Six Flags St. Louis 6/4/2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 10:40 AM

I hadn’t really thought about Holiwood Nites when I was trying to plan out my year. Granted, I started planning 2010 after a successful 2009 (those that know me know I cancel and change a lot, but 2009 went off without much of a hitch). No interest to go in 2009, but then I moved AND they were getting new trains on Voyage. Let me stop quickly to talk about Voyage: I like the ride. It’s in my top 5 overall and my #3 wooden coaster. The reason(s) it isn’t my #1 overall is that I like the type of violent ejector air found on El Toro and Phantom, and previously Voyage, while great, wasn’t reridable to me. I could do one ride, rest, then another, rest, then I’d have to go ride the other coasters. So new trains perhaps would change that. Since AVMatt, Gator, and a bunch of other friends were going, some I hadn’t seen in years (cough*ApolloAndy*cough), I decided I’d go again.

This trip I refused to drive. I was flying out, and letting everyone else make the plans. I was just along for the ride, as long as I got picked up at the airport and dropped off at the end of my trip. Again, I have to sidestep and say that I love that I live between 2 airports, one major international (CLT) and one smaller regional with decent service (GSO). I decided to fly out of Greensboro because even though it had a layover in Charlotte, which is actually closer to my house, Greensboro was about $100 cheaper, AND it’s only 20 minutes from work, as opposed to Charlotte at 2 hours. This made it easer to leave after work.

I Hotwired a room near GSO and headed out Thursday evening. The drive was about 30 minutes, so I got there, checked in, and then went to do some last minute shopping and eating (Yum Steak & Shake). Sadly, the air in my room (and the hotel for that matter) wasn’t working well, so my room never got nice and cold, just mildly cool. I wanted to change rooms, but there were none available, and I was too tired to try another hotel. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well. My flight was at 5:30, and so at 2:00 am I decided to just get up, packs my stuff up, go clean my car out, and go to the airport. I’m actually kind of happy I did this, because I kept getting lost trying to find the airport (both Google Maps and CoPilot on my iPhone were trying to send me in thru the back service road to the airport. Why?!?).

I was informed by US Airways to arrive 2 hours before my flight, so I ended up there about 2 hours and 15 minutes early…only to be greeted by a mostly closed airport. The main terminal was open, and as I arrived, the agents for US Air were just getting there to check baggage in (I had a carry on). But no security was open so no way to get to the gate. I sat and watched a while later as TSA agents came and did their checks and eventually opened up security. This one woman pushed her way to the front, and I thought it was hilarious that she was the one that got pulled aside for additional screening.

I went thru security easily, but I’ll know next time that I just need to be there about 45 minutes early if flying out early (lest I have to deal with a closed airport) and sat by my gate for a while, listening to my iPhone playlist and checking email. We were off to CLT promptly at 5:30. The flight attendants were great, and very friendly. The flight south was only 20 minutes, though, so I never even got to pull my phone out to listen to music. Once we arrived I got off at the gate and headed to Quiznos and Starbucks for breakfast. I was finished eating and shopping (had to get a magazine) just in time to reboard the plane. The flight to St. Louis was long, but I got a good 20 minutes of sleep out of it. This was the smallest plane I’d ever been in (76 seater), and the female flight attendant was joking around and said "Just imagine a 46 seater". Sadly there wasn’t much in the way of turbulence.

After getting off the plane I contacted Joe (Bubba) to find out where he was as he was renting the car and I was riding with him to Six Flags. He said meet him at baggage, but when I got there, his phone died, and he was no where to be found. That’s because he was in a different terminal. Got a text from Rob (frisbeeking) who had canceled and wasn’t coming that he talked to Joe, and Joe’s phone died, and for me to take the shuttle to the Enterprise lot, so I did.

Once there, after greeting Joe and Steph, I noticed a guy come up beside me and put his arm around me. Rob had sneaked out to HWN after all. I guess it made sense that he knew Joe’s phone wasn’t working and I should have figured out Rob was with Joe.

So we were off in just a few minutes, making calls to meet up with everyone else, and headed to Six Flags St. Louis. Did I mention it was hot? I mean, really Hot? And I only brought one pair of shorts, and wasn’t wearing them. We arrived at the park and hooked up with Wade and Ken from Great Adventure…..and headed to the entrance. The park opened promptly at 10:15 am with the National Anthem (Sadly they didn’t do an opening ceremony like some other Six Flags do), and we were let in to the very nice, very well done front plaza section.

I snapped pictures and we walked around the fountain. Wade and Ken stopped to get water and a pretzel, but the worker told them she wasn’t ready as the pretzels weren’t finished yet. Wade said that was fine, he’ll just take a bottle of water, and the worker said no, that the water wasn’t cold enough yet. It was already very very hot and extremely humid out and he didn’t care if the water wasn’t ice cold. I think he had some persuading to do, but eventually she sold them some water.

We headed left because everyone wanted to try Mr. Freeze (or be reacquainted if they had previously visited). I must admit, this was THE reason I wanted to go to Six Flags St. Louis. Whilst we waited, we finally met up with Matt and Gator Bill, Matt Shoe, and even the Airbears. Everyone headed over as the gates dropped promptly at 10:30, and off we were. First up, that Premier Launched coaster looking down at us.

Mr. Freeze-Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously. Wow. Loved the station and moving platform. Matt and I got on in the back of the 4th car and after we were in position, off we were. The launch actually felt kind of weak, but MAN is that top hat awesome! I’m with Gator, Top hats should be inverted, but like Matt said, maybe a coaster should be built with both. The overbanked turn was smooth and fun, and then the vertical spike was just amazing. It really freaks you out when you start to slow, but the LIMs kick in and roll you even higher. That I couldn’t see the end of the track was disconcerting to say the least. Doing it all backwards was just icing on the cake. Why more parks don’t have something like this is beyond me. Loved it. Really wish I’d had time to ride it more, but alas, we had 4 hours. The queue was really long, but I got some good pictures of the whole ride.

Wade and Ken got a second ride, and I opted for photos. I should have rode again, but oh well. Already walking thru the park, I felt the need to come back. Six Flags St. Louis is one of the nicest in the chain. We ended up splitting up, as some rode the Scooby Doo dark ride, and others headed to Evel Knievel, which was my next stop.

Evel Knievel-Okay, I’m so glad I went into this with no expectations. I was so happy about Freeze and finally getting to ride one that I really wasn’t concerned with Evel. But Wow! I rode in the 3rd car from the back of the train. The first drop was awesome, but after that, it was just amazing! I’ve never felt a GCI coaster have that much airtime. Every little hill, all the little pops, the bigger hills and turns, everything felt so right, and it ran so well. As much as I love Thunderhead, I’ve found a new favorite GCI coaster.

Evel was so good, we ran back around and I got in the same seat. Love it the 2nd time too! Ken, Wade, Bubba, Steph, and I walked around for a bit in the head (I had to stop and get a bottle of water) and then headed over towards Excalibur. We toyed with riding, but passed (I don’t think anyone wanted to throw up today), so we went to the next best thing-Tony Hawk’s Big Spin.

Tony Hawk’s Big Spin-This was my first spinning coaster that wasn’t one of the stock spinning mice found in fairs and parks. I was really excited to ride, and the line wasn’t very long. I rode with Steph and a grandfather/granddaughter, and thankfully we didn’t spin out of control. This is the type of ride any mid to large size park could use. Fun, family friendly, and it even had some good drops. The first drop and spinning were loads of fun, and the helix was really great. Plus the hops after the mid course gave some nice airtime. I loved it, but I could have done without the excess spinning on the final brake run.

After Big Spin we ran to the restroom near the entrance to Boss. Thankfully the AC was working in there, so we hung out around the cool air for a few moments before heading on. Next up was The Boss. And boy, this park really likes long queues. I saw that it ran G-trains. I don’t know why I always think the worst about G-Trains, because I loved Villain, and to be honest, the re-tracked sections of RWB weren’t bad in them either. I guess I just always think about Hurricane. The ride was running one train, but switched to 2 as we were in the station, causing the line to swell a bit. We saw David Hamburger in line. He’s in the middle of a big loop on vacation, going around to different parks, and was also on his way to Holiwood Nites.

The Boss-I had no real expectations. After they got the 2nd car ready we got in and off we went. The first drop was grand, but I didn’t know what to expect with the long stretch of track that followed. I kept waiting for us to go up, and then we dropped! The rest of the layout was great, including the helix and the pops on the hills near the queue in the woods. I was very impressed by Boss. I loved every second of it, and couldn’t believe after everything that I’d heard that anyone would complain. It was very comparable to Villain to me. I really liked it.

So that was another coaster I went in with no opinion and came out loving. I really liked the park already, but every coaster I got on just blew me away. This shouldn’t happen at a Six Flags park, should it? Seriously, though, the originals are some of the best, and this one has been well taken care of. We saw the rest of the group in line after us and later when we talked to them, they agreed it was running well.

We walked thru Bugs Bunny National Forest next, the parks very well done kids area. There were some fun looking rides, but I was surprised they didn’t have a nice kiddy coaster anywhere in site. Next we found Screamin’ Eagle up the hill. After walking thru a covered games midway, we queued up for Eagle. Again, what is with the terribly long queues?

Screamin’ Eagle-This was a great out and back classing woody. We rode in the front and got airtime on all the hills. I really enjoyed it. I think it most compares to Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia, and that was close to where I ranked it. The hills all popped, and I liked again that the ride went thru the woods like parts of Boss. The ride was made for airtime, and even if it didn’t have major ejector air, it has nice pops and floated over the hills. Another great coaster at this amazing park.

After all of the great fun we had, I knew eventually we’d have to run into a coaster that wasn’t that great, and the next two on our list were the mine train and Ninja, neither of which I was looking forward to. We walked back around the drop tower and made our way to the mine train. Thankfully there was no wait.

River King Mine Train-I’m just not a fan of mine trains. But to be honest, this one wasn’t bad. It basically just meanders around a field and thru a helix. Two lift hills, and some decent laterals. And, hey, the ending was better than Adventure Express at Kings Island, because at least you drop in the tunnel and then go up to the station.

We headed over towards our last two coasters and I think even stopped at the restroom. The area by Ninja and Batman was kind of nice. I really wasn’t looking forward to Ninja, but we still had time left to do what we wanted, so we queued up. I headed by myself towards the back.

Ninja-I’m just not a fan of the trains or the layout, but to be honest, Ninja wasn’t bad. The first drop was quite good, and the parts I thought would be awful, the inversions, weren’t bad at all. After the first two inversions, the 2nd one I wasn’t expecting to not be a loop, you hit a straightish section of track, then turn into the corkscrews. Again, the inversions weren’t bad. The helix was shaky, but all in all, the ride wasn’t bad. This was a ride I did have expectations about, and thankfully it was better than I’d imagined.

As we were getting off, Ken and Wade spoke to a ride op. Apparently the roped off section of the train was roped off because of someone throwing up in that seat, and instead of doing a good clean up job, they did a quick wipe and closed it off. That’s bad, and shouldn’t have happened.

We ran into the rest of the group as they were heading to Ninja. Not everyone wanted to ride, so most of us stayed in the arcade while Matt and Matt got their Ninja on. This was the Gotham City section, and it was actually quite nice. Once everyone was finished with Ninja, we went to the final new coaster of the trip for me, Batman The Ride.

Batman The Ride. Another long queue. We took pix at the entrance, but sadly their Batmobile wasn’t on display (and I really wanted a picture of it). Didn’t feel like waiting for the front, so we got on near the rear of the train. This Batman was rather good; I rank it below Over Georgia’s version, and above the other ones. Plus it’s a mirror image, so it was a little different than the rest. It’s intense, and my legs felt it on the back half of the course.

With all of the coasters out of the way, we had a little bit of time for other rides, or coaster re-rides, depending on what you wanted. I would have liked to do the train and the Ferris wheel, but that didn’t happen. Wade and Ken wanted more Mr. Freeze, and though I wanted to, the body wasn’t able as it was too hot. Before they hit up Freeze for the last time we did get a spin on Scooby Doo and the Scary Swamp. This one is better than the former Scooby rides at the former Paramount Parks. I like that you saw a beam of light where you were shooting. It was tons of fun, and a nice, cool queue.

We did a quick bit of shopping and loafing and then headed to the front gate. I wanted a turkey leg, but the place at the front selling them didn’t open till 2pm, and I didn’t want to wait 15 minutes just for food, so we all headed to the car and then McDonald’s across the highway. Boy was that McDonald’s packed!

The three hour drive to Holiday World wasn’t bad. I got to see the Gateway Arch from a distance, which almost makes up for the fact that I didn’t go back on Sunday and go to the Arch. I must get back to St. Louis soon, for more Six Flags, and to experience the city. Had a great time there, though, and I really loved the park. I only went because it was convenient to go on this trip, but now that I’ve been, I actually want to go back for more.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010 11:56 PM

Thanks for the TR. We felt the same about the extreme queues. Boss was the worst as the queue and the exit ramp were both the same length.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 10:53 AM

I wanted to hate Ninja, too, but the headchopper as you pass under the lift chain made the whole ride worth it! I have not been to the park since they built Tony Hawk or Evel Knievel, but based on your reviews of the two rides, I need to get down there again. Great little park. Just don't stay at the Days Inn. It was rated the number two dirtiest hotel in the country!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:22 PM

Both coasters were great, and I'd love to get back to the park. Maybe next year I'll go early when I have more vacation time built up in my new job. I just hope when I go back it won't be so hot and miserable.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 4:42 PM

I'm a big fan of back-seat rides...but Knievel was most def. a front-seat ride. Infinitely more airtime up there.

Freeze...just rocks my socks in any seat.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010 4:57 PM

Nice TR. I finally just paid my first visit to SFSL a couple of weeks ago, and I'll pretty much second almost everything you said. I was surprised at the quality of the lineup of coasters in a (fairly) small park. Evel Knievel and Boss both made my top 25 woodies -- EK almost cracking my top 10. Both nice rides, and very rerideable.

I was very disappointed with Screamin' Eagle. John Allen is probably rolling in his grave at how terribly this classic beauty has been treated. Obviously little attention has been paid to it recently, and it looks it too. This is one coaster that needs a retracking, and probably new or dramatically restored rolling stock as well.

You're right about the queues being ridiculously long, or more precisely, stretched out. Very few of the coasters have any substantial cattle pens to speak of, so the lines stretch out for seemingly miles. Plus: you don't have to wait in queue switchbacks for your ride, and get some nice scenery. Minus: it's a freaking long way to walk after the ride is over.

I also was surprised at Ninja, though perhaps my opinion only goes so far as, "It doesn't suck nearly as much as it looks like it should." It certainly wasn't as rough as I was expecting, and that's good enough for me.

I actually enjoyed the Mine Train. I'm kind of a sucker for runaway mine rides, in their many and unique configurations.

SFSL definitely can be proud of its coaster lineup. They have some high class rides that rival some larger parks for the enjoyment factor.

Sorry to piggyback on your TR, Tekwardo. I was playing around with posting my own, but never got around to it.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:37 AM

I don't mind piggybacking ;).

Seriously, though, I only went to the park because everyone else was going and I wanted to do Mr. Freeze. Now that I've been, I was impressed enough to want to go back.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010 11:17 AM

I told ya you'd like it! :)

On Friday, The Boss was running the best I have ever seen it. We were getting airtime on the rampy hills in the backseat and a nice pop on the double-up out of the helix at the end that I don't recall ever getting in my numerous previous visits. When some of us returned on Monday, it was not running quite so well (more like how I remember it), but still a great ride.

I've always kind of liked Ninja and volunteered to ride with someone for their credit lap while everyone else sat out. :)

I was upset to see they converted my favorite ICEE station to another one of those stupid Slush Factories with the lame ass hourglass-shaped bottle that you can't completely empty. Come on! At least still offer the big paper cups for those of us who just want one ICEE. I'm not paying $6 for that stupid plastic thing.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:36 AM

Shame that it wasn't riding as well Monday. We thought it was going to suck because we were going to be on the train they'd just put on, plus the fact that it was still early. I liked it nearly as much as I liked Villain.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010 10:47 AM

Man, I used to love Villain back in the day. :(

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