March 28 & 29, 2009
ACE Spring Fling
When planning for trips in the future, I really should plan around rush hour traffic. Since we really didn’t have that in WV, even in the busiest places, I tended to forget about it when traveling outside of my home state early on. Add in the fact that I was heading to Atlanta, a city notorious for being a pain to drive in and you have me with a full bladder stuck in traffic for over an hour, 2 exits away from my hotel. I had to pull off and run into a Hardees just so I didn’t have an accident in the Xterra. Plus I was still queasy from Nighthawk, which made for an unhappy Beaver.
The drive to Atlanta wasn’t bad. Coming around a curve and seeing the beginning of the city’s skyline, which stretches on forever it seemed, was amazing. I always like seeing new cities. I finally arrived at my hotel which was right off of the interstate, checked in, took a quick shower, and headed out. I really needed to charge my phone, but didn’t have time. I had paid about $30 for a dedicated car charger, as that was really the only option in 2009, and they weren’t a dime a dozen that could be found at any store or gas station, but my mother had removed it when cleaning out our cars one day and never returned it. We never found it, either.
I had planned to meet up with some folks at a restaurant in Atlanta’s Little Five Points. I found The Vortex pretty easily with my phone’s GPS. After garriving I headed inside to find Josh and Brandi as well as Karen and Steve. We were waiting on 4 more to show up, but I already liked the place. Next up to the party were Don and Monica, neither of which I’d ever met before. Soon after, Barron and Brandon came in, and right after they arrived we were seated.
Not knowing what to expect from The Vortex, we headed to our seats. It looked cool and the gang gave it rave reviews. I got to sit beside Don and hear all about his latest trip that week with Monica to the New Orleans shores. Our waitress came over with attitude and instructions. So far the atmosphere was great, but how would the food and drinks be?
I ordered a drink and few minutes later, a black & bleu burger which had a healthy coating of Cajun seasoning, topped with bleu cheese dressing. The service was great, I loved the atmosphere, my burger was delicious, and even the drink was perfect.
After we finished dinner, Don and Monica took us over to meet Kagome, their adorable pooch. It was fairly dark by now so I took another couple of pix of The Vortex lit up, then said my goodbyes. After getting lost in downtown Atlanta as my phone had died and I had no GPS or directions I finally found my way back to Marietta and crashed in bed at the Ramada. The next day was calling for storms, rain, and very little ride time so I was really hoping that I’d wake up to at least a little sunshine.
I woke up kind of early even though morning Exclusive Ride Time had already been pushed back to extended evening ERT. Josh texted me and told me to stop by the hotel they were at to pick up my registration packet, so as I was getting ready, the light coming thru the curtains made me think it would be a nice day. Sadly, this was not to be. It was sprinkling outside as I headed over to the Wingate to meet up with the rest of the gang.
Getting over to the exit was interesting but thankfully not very hard. Six Flags over Georgia is right off of the interstate so I could see it from a ways away. I headed to the Wingate and up to the party room to pick up my stuff and hang out for a bit. Met some new faces and saw some I hadn’t seen in a couple of years as we all sat around, surfed the net, and hoped the rain would let up. More and more people arrived. Then, around 11:30 AM, we headed over to the park. The rain had picked up and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I was hungry, having only had a cookie for breakfast. Once we arrived at the front gate I could tell that there weren’t going to be many people there and all of us were hoping that the skies would clear up and leave us with a fairly empty park.
We headed to the picnic groves for lunch and met up with practically everyone else who had arrived for Spring Fling 2009. On the plus side, by that time the rain had stopped. Lunch was pretty decent and I munched on chicken and pasta while mingling with the other geeks. About 30 minutes after we started coasters close to us began to cycle and test. I was finally excited because I really wanted to ride everything that I’d heard so much about.
Once lunch was finished we headed over to the Great American Scream Machine first. The park said they were opening sections of the park up for us, with this section opening first with all of the rides running. I love wooden coasters and I’d heard that G.A.S.M. runs well in the rain, so I was pretty happy that we were close. As we got into the station I queued up with Dawn and pretty soon we were off.
Great American Scream Machine–The first drop was very good. I liked this classic out and back woody because it had quite a bit of charm and was running very fast in the rain, giving decent airtime on the out bound hills. Dawn and I looked for turtles in the lake but saw none. The return trip was fast and pretty out of control as we were flung up and over hills all the way back to the station. I was very happy with my first ride and even more so to add another classic out & back to my coaster count.
We waited on the rest of the geeks to ride as Tommy and I took pictures of the riders and others standing about. I wanted to ride Ninja to get it out of the way, but the majority wanted to head to Goliath since it was supposed to be opened soon. I broke off of the bigger group with a few people on my own and headed towards the front. Sadly, this was when we ran into one of the park’s managers. He said that the back section we were in was opened, but that the park was closed and nothing up front would be running, save for Goliath, which they hoped they’d be able to run. It was confirmed that Batman and Mindbender both would be down for the day, and even though they wanted to open some more sections, it wasn’t looking good.
This was a major blow to my Sunday morning plans, because now it looked like I’d have to come back the next day in order to ride everything. So, having our hearts broken, we headed back over for my inaugural flight on Superman. We ran into the rest of the group and told them what had been told to us. They opted to head for Goliath and wait for it to open. As we arrived at Superman we were greeted with a rather small line, much to my surprise. I know they have a no loose items in the station policy, but we’d been told that when the park closed, we wouldn’t have to deal with that. To me, since the park was closed, it would have been nice not to have had to rent a locker at every coaster.
Superman Ultimate Flight–The trains were rather comfortable. Not so much more than the Vekoma Flying Dutchmen trains, but very nice indeed. The loading procedure, though, was much superior to Nighthawk and the other Vekoma flyers. I did like how the ground slants down as the lift hill takes you up. The first drop was really nice, but boy was that pretzel loop intense! More so than the regular loop on the Vekomas. Even with all of those G forces and intensity, though, the coaster was very smooth. The rest of the layout was very nice, especially the sections closer to the ground, the trenches, and the small tunnel as that gave you the sensation of really flying. I already liked this more than I did any other flying coaster I’d been on.
Some flats in the area were open, but nothing I really wanted to ride, so Mike and I headed over to Ninja as everyone else migrated towards Goliath. No one but Mike was willing to take a courtesy ride with me on this. That kind of scared me.
Ninja–Okay let me start off by saying that this wasn’t the worst thing ever, even if I really didn’t care for it. I’d ride it over Vortex at Carowinds any day. We got a backseat ride, and I must say I liked how it sat over the lake. The first drop was nice, but the series of inversions afterward were odd. I’m not even sure what some of them were called, but they work though they would be better with better trains (2016 Edit: Imagine That...). Yes, there was some shaking, at times becoming too rough. But it isn’t the worst thing. It wasn’t even in my bottom 10.
Mike and I made the trek to Goliath as we’d received a text from Lisa that it was running; however, we were met with a wall of sad faces when we arrived. Apparently at some point it ran for like a hot second, but then closed. There was no rain coming down, no thunder, and no lightening anywhere in the area at this point, so we all hoped it would open soon. So we stood around and waited. And waited. And waited. Robert, the A.C.E. regional representative at that time finally made a call and got the park involved enough to decide to start testing, and eventually open, Goliath.
I’m going to take a second and gripe. Six Flags over Georgia was BY FAR the nicest Six Flags Park I’d ever been to. It was clean, very well landscaped, very nice atmosphere, and the employees were fairly good. But we waited without any rain for a good 2 hours for Goliath to open, with little or no information on if and when it would open. I realize they can’t help the rain, and we could have went to the back of the park where rides were running, but the fact that we could have been riding Goliath just kind of made me feel like they were feeling their way thru the day. And that was after the PR lady’s talk about being contacted by the media regarding the state of the company overall, and asking us to be careful with what we say online and in public that could be harmful. I felt that the company overall was improving, but this was a sore spot on the weekend.
So Goliath began testing as we rushed over to put our stuff in lockers and get in line. After a successful full circuit the line opened up and I hopped in to queue up for the front seat with Dawn, Danny, and Patrick.
Goliath– The first thing I notice was how fast the lift hill was. Goliath’s first drop was nothing short of amazing. Granted, it wasn’t warmed up, but the airtime over the next couple of hills was still great. Plus there was that massively forceful downward helix. The trim brake after the helix didn’t hit very hard on our first ride like it would for the rest of the day, so the airtime over the rest of the hills was pretty good. Then that final hop onto the brake run was insane. Rain started coming down just slightly after we were about half way up the lift hill, and boy did it hurt. Still, Goliath was a winner in every sense of the word.
After we were back in the station I got back in the front row to ride with Mike, Lisa, and Jake for the 2nd ride, but just as the ride op was ready to dispatch the rain began to pour and the phone rang with someone on the other end telling him to shut it down. I stood in line with Mike and Lisa for a while, but eventually got out and sat with Dawn, Danny, and Patrick since the rest of my large group had headed out to IKEA.
Having been led to believe that the rest of the park’s rides that were opened earlier were no longer operating we stayed in the Goliath plaza when we could have been making the most of the situation in the back of the park. I did eventually end up with a black and sliver Superman cape, while Dawn got her Wonder Woman Cape.
Once the rain stopped again Goliath opened more promptly. I got about 5 more rides, one near the back with Dawn, Danny, Patrick, and Myself posing for the camera. I’d have loved to have stayed and rode more, but was tired and hungry. We were going to meet up with the rest of the group for Ruby Tuesday’s, but went to Cracker Barrel instead with Jess & Kristin.
Cracker Barrel is always consistent, and we had a great waiter. After dinner, though, I was tired, and since I’d planned to scratch my Sunday plans and go back to the park, I headed back to the motel to rest. However, after getting back to the room, I decided I needed a night cap and found a quaint place to have a drink across the street. It was nice, I met some nice locals, and had Absinthe for the very first time, before heading back to the room and going to bed, ready to hopefully conquer Six Flags over Georgia properly the next morning.
Sunday morning came early. I woke up to more gloomy weather. My plans were shot. I didn’t really want to have to go back to SFoG, nor did I really want to spend more money. But I liked the park and did want to ride the coasters. I’d made plans to meet up with Mike, Lisa, Jake, Bill, and Jill. I stopped at the Wingate to meet up with them and ran into Steve and Josh, who were getting ready to leave. They said that the gang was already at the park, so I decided to risk leaving my car there to avoid $15 to park for just a couple of hours as I was now on a much tighter budget, and headed on over.
First order of business was getting a season pass upgrade. It ate into my budget, but thats life. The process was fairly painless and quick and before I knew it I was in the park at the ropes meeting up with the gang. Once the ropes dropped Bill, Mike, and Jill headed to Goliath as Lisa and Jake got in line with me for Scorcher.
Georgia Scorcher–This was definitely the best B&M stand up I’d ever ridden. It had airtime, a great first drop, and nice pacing. The station filled up quick and dispatches were slow in coming, but after a few minutes of waiting we were on the ride near the front of the train. The first drop was great, I love straight drops on stand-up coasters. Both the loop and the corkscrew were fun elements, but the twisting, diving, and hills made this B&M’s finest in the stand up line. Much better than the overhyped Riddler’s Revenge, in my opinion. Out of the 7 Stand up coasters B&M had made, I’d ridden 6, and this one beat them all.
The three of us headed to Gotham City next. This was also by far the best Gotham City area in any Six Flags park I’d seen. It was nicely themed, and feltomplete. I took the obligatory shot of the Batmobile and then we headed to Mind Bender.
Mind Bender–This coaster had a lot of fans and a great reputation. We had to wait a couple of minutes as they were testing, but we ended up on the first public train of the day in the back seat. The first drop was great, the loops were smooth and powerful, but fun and not too forceful. I liked the fact that it interacts with the terrain and had tunnels. The 3rd ‘loop’ helix was a very neat experience as well. Mind Bender was a lot of fun and had some nice moments, but I walked away feeling like it was slightly overrated.
Well, I didn’t quite walk away yet. We got stuck on the brake run for a few minutes. I asked an employee if I could take pictures since we weren’t moving and she said sure. The ride ops were very nice, something that could be said of the whole park. After a while, we were released from the train as the mechanics sorted out the problems. Some other geeks were denied rides at that time and the line quickly cleared. So instead of a re-ride we headed over to Batman. I was never that impressed with my previous rides, s0 how would I feel about Georgia’s version?
Batman The Ride–Lisa said it was the best one. The queue was nice and familiar, and Mind Bender cycled while we were walking through the queue. We sat near the back, and I’m telling you, this was the best ride I’d ever had on a Batman clone. It was forceful, the drop/loop/roll/loop combo really worked, and the whole ride was amazing. This was such a different coaster it’s weird. I loved it.
We took a quick restroom brake and ran into the rest of the gang and some other geeks. They were going to wait for Mind Bender to open, but I was going to get the rest of the credits and head out since I had a long ride. I headed over to the kiddy coaster, but it was not operating. This section of the park was also very well done. I wanted to ride Canyon Blaster, but I guess I’ll have to wait for another date. I did head to the mine train, which was operating.
Dahlonega Mine Train–It had three lifts and lots of small hills and helices. I usually don’t care for mine trains, but this one was a lot of fun. It’s quick and you head out of the station and to a lift. The drops weren’t anything spectacular, but they were fun. Some of the small hills had nice pops of airtime. And it was in a very nice wooded area. The 2nd section was even more fun, with a helix and a nice pop of air. The third section went through a tunnel and had a rather forceful ending. I’m not usually fond of mine trains, but this one was loads of fun.
I toyed with riding Acrophobia. I wanted to ride, but not by myself, so I passed. I still had one more credit available and that was Georgia Cyclone. I’d heard horror stories. Add in the fact that I was looking forward to riding the real Cyclone in a couple of months, and I had already ridden 2 clones. Would Georgia Cyclone be good to me?
Georgia Cyclone–First off, the line was WAY too long. And didn’t move. And they only ran one train. And dispatching took forever. And it sprinkled a little. And I was worried that my Xterra would get towed at the Wingate. I did not enjoy the queue experience at all. Once in the station, I hopped in the shortest line. Cyclone was rough, janky, and just not that much fun. The drops bottom out hard and the turns threw you into the sides hard. I was not impressed. But boy, did it look pretty.
My morning was pretty much over. I booked it back over to my ride and left. I took a wrong exit on my way out of Atlanta and had to go all the way south of the city and back up, adding at least an hour onto my drive. The ride home wasn’t fun, and I was really glad to get home.