August 10, 2007
Washington, D. C.
I left for this trip on Thursday, leaving directly from work just after noon so that I could arrive at my first stop in Moorefield by the early evening. When I arrived at Petersburg I stopped by Rite Aid for some razor blades, and then I headed to my sister Jacqui’s house, where my brother would be as well. It was dinner time, but I’d eaten on the way up, which still didn’t stop me from having a bowl of rice as I sat and talked with the family over dinner.
Kelly and I left and went back to his apartment in Moorefield and then stayed up to watch Conan. I had a feeling I wouldn’t get much sleep, and I didn’t. But I was up and ready to go by 6:15 AM., at which time I left Kelly’s apartment and headed to town for gas. After filling up, I started towards D.C., which was a shorter ride than I had planned for. Not much in the way of traffic, and I stopped in Virginia for breakfast at McDonalds. I actually liked the drive to D.C.
I went around the southern part of the Beltway and called Matt about 10 miles from Six Flags America. I told him I was going to make a quick bathroom stop, and about 2 blocks away from Six Flags, I stopped at Target and picked up some disposable cameras, since I didn’t have a digital camera on this trip. Two exits up I spotted Matt and Bill at the entrance to Six Flags America, as the bus had dropped them right off at the front gate entrance road to the park, so I stopped on the side of the entrance road and they hopped in.
We got into the park without having to pay the $15 for parking due to Bill having a Six Flags Parking Pass, and ended up rather close to the gate. Very few cars were there at this point, so we got prepared and headed over to the front gate to wait until park opening at 10 AM. Because Matt had a season pass I only paid $10 to get in with the special promotion Six Flags was running company wide. This was my first stop at Six Flags America since 2001, and I was anxious to get back. We waited, took a few pictures, and then at 10 AM the gates opened.
We made our way onto Main Street 1776, which is really well done, and headed back towards Batwing and Superman Ride of Steel. However, at the end of Main Street we were stopped. The gates open at 10 AM but the rest of the park doesn’t open up until 10:30. This is obviously a great chance for people to spend money on food and merchandise while the park makes you wait. There is a small stage set up at the end of Main Street, and eventually Daffy and Sylvester came out and danced for us. Then an original musical score came on after they had selected a kid from the audience to ‘pull the Big switch’ to ‘Turn On’ Six Flags America.
Now, I have to say, this was a great idea. Get the crowd pumped up. They opened with an original song with Looney Toons dancing on stage, played the National Anthem, and then had a countdown as the kid pulled the switch. This all really added to the family atmosphere the park is trying to provide. However…I must complain just slightly. First, only 2 Looney Toons were on stage.
I would have liked to have seen more, especially Bugs Bunny. Second, the music wasn’t really that good. The lyrics were really corny, and the music was annoying. I would have rather seen an opening ceremony with a more classical score and actual Looney Toons voices providing the commentary in the same amount of time. The throwing of the switch was really cool with streamers and bouncy balls coming from the ‘switch’.
We made our way to the back of the park. Thus far the park was exceptionally clean, although most people about this park being dirty. Granted, it was the park’s opening time, but the park looked really nice when it opened, with the exception of some coasters needing painted and some more landscaping and themeing needed past the first section of Gotham City, back towards Superman.
Matt needed his Batwing credit so we headed there first, but since we hadn’t seen Batwing testing yet and Superman was running and had no line, we headed there first. We got in line and Matt and I got in the back car while Bill went closer to the front. I had cargo shorts on, and while Matt sat down and pulled his restraint down, I was having issues. If you haven’t ridden one of these since the shin guard retro-fit then, like me, you didn’t realize what the stupid retro-fit did to the restraints. I couldn’t fit because I had wallets, glasses, hats, cell phones, and more in my cargo pockets. Matt had no trouble, but I couldn’t ride, and I wasn’t leaving my wallet out on the side of the train, so I sat this one out. And yes, I huffed and puffed for a few minutes.
I went to the entrance again because I figured I would just put my stuff in a locker, but the ride op at the gate was too busy talking on her cell phone to tell me that the lockers weren’t up and running yet as the person hadn’t come to ‘unlock the lockers’. Of course, being myself, I interrupted her loudly enough that she eventually had to answer me. I went back to the exit and waited on Matt and Bill, and after getting off, they did give me the consolation that it hadn’t warmed up yet and the ride wasn’t that great.
At this point I hadn’t ridden anything yet, and Batwing was right there. I’d ridden all of the Vekoma Flying Dutchman coasters, and I’d ridden Batwing in it’s first season. I wasn’t in the mood to ride it this time, but with no wait I couldn’t refuse as Matt got his credit lap. Thankfully there was only a 1 train wait.
Batwing–We got a front row ride, Yay! Actually, it was a really good ride. Not very rough and I enjoyed it. The drop was just okay, but the horseshoe curve was really good. The loop still pulls some major forces, as does the helix, and even though they were snappy, the inline twists are still fun. Batwing was running the best I’d seen of the three of these from my most current rides. I’m actually glad I rode Batwing, even if all of my change did fall out of my pocket.
So we went back over to Ride of Steel, but this time Bill put my & Matt’s wallets in the back pocket of his jeans, so that left mostly non-essential stuff in my cargo pockets, which I put in my hat and then put Matt’s hat on top of in the station boxes. There was no line again for the back car, so we all rode together after Matt slammed the restraint down on me so that I could ride.
Superman Ride of Steel–The drop was still really great but the 2nd hill, which was amazing the last time I rode, was not delivering much airtime. I guess it was the time of day. However, the first helix, the 3rd hill, the 2nd helix, and all of the elements after were giving great airtime and laterals. I still loved Superman. Even with the 2nd hill not doing much, it was still a solid ride. I was just happy to have gotten to ride.
I will say that for the most part, the ride ops were pretty sucky on this vist. They acted like they didn’t want to be there for the most part, which was sad because this park has great rides and loads of potential. Anyways, we headed back towards Gotham City’s main section and decided to stop by Joker’s Jinx. I loved Joker the last time I’d ridden it and that was with shoulder restraints. This time it would be without.
Joker’s Jinx–Joker’s Jinx was my first launched coaster in 2001, and I was blown away by it. It’s a strong coaster with a great layout that I’ve loved every time I rode another coaster like it. Today, however, I was slightly let down. The initial launch into the layout was slower than normal. It was adequate in that it launched us into the first element, but it was really sluggish. I noticed it right off and even said so just after launching. The rest of the ride, however, was really good, and the 2nd half tore thru the tracks. Joker’s Jinx was still a great coaster, but I was left with only a fraction of adrenaline because of the launch. I guess you can’t have everything.
After a quick stop for water and a restroom break, we headed over towards ROAR. I absolutely loved this coaster on my first trip. It was amazing. I had heard that it wasn’t running very well, but I wanted to see for myself. On the way over I saw Two Face cycle. I wanted to ride it, but it hadn’t been running very much that season from what I’d heard. In fact, it was even on the rides listed closed for the day. But apparently that wasn’t the case, thankfully. But first…
ROAR–I rode in the back for my first ride and, to be honest, while it wasn’t really rougher than the first time I rode it, it wasn’t running great in the back. Sure, it was fun, but I was kind of disappointed. Although the first drop is still good, I just wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the layout. I got off when the train pulled into the station, but when Bill and Matt arrived at the station, no one was in line for their seats, so they rode again. I waited, and then we went and got in the line for the front of the train. This was the ride I’d wanted. Far better than the first go round, ROAR was now living up the memory I had of it from 2001. I didn’t get the rough comments, because the ride was definitely not rough for a wooden coaster running PTC trains. I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I rode a 2nd time.
We toyed with the idea of riding Mind Eraser, but didn’t, so we headed over to Wild One. I would’ve liked to have ridden the Typhoon Seacoaster, which did cycle at least 2 times earlier, but the ride was closed. I never got to ride it. There was no line for Wild One, so Matt and I rode in the back of the train. I love being at a park when there are no lines.
Wild One–I wasn’t expecting much when I first rode it in 2001. It didn’t look like much and I only had planned on giving it a courtesy lap then, but it was really good. This time it was running crazy. The first drop was good, first couple of hills were good, the double up and double down were both fun, but the hill after the double down flung Matt and me out of our seats, and the helix was sick in so many ways. Wild One was definitely wild on this visit. A great classic coaster that gets the care it deserves, even if some of the better parts have been re-profiled.
Bill and Matt decided to ride again and, as much as I’d have liked to, the line for Two Face was short so I knew I’d better go and get a ride on it. I told Matt and Bill I’d get in line, and they could wait on me once I got off at the exit. When I arrived at the station, it was about a 3 train wait to ride. I think I’d waited about an hour the first time I ever rode one of these, and the lines are usually really long and slow, but not today.
Two Face The Flip Side–I opted for the middle of the train, facing forwards. The journey up the first spike still unnerved me, especially stopping when the train reached the top. But the drop was still great, the cobra roll was still good, and the loop was decent going forwards. On the trip back, however, everything took on a whole new flavor. I almost blacked out on the loop like I did on Face/Off a couple of years prior. Matt and Gator snapped a few pictures of me on the ride and in the station as well.
Although Matt, Bill, and I would have liked to have had another go on Superman it was getting close to 1 PM and our plan was to leave and hurry down to Busch Gardens so that we could be there at nite. We strolled over so I could get a picture of Mind Eraser, and as we were back on Main Street 1776, I took Matt and Bill’s picture. Just then, someone who worked at the park asked me if I’d like him to take all of our pictures together. I smiled and said sure, and Bill asked if he’d mind taking one for Bill as well. Little did we realize at first that this was the park’s General Manager. He was very nice, but kind of freaked out and excused himself once we told him we were coaster geeks. Oh well, the park looks nice, the GM was very nice, now if only he can pour some of that customer service out to the employees.
After we got our picture we left. It took a few minutes to find my car as I was far closer than any of us realized. I really enjoyed the time we spent at Six Flags America. I still left with positive opinion of a park that most people hate.
We left the park and headed south on I-95 towards Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I stopped at a Wendy’s, and when we got on to the Beltway traffic was moving fairly steadily. Once we got on I-95 signs said to expect some delays, and I wish I’d have gotten in the HOV lanes which split off of the regular lanes. Sadly, I didn’t and due to a layover on I-95 it took 4 hours to go 70 miles. We where hot, I was irritated, and all 3 of us were sleepy. My AC wasn’t working very well just sitting on the interstate with the sun glaring down either. Matt and Bill were sleeping most of the time, which is good for them, because I get very irritable when I’m hot and aggravated and sleepy. I just sat there and complained to myself in my head.
After about 2 hours many people were heading over into the HOV late thru a cop car turnaround, which while illegal, we were all tired of waiting. This sped things up for a few miles, but then we stopped again. Another hour later and I got back over into the regular lane, just 2 miles before the HOV lane merged back over.
Since all of our time was wasting away, once we arrived in Richmond, Matt reluctantly agreed with Bill and I to blow off Busch Gardens for the evening, go to Kings Dominion instead, and go to Busch Gardens on Saturday. So instead of heading to Williamsburg, we headed down to the exit after the park to the Econo Lodge that Bill had booked to get ready to head to Kings Dominion.