"Zombie" Perspective - SFGAM Coasterbuzz Con 5/17/

Associated parks:


Returned from my regular Friday night DJ gig at 4:30am… shower… 30 minute nap… wake friends crashing at my house... on the road by 7:00am.

(Man am I sleepy… but I CAN’T sleep! Must… Ride… Superman… Ultimate… Zzzzzz… Oh wait. We’re here!)

After a quick Burger King snack and some coffee, we’re ready to enter the park. 8:45am check in. Looked around and noticed some familiar faces from Coasterbuzz profiles. Wanted to say hello, but felt too tired to be my normal “Gregarious” self.


It was strange to be amongst the first to enter Great America. This has been my home park since the mid 80s, and I can’t remember the last time I had arrived before 10am (probably never). After grabbing a locker, I followed our group back to the entrance of Superman. It was strange to see the old Shockwave entrance transformed, but the park did a decent job making sure that the Superman theme didn’t overwhelm Orleans Place.

After a short wait, we spilled into the queue. A brisk walk past the switchbacks & superhero posters brought us to the station. Still a bit sleepy, so I don’t remember what row I chose first… somewhere near the back. Slipped into a seat on the left. (Man are these restraints comfy) I was shocked at how quickly we were able to load, especially considering that X-flight @ SFWOA seemed to take 5 times as long just to get strapped in. This was almost instantaneous… simply amazing.

The tilt up took me by surprise… I knew it was coming, but the sensation was “eye-opening”. And we’re off…

The climb up the lift was beautiful. Seems much higher up than I expected. I noticed ruins of Shockwave directly ahead, making this maiden voyage all the more surreal. Swooping down over the empty queue line was spectacular. The chill of the morning wind smacked whatever fatigue I was feeling right out of my body. I was completely invigorated…

And then…

The Pretzel Loop!

This ride element is literally breathtaking. The intense G’s at the bottom are quite shocking. The remainder of the ride is filled with some terrifying face-choppers (especially if you ride on the left side of the train). I’ll leave their exact locations out so as not to ruin it for anyone who has yet to experience this gorgeous machine. A few quick turns, the final twist inversion, and then brakes – what a rush!

We managed to get a total of 10 rides in by 10:00am. 2 Front – 2 Back – 6 other rows in between. As a general rule, it seems that the further back you go, the more intense the ride. The front car is rather tame by comparison, but offers a great view. Something to consider if you are riding with children or people who might be coaster novices… you might want to suggest the choose one of the first few cars and sit on the right side of the train. It’s still fun, but not nearly as scary or intense.

On one of our laps I had the pleasure of meeting Kara (STChick). Nice girl… seems like a lot of fun. Sorry I wasn’t more chatty, but I was still rather fatigued despite all the ERT excitement. (I wanted to talk to her about Shivering Timbers, as I have driven by Michigan’s Adventure before but was unable to go because they didn’t have a dog kennel… grrrr).

Our only wait was for our final lap of the morning… The ride broke down stranding a trainload of buzzers for over 15 minutes (sorry guys!) just as the regular park guests were arriving. The ride-ops were quite friendly and took the whole thing in stride. One particularly charismatic fellow was quite blunt – “It’s a new ride, so it keeps us on our toes. But it’s no “Déjà vu” THAT’s for sure!”

He opened the can of worms, so I had to ask…

“Will Déjà vu be opening anytime soon?”

He gave me a knowing look that sort of confirmed my fears, but wisely answered… “Ummm… they keep me here all the time, so I really don’t know what’s going on with it. Don’t really know”.



Anyway, once things were back up and running, our kindly ride-op strapped us in for our final ride of the morning. Major Kudos to the entire crew… they were fast and efficient all morning, dispatching trains and an amazing clip. Excellent job! They all deserve bonuses (are you listening Six Flags?)




After our fabulous ERT, we decided to rush over to V2, as it’s one of the lowest capacity rides and would most likely have a long lines later in the day – good call! We waited only 5-10minutes for the 2nd car. My friend Christie had never experienced and impulse and it was fun to go with a first time rider. She shrieked in terror when the holding brake kicked in. Glad I didn’t mention that ahead of time. (hee hee).

It’s official. I can now say that I am a much bigger fan of V2 that Cedar Point’s Wicked Twister. Sure, WT is taller and a little faster, but the vertical drop & holding brake over water give this model the edge.

V2: ( A- )


Next was Iron Wolf, B&M’s first coaster and their first Stand-up. I haven’t bothered with this one in years, but it was only a 10-15 minute wait, so we gave it a shot. Man has this thing gone downhill. The restraints were disgusting looking, scuffed with black grime and the load times were awful, mainly due to rider stupidity. The ride itself is still intense, but much more “head bangy” and shorter than I remember. Guess I’ve been spoiled by all my recent rides on Mantis (score one for Cedar Point!).



The park was starting to get a little more crowed, so after a generous application of SPF 45, we decided to try out another old classic… American Eagle. Hadn’t ridden on the Red side since 1999 and have only gone on the backwards side since then. After a mere 15 minute wait, we were climbing the first hill, waving to the folks in the backwards train (yes, they were racing…) The old bird is running better than ever! The head-chopper at the bottom of the first drop was unexpected. Did they add the cross supports recently? I don’t remember them, and I must have been on this thing over 100 times in my youth.

The re-tracked helix was spectacular – smoother & faster than ever. Sure, the trims at the top were a bit heavy, but the new wood sure made up for it. Got some great pops of air on the return bunny hops.

After our ride, we quickly got back on and tried the Backwards (Blue) side. Nice gimmick, but still not as good as the Red side. They should keep this configuration if possible, as it makes that Blue track more exciting. The only thing that Blue has on the Red side is the more pronounced arm-chopper after the helix.

AMERICAN EAGLE (Red – Forward): B+

AMERICAN EAGLE (Blue – Backward): B


By noon, the park was packed… Walked by Déjà Vu to get a closer look at the dormant giant. No train on the track. Cables flapping in the breeze. Same blotchy paintjob on the supports. Stairway in pieces… This thing doesn’t look like it’s going to be operational anytime soon. Too bad, cuz it’s my second favorite ride in the park (Superman is now my third).

DÉJÀ VU: (no grade – but would be an A if it was working)


Couldn’t stomach the idea of waiting ½ hour for Demon, so after a quick pretzel snack, we headed down to Southwest Territory for my favorite coaster, the magnificent Raging Bull (Tied for my #1 coaster with Millennium Force & Alpengeist). Only running 2 trains, so the wait was 45 minutes. Not bad considering the line looked like it would be over and hour as it was spilling out into the midway. An amazing back seat ride, full of airtime. SFGam is worth the trip simply for this ride alone. Gotta love the 200 ft 1st drop and the twisty layout. We got lucky as the ride appeared to have broken down right after we got off (maybe they were adding an extra train…)



All the lines were at their peak length, so we decided to try a couple flats mid-day. All of which made me go “Wheee!”. My sleep depravation was catching up with me again, so these little babies were a nice, relaxing diversion.

First was Triple Play. It offered an interesting view of the back end of Batman. Nice spinny sensation.

Next was Condor… 100ft climb spinning up a tower thingy. Haven’t been on this in years.

Offered a great view of Superman’s layout… should have taken a photo. Neither were very exciting, but still a fun activity before lunch.





We made our way to Picnic Grove behind V2, Ice Mountain Splash, & Loggers Run. I’ve never been to this part of the park before… It was HUGE. Now I know where SFGam is hiding all its extra land. Maybe if they rearrange some things back there, they can find some room for that Floorless Coaster I’ve been praying for.

The food was just average, but I was more interested in getting unlimited refills on Diet Coke & relaxing in the shade than eating anyway. I introduced myself to Stephanie & thanked her (and Jeff, of course) for organizing such a terrific event.

I still wasn’t a social as I would have liked to be, as my lack of sleep had made my eyes freakishly bloodshot, so I hid behind my sunglasses in my embarrassment and people watched for a bit while my friends when off to smoke.

After a quick visit from Bugs Bunny and the group photo, it was time for more coasters…



Lines for Batman & V2 were outrageously long, so we headed back over to the other side of the park. The wait for Viper looked about 45 minutes, so we decided to give that a go. The ride broke down just as we were getting in line, and people started leaving the queue in droves. I figured that they would have it up and running again in 10minutes, so we chose to stay in line while most everyone else left. Sure enough, the crew had it running again in no time, and we were lucky enough to have 25 minutes shaved off our wait. The minor delay gave me a great opportunity to snap some gorgeous photos of Raging Bull.

I normally ride in the back, but decided to give 2nd row a go. I was surprised by how much airtime this little twister packs, even in the front car - still intense without being uncomfortable. Cool ride, and probably the best themed “Viper” in the Six Flags chain.



Next stop was Demon. I haven’t waited more than 5 minutes for this classic Arrow Looper since I was in high school, but the 20 minute line was still one of the shortest in the park at the time. As with Viper, only moments after getting in line, the ride broke down and tons of people started leaving the queue. Due to the mass exodus, we managed to make it all the way up to the station very quickly and sure enough, they got the coaster working again. Another five minutes and I’m in the back seat ready to depart the station.

Such a happy bit of nostalgia! All the effects/music were working. Nice pop of air on the first drop and almost “Floorless B&M” smooth through all the loops & corkscrews. Made me wish I had decided to wear my vintage Demon shirt with the original logo…



Next stop – Whizzer. I had said goodbye to this gentle gem last year before it got its stay of execution and managed to get a blissful “swan song” ride. I’m glad SFGam decided to keep it. The heavily wooded portions of this family coaster make a real treat.

Today it seemed a little rough around some of the turns, something I had never encountered on this coaster. Maybe my car had a bad wheel or something.



6:00pm - We noticed that a lot of people (mostly teens & children) seemed to be leaving the park… apparently several bus loads were leaving at the same time. Yippie!!! Shorter lines!

We decided that this would be a good time to give Batman a try. Perfect timing! Only a 20 minute wait for the back row- spectacular ride, running smoother & faster than ever. I’m still a bigger fan of Alpengeist, but today’s lap rivaled some of my Raptor experiences.

Upon returning to the station, we noticed all the wheel covers sitting next to the break run waiting the be re-installed. Perhaps Six Flags replaced all the wheels during the off-season, which may have contributed to this blissful experience.



We walked by Spacely’s Sprocket Rockets (a cute kiddie coaster). I really wanted to try to talk my way onto the ride, but my friends vetoed that idea. They kept making fun of me, and I was too tired to think of witty retorts.

Got another lap on American Eagle – Red. (5 minute wait). Back seat ride this time… even better than the first one!

By this point, I was ready for another break. The lack of sleep was really starting to take its toll. My eyes were even more red and sore and my legs felt wobbly. Christie & Matthew wanted to go on Giant Drop. I hate drop rides, so I gave it a pass and spent the time relaxing in Southwest Territory. Went on my third flat of the day (Ricochet – wheee!). I thought maybe I could rest a few minutes and the Raging Bull test chair (Oops… it’s not there), but finally settled on a nice shaded spot near the Giant Drop exit and waiting 30 minutes for them to get off the stupid thing.

Next up… another lap on Raging Bull (20 minute wait – great as usual, but SUPER chilly) then the big decision… Do we try to fit in another lap on Bull & Batman or try for a night ride on Superman?

Superman was the “Theme” of the day, so we figured we should give it a go before closing. Grabbed my sweatshirt from the locker and made our way to the entrance. Our friendly ride-op from ERT was now standing at the entrance. We asked him how long the wait was. He looked inside, noticed that not all of the switchbacks were full, paused, then guessed “About 60 minutes”.

After entering the line, we noticed a sign that said “Please Remove All Ear Jewelry” on one of the posts. We chuckled, figuring it had probably had been left over from Shockwave. The first half of our wait went extremely fast. At the rate we were going, I was sure we’d be on the ride in 40 minutes… until…

The ride breaks down. (Guess the ride-op was factoring in extra time for technical problems) This time, people did not leave the line in mass like they did waiting for Viper & Demon - 15 minutes, & a few test trains, the line starts moving again. After a little over an hour, the thing breaks down again just as we are ready to board. Fixed in quickly this time… and finally, after 1hour and 15 minutes, we got our night ride. Excellent, just like all of our morning rides… but it could use some more creative lighting effects to show off that gorgeous B&M track. Great way to end our visit…

AMERICAN EAGLE (red – back seat): B+


RAGING BULL (lap 2): A+

SUPERMAN (night ride – back seat): A-



All in all, this was an excellent day. It was a little chilly early and late, but not too bad. We got very lucky with lines, especially surprising considering it was a Saturday.

The only downer was Déjà Vu being closed. It made the day feel somewhat incomplete but certainly didn’t ruin it. Just gives am excuse to come back later this season, I suppose.

I apologize for not introducing myself to more of my fellow buzzers. My zombie-like state made me feel a little more shy than normal. Hopefully I’ll be better rested for my next Coasterbuzz event.

Thanks again, Jeff & Stephanie!

And thanks for reading…

P.S.I've posted some photos from my digital camera. I should hopefully have more once my film is developed... enjoy!


*** This post was edited by djgreghaus 5/19/2003 8:11:45 PM ***

Outstanding report.

Buy "Stereotype Be" from Kevin Max at Amazon.com

Awesome Trip Report...a note for next time you want to talk your way onto Spacleys, you don't need to anymore. If you look at the height sign, they took off the maximum height limit this season. Ive had no problem getting on and I haven't seen anybody else get kicked off either. :)

Final Deja Vu Count for the 2002 Season: 52
Superman: Ultimate Flight Count (SFGAm) = 42
*** This post was edited by CoasterDude316 5/19/2003 9:01:15 PM ***

Hmmm, interesting. Josh and I both noted the sign that says "Adults must be accompanied by children" and didn't even bother trying. We figured they meant physical age, not mental ;)

--Greg, aka Oat Boy
My page
"I can't believe I just left a nuclear weapon in an elevator." -- Farscape

Thanks for the info. about the height restriction on Sprocket Rockets. I'll be sure to give it a try next time (I might be returning in June).

I'm 30, but sometimes my "mental" age puts me at about 10, especially when I'm at Amusement Parks. Maybe that will work to my advantage.

Kick The Sky's avatar
I rode Spacely's no problem later in the evening when there was no line for it. They didnt say a word. In fact several buzzers were over there ringing up the credit bell for it.

Bob Hansen
Resident Airtime Whore

I rode Spacely's too! I think it was my favorite coaster there! I was more excited about riding it then the little kids were!
I just noticed something in one of Djgreghaus's photos of Giant drop... All the sides are now operational! The Side facing Demon and recochet is now working! Yay
Actually coasterwiz, I believe that one of the cars on that side was completely removed from the Giant Drop tower, but all other cars were indeed operational.

You can't really tell from the angle I shot the photos, but I think the missing car would be facing the River Rocker (swinging ship) ride. All other cars seemed to be working fine.

Yes, I noticed a missing car.

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