Tekwardo & AV Matt's New England Adventures (part 1)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 10:21 AM

Saturday September 4, 2010

Since I don’t have a lot of vacation time (the consequences of starting a new job), I’ve tried to use all of my extra days off this summer, as much as possible, for going on a couple coaster trips. I had considered Chicago, then Ohio for Labor Day weekend, but then Matt suggested I come up and do SFNE & Lake Compounce. That sounded tempting, so after a few weeks of planning, we had a quasi-plan.

I purchased my plane tickets a few weeks prior to the trip, and on Friday afternoon I left work at 4pm, bound for Greensboro (GSO) to get my flight on. I was worried that I would get stuck in traffic, but I was in the terminal 25 minutes after I left work, and my flight wasn’t until 5:50pm. The flight to Charlotte (CLT) was quick and easy (I’m getting used to that trip), and my layover in Charlotte went by quickly as well. Then the flight to Hartford/Springfield (BDL) came and went much faster than expected. In fact, we were at the airport about 20 minutes early, which was good because Matt was there waiting for me.

We made our way to the La Quinta near the airport, which was pretty nice compared to the last La Quinta I stayed in. We settled in and I dealt with a stomach ache for the rest of the evening before finally drifting off to sleep after 1am.

On Saturday morning we got up and headed down for a quick bite to eat at La Quinta, and then we headed out to our first park, a place I’d wanted to go for a very long time, Six Flags New England. The weather was beautiful, and Weather.com was calling for some clouds and blustery winds, which is what we got, and it was fantastic.

This was my first time in New England in 16 years, and I don’t know why, but the atmosphere and everything just feels so different up there. We paid to park (still hate that $15 parking fee, and we could have parked cheaper, but oh well) and took a tram over to the gate.

Even just arriving at the front gate, the park looked very nice. I was snapping pictures everywhere. Sadly, the first 60 or so pictures I took were blurry because I didn’t realize that I’d smeared sunscreen on the lens (I didn’t notice because my Oakleys were smeared too, so I couldn’t tell when looking thru the viewfinder).

We headed into the park and started back towards Bizarro (the reason I was there), but Matt said maybe we should do Pandemonium first, since the line could get very long, and we didn’t know how busy the park would get on Saturday before a holiday. Walking thru the park was an experience in itself, because there is so much theming in many of the areas, and the park looked fantastic. In fact, as far as theming goes, this may be my favorite Six Flags Park. We headed over and walked right on to Pandemonium.

Pandemonium: This was the same layout as the one in St. Louis, which I really liked. We got some good spinning throughout the ride, and the placement of the ride in the park was good. I was surprised at the trench work around parts of the layout. I like the Gerstlauer spinning rides a lot, and this one didn’t disappoint. Plus I didn’t get queasy like I did in St. Louis, so this was a bonus (I think the lack of spinning on the brake run helped).

We walked up to the entrance of Cyclone and Catapult. I took some pictures, but the rides weren’t opening until later, so we headed back down. This whole section of the park was dead. I do like that they had 3 different kids sections. We headed over to the kiddy coaster that was in the Looney Toons section so I could ride it.

Great Chase: I headed up the queue to the station to find no one there but the ride op. I asked if they let adults ride, and she said sure, so I got a ride to myself (Which was nice because I didn’t feel as creepy as I would riding with a bunch of kids). It was a quaint little coaster, with a nice hill after the drop, and a fun layout. I actually like kiddy coasters, but I won’t wait in line to ride them, so this one was a quick credit.

We headed over to Flashback next. Matt didn’t need to ride, so I headed up to the station. Matt was taking tons of pictures, but unfortunately, they’re all a bit blurry. Oh well. I was very careful to make sure the lens was cleaned the rest of the weekend.

Flashback: A standard Vekoma Boomerang coaster, and my first one of the weekend. This was the first time I’d been on one with these particular trains (Covered in Stride Gum advertisements, no less). I sat near the back. I really like Boomerang coasters, even if they make me a little queasy. The drop off the back spike is great, the inversions are okay, but the drop off the second spike, backwards, is a lot of fun. No need to ride again, though.

So we headed over to Bizarro. This was the one coaster of the trip I was most looking forward to riding. It’s so notorious for being a great ride, but some have said it’s no longer a good ride due to the changes made when switching it from Superman to Bizarro. Would I like it?

Well, I didn’t get to find out at that point. We got in line and the ride had just broken down. When we were walking over, it was running, though the trains looked to be going a bit slow thru the course. We waited for about 20-30 minutes before they emptied the queue. I panicked because I didn’t know if I’d even get to ride at this point, and this was the only ride in the park I really wanted to ride. The theming in the section was rather nice, though. So we headed over to Catwoman’s Whip instead.

Catwoman’s Whip: I’d ridden Beaverland Mine Ride at Geauga Lake, so I knew what to expect. These are fun coasters with huge trains, and our train was mostly filled. I wonder why the changed from a Poison Ivy to a Catwoman theme on here, because the trees and plants around the ride are much more suited to Poison Ivy, but oh well, a fun ride and another credit down.

Next we headed over towards Batman and Mind Eraser (which looks to have a shiny new paint job as of recent). We debated which ride to hit first, with Batman winning out. Walking over, I was still amazed at how nice the park was. We walked thru Wiggles World, and it was very well done. The midway between the floorless and the SLC was kind of big and sparse, but still nice. We toyed with going to the water park, but it was just too cool out. The line for Batman wasn’t very long, but the wait was about 30-40 minutes due to the subpar ride operations we encountered around the park.

Batman-The Dark Knight: This is a short floorless, both in terms of height and length, but it packed a punch. The first drop was fun, and the loop was really nice and smooth. The Zero G roll gave a nice pop of airtime before heading into the dive loop. The overbanked turn heads out to the corkscrew section, and though I usually don’t care for them, the interlocking corkscrews were fun, and we hopped back up into the final brake run. This was a nice little floorless coaster, too bad it had a long wait.

We headed over to Mind Eraser next to get our quick credit. The line was about a 20 minute wait with two trains running, and we ended up riding towards the back.

Mind Eraser: Standard Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster. It wasn’t overly rough, but I hate the way the over the shoulder restraints are shaped, because they’re really uncomfortable. Drop, inversion, hill, inversion, turn inversions, drop, brake, done. And so was I.

I had been looking to see if Bizarro was running, and it never did. I was panicking at this point, as we had planned to go to Boston that evening, though that could be scrapped if Bizarro came up. We also discussed coming back quickly the next morning to get the credit before Lake Compounce. As we walked by, we saw the Magic Carpet ride, named Buzzsaw, and themed as such, so we decided to hop on.

Buzzsaw: Matt said the last time he rode, it didn’t go all the way around, but this time it ran a decent program. Not quite as good as the one at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but a lot of fun, with some good airtime on a few revolutions. The ride did make me a little queasy, though.

We headed back down towards the front of the park and then made our way to the unique sky ride, which we took across the park after about a 30 minute wait. The first ride we planned to do over here was Cyclone, which I’ve been told by numerous people can be very good, or very bad. Honestly, I was more worried as to whether Bizarro would open. We waited another 35 minutes for a back row ride.

Cyclone: It doesn’t look like much, but this ride was very good. The first drop/turn was really awesome, and the hills and turns after were great. In fact, the entire ride was running well up until you hit the 2 trim brakes towards the end, which kind of kill the ending, but it was made up for with the rest of the ride being so good. I’d love to have had another ride, but the line was moving so slow.

We toyed with riding Catapult, but Matt already had, and I was afraid I’d get sick. Instead we headed to Panda Express for some food and to wait out some time and see if Bizarro would open. It was around 1:30, and even though we’d gotten a few things done early, the park was steady busy, and the lines were long due to the slow operations.

After eating, we headed over to see if Bizarro was running, and as soon as we saw a train go up the lift hill (with people in it), we booked it over to the ride. The line was rather long, but I was willing to wait for my ride, since I’d waited this long. There was this really REALLY annoying kid in front of us that kept butting in to our conversation to talk about comics and what not. Matt was short with his answers and I was trying to ignore him after about 45 minutes, but he just didn’t get the hint. We got away from him when we finally got into the station and headed for a back seat ride. Now the only worry was would we fit? The test seats said we were fine, but that didn’t mean the train would.

Bizarro: Yep, we fit. Easily, in fact. Pretty soon we were heading out of the station and up the hill, and I was excited. The first drop is really amazing as you get pulled over the top. The hill after was much like the hill after the drop on Six Flags America’s Superman. The there was the overbank and track leading up to two amazing hills with lots of ejector air. The next hill had nice floater air before heading into a great helix, which lead into the wonderfully airtime filled twisted hill that goes into another helix, then up into a hill, down into a turn, and then into the final 3 bunny hops. Bizarro did not disappoint!

So finally I’d ridden Bizarro. It wasn’t my new number one (it ranks currently at #3 out of 233 coasters ridden), but it was really great. I would love to have ridden again, but the line was even longer now, and we had other stuff to do. I wanted to do the park’s Houdini’s Great Escape ride, and we still had a coaster to ride, so we headed across the park, stopping at the last coaster of the day, Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt: It looks like it was going to be a fun, classic ride. We waited about 30 minutes and got in the back of the train. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan. It started off smooth, but we hit a rough patch that made the lap bar punch me in the ribs, and it hurt. Bad. So I have no reason to ride this one ever again.

I wanted to try out Scream, but the line was long. We walked up and headed to Houdini next. The storyline inside was rather disjointed, but the ride itself was cool. I won’t go into details, but I’d done a Vekoma Madhouse before, and would be doing the other Houdini in a couple days. This one was just okay.

After that, I rode Tomahawk, a Huss Frisbee, as Matt watched. I got a little nauseated on this, but it was a fun ride. Once I got off, however, I asked Matt if he wanted to do anything else. We debated, but eventually decided to leave and head to Boston for the evening. The park was really nice, the weather was beautiful, and they have some great rides, but operations were definitely lacking.

Once in the car we were on our way 90 minutes east towards Boston. I hadn’t been in 16 years, and Matt had never been, so we really didn’t have a plan. Matt said he just wanted to ride by Fenway Park, and to drive thru the Big Dig. When he said Fenway, I remembered that the Red Sox were playing the White Sox, so I got on my phone and looked up how much tickets were. Nothing online was available, so I tried to call, and the park has an automated system that you talk to (I hate those), and it wasn’t working correctly, which lead to me screaming "FENWAY PARK!!!" over and over again before giving up.

We got into Boston and drove by Fenway as the game was starting. Parking near the park was expensive, so we decided to try and park around Faneuil Hall instead. Matt got his wish of driving thru the Big Dig before we got over to the marketplace area and found a parking garage (that ended up being just as expensive as if we had parked at Fenway, but oh well).

After leaving the garage, we headed over to the Greenway so that Matt could get a good look at the Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. We walked towards it and took pictures before finding a subway stop. Yay! New subway credit! We asked which line to take to Fenway and were told Green line, D train, though after waiting forever, we found out that we could go on C or B trains too. The trains on the side we took were small, but nice.

We headed over towards Fenway after getting to our stop. The area was really busy. We couldn’t figure out where to try and get tickets too, and all of the scalpers were only selling singles. I heard one say the game was sold out, but we finally found a ticket booth and it was not. However, they only had single seats, with the cheapest being around $50.

Neither of us wanted to pay that, so we walked around outside Fenway for a bit before deciding to go to the Bull & Finch Pub, the bar that stood in for the outdoor shots of Cheers! (And has since been renamed Cheers Beacon Hill) It was a LONG walk, but we got to see some of the neighborhoods around Beacon Hill. We headed down to the bar, and they ended up seating us upstairs in the ‘Set bar’ area, set to look like the TV show. I would have been fine downstairs, though.

We ordered drinks and burgers and sat around for a bit. When it was time to leave we asked how to get to the nearest subway stop. We walked by the Boston Public Garden at nite, so sadly we didn’t see much. We took a train ride back down towards our area, but the final stop was still 2 stops from ours, so we had a bit of a walk. Once we arrived at the garage Matt said he wanted me to drive him over the bridge we had seen, so we did. The GPS lead us thru Cambridge and we drove by MIT. We headed back around thru the city, and the drive back to Connecticut was over quickly. I fell asleep much quicker on Saturday nite than I did on Friday. Sunday we had plans for 2 parks and some driving, so I had to rest up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:33 AM

You walked from Fenway to The Bull & Finch? Wow, that's a long walk.

Also, sorry to hear you only got one ride on Bizarro/S:RoS. It's definitely worth a marathon when you can.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:37 AM

Yeah, it was about a 2 mile walk (We did it in just over 30 minutes). I definitely want to get back to Boston soon, it's been far too long since I've been, and I'd love to go back to the Science Museum as well as see a lot of other things.

Bizarro was really great, I loved it. I think had it not broken down, we could have gotten a few extra rides on it, but alas...

We could have stayed, but we decided to go on to Boston since Matt had never been.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:41 AM

I don't know what I miss more, Boston or Bizarro. Thanks for the TR and the vicarious living.

(And you know, you could have checked the map if you wanted to see what green lines went to Fenway :P)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:56 AM

I hate subway maps ;). But once I knew where we were going, I wondered why the guy working didn't just say we could take the B, C, or D trains.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 1:19 PM

I'm glad you liked SFNE and Bizarro, after being there in person do you think they need the wild mouse planned for next season or would a bigger coaster have been the better option. I'm over not getting a bigger coaster btw just curious what you think since you've been in person. I also agree operations can be a little slow there although I was there yesterday and got on batman in about 15-20 minutes which wasn't that bad and thats pretty typical of Bizarro/S:ROS to break down atleast once a day. I've actually been to the park several times this year and have only ridden bizarro 4 times because the line has been consistently over an hour all summer except for yesterday it was about a half an hour. Good idea riding pandemonium early in the afternoon it always has a long wait which is why I rarely ride it. I was surprised you liked Cyclone more than thunderbolt my experiences on both are usually the opposite except for yesterday when I rode Cyclone it was the first time in a couple seasons I actually enjoyed it although I sat towards the front fearing the back would be more painful. Too bad you didn't get to ride scream its one of my favorites at the park especially when the two towers are running both space shot and turbo drop modes at the same time. The last two times I've been its only been running the drop mode. Did you like the restraints on Bizarro? I feel they are more restrictive than the originals(like MF) that I personally preferred I felt alot more airtime with the old restraints the ones without the ankle restraints before the accident. Which two coasters do you rank ahead of Bizarro?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 7:01 PM

Now that I've been to the park, I think a mouse makes even more sense. There are 5 thrilling coasters, 2 family coasters, and a kiddy coaster. I think they definitely need either a family or kiddy coaster, and it looks like they're getting a family coaster.

As far as the restraints on Bizarro, no, I miss the old Intamin T bar restraints, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the shoulder straps on Ka Monday Morning.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:09 AM

Intamin T bars with or without ankle bludgeoners?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 11:09 AM

Without, for sure.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:17 AM

Don't worry about the Catapult I am not really a fan of it myself. I find it rather uncomfortable to have all of my blood rushing to my head for a sustained amount of time like that. And this is coming from someone who enjoyed graying out on I-305 this summer!

And just curious where did you sit when you went on Bizarro?

Thursday, September 9, 2010 9:14 AM

We sat in the very last seat on Bizarro.

Yeah, the reasons I didn't feel like Catapult are because of what you said. No reason to be upside down that long.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:05 AM

S&S Swatters are great fun....the restraints are pretty comfy, and the ride itself is sweet. Could use a little more swings/longer cycle though.

With and without ankle bars, RoS was easily my favorite steelie anywhere (apologies to Herr Schwarzkopf). Cyclone has one of the most "bizarr-oh" layouts of any wooden coaster. Really looking forward to another trip through New England in '11 - Quassy apparently demands that I return for another visit.

Monday, September 13, 2010 10:07 PM

^Ditto on the Swatter. I first rode it in its first home at Astroworld and fell in love with it, and was ecstatic to see that it was being saved (and going to a park that's more accessible to me, no less).

I really want to get up there and check out Bizarro. I rode it as Superman, but I want to see if the "enhancements" detract in any way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010 10:07 PM

Tekwardo said:

Yeah, the reasons I didn't feel like Catapult are because of what you said. No reason to be upside down that long.

It's one thing to be upside down for that long and its another to actually be accelerating towards the ground in that way. On the Catapult your blood is actually being pushed into your head by both gravity and the acceleration of the ride.


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