride was in the second to last row. It was a good ride, but more braking was in use than on my previous visit, so the magic carpet finale was pretty weak. Then my second ride the next day was in the rear axle seat. It was the same ride speed-wise as the day before, but a little too rough for even my crazy taste. I am sad to say the ride was not the top-ten woodie I rode a couple of years ago. But it was still a fun ride and light years beyond the boredom of Mean Streak and Rattler.
The roughness is one thing, but IMO all the trims kill the thrill out of the ride. The helix is way too slow to be anything exciting and the magic carpet finale is just a bit too slow to produce the airtime it can have. I can only imagine how insane this thing was before all of the additional trims were installed.
Also, Goliath was by far the biggest thing Giovanola ever designed, and it was originally meant to have 4 across seating, like a B&M, which is why the track guage is so wide. There was some last-minute change in the train design to make it a 2 wide seat, and the coaster trains outperformed the track design. This caused the train to enter the midcourse with way more speed then they originally accounted for. THAT's why Titan has the added helix, both because Goliath's helix was receiving rave reviews, and to bleed off additional speed before the midcourse.
*** Edited 8/19/2007 2:53:39 AM UTC by Soggy***
S:ToP runs the same program on all three towers. I don't think Judge Roy has any trims anywhere since it uses the old style friction brakes rather than fin brakes, though I could be wrong.
I've never been a fan of Texas Giant. I even rode it with AV Matt when he thought it was top 10 material and I was still kind of "meh." It can be very good (in front at night) and it can be very bad and I'm usually not willing to roll the dice.
In general, I don't particularly care for Titan as hypers go. I would love it way more if the ride ended after the bunny hop. The helices are too much for me on a warm day. That said, I don't have too much of a problem with the helices on S:RoS SFA or SFDL, aside from the fact that they're boring.
I've been doing a lot of thinking and hopefully eventually no-limiting a design for the same footprint (at oT, not MM) that would've been a significantly better ride. It wouldn't have been too hard to incoporate a few more moments of air instead of all the helixing (like dropping off the MCBR straight and then an overbanked turn around under the first turnaround into another hop before the big twister finale).
When you said it was leaking in the cave at Runaway Mountain, did you mean the facade that houses the queue, or in the warehouse that actually houses the ride? I'm assuming you meant the queue.
So, no La Vibora or Mini Mine Train? From what I've read putting Excalibur back up would be an inpossibility based on how the ride was disassembled. And why would the park need another mine train if they already have one (and it's the original!)?
My thoughts on TG. When I first saw it in 2002, I thought to myself "Oh no, it's Mean Streak's faternal twin." I rode it three times (I think), and by far the best ride I had on it was in the front row with a lighter person. I didn't think it was all that bad, and had more action that Mean Streak ever had.
And since Titan existed that year, it wasn't pulling any maintenance away from TG. People who work on wood coasters I don't think work on their steel counterparts. There's no nails or wood to be replaced on those.
I have only been to the park twice since the early nineties, and I visited on Spring Break and August, and both times the park was super busy. Both visits were on weekdays as well. I would imagine, that you will have to wait in some long lines no matter when you go. The lines from shortest to longest on my visit: Swinging Ship, Texas Giant, Wildcatter, Shockwave, Judge Roy Scream, Titan, Mr. Freeze, Batman, Runaway Mountain, Mine Train(I did not ride this one as it had over an hour wait).
ApolloAndy, I agree with you about how other coasters use their helix. Goliath at SFOG is a top 10 coaster because of the airtime, and the helix is used only as a transitional element. I think that is why the helices on the rides you listed may bore you, because they are meant to slow the train instead of being a thrill element. You seem to be one of the many that have experienced the bad combination of heat and helix! I don't remember saying there trims on the Judge Roy Scream, I just mentioned that there were some brakes that impede the ride. I think that the most noticeable brake is on the second hill.
Titan's brake brings the train to a complete stop and is a more forceful brake in my opinion even with the extra helix, but the explanation of the train going from 4 seats to 2 sounds plausible. Goliath's midcourse did not stop the train completely like Titan's did though. Actually, this causes the riders on the left to feel like they are falling out of the train coming out of the brake which is really cool. This is one of the hidden surprises of the ride. This is one of the better things about Titan over Goliath.
I don't remember the Space Shot being on all three towers. I remember the riders being picked up slowly like a traditional drop ride on the yellow(?) tower, the only one that was running. I thought the drop program is the same, but the Space Shot is on the red tower only, but I could be wrong on this. Wildcatter was good enough to cure my freefalling fix though.
The Texas Giant seems to be a coaster that performs much better earlier in the season and drops off dramatically as the season wears on. The trim brakes on the first drop lower the ride quality significantly. This is the only ride at the park that I has been a walk on during a packed day on my visits. Sound similar to Hercules at Dorney Park? Actually, with a bit of tweaking, the Texas Giant probably can run well again.
It's great to see so many people love this park. It is truly a gem. *** Edited 8/17/2007 11:59:43 PM UTC by tbewindan*** *** Edited 8/18/2007 12:14:38 AM UTC by tbewindan*** *** Edited 8/18/2007 12:21:13 AM UTC by tbewindan*** *** Edited 8/18/2007 12:24:17 AM UTC by tbewindan*** *** Edited 8/18/2007 12:27:42 AM UTC by tbewindan***
Ha, yeah Boomerangs are wierd. They are universally unpopular with the coaster enthusiast community, but the general public just love them.
You are kidding about that second part. Right? The regular boomerangs always seem to have the shortest lines at the park.
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