June 24, 2009
I was kind of bummed that I didn’t get to spend the day in Philly on Monday, but the one park I was looking forward to the most was Great Adventure and that was my game plan for Tuesday. I was nervous because the road to Jackson was a bit confusing and the tolls expensive. My GPS gave me different directions than Matt had, which compounded the confusion as well. So I called Matt a few times to make sure I was at the right place, and in just over an hour I was turning in to the park. This was a huge area, with the water park and wild safari available as well, but I headed in to the parking lot to the theme park, parked, and headed to the gate, season pass in hand.
All of the coasters that I could see were testing except for Kingda Ka, which just happened to be the Tallest, Fastest coaster in the world at the time. But whatever. I wanted to ride it, but I was here for other coasters. The front gate for Great Adventure was nice and well landscaped. I went thru the turnstiles and in to the park. The entry plaza was huge. I knew this park was notorious for getting packed. I was worried because there were already a lot of cars in the lot.
Once inside I headed to the left and made it to the ropes. The park opened at 10:00 AM, but the rides start to open at 10:30. I think they should have had an opening ceremony like Six Flags America. That would have helped pass the time better. Promptly at 10:30, though, the ropes dropped and off the bulls ran. My first stop was Superman.
Superman Ultimate Flight–Having just ridden my first of these in Georgia a few months prior I had a sense of joy and dread. I knew the coaster was fun, but the forces in the pretzel loop were really strong in Georgia. I’d read where the designers fixed that for later iterations, but I knew to anticipate the forces this time. As it turns out, I was on the first public train of the day, in the front row. I liked this one much more than Georgia. The first flying drop was fun and the pretzel loop was far less intense and a lot more fun. The front row ride made a difference as well. This was what flying coasters should be more like. And as we were heading back into the station the line was already up to a 1 hour wait time.
I walked over to the Golden Kingdom next to see if I could get close to Ka for pictures. security stopped me and said it should be open by noon. I was happy to hear this, but still figured it wouldn’t be running. So I headed next to El Toro, the real reason I made the trip. I’d heard such wonderful things and had such high hopes for the bull and now it was finally time to ride.
El Toro–I’m not even going to build it up, this was the best coaster I’d ever ridden up to this point in my life. My wait time was about 30 minutes and I rode near the front. The first drop was amazing and flings you over. The next 2 hills violently throw you up out of your seat, but the tight lap bar keeps you in place. Then after some turns and small hills, a moment of pure perfection, the hill over Rolling Thunder, happens. It was extreme, violent, amazing, scary, and wonderful all together. The best moment of airtime on any coaster I’d ever experienced. I wanted more of what Phantom’s Revenge, my former #1 had, violent airtime, and I got it in El Toro. The turnaround section in Rolling Thunder’s layout was fast and I liked it as well. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. I wanted more. Much more.
But since I had a lot more in the park to do, I opted to come back for more later. I headed over towards Great American Scream Machine. I toyed with riding the Parachute Jump, but never did. I really liked Shockwave when I rode it at Six Flags Great America back in 1999, and this was supposed to be the better version, since some of the transitions had been modified to make it less jerky. The queue was rather long, but the line was really short. Matt told me which seat to get in and I lined up with a 2 train wait.
Great American Scream Machine–I was really kind of nervous going out of the station. Would it be as bad as I’d heard? The lift was quick and painless, and the first drop was at least as good as I’d remembered on Shockwave. The first loop was smooth and fun, the trims afterward didn’t hit very hard, and the next few inversions were fine. I expected the brake run to hit really hard, but it didn’t. And the last 4 inversions were as fine as an older Arrow coaster could be. I really kind of liked it, and I’m not one for too many inversions. I’d now ridden all three Arrow Super Loopers with 7 inversions, and didn’t hate any of them.
I walked back thru the Golden Kingdom and watched the tigers at the Temple of the Tiger for a bit. This area was so nice. It was close to noon, but Kingda Ka still wasn’t testing and no one was being allowed in the area. So, figuring that I likely wouldn’t be riding Ka today, I headed over to Bizarro. I must say, I was getting a lot done and so far I really liked the park. Granted, I’d only been in the newer areas, but that would change soon.
I walked by the Sky Ride & Mine Train entrance and around by the Log Flume. This was the original section of the park, and they’d kept it up very nice. The park was having some American Idol-esq contest so there was live music playing as different bands went before the judges. I headed straight to Bizzaro, though.
Bizarro–Having ridden Scream! in SoCal, I was excited to see if this was better as most claim. And since it’s a re-theme and now had fire, mist, lights and sounds, I expected the bar to be raised. I have to say, it was a solid coaster, but for the most part the themeing didn’t really ‘make’ the coaster any better. But it was definitely a nice touch. I liked the mist tunnel and the auger of doom. The sound, when you can hear it, was pretty decent too. I loved the dive loop and the zero G roll, and every other element was normal B&M goodness. I sat in the very back by myself for this ride, and I really enjoyed it.
Next I headed to see if Ka had opened yet, but it had not. Bummer. It wasn’t looking like I’d get a ride on it on this trip. So I went to Rolling Thunder for a quick credit stop.
Rolling Thunder (right)–It wasn’t a rough wooden coaster, I didn’t feel, but it was rather boring. I sat towards the front, and really just didn’t think much of it. The first drop was cool, but the initial out portion is just blah. The rest of it was okay, but it should have airtime while it didn’t. I wasn’t impressed.
I decided to head over to the other side of the park. One thing I liked about Great Adventure was how there were good coasters on each side of the park. Granted, I didn’t know if I’d like anything on the other side because the only thing I was really looking forward to was Nitro. But before I rode the Sky Ride I rode the Mine Train.
Runaway Mine Train–Basically, this was your standard mine train. They were still doing the American Idol ripoff show, so I could hear that as I was in line. The first 2/3 of this ride was standard; there was a helix or 2, a couple of hills and straight sections. And then there is the section by the pond. The pond by the station was really nice and gave great views of El Toro, but once the train on Runaway Mine Train got going, you got some nice violent airtime off of the last major hill before swooping down towards the water and lily pads, then heading into the brake run. If the first half was as exciting as the last, it would be a better coaster, but as it stands it was just kind of fun.
So I got on the Sky ride and rode over to the other side of the park, taking pictures from high above. I made a mental note to ride the Ferris Wheel later, but eventually forgot. Once I got off on the other side I saw Skull Mountain looking down at me, so I headed in to ride.
Skull Mountain–The queue is rather long and I loved the sound effects playing. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I like indoor coasters even if I didn’t expect much out of this. The station reminded me a lot of Revenge of the Mummy in Hollywood. I boarded the train near the back and was off. The cavern overlooking the midway was nice. Then once I you hit the top of the lift, the ride goes nuts. It’s all swooping turns and twists and what not, but it was really fun. You’re in the dark and music is playing. I really wasn’t expecting such an aggressive ride, but Skull Mountain was great. Some lights and effects inside would be cool, but riding a coaster in the dark is alway fun as.
After coming out into the Wiggles World area I promptly left as the music was annoying. I really can’t stand the Wiggles, but it seems to work for kids. I got in line for Nitro next since the line was moving quickly and was listed with about a 30 minute wait. I ended up getting on fairly quickly and rode in the back.
Nitro–I didn’t have high hopes, especially after riding El Toro on the same day, and Goliath a couple months before. Plus I wasn’t impressed with Apollo’s Chariot, and everyone says this isn’t nearly as good. But as soon as we were over the first hill I knew I liked it better. There wasn’t much in the way of ejector air, but there was very nice floaty air on the first turn hill. Then you hit another hill with nice floater before the helix and hammer head elements, which were both very nice. The drop off of the mid course brake run was awesome, followed by three great bunny hops. I really liked Nitro, enough that I would be back again.
After that I headed over to Batman, the park’s third B&M coaster, conveniently located by Nitro. This was the 2nd one built for Six Flags in the 1990s, and would be my 4th and actually the 2nd one I’d ridden in 2009. How would it stack up after Georgia’s awesome version?
Batman The Ride–The line was rather long. The queue was simple and very much like the Chicago and L.A. versions, sans Police Car. Because the queue was so full I didn’t get to get a good picture of the sewer fan like I did on the others. I ran into 3 coaster geeks in line, one of which had a Voyage shirt on, so I spoke to him briefly. I rode in the front part of the train but skipped the front seat as the line was too long. I will say, having ridden a few of these now, I’m just not overly impressed. I really did enjoy Georgia’s version, but it seems like I always ride one directly after riding a better B&M invert, and this week I’d ridden Talon and Great Bear, both of which I liked better. Batman is a solid ride, but nothing spectacular.
Since I was in the area I headed to The Dark Knight coaster, after a quick restroom and water break. I saw Green Lantern on the way but didn’t get a picture. I was more interested in actually riding stuff.
The Dark Knight Coaster–The wait wasn’t long and after a few minutes standing in the shade, we were led in as a group to the pre-show area. I wasn’t aware that there was a pre-show. I really liked the fact that this section was themed and that you’re not just in a room waiting. Plus, when the Joker makes his mark, the room changes and even though the effect was simple, it really worked. We headed into the 2nd queue and shortly thereafter I was in one of the small cars. This was your basic Wild Mouse, but the themeing was fairly well done, with gags and sounds and scenes at every turn. The last effect they added at the end was loud and unexpected. The whole ride was fun and I like Mouse coasters regardless. A fun family friendly ride, I think they should add more of these to Six Flags parks.
After I’d ridden the majority of the coasters I headed out of the park to grab a bite to eat. I’m not normally one to leave a park and cheap out on food, but Six Flags food just isn’t appealing to me and there was a Burger King right near the park. So I headed down and got some food. Getting out of the park was actually a nice break too. After eating I headed back to the park and was happy to see that my parking spot was still open. Once heading back into the park I headed back over towards Rolling Thunder for a ride in the infamous Yellow train. It really was better, and I got to meet Danian. Then I rode the Sky Ride over towards Movie Town. My first ride over there was Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure Train.
Blackbeard’s Lost Treasure Train–It’s not really lost, in fact, it’s pretty easy to find, I thought. I could have done with only one lap instead of two, but it wasn’t a bad ride. This was my 2nd of these and I’m always amazed at the length of the train. They’re fun rides, but not really meant to be thrilling. You turn, you go up and down a little bit, you go thru a helix, back into the station, and around again, another credit down.
I did notice quite a few empty spots in the area where rides obviously used to be. It would be nice if Six Flags would add a few new flats in place of the multitude that they took out. I watched the dolphin show next. It was rather good, and these are getting less and less common at theme parks. I wanted to catch this one since I’d missed HERSHEYPARK’s on Sunday. Once it was over I headed back over for more Skull Mountain. I really liked this thing! Afterwards, I headed again to Nitro. This park really had some great rides. Nitro was stacking 3 trains on the brake run and in the station for some reason, but after about 20 minutes I was sitting on the ride for another dose of good floaty airtime.
I decided to take another spin on The Dark Knight coaster while I was over here as well. This time I sat in the front of the car. After riding, I walked thru the Superhero shop. They had some nice things and some interesting toys but, alas, I didn’t buy anything. It was almost time for Joe to arrive, so I got in line for the Sky Ride. The batteries on my camera had almost died at this point so I wasn’t taking many pictures. Once across the park, I headed to Toro’s entrance to wait and eventually met up with Joe and his daughter, Hannah. We took a ride first on El Toro near the back. Hannah likes El Toro, but she was apprehensive about Bizarro. We kept trying to talk her into it, but she wasn’t budging. We went to the Log Flume next.
Log Flume-I didn’t want to get too went because my phone and camera were exposed and I didn’t get a locker. The Log Flume was nice and heads out over the lake. There were some nice quick drops and the final drop was a lot of fun. Thankfully, I didn’t get really wet and my electronics were fine.
We tried again and finally Hannah caved and we rode Bizarro. We rode near the middle this time. Again, a solid ride. Themeing and sound effects, fire, and mist make it fun, but not spectacular. Hannah of course loved every second of it. We walked back towards Toro and stopped for a quick spin on the Mine Ride because Hannah hadn’t ridden it. Then we headed for The Bull. I made sure this time that I had everything secured so that I didn’t feel like something would be flung out of my pockets, and I sat in the very back seat. Every seat I had was amazing, but there is a big difference in the very back. It’s so out of control and so amazing and so violent. I loved El Toro the first time I rode it that morning, but this just catapulted the ride into my #1 spot. The greatest thing about it is that it is so re-ridable. I could marathon this all day, unlike The Voyage.
I got a good 3 or four rides before the lines closed and the park started to shut down. We headed thru the Golden Kingdom to the boardwalk section and took a couple of nite pictures. Then we left the park. I said my goodbyes to Bubba and Hannah and left. The ride back wasn’t really that bad and I found my way okay in just over an hour. I chatted with Matt for a while before finally going to sleep. I really liked Great Adventure a lot more than I expected to, and can’t wait to get back for more doses of Nitro, Toro, and More, and to finally get that credit on Ka.
The next morning I got up early and headed south. On my way, the news broke that Michael Jackson had died, so that was what most radio stations were talking about for the ride home. My drive was a little over 9 hours, but it really wasn’t that bad and I’d driven that stretch of I-81 and I-64 so much that I knew what I was doing and where I was going, so I was on autopilot with music blasting for most of the way. I finally made it home that evening as my parents were leaving to head north to my cousin’s wedding.