Friday, August 3, 2001 12:06 PM
Yes! Most assuredly it was!
Buddy Intamin Fan and I made the trip up to SFGAdv from B-more/DC. This was I-Fan's first time to the park since last season and my first trip *ever*. The drive up was uneventful yet expensive (damn tolls!). We got to the park, passed up the beautiful looking Hurricane Harbor (is one of these in SFA's future?), paid the ten (!) dollar parking charge, parked about one row away from the fifteen (!!) dollar 'preferred' parking area, and entered the park sometime just before 11am.
Well the long drive up left both of us longing for plumbing fixtures so we were in search of the facilities. We looked @ the FASTLANE reservation line. It was a little long so we decided to just "rough it" and do things the old fashioned way. Funny aside, the bathroom right inside the gates were filled, so we joked that we needed a FASTLANE for the toilets :). Anyway, we just decided to find one further in the park.
I-Fan asked me what I wanted to head to first, it being my first time and all. It was still early so I voted for Chiller. I figured that I wouldn't mind waiting hours for NITRO and Medusa, but I *might* for Chiller (even though I loved Mr. Freeze). Right in the general area of Chiller is Pendulum, the Huss Frisbee. After a much needed pit stop, we made our first ride of the day,
Pendulum (HUSS Frisbee)
Now I only sort of like Round Ups, but I LOVE swinging ships, so the frisbee promised to be an interesting ride. It did not disapoint. I think this is now my favorite flat, just ahead of the rotors and enterprises. There were some intense moments on the ride, but nothing sickening.
After that we hoped over to Chiller. Now up until this point, I had not seen NITRO running. I learned in the Chiller line that NITRO wouldnt open till 1pm (why? I still dont know!). Anyway, we scored the front of the last car and were off for my first ride on,
BATMAN: THE CHILLER (Premier rides Dueling LIM shuttle)
Like all year, Robin was not answering his "Robin symbol" so only the dark knight was there to save Gotham. I didn't find this ride to me too rough except that I braced my head the wrong way for the backwards inline (ouch). It was kinda cool because it disorented me more for the tophat. I liked it a lot because it was more dizzying than Freeze, but I much preferred the vertical spike, so Freeze still gets the nod.
Keeping with the movie hero theme, our next stop was,
BATMAN: THE RIDE (B&M Inverted)
I'm a big fan of the original B:TR @ SFGAm and I liked namtaB @ SFStL, the mirror clone. This would be my first experience with a 'regular' B:TR clone. The ride quality was all that of the original, but the entire ambiance was 'off'. There were no birds chirping in the park queue, no Prince music in the back alley queue, hella bright in the Batcave stairs and most importantly, no trees obscuring the ride. That brought this down from the original, but we are only talking hundreths of a point here.
While in the park queue for B:TR we saw a repairman sitting up on the lift hill for NITRO. As we moved into the backalley part, we saw empty trains cycling. Upon exiting B:TR, I-Fan took another rest stop and I looked up and saw a loaded NITRO train! As soon as he came out I was like NITRO NOW!
We got over to NITRO and they were just starting to fill in all the zig-zags. When we finally got into the main queue, it was about 2/3 full. The queue looked very small so I expected another set of hidden zig-zags to show up, but they didnt. GAdv was running three trains with a pretty consistant ~50 sec dispatch interval (Cedar Point WHAT?!?) so our wait didnt seem long at all (30-40 min I think..). And with that, I found myself in
the last row of the largest coaster on the East Coast,
NITRO (B&M hypercoaster)
I've not been on Apollo's Chariot, but I had been on Raging Bull, my current favorite steel coaster. I knew that Bull was better in the back so thats where we went for Nitro. Now remember, I ride S:ROS @ SFA pretty much weekly. Nitro was fun, but it seemed a little restrained, even compared to RB. There is a ton of feathery float, but no EJECTION, and little quick direction change. This is a solid coaster, worthy of the Dean's List, but not quite Summa Cumme Laude. (Note, I inherently have a bias against out & back coasters).
After that, I suggested we head towards Medusa. After only a few step, I-Fan pointed out a smallish coaster to me so I said what the hey, let's ride. So we queued up for,
SKULL MOUNTAIN (designer unknown enclosed mine-type ride)
Well, this is about the only part of the day when I did not have fun. Oh, it wasnt a bad coaster ride, but the line for it was really pissing me off. Okay the line was kinda long. More importantly, most of it is hidden in the fake mountain so it is a little decieving. Secondly, there is almost *NO* airflow in these little tunnels, so it was quite stuffy. Then the tunnel is like wide enough for about five people across, but people were standing right on top of each other. It was like everytime I would move to a
*slightly* open area, someone would rub up right next to me. There was this one little latin child in particular who bumped me about 10 times without saying a word. Not to mention that him and his whole entourage (mama included) butted in front of me, I-Fan, this couple behind us and these 4 kids in front of us. I finally had to grab the kid by the raggedy wife beater he was wearing and said "Bump into me one more time, okay?" He stayed on the other side of the tunnel after that :). Anyway, as we finally get to the station, I get cut by this other lady and her kid. At that point I'm about to start hurling expletives (I think I was getting *claustraphobilized*) but instead just headed in the opposite direction of all those people and went for the last seat. As for the ride itself, we put the lapbar down like one maybe two clicks, and the ops were cool with it. Well when the train went down the first little drop, I-Fan and I were practically STANDING. I guess we left it up too high ;). Anyway, the ride was fun with the cheezy blacklight effects. I'm a sucker for dark rides so I liked it, but I do not wish to endure that line again.
We continued on in our quest to reach Medusa. I-Fan pointed out to me the Tivoli Junior coaster but after SM, I wanted a *real* ride, so we pressed on. I-Fan also mentioned that Houdini was on the way. This was one of the two flat rides, along with Evolution, that I really wanted to experience. So I was all for a slight delay in meeting with the snake lady. So after a couple of cycles we entered,
HOUDINI'S GREAT ESCAPE (Vekoma Mad House)
It starts out like many dark rides with a preshow that is more cheezy than entertaining. Truth be told, we talked though part of the show to this family who was interested by I-Fan's Batwing shirt (and by extension my X-Flight shirt...PURELY COINCIDENCE). Then we are ushered into a "séance" type room and the ride starts. WOW! I kinda knew what the trick was going in (I will not ruin it for anyone) but I didnt expect it to be THAT
effective. Great job Vekoma!
About this point, it was type to eat. We headed in the general direction of Medusa (still trying to get there :)) and we saw them testing the Huss Jump, Jumping Jack Flash. I-Fan said that he really hoped to ride it again. Looking at the program, it looked really wicked. We asked the attendant there when they were going to open and he responded with "not today". I reiterated "Not at all?" and he was like "Nope"! So we just walked away disappointed and came across a food court. I-Fan spied a pizza joint, but I was having none of that. Being a Chicago boy, I have yet to find any "good" pizza on the east coast and NY is notorious for that thin crust crap so I opted for the mexican joint "Casa del Taco". I got two tacos, mexican rice, nachos and a medium soda (medium in name only, the thing was friggin huge!) for just under 10 (!) bucks. We sat eating and talking hoping that the Jump would open and noting the ducks who were just hanging out and the Rotor (my only recently deposed favorite flat) right behind us.
We finished up, took a pit stop, and thought about riding the mine train, but I thought the line was longer than I wanted to wait so we *FINALLY* made it over to the ride we started in search of oh so long ago,
MEDUSA (B&M Floorless)
Now I-Fan is a hater of most newer B&Ms and found Medusa last year to be particularly offensive. Not that the coaster is bad, but 1) the floorless effect has little/no meaning in any seat but the front and 2) the intensity is not there. After our "floating on a cloud" ride on Nitro, he wasnt looking forward to being blown away here. He'd never ridden in the front on a floorless (and me only on B:KF) so we were headed up there. Funny thing I heard in line though. A girl said "This is the same thing they have in Ohio. They just changed the name from Batman!" Could I have corrected her and said that Medusa is different because it has a diving loop and a zero-G roll? Sure I could have. Did I? No. Why not? Because in a lot of ways she's right, they feel about the same to me. Anyway, Medusa was a little tame like my other two floorlesses (B:KF, Kraken) and had a little rattle to it. So it was below Kraken yet above B:KF just because the camelback inversion just flat out rocks.
We journeyed down in the general direction of Rotting Lumber (I mean Rolling Thunder). I had noticed that for most of the day the left side had been inactive or only cycling empties. Walking down the path I took pictures of Viper (SBNO). It's short and looks strange with all those coils. I've heard is sucks like a Hoover, but I wish I could have ridden it for myself. Oh well.
I saw a smallish flat ride that looked real similar to one at SFA. There was no line so
I suggested we ride. Despite I-Fan's protests that the progam sucked, we still boarded,
RODEO (?) (themed HUSS Breakdance)
Like the one @ SFA, the pods on this BreakDance are themed to bulls. The program was also similar to the one @ SFA, but not as good as the one @ SFKK. A nice fun ride.
Now it was time to offer up our bodies as a living sacrifice to the gods of rollercoaster suckitude and ride,
ROLLING THUNDER (Cobb duel tracked out and back woodie)
Now, from what I hear, the two sides are different. Only the right side was working and
I hope to the bottom of the deep blue seas that this is the BAD side. This was absolutely the WORST woodie Ive been one. The train has 3 bench PTCs with "buzz bars". Even though this is a Cobb and not a Schmeck, I thought seat 1.3 should give a good ride.... WRONG. The first drop gave a fair sensation of speed but things went to pot after that. The bunny hops...didnt. The ride was shaking itself apart. And the first turnaround just SLAMMED us around! Looking back on it, it was actually fun. Fun because I just couldnt believe that a coaster could be *that DAMN bad*! We were laughing about it hard as we got off (any matches anyone?)
We crossed the midway over towards the still and silent El Sombrero, which I-Fan said was a real trabant and not a wipeout or casino and rode,
TAZ'S TWISTER (Chance (?) Rotor)
Not much to say about the ride other than that the floor doesnt drop very far, and there were several people including one little girl who refused to feet their heels against the wall and instead put there soles flat against the wall. Wonder why the accident @ SFGAm happened? Wonder no more!
At this point, we see the Jump running with people on it. I-Fan's like it's a must ride so that's what we did. The line was kinda long but the ride is high capacity. So the 3rd or 4th cycle found me with much trepidation sitting in,
JUMPING JACK FLASH (HUSS Jump)
I'll try as best I can to describe the ride. There are about seven or eight arms. At the end of each arm is a barrel like pod that seats 8 (or 10, memory is hazy). The entire ride rotates counterclockwise, while the individual pods spin clockwise. This gives a scrambler-like feel. After the ride has picked up a little speed, the arms, in unison, ascend quickly, giving the "jump" part. The arms at random times drop quickly in small increments. Then they ascend slowly twice as high as before so you are spinning real high now. Finally, the arms drop all the way back to the lowest position, and the ride slows to a stop. In line, the spinning looks gentle and the jumping looks intense, however, the ride experience is just the opposite. The jumps are pretty tame, but the spinning is powerful. I'm really envious of GAdv because of all their "carnival intensity" flat rides!
Next we strolled over to the Boardwalk area where all the upcharge attractions are. Also in this area was our last major rollercoaster,
GREAT AMERICAN SCREAM MACHINE (Arrow megalooper)
Now, I've always loved Shockwave @ SFGAm, adore Vortex @ PKI, and tolerate Anaconda @ PKD. In addition, I enjoy all the smaller Arrow Loopers. With that in mind, I say I hate GASM. That is the roughest steel coaster I've been on. I'm not talking about the headbanging associated with the terrible transitions on Arrow coasters. No, THAT, I'm accustomed to. But GASM was rough in the rails themselves. It didnt feel quite like square wheels, more like potholes in the track. I mean the ascent section leading into the first vertical loop was like driving down a cobblestone path. What crap! No wonder it was only a three train wait, and that was only because we waited for the front of the last car (which is *usually* the better place to ride Arrows). Funny aside, we saw people using a FASTLANE for this. I guess they wanted to hurry up and take a beating!
I-Fan wanted to do the top spin but I was a little hesitant. I didnt like the Zamperla roto-shake and the top spin motion is similar. While in line there was a problem so we got out of line. I-Fan suggested the upcharge Zamperla Turbo Force, but I balked. I said I would wait for him. So he rode, I watched and we were both happy :).
Everything looked like it was working again so we hit,
THE TWISTER (Huss Topspin)
The motion of a topspin is like a rainbow, a looping starship and a chaos all rolled into one. The cycle was a little shorter than SFAs rotoshake so it was a little more tolerable to me. But in the immortal words of Mr. Horse (of Ren and Stimpy Fame) "No sir, didnt like it!" At that point, we had done everything major that we (well at least I) wanted to so we hit up some things that we passed up. We were going over to the mine train for my count, but got distracted by,
SAW MILL LOG FLUME (Arrow Flume)
I dont usually ride flumes anymore, but I-Fan is a good sport and likes to ride everything like I *used* to. GAdv is a place where you can do that! Anyway, what attracted me was a plaque on the midway that said the ride time was nine minutes. I couldnt believe it was that long (aside: NITRO is listed at 4min, really about 2min 30sec). We ran into some budding enthusiasts in line and had a good old time. The ride itself was long and
quintessential Arrow. Climb up, bang around for a while. Climb up higher, bang around some more. Drop. Bang your way back home. Still it was pleasant for what its worth. We immediately crossed the midway and found a much more tolerable line for,
RUNAWAY TRAIN (Arrow Mine Train)
There's not a whole lot to this ride. Except that right before the end there is a bunny hop (OUCH). Other than that it was a simply pleasant ride.
We stopped back and rode Medusa again. This time stupid me forgot to put the strap on my glasses so I worried the whole time they would fly off, consequently, I didnt enjoy the ride as much. But I-Fan slightly changed his opinion on it. I think he liked it better than NITRO.
Speaking of Nitro, we headed back in that general direction. It was getting late (circa 8:50pm, park closed @ 10) and we had aspirations of re-riding NITRO and Chiller. So we walked expeditiously to that area. Pausing only momentarily to look at the wonderful lighting package on Jumping Jack Flash and to take a spin on,
BLACKBEARD'S LOST TREASURE TRAIN (Tivoli Junior coaster)
Well there was no line and the train had just returned to the station. We boarded near the front of the ridiculously long train and just like that, CHA-CHING, another coaster on the count. Point of information, the train only goes around once unlike RRE @ SFWoA which went around twice.
Instead of taking the direct route to NITRO, I-Fan wanted to check and see if the chaos was running. It wasn't. But this detour would be our biggest stroke of luck. As we are walking, these two ladies asked if me and I-Fan wanted to ride NITRO again. We were like sure. It turns out that they had 2 FASTLANE passes that were about to expire. See @ GAdv you have 30 min from the printed time to use your pass. These were marked 8:30pm, it was 8:55! So we grabbed the passes and hauled over to NITRO. We made it to the platform with one minute to spare! We were quickly ushered to row #2 (sweet cause I wanted to ride near the front anyway for comparison). This ride was much better than the back. I thought we were going to get tossed out of the train on those "broken
camelbacks". And the helix made my feet tingle like the ending helix on Raptor. Also there was tonnage of float, still no ejection, but good long float.
With that stroke of luck, we saved at least 45min of precious time. We looked at the rapids line an joked that there was no line. There was also no line for the other log flume. We said what the hey and rode,
RIPTIDE (designer-anyone-but-Arrow flume)
I dont know who designed this but I dont think it was Arrow because there was none of the tell-tale banging (Hopkins maybe?). This was just a nice gentle ride. I got a little wetter on this one, but it dried up quickly.
Here we just joined the line for Chiller and after our wait figured that would be it. However, after our (much rougher) second ride on Chiller, out of desperation, we ran over to see if we could ride Pendulum again. We got over there and the line wasnt yet closed. The girl running the ride said that there would be one more cycle. SWEET! She was really pumping everyone up and having fun with it, turning the lights on and off and just generally having a good time. Our last ride seemed to be a little more intense than the first one. It might have been that I was
tired by this point or whatever. All I know is that I want one a *little* bit closer BADLY!
So our night ended much as the day had began, with Pendulum and Chiller / Chiller and Pendulum bracketing the day. I searched through the shop for the obligatory t-shirt and settled on a Viper shirt. So what if I've never ridden the ride (smile GregLeg and loriu), I thought the shirt looked cool. Plus it was like the only coaster shirt not black (just deep blue).
All in all, I could see why this might be the Crown Jewel Six Flags. The operations here
were great (max trains, 4 checkers on Medusa and NITRO, funnyman on Chiller), the park was mostly clean (I *did* see two overflowing trash cans in Medusa's line) and security did their job (I'll let I-Fan speak on that). Also, I didnt see the *rough* crowds I was warned about. But most importantly, GAdv has the best collection of non-coaster rides around. It's like a carnival with rollercoasters thrown in. I will most assuredly return in the future!
--Congratulations, you've just won the "How I just burned 30min of my Life" award :)