September 3-4, 2011
Arlington & Dallas TX
When Six Flags over Texas announced that they were completely redoing the Texas Giant, I was apprehensive. I hadn’t ridden it, and was hoping that they’d make a once well liked coaster well liked again, but when they announced what they were doing to it, I was kind of worried. Especially since this was basically now going to be a prototype for the Rocky Mountain Iron Horse track that was being placed on the ride. Over the course of several months (well, a year, I guess), I watched with anticipation. I chose not to go to Texas for 2010 as I had planned, and talked about a Texas trip with Matt Scott to check the ride out.
Matt loved the original and was very apprehensive as well, but we started to make plans for a decent sized Texas trip for Memorial Day Weekend 2011. Then we switched it to July 4 Weekend, 2011. Then we finally decided on Labor Day Weekend because that worked out best for both of us, since I was starting a new job in December 2010 and needed to make sure I had enough vacation time.
A few months passed and we planned the trip out. Then one day Matt found a great price on a flight and asked me when I was going to book and if he should go ahead and book his flight and vacation time. I said sure, because I had planned to book my flight that Friday since it was pay day. Unfortunately, 2 days after Matt booked his flight, I lost my new job. This was both a blessing and a curse for me as I’d spent four very long, very miserable months working for a county that was run very poorly. It was stressful and I was already looking for another job after only about 2 months in, but that’s beside the point. I found myself unemployed and with no hope of going to Texas unless I found another job in time and could get off for Labor Day while giving up on taking Friday or Tuesday off as well.
The summer went by quickly. Unemployment wasn’t terrible, especially since I was able to draw Unemployment benefits to cover expenses, but that meant that I couldn’t afford to waste money on a coaster trip. Thankfully I had a Carowinds pass, so I didn’t do without coasters all summer. But in early August, I had a very fast moving situation on my hands, and along with it, a new job. I needed to see what I could pull off in a month. Texas or no Texas?
I wasn’t going to get Labor Day off because of being new, and a member of the administration team, where someone has to be there on holidays, but that was fine. I cut my portion of the trip to about 2 days. I booked a flight out on Friday night from Charlotte (CLT) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and decided that Six Flags over Texas would be the only park on the trip. Matt invited some people, and we let Andy know we would be out there as well. My flight was delayed 2 hours by a storm with severe lightning, but that was okay. Better delayed than cancelled, and I ended up getting in to DFW at the same time as Matt.
We took the skylink monorail over to another terminal and then found our way outside and to a shuttle bus to the rental cars. Matt checked us in for the rental while I charged my phone, and as we were walking out to the car he said he had a surprise. At that moment, I noticed a sign showing that Avis had new Camaros available to rent and told Matt that if he rented us one of those I’d love him forever for it. And he did! He upgraded us to a canary yellow convertible Camaro.
Matt did a great job in getting the car…but the hotel was much to be desired. We arrived and met up with his friends Ethan and Tim in the lobby. They were having room issues. Their first room had a broken AC, the second room was flooded, and a third room had the AC unit ripped out of the wall. Sadly it was late and Labor Day weekend, so it wasn’t easy to get another room. They ended up sharing a room for us for the first nite. Next time, I’ll be booking.
Even though it was late, we did end up going to Denny’s to eat, and then Walmart for supplies, then some driving around between Dallas/Fort Worth till around 3 AM in the Camaro. Then the next morning came early. But that’s okay, because we were going to Six Flags. This was THE Six Flags. The first. The Original. The one I really wanted to go to. It was also the last of the three original Six Flags parks I’d yet to visit. And it was worth the wait.
Meeting up with Kyle in the parking lot we got in to the park a bit before opening before we headed directly to the New Texas Giant. This was it. It looked incredible. I had heard great things. Would it live up to the hype? There was a small delay in opening but around 10:30 AM they gave the all clear and pretty soon we were on, myself and Kyle in the last seat of the Cadillac style trains.
New Texas Giant–This was probably the best roller coaster I’d ever ridden. I didn’t feel that way immediately after getting off, thinking maybe it was #2. First off, the ride was intense in a good way. Pulling over the first drop in the back gave major airtime. The air on the double up and the overbanks was awesome. There are so many hills that you see coming and realize you’re going to be thrust out of your seats that it’s just insane. The seats & restraints were comfortable. This ride delivered. It had 3 tunnels, special effects, random fire blasts, and airtime galore. Granted, this was one of the first trains out, so it hadn’t warmed up for the day, but it really was amazing. So much so that we immediately got back in line again. But not before running into Andy, who got in line with us. By this point the line was about 30 minutes, but it was totally worth it. Kyle and I sat in the 2nd seat this time, and it was even better in the front. This ride was amazing, and the violent airtime was even more intense near the front. No one was apprehensive anymore, we just wanted more rides.
By this point we decided not to stand in line again for Giant, mostly because I needed to ride the other coasters in the park. The only one not open was Flashback, the boomerang, and I wasn’t in any way saddened by that. But I was excited about every other coaster in the park, so we went to La Vibora next. The line was rather long. We got in line, but then debated on if we wanted to pull the trigger on a FlashPass. Eventually we got a 5 person FlashPass (Andy didn’t feel the need since this was his home park) for $27 a person.
We were kind of wondering if it’d be worth it at first as we expected the park to be busy, and Texas Giant was only available on the much more premium Platinum FlashPass at about $100 per person, but once I got the QBot in my hand and realized that even though it was mildly busy with about 30-60 minute waits on rides…FlashPass was only making us wait about 5 minutes till our reservations were ready. Sure, during the day there were a couple rides here and there that weren’t worth FlashPassing, but it helped out on the lower capacity and more popular rides. La Vibora ended up being a 10 minute wait. Of course, we could have waited in the single rider line, but it wasn’t moving very fast.
La Vibora–This was fun. I liked it better than Disaster Transport, that’s for sure. It could have been really great, but it was a little rough and jerky. But boy did some of those banked turns go really high. I enjoyed it, and loved the inline seating. The first drop was really great, and the middle section was loads of fun. I just wish it hadn’t been so jerky.
Next I used the Qbot to reserve a ride on Mr. Freeze. This was the point we realized that all rides were almost immediately available with the Qbot. The park was busy enough for 20-30 minute waits on the mid to lower capacity rides, so it was definitely worth it to reserve those. I was excited to ride my 2nd Mr. Freeze in as many years. This one had a much cooler looking station (no pun intended) that really looked great at nite.
Mr. Freeze–I didn’t ride in the front when we went to Six Flags St. Louis, so that was my goal this time. Ethan and I sat in the front and I was psyched. I loved Speed in the front, especially the spike at the end, so I was hoping this one would be just as great. The launch was a little more intense than I remembered in St. Louis. The overbanked turn was a little snappier too. I took the opportunity to look straight down when we were at the apex of the top hat, which was neat. Though I always freaked out on the spike on Speed, the spike on Freeze was different in that it had a set of LIMs to push it slowly up to the top of the spike, so there was no “OMG we’re going off the edge” moment. But the fall back was really great. I hurt my wrist as I didn’t pull my hands down in time, but the backwards run was just as good. I still don’t particularly care for being braked while going backwards, though.
Next up we went to ride Batman. The Flashpass entrance was down a utility road, around a corner, up some stairs, and thru a door behind the station. It was weird going back there where it felt like we were in a restricted area. Kyle sat this one out so Andy could ride with us, and I rode in the 2nd row while the rest of the guys rode in the front.
Batman The Ride–This was the most intense BTR clone I’d ever been on. I took my flip flops off and I have to say, my feet were tingling from all of the forces. I like the Batmen rides, even if they aren’t my favorite inverted coaster. This one was a lot of fun. First drop, loop, fun 0G roll, loop, and then intensity till the end. It never gets old.
Steak & Shake across the street was where we had planned to have lunch, but we rode the 2 mine trains before we left. The Mini Mine Train was cute and fun, with a nice pop of airtime before you hit the station. Then we went to the world’s first Tubular Steel Coaster.
Runaway Mine Train–This was one of the better mine trains. Nice theming, though I could tell some of it had been left alone and not kept up. There were some nice lateral forces, some speed, and even some nice airtime. It used the 3 lift system like the ride at Six Flags over Georgia, and in both cases it seemed as though they put some thought into at least making the lifts semi-themed and nice looking.
Some of us need to process our season passes, so we headed there next. They were having issues processing the 2012 season passes, so we dropped our Qbot off as we left the park for lunch. Steak & Shake was overrun by LSU and Oregon fans as the 2 schools were playing that evening at the Cowboys stadium. The park was full of both school’s colors as well. After lunch we said our goodbyes to Andy as it was his anniversary and he was leaving to spend time with his wife. Kyle went to check in to his much nicer hotel, the Hyatt. We went back over to the park and picked up the Qbot. When we got back to the park we headed to Titan on our Qbot, but there really wasn’t a line. I wanted to ride a few times, but we only got one ride in before heading back across the park to meet Kyle.
Titan–I loved Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain. And this one added an extra helix, so I thought I would like it more than Goliath. The drop was great, and there was some airtime on the turnaround hill, but I was a little disappointed with the third hill. On Goliath, it has major ejector airtime. There was airtime and speed over the hill on Titan, but to be honest, it wasn’t as good as I’d gotten on Goliath. Maybe it’s because I’d now been on much better rides since riding Goliath. Regardless, it was still a solid ride. I grayed out on both helices. It’s weird that the mid course completely stops the train, but due to the forces, I guess I see why.
We looked for one of the walkthrough dark rides, but it wasn’t opened, so we headed to the rapids ride instead. The rapids were fun, and we all got pretty wet. Kyle and I wanted to head to the top of the Oil Derrick and take photos, but it was closed due to wind, so we went to Shockwave instead. Would shockwave live up to the hype?
Shockwave–Yes! I rode in the very back with Kyle. The first drop was great; the loops were smooth and intense. After that, there are really odd pops of air. There is some very Phoenix like airtime on the ride, where I came out of my seat. I liked it all the way to the end. When we got back to the station, no one was waiting for our seat, so we got a bonus ride while everyone waited.
Sitting near the entrance to Shockwave to rest, we waited 5 minutes for our queued time to ride Superman Tower of Power. This was my first combo tower, where you’re thrust up, bounce, then taken back to the top and dropped. It was a lot of fun. We headed back over to Mr. Freeze, and then rode Pandemonium. This was my third one of these in two years; they’re fun, but not outstanding. While in line, we noticed that the cars weren’t spinning a lot. Tim sat this one out.
Pandemonium–The first drop and wild mouse section was fun, but after we hit the first midcourse brake our car started spinning wildly out of control. It was great. It spun fiercely thru the rest of the layout. We didn’t see anyone else’s car do this while we were in line or after, but we had a great ride on it. These layouts are a lot of fun if you have a lot of spinning going on. Otherwise, they’re just okay.
The sun was setting and we were trying to figure out what all else to ride before finishing up on either Giant or Shockwave. We headed over to Judge Roy Scream, which is sort of outside of the park.
Judge Roy Scream–Ouch. From the first drop till the end it was rough and not fun. We sat in the very back. The ride had a lot of speed, and would have had some major airtime, but it jackhammered all the way through. And to think, the rest of the guys said it was running better than it had been. Not fun.
There was one thing that Over Texas still had that most other parks had recently gotten rid of. Something that I’d skipped on both trips to Great Adventure…the Parachute Tower. I’m very afraid of heights, and this was just a bench on a cable with a loose lap bar. So we got in line for it. It was a lot of fun and not scary at all to me. Usually heights just make me uneasy, but you go up and come down very swiftly. At this point we headed back over to Mr. Freeze. By the time we got on it was dark, so we got a night ride, which was again amazing. There were a couple guys that wanted food, but Matt and I headed to the dark ride. In the end, the line was too long so we decided to try and come back on Sunday to ride that and the train and a few other things.
I reserved a nite ride on Titan, but our goal was one nite ride on Texas Giant. This was an adventure in itself because of the line jumping. For this ride, Matt and I sat up front in the first seat. Oh My, it was amazing. The first drop wasn’t as good in the front, but boy was the airtime out of control. I was thrust up and forward every time. There was major ejector airtime all over. Our thighs hurt. It was fantastic. Texas Giant was my new favorite coaster.
To be honest, I think a lot of the Summers/Dinn mega wooden coasters, and possibly Son of Beast could have really benefited from the Rocky Mountain treatment that Texas Giant received. I don’t want to see it on a lot of classic coasters, many of which could be great if they were just maintained, but some of the more boring mega wooden coasters that don’t do much could use smoothing out and some reprofiling like Giant received. Our last ride was Texas Giant as the line was long and the park was closing. We headed out of the park and all parted ways. Matt and I got a little lost (again) going back to the motel. The rest of the guys had plans to go to a Karaoke bar, but I was too sleepy and a little cranky, so I went back and went to sleep, ready to get my last nite in the awful motel over with.
We woke up on Sunday morning and met up with Tim and Ethan. Kyle was going to Frontier City, so he’d left out of Dallas. We went to my first In N Out Burger for brunch. This was one of the longer lines we were in over the weekend. In N Out was neat, the food was good, and the place was packed. Loads of LSU fans also trying out a new place. We said our goodbyes to Tim and Ethan. Instead of heading back to the park, with my limited time, Matt and I headed down town to see where JFK was assassinated. Matt had been there before when he was very young.
It was rather eerie seeing where this happened in real life. There was a decent crowd of people there as well. We went to both sides of Dealy Plaza, I took pictures, and after about 20 or so minutes, we left. Downtown Dallas looked nice, I’d love to make it back sometime.
Matt dropped me off at DFW. I settled into watching the WVU vs. Marshall Game until the rain delay. The airport was really nice, though. The flight home was fine, and quicker than expected. We had some heavy turbulence near CLT, but I love turbulence. I was glad to have gotten to go to Texas, especially to ride Texas Giant. And I can’t wait to get back.