Once inside the park we quickly concluded that nothing was running. The sky was gray but it was not raining, we did not hear any thunder off in the distance, and no flashes of lightning could be seen. We worked our way back to Superman Ultimate Flight where a ride op told us that the ride was down due to weather. We decided to wait in the line that had formed outside the entrance expecting the ride would open soon. While we were waiting we heard screams coming from the left and noticed the skycoaster running. We thought surely if the skycoaster was open it would be safe to run the roller coasters. Apparently not. After waiting more than half an hour we decided to leave the line.
We headed towards the carousel and past a Rockin’ Tug, which we thought we would ride since we never did get on it at IAAPA. The ride attendant informed us that it too was closed due to weather. The carousel was running and we did take a spin on that. Even though it runs slow like ours at home, it is a beautiful carousel and it’s housed in a nice building as well. It’s no wonder so many people hold this historical carousel in high regard. Upon exiting we noticed that the Dahlonega Mine Train was running so we headed over there. As it was the only coaster open in the whole park, it had a tremendous line, and they were running only two trains. The station design is terrible with extremely long queue lines for each seat. The air conditioning was running, but most of it was blowing around the perimeter of the building, leaving the inside section somewhat stuffy. This is kind of like Runaway Mine train at SFOT in that it has a better first section, a dull second section, and a good finish with a drop into a tunnel. These are great family rides. I remembered the first section being better than it actually was. This seemed kind of dull to me in comparison to SFOT’s mine train
We continued wandering around the park in search of something to do. We came upon Monster Plantation and it too had a very long line. We also noticed that despite the long line, half the boats were parked in the side of the loading dock that was not being used. We also noticed the attendants were making little effort to ensure that the boats that were being used were actually full. After a long wait we finally got our ride. Monster Plantation is an excellent dark ride, very original and very creative. Although I like Sally Dark Rides, it’s fun to be able to sit back and take in the scenes around you without having to shoot at them. Almost all of the animatronics were working.
By this time we were getting pretty frustrated. Very few rides were open and the weather hadn’t changed for better or worse. It was just cloudy. We had made plans to meet with the General Manager Melinda Ashcraft, and the Regional Manager John Odum, both of whom we know from Fiesta Texas where they were both General Managers prior to moving to Georgia. We headed over to guest services to attempt to contact them. There were a lot of angry customers at guest services, and it was there that we learned that their radar was picking up some severe weather in the “area” and that is why they were keeping most of the rides closed. No one could explain, however, why the skycoaster, one of the biggest lightning rods in the park, was running despite the threat of severe weather. We weren’t able to speak to either John or Melinda so we left a message with their secretary.
We wandered into some shops and were kind of disappointed in the selection of souvenirs. I bought a shot glass, and Tim couldn’t find any magnets, but did find several postcards. During our meanderings we noticed that their new Chance kiddie coaster still had quite a bit of unfinished construction around it. The track looked complete but the area and structures surrounding it had still had a ways to go before opening. It looks to be quite a nice ride for a junior steelie. It’s nice that the park insisted on a custom job and not something cloned off the shelf. I hope to see the chain do more such moves in the future.
I think we headed out to the car, came back in and wandered around the park some more. At about 12:30, two and half hours after we entered the park, they started cycling the Georgia Cyclone. We quickly got in line and soon afterwards they opened the entrance. Cyclone admittedly had some spots that were a bit rough, and the extra hard seatbacks don’t help at all. Still, the air on this ride is extreme! However the trim brakes really suck the life out of it near the end so it finishes rather poorly. I love the drops and love the airtime, but the pacing is a bit off, with some real slow turns. This used to be a top ten ride for me, but I now prefer the Texas Cyclone even with its Morgan trains. These last several years the Texas version has really been running well, doesn’t have any trims, and has that wonderful head-chopping post turn. We took two rides and then decided to check out what else might be opening.
When we got to Mind Bender they had just dropped the chain and were letting people into the queue, apparently word that it is okay to open rides travels slowly. Thanks to our luck and timing we were on the third or fourth train out. Mindbender is a classic 1978 Schwarzkopf like our own Shock Wave back home. It still delivers a great ride after all these years. I’m so glad that Six Flags opted to go with Anton instead of Arrow when they were looking to add thrill machines to their parks back in the late 70s. I love the way this ride makes use of the natural terrain, especially the diving loop down to the bottom of the ravine. Having the two loops separated makes it a little easier to handle the intense positive Gs they generate. This is a great ride, but still I think I like Shock Wave better for its more pronounced airtime. By the time we got off, the line was already quite long, and they were only running one train, which I understand from talking to other people and reading trip reports, is pretty much the norm. How unfortunate. We could ride this favorite all day.
Since we were in Gotham City we hit Batman the Ride next. We have one at home, but I always thought ours vibrated a little more than the others. This one did seem pretty smooth, and as always, it was intense but short. They have a pretty nice themeing package here (particularly compared to our low-budget version at home), and an extremely large building that houses an immense queue area.
Next we headed back to Superman. The line was long and they were running two trains but only loading from one side. We decided to wait it out. While in line we noticed how well this coaster fits in with the terrain; you can tell it was designed specifically for this location. While we were waiting, the clouds parted and the hot sun started beating down on the patrons in the unshaded queue. We rode in the very back and I found this version to be much more interesting than the clone that SFGAd dropped into a parking lot. Here in Georgia we swooped close to the ground much more often and the tunnel added some visual interest. The trip through the loop was rather intense. These rides are an interesting experience, but I don’t think I need or could handle many rerides.
After our flying experience we took a quick spin on the Great American Scream Machine. The massive wood structure looked like it had been recently painted, and is quite a site to behold. I was surprised to find it still has a single lap bar. The ride was by no means rough, but it wasn’t smooth either; it had kind of a weird vibration to it probably caused by the bone-dry tracks. Our ride was pleasant, but not very exciting. About half way through, Tim commented this is just like a big Judge Roy Scream. After making the final turn and heading to the brake shed, we finally got a few pops of air. It’s a nice, long coaster that should appeal to just about everyone.
From GASM we headed over to Ninja. This multi-looper is a little rough like most Vekoma’s, but we both like its unique layout. It has an interesting combination of inversions--none of them a true, vertical loop. Not that we need tons of rides on it, but this was actually a pretty good acquisition for the park. Compared to the price tag of the triplet seven-loopers, this one still has as much action and the location is very nice on the water.
After these rides we figured it was time to stop for something to eat and try to hook up with John and/or Melinda. We had planned on heading out of the park for our meal, and possibly checking into our hotel. As it turns out John wanted to meet us right away, so we headed over to the Plantation House. It was a nice visit; John is an amazing fellow. He’s extremely kind and is willing to listen, which is a very respectable quality. Many people can become defensive, but John is a wonderful gentleman. He explained some things to us which made quite a bit of sense that we otherwise would not have known. Tim had been to the park since he was moved to this location so they met up a few years ago (Deja vu was down then too). I hadn’t seen John since he left Fiesta Texas. During our visit we learned that Acrophobia had taken a very bad lightning hit a few weeks ago, and would not be open, although it was close to being fixed. We also learned that Déjà vu’s motor was shot and the replacement that SFOG had in their warehouse was sent to another park. They can no longer get the motors from Vekoma or the company that made them originally, so they had to have another company design and build new motors for these rides. We were surprised to hear him say that when it is running, it operates pretty consistently and is rather popular. John also told us about the problems they had getting their new Chance coaster ready for the season. We also talked about the rough opening this morning, and he said that the park is very prone to getting hit with lightning so they keep the rides closed whenever bad weather is in the area. We visited for about an hour and he mentioned that Melinda also wanted to see us so he gave us her cell phone number. Unfortunately he had transposed one of the numbers, so we never did get to meet with Melinda. This was a big disappointment. We miss both of them being in Texas and visits come so rarely.
I don’t remember the exact order of the rest of our day, but at some point we ran into Joe Campanella (legendary) who was with a friend of his, Brandon, and we all ended up riding Superman, this time in the front row. I didn’t think the pretzel loop would be as intense in the front, but it seemed every bit as intense as the back. The way you are positioned you can’t see much of the track in front of you and the ground below goes by at kind of a blur. It made me a little nauseous; I think I prefer the back of the train where I can occasionally focus on the rest of the train in front of us. Tim & I both agreed that we didn’t need any more rides on Superman, one or two rides per visit is enough.
We spent the rest of our day riding the coasters some more, the cable cars (sky buckets), the train and taking photos and video along the way. We never did get back on Mind Bender as the line was very long and they were still running only one train.
Georgia Scorcher was also running one train, so we waited until near the end of the day to ride it. The attendants were taking their good old time loading the train, so dispatches were few and far between. We like this ride, and it may very well be my favorite standup. It seemed far superior to our previous ride on Vortex.
The 9:00 closing time seemed to come too early for a park this size on a Friday night. Our hotel was so close, we probably could have made some time on down the road, but it gave us a chance to call it an early evening and pick up some Chinese. Despite the aggravation in the morning we had a pretty good visit. Of the three coasters that would have been new to us only one was running. I guess I would still call SFOG one of my favorite Six Flags parks.
Next stop Miracle Strip.
*** Edited 7/21/2004 9:07:36 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***
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