--May 29th, Memorial Day—
Not only was this day a national holiday, but it was the final day of our trip. No one was happier about this than Chris Trotter. We could tell he was more than ready to go home but he had enough energy to go to one more park. We left our Super 8 hotel pretty early and made a rather short drive to our next park.
---Six Flags Great Adventure---
I have mixed feeling about this park. I really do love some of the rides, but I am not a fan of the park by any means. With the exception of one visit, anytime I have been there has resulted in a short visit due to the horrible capacity issues and very rude employees. I had heard the park was trying to correct these problems for 2005. While I know changes like these don’t happen overnight, I am glad the park realized there was a problem and it needed to be looked at. SFGADv is one of those parks that I usually go to just to ride something new, then leave. Today was one of those days. We had no desire to spend a lot of time in the park.
Since it was a holiday and all, we originally decided to get to the park at least an hour before they opened. In reality we arrived over an hour and a half before opening. We clearly were not the only folks that thought about arriving early as there were around 40 cars in front us at the parking gates. The park obviously knew they were going to be packed so they opened the parking gates earlier than expected. We drove in and found a space and made our way to the front gates. It was during this time that we got our first real glimpse of the brand new, record breaking, coaster that was looming above us. This was the main reason we were here.
Before the trip, Bill suggested we purchase our tickets online. That way we could print them off and have them ready once we arrived. This was a smart idea as 90% of the massive crowd that was basically running to the front gate had to stand in the ticket window lines while we calmly walked past them to be the first in line at the front gate. I haven’t owned a Six Flags pass in 3 years and was only planning on visiting one Six Flags park this year. SFGADv being the park. After this trip, it didn’t look like Six Flags was going to be making it into my schedule anytime soon.
We were all very ready to wake up on the world’s tallest coaster. Most everyone that was standing behind us was talking about running to the ride. I admit. I used to run to rides at opening but now I really don’t care. I am pretty patient person and don’t mind waiting a while for a good ride. The only problem was the line for the new ride were said to be over 8 hours long shortly after opening on busy weekends prior to the weekend we were now in.
We had talked about purchasing a Q-Bot before the trip had started. When we looked into purchasing a Gold Q-Bot, we had to laugh at the price. While it was WAY too steep in my book, we all decided to rent one as we knew it would probably be the only way to attempt to get on the new coaster more than once, as well as some of our other favorites in the limited time we wanted to spend at the park.
Once the gates opened everyone ran to the left of the fountain. We opted to run right and were the first inside the Q-Bot rental place. Since I was the one that paid for the device, I had to sign a ton of forms. There was a form I signed that made it very clear that getting a Gold Q-Bot was not a way to guarantee a ride on the new ride, or any ride for that matter. I understood this and signed away. With each motion of the pen I could hear a small voice inside of me telling me not to rent this thing. This goes against everything I hate about these systems. I just don’t understand why someone had the need to try and fix a problem that didn’t exist in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy short lines like the next guy, but am not a fan of paying for short lines unless I am with friends that want to ride a lot in a short amount of time. You won’t catch me buying one of these things if I was at a park alone. Having said that, I did decide to devour some pride and make the best out of the new purchase I had just made.
As we finally had the Gold Q-Bot in our possession I noticed an employee making an adjustment to the “rides available with Q-Bot” sign. She put a mark next to the new coaster which meant it wouldn’t be available with the device. While I knew in advance the Q-Bot would not guarantee us a ride on the new machine, seeing it listed as unavailable made the reality that more dreary. This meant we would have to do the hustle and bustle thing with the insane crowd that had been forming for 10 minutes behind a roped off area.
We joined the large crowd and waited for the ropes to drop. A float appeared with Looney Tunes characters and a small show was put on. This show seemed to grab the attention of more than a few people so we were able to move closer to the rope. We all agreed that we wouldn’t be running to the ride. Chris couldn’t run due to a healing stress fracture so we had no problem with walking.
The rope was dropped and we witnessed what I thought was one of the most horrible displays of human nature I have seen. People were so gung-ho about getting on the new ride that they were pushing people out of the way and running over shrubs and stuff. I saw a couple of people get tripped in the process. It was really bad and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Security didn’t seem to have a problem with what was going on so people continued to do whatever they needed to do so they could reach the new ride.
We briskly walked in the direction that everyone else was. We entered the new Golden Kingdom area and were really shocked to see how well the area looked. I had no idea it was going to be like this. Once we reached the main entrance of the new ride people continued to push their way past us. Security finally thought they needed to step in and do something so they yelled for people to line up in a single file line. Since the crowd of folks was so large, this didn’t happen. Instead people slowly started to walk into the main queue. Before we entered I noticed a Q-Bot kiosk nearby. I decided to go ahead and try and scan in a ride to see what it would tell be considering I was told the new ride wasn’t available. I walked over and scanned as if I was reserving a ride. In a matter of seconds the display on my Q-Bot said, “Your next ride is in 30 minutes.” I couldn’t believe it. It worked. So much for it not being available. I guess lack of communication is still a problem.
It was now time to experience what we came here to ride.
As we were walking through the very detailed queue, Chris seemed to be the more excited out of all us of. He was taking it all in and pointing out details that we didn’t notice on first glance. The long walk to the station went by rather quickly because we were checking everything out including the testing of the coaster. By the time we had stopped in line, we were standing on top of the station bridge overlooking the launch area. As we watched a couple of full trains launch we couldn’t help but noticed the train shaking back and forth as it makes its way towards the 456-foot tower. Top Thrill Dragster seems to do this as well but not until the end of the launch.
As we made our way down the stairs and into the station area we started talking to a ride operator who stood by the Q-Bot entrance gate. We thought we were going to miss our Q-Bot ride but he said as long as we scan our reservation in within an hour or so, we should be able to still ride. The operator was also an enthusiast and told us of an upcoming trip to PKI later in the year.
Bill and I were going to ride together. Chris and Jeff would ride in front of us. We lined up for the second car. We had a two train wait to get on. Everything looked to be going really well. Then it went down. We didn’t know it at the time but someone leaned heavily into an air gate and it E-stopped the ride. We weren’t going to leave so we waited it out. It ended up being over an hour before the ride was back up and running. Before we got our ride I looked up and saw friends Scott Short, Howard Gillooley, and Rich Koppleman on the bridge we had just walked across. We had attempted to meet up with them at the front gate but they arrived later than expected. We knew we would run into them at some point but never did seem them in the park after this.
It was now our turn to ride. Bill and I hopped into the train and pulled down the goofy restraints. With the experience we had on Storm Runner a couple of days ago, we were hoping Kingda Ka would be easier on the neck. There was only one way to find out.
We left the station and proceeded past the switch track and into the pre-launch position. My adrenaline started to really pump as I knew we would be taking off in a matter of seconds. We heard the loud launch horn and we were off!
Almost instantly I could tell this ride was much different. For starters the launch felt really different. It wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it would be, but it didn’t exactly take off slow. The entire way down the launch track I could feel a very strange surging feeling. It felt like we would pick up speed, and then lose some speed. Pick up speed, and then lose it. It felt this way all the way down. It was also during this time that our train started to shake a lot. The faster we went, the more violent the shaking.
We left the launch sled and coasted 456-feet up and crested the top of the tower. I had originally heard that trains crest the top much faster than TTD. This wasn’t the case today as almost every train we saw heading over was barely making it. While there was some airtime at the top, we could feel the trim brakes as we started to head down. I quickly looked to the left and saw an amazing view of the rest of the park, very far down below. This was also the instant where I miss the open trains found on TTD. As we were falling back down the tower, we couldn’t see anything directly ahead other than the back of the seats in front of us, not that there was much of a view to begin with. It kind of confused me in a way as I had no real idea when the twist on the way down would happen exactly. I just had to kind of feel it.
As we reached the pull out, our train started to shake again. The gs were pretty strong as expected. As we started to head up into the large hill that follows, I looked down at my Q-Bot to see if it would start to float. It was securely attached to a ring on my shorts. As we flew over the hill I was waiting to see the Q-Bot start to show signs of zero-g. It never happened. Perhaps the brakes had something to do with this. It sure looked like an active hill to me but there really isn’t much to it. At least I didn’t think so.
We quickly slowed down and made our way back to the station. Bill and I talked about the shaking that was happening. We would have enjoyed it much more but it kind of gave us a headache. Chris thought the ride was amazing and said he had a great ride. While my ride wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t the most incredible thing I have ridden. I know Bill wasn’t took happy as the restraint ended up bending the frames on his sunglasses.
As we were leaving the line I saw an enthusiasts named Steve who was about to get on. He asked what I thought and I said it was good but I needed a second ride in another seat to really get an idea of the ride. By this time the main line was well over 5 hours according to the park. This is where the Q-Bot came in handy as we walked right back to the station and were on the train in a matter of minutes. I rode in the front car, second seat. While I knew the view would be blocked once more, I was curious to see if the shaking would be felt as much. I was told way in advance to avoid the back rows so I figured the front car would be the better choice.
Our second ride was almost like the first except it was even more violent. We even got slammed pretty hard into the restraints as we were turning thrown the half-twist on the way up. I pointed out the rest of the park to Bill once we were at the top. The ride back to the station felt the same as it did on our first ride. I believe Jeff felt the same way but Chris said he really enjoyed the ride and even commented on how well the ride was running.
Instead of scanning in another Kingda Ka ride, we walked over to Superman and reserved a ride there. This is where the Gold Q-Bot was good. It told us to come back in 7 minutes. The main Q-Bot had a 40 minute wait.
----Superman: Ultimate Flight----
We walked through the Q-Bot line and merged in with the main line at the bottom of the stairs before you reach the station. There wasn’t a single employee around to check our Q-Bot. Anyone could have merged into the line without much notice. The main line was almost 3 hours long. With only one train running it took us 40 minutes from the bottom of the stairs before we finally got on the ride. There were only two ride operators that I could see that were operating the ride. The dispatch time was around 7 minutes. I later found out the second train was being worked on.
The ride was just as fun as the other times I have ridden this version. The pretzel loop is one of the strongest elements out there and I can’t wait to see what B&M have in store for future flying coasters. Rumor has it there are two custom designs being worked on right now.
Our time left to spend in the park was rapidly coming to an end. Bill wanted to ride Nitro, Medusa, and possibly Batman. We all decided that due to the incredible amounts of people in the park, we would leave soon. We decided to hit one more ride.
We reserved our ride and were happy to see we only had to wait 5 minutes before we entered the Q-Bot queue. The one thing that I believe Six Flags has fixed with this system is the way it works. It used to be that there would be certain rows reserved for Q-Bot holders. While this still is the case in certain Six Flags parks, Great Adventure improved the design by allowing the Q-Bot folks to merge with the main line, like Cedar Point does with their Freeway system. I understand this isn’t the case with every ride but the few rides we took didn’t have reserved seats on the coasters.
We walked right up into the station and lined up for the back row. Jeff had never ridden the coaster and had heard mixed reviews. I had only ridden this couple of times before, both in the front, and really enjoyed the ride. Some for the others I was with were in a different train and when they got back they made it very clear that they didn’t care for it. While I got loads of airtime on those first couple of rides, the rest of the guys said they didn’t. Today I would be taking my first back seat ride on the coaster and was eager to find out how it would ride.
We left the station and headed up the lift. The park decided to take down the fact signs that used to be position on the sides of the lift. I thought those were a nice touch but they are no longer on the ride.
Before any of us could start to yell, we were thrown over the top of the drop and into blissful airtime. The crazy second hill once again provided us with major air. The same goes with the rest of the ride. I for one couldn’t believe how incredible the ride was running. Perhaps people have a different opinion on what defines airtime. All I know is that my ass was off the seat for a good portion of the ride. The rest of the guys seemed to be as impressed as I was. When we came back to the station we all agreed that we had to do that again.
I walked back to the front of the queue and reserved another ride. There was a family that had a standard Q-Bot that reserved a ride right after mine. They had a 45 minute wait. I couldn’t believe how much time was cut by renting the gold version.
Once I was back with the rest of the guys, we walked right back up in the station and hopped onto the back row once more. Our second ride was even better than the first. There were even a couple of moments where I actually held on as the airtime surprised the hell out of me. I just couldn’t believe how amazing our ride was. I just wish the people that dislike the ride because of its “forceless” nature were riding with us as I am sure they would be thinking differently about the ride after a ride like we had just gotten.
While we would have loved to take a third ride, we decided it was now time to leave. I couldn’t think of a better way to end such an amazing trip. Those last two rides were the best rides of the trip IMO. While I liked Nitro before, it is now my favorite ride at SFGADv.
As we were walking out of the park I wanted to get a quick picture of Kingda Kan’t running. I saw one test train go over but nothing else. I wish the best for SFGADv in their recent purchase but considering the ride is currently down in true Intamin fashion, I doubt they aren’t too happy right now. Last week Top Thrill Dragster was down for an entire day. That means Steel Dragon could have been the world’s tallest coaster operating, but that is closed as well. For one day Millennium Force took back the record of the tallest operating coaster in the world. =:^)
The trip back home went by much quicker than expected. Chris and Jeff slept for a good portion of the way home while Bill and I listened to old school Queensryche and Dandy Warhols. I usually like to reflect a bit on the way home from trips and this trip was no exception. Bill and I talked about our rides we had just gotten and some of the funny moments of past trips, just like we did when we started this trip.
I have to give it up for Bill. He knew he wouldn’t be able to do a lot of trips this year and he really packed in a lot of fun in a pretty short trip. I can’t wait to do another psycho trip with him.
Jeff and Chris were a blast to hang out with as well. Jeff was great to hang out with once again. While I know Chris had some fun on the trip, he definitely was showing signs of burnout. He really hasn’t been into the whole coaster thing lately. I can see how easy it is to get burnt out. I have had that happen once or twice. I don’t know how many more crazy trips Chris will be doing but I did have a good time with him on this trip.
So there you have it. That is how I spent my May. It was one crazy month filled with amazing highs and some bad times. It all balanced out in the end and that is one reason I think I love this hobby/lifestyle. No matter how bad things can get at times, family, a group of friends, and a couple of rides, can make all the difference in the world. Don’t take life for granted. Get out there and ride and spend time with your friends and family as you never know when the last time you will have the chance to do so. Just live!
Thanks for reading,
Nothing like Queensryche to chill to, a little "Silent Lucidity" does it for me.
And yes, I hate it when the auto toilet flushes when your still sitting there, just happened to me the other day at work, them darn things!!!
No matter what park you are at or how "Griswold-ish" things become you have to enjoy it and enjoy life.
Hopefully Chris isn't too burned out. Coasters and amusement rides in general are all about fun.....nothing more. :-)
My first impressions of Ka were similiar to yours.....a little shakey, but satisfying. AWESOME! At this point I feel DAMN lucky to have gotten the one ride, as it broke down on and off all day.
I was there a week after your visit, and had an AWESOME time just hanging out with my friend, Diana. Actually that was probably the BEST visit I had at Great Adventure since the early 90's.
Qbots rule don't they? ;-)
Thanks for the TR's. I enjoyed it!
*** Edited 7/12/2005 11:24:36 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***
I hope you get to ride Kingda. Being a 400+ Intamin and all, you never know exactly when it will run or not. I hope the best for the park.
I really did have a fun time despite a couple of bad things. I actually didn't travel for an entire month. I only traveled on the weekends with a couple of Friday's off from work.
I wouldn't worry too much about Chris. I have a feeling one new ride next year may be curing his current burnout status.
I also feel very lucky to have ridden KK. Depsite the breakdowns it had during the day, I still managed to get 2 rides.
As far as the "Q-Bots rule" comment....wait until my next TR to read more into what I think about Q-Bots. =:^)
Sure. The movie will made as quick as I can find someone to provide the funds. I could probably sell my place or even give up a few coaster trips.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that I really do like "Silent" from Queensryche. It's one of my favorite songs by them.
The auto toilet comment was based on what Bill Berkey said as he sat down to eat when we stopped at a rest/food area. I thought it was funny. The guy that was sitting at the table behind us didn't think so and gave Bill a pretty nasty look.
As we continued our trip home we stopped at a gas station. Bill and I went inside to purchase a couple of drinks. We saw the same man that gave Bill a nasty look. As we passed the man, who was walking into the same building we were coming out of, Bill said something about getting water splashed up on his ass from auto flushing toilets. I completely lost it and couldn't stop laughing for 10 minutes or so. I had tears coming out of my eyes.
Ahhh. The things you laugh about when you are slap happy.
Sean, you will contact Spielberg for your movie, the dark side is your friend as is Spielberg
Queensryche is awesome, did you see they are coming out with OM II, kick arse, I love Empire and Silent Lucidity, great songs
Ok, seeing the same guy in 2 places is freaky but that would definitely be hilarious to see in a movie
<---thinking Sea Bass in Dumb and Dumber
It's funny you mentioned OM II as Bill and I were talking about it while listening to songs from the original OM. Bill clamils OMII might get scrapped as fans backlashed against the idea. Did you hear anything about that?
I usually just write from memory. Sometimes I may have to refer back to a picture of video but for the most part it is all memory. I kind of screwed up in the Dorney trip report as I rode the Screaming Swing with Jeff. Not Bill as I typed. Jeff was quick to correct me on that.
It was funny seeing you on I-71 a few weeks back.
The Saturn is now fixed. Chris dropped by a couple of weeks ago with the Saturn. You couldn't even tell it had been hit. It was covered by insurance.
You can check it out at cdinzane.com
Cool. I haven't seen it anywhere. I will have to check that out. Thanks for the link.
After I had signed the paperwork for the Gold Q-Bot, I was told KK hadn't been a part of the Q-Bot package for days and wasn't on the list of available rides the day I was there. If you end up renting one I would go over to the KK Q-Bot kiosk and try it anyway. It worked for me depsite what the folks told me at the Q-Bot rental place.
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