I can remember just a few weeks before opening weekend for Six Flags over Georgia in 2010, having just relocated to North Carolina, that I could attend my first opening weekend of any park while returning after a disastrous visit the previous spring for the annual Spring Fling ACE event. I was excited and made plans to leave after work that Friday, spending the weekend in Atlanta. Nine years later, I would return for opening weekend, though I’ve been to the park several times in the years since.
My plans included leaving work early Friday, for which I’d requested and had approved leave for. However, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to leave work until 5 PM. This made my arrival closer to 11 PM, and wiped out any chance of dinner plans in the city, and due to my own hurried attitude, caused me to leave my debit card at a Wendy’s in South Carolina, which I didn’t realize until I was checking into my room. Thankfully my room was already paid for and I had credit cards and Apple Pay, so my arrival and check-in at the Westin Peachtree was quick and I was in my room in no time.
I did freshen up and head out for a slight bit to have a drink and try to enjoy the evening, but eventually made my way back to the Westin and my bed for the weekend. On Saturday morning I headed down to find the hotel’s breakfast buffet in the lobby. I’d gotten used to the breakfast buffet at Marriott and had toyed with going there, but as Westin is a Marriott property, and the buffet was $10 cheaper, I decided I would give it a go. It was just as good, and different enough. Afterwards I headed up to the room and got ready to head out to Six Flags.
I love Atlanta.It’s one of my favorite cities. I’m thankful that its only a four hour drive from where I live because I can get there pretty easy and pretty often.The previous year I took a group of friends for a fun weekend in Atlanta in October, but because of some issues we felt like we needed a do over. We all had a nice time, but there were some interpersonal issues with someone who didn’t go this year followed up with some expectations not being met.We decided to head back in 2018 to set it right.Well…
We’d gotten rooms at the Marquis Marriott in Midtown where we stayed in 2017. I like the Marriott and the Hilton across the street because they’re very convenient and easy for Lyft to get to. We didn’t want to drive this weekend. I’d requested off half a day on Friday and planned to pick up a rental car as neither my friend nor I wanted to drive our cars to Atlanta.I’d rented thru Enterprise, thankfully choosing the free cancellation option.That will be important to the story in a second.
On Friday my friend Stefan came to my house where I dropped my car off after work, then we headed to Enterprise.I’d dealt with the guy at the counter once before when I had to rent a car after someone hit mine.He wasn’t very nice then and apparently things hadn’t changed.The quoted price was originally $212 but for some unexplainable reason went to $412 with a $200 deposit. I expected the deposit, but even though my insurance (and credit card) would cover the insurance without having to purchase theirs, he tried to up the price to add insurance for the day, then some other random daily fees.
My second park visit of 2017 was back to Six Flags (thank you Six Flags Membership Pass thingy). Isaac was going down to Atlanta on business, so I went down for the weekend to hang out at Six Flags on Saturday Evening (we thought the park closed at 10, after a late start, we got in to Atlanta and at the park late, so only had about 2 hours), and again on Sunday morning.
Goliath was still running great, as was Cyclone and Mindbender. Sadly the new dark ride wasn’t open yet, but I’m sure I’ll hit it up later on in the year (I’m planning on seeing Janet Jackson on tour in Atlanta later in the year, so mayhaps then).
Still my favorite Batman clone thus far. I don’t know why I like it best, it’s just got a little bit more ‘umph’ to it. We walked right on to the front row in an empty station. I love parks when they’re dead. Next we went to ride Blue Hawk, the park’s revamping of Ninja.
Blue Hawk–So…this. Didn’t get to ride it last year because the back half of the park was closed in the winter. I have to say, whatever they did to it…worked. I mean, like, I’d ride this on every visit now! Yes, there are still some Janky spots, but the new trains track well and the restraints are comfy, and I actually really enjoyed it for what it was, which is a unique Vekoma looper. It is MUCH improved. But Blue Hawk is a stupid name.
The management at Six Flags seems to be taking a page kind of from the Cedar Fair book in that every time they put new stuff in, they update, paint, and clean up the areas around it. The area around this and Superman look great. They just need to get someone on a schedule of power washing walkways and using a leaf blower in queue lines to keep them clean.
Speaking of Supes, I liked the yellow rails, but it does look good with it’s fresh paint (Scorcher, OTOH, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needs painted. Badly. It looks like a Zombie coaster it’s so rotted). We tried to ride a couple times both Saturday and Sunday, but it just kept breaking down on us.
G.A.S.M. was our last ride on Saturday and first on Sunday. It’s so well maintained, and I do love it.I need to do the Ferris Wheel in Atlanta. This was from our room on the 42nd floor of the Omni. We got such a great deal thru Hotwire ($86 a night, and it had no rooms left when we went to check in).
I can’t say enough good things about this coaster. Ever since RMC came in and did some re-tracking, it has ran so amazingly scary. I love it. It needs some paint and a nice new paint job (chaser lights and uplighting would work). It is so much fun.
On Sunday we ended up meeting up with Bill (rollergator) and Jill, both up from Florida so Bill could process his pass before California. We met up at Goliath for a spin on the back and then over to Acrophobia. So, Acrophobia. They’re doing the VR thing on it this year. I opted out on that last year because I was afraid I’d get motion sickness. However, I knew I wouldn’t get motion sickness on this one. Also, I’m very afraid of Heights, and Acrophobia has that whole tilt you forward function. I decided to give it a try. The VR makes it look like you’re much taller (around 1000 feet) than you are, with mechanical spiders that you can shoot at coming at you. I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t terrified because I was occupied during the ascent up and couldn’t see the ‘real’ world, and I could hear the clacking more clearly letting me know we were about to drop. And the drop as always was great. I’d say this was a really cool experience possibly suited to this type of ride.
After going over and riding Mindbender with Bill & Jill Isaac and I headed out to dinner at the Vortex in Midtown. I’d been to the one at Little Five Points, so we gave this one a try and you’ll get no complaints from me. If you haven’t been to a Vortex in Atlanta, try it on your next visit. I love the city of Atlanta. We had a nice, relaxing Sunday evening, then I headed back to NC while Isaac stayed down for work. I’m glad Atlanta is only 4 hours south. I’ll likely be back sooner rather than later.
One thing on my bucket list had been to hit up a park on New Years Eve. I hadn’t really planned on it for this trip, and even when making plans for the end of the year this wasn’t the original idea as we had discussed Savannah, Charleston (S.C.), or just staying in Charlotte, which is what I’d done most years down here.
We woke up and headed down to the dirty south early Saturday morning from my house, arriving in Atlanta around 11:30, with our first stop being lunch at The Vortex in Little Five Points, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta. After amazing burgers and beer was had by all, we killed some time whilst heading over by Turner Field so I could take pictures. We were way early, so once we got to Six Flags we had more time to kill. This was the only time I’d never ran in to really heavy traffic in Atlanta, but I’ll put that on the Peach Bowl and it being New Years Eve.
Once we got to the park we wondered, with the weather being what it was, if rides would run. Basically, every thing in the front 2/3 of the park was scheduled to be open, but obviously this was weather permitting. I’d been to the park when a little rain and mostly clouds shut everything down, so I was trying to think of alternative options. However, it would end up not being necessary as the park ran all of the major rides at the front of the park, and that was good enough for me.
Waking up early, we picked up breakfast and headed north to Six Flags Magic Mountain. This was the only time I’d ever actually been in any of the infamous LA traffic. Friday morning…wasn’t terrible. But we did get caught up in traffic. I think if you go into it with the mindset of it IS going to happen, it’s much more tolerable. I had gotten online a couple days before on Wednesday and signed up for a Six Flags membership, which is like a season pass but you’re locked in for 12 months of around $7 per month payment. After the initial year, I can either cancel or continue. With taxes and fees, SFMM was around $12 on this trip and the first non special event theme park admission I’d paid for.
After we arrived we paid for parking, went to the front gate, and Isaac got his season pass ticket all before opening. We headed over to the Season Pass processing center to process our passes. It was quick and painless. I will say this, the park needs a lot of cosmetic and infrastructure work (nothing that hasn’t been said before), and the Season Pass center could use just a few touch ups to be really nice, but it looked run down. A theme for the day. Once we got in we headed directly to one of my favorite coasters of all time.
X2–I still love this coaster. We ended up on the left side. We put our stuff in a locker and got in line for the front seat. Isaac was excited to try it out. The audio was different than my last time around. The wait was about 30 minutes or so. That first drop is still amazing. You swing to face straight down (well, almost) as you fall down a nearly vertical drop. The ride is a little rough, and shakes, but I like it. The whole ride is just so different than most coasters out there, and I’d really like to see Six Flags purchase a non-free spinning 4D coaster by S&S Sansei at one of their parks for a marquee attraction.
I left Knott’s Berry Farm at 12:30 PM. I should have stopped and gotten something to eat, but not knowing how L.A. traffic would be midday on a Monday, and not knowing exactly how long the ride would be, I waited till I got to Six Flags, which was a mistake I’ll get into in a bit. Overall, it to me about an hour and six minutes to make the drive from Knott’s to Six Flags. Not bad, from what I can tell, in moderate traffic. Who says driving in L.A. is hard?
It went from beautiful to partly cloudy, to pretty dreary by the time I got to Magic Mountain. Why was it always dreary when I go to Magic Mountain? I was, however, excited when I arrived and saw things that made me happy. First, X2 was running. Second, there was only 1 open car lane in to the park, which I hoped meant that it was about as busy as Knott’s. Third, getting into the parking lot, seeing a couple hundred cars, and parking right behind the handicapped spaces. Fourth, only one gate into the park was open, followed by empty midways. There were more employees at Magic Mountain than guests.
Already, I was in a better mood than my first miserable experience, but then I was just heading in to the park. Would the park be clean? Would the rides be opened? I figured without pressing my luck too much, I would head to my favorite coaster in California thus far…
My last visit to this park was the spring of my first year living in North Carolina, and I went during opening weekend I hadn’t been back since, and I lived so much closer now. Something always seemed to come up. So I decided on an impromptu trip to Atlanta in the middle of July since I hadn’t been to the park during the summer yet. Besides, I needed a coaster break. I left work at 4:30 PM on Friday the 13th. Traffic wasn’t bad for the most part, and I actually made it into Atlanta and down to Austell by 9:00 PM. I’d gotten a room close to the park. Normally I’d have stayed at the Hilton in Midtown, but they were full, as were the rest of the nicer hotels down town so I figured why not stay close to the park as that was the reason for the trip.
On Saturday morning I got up and headed over to the park a little after 10:00 AM. The forecast was for thunderstorms all day and it had rained the evening prior, but that morning I woke up to beautiful skies and hot temperatures. I was hoping the park wouldn’t be packed and that the chance for rain would keep people away. I don’t know if it worked or not, but even though the park was far from dead, wait times and crowds weren’t unbearable. My first stop in the park was my only new credit.
Dare Devil Dive–I headed over to Dare Devil Dive first because I was afraid the line would get too long. Thankfully it was maybe a 20 minute wait. First off, Kudos to the ride ops. The announcer was funny and engaging, and the girls working the train were fast and efficient. I really liked the new train design with only lap bars. That was much better than Mystery Mine’s OTSRs. The first drop was a beyond vertical drop and it was fun. I was surprised at how smooth the ride was. And how fun it was, too! The first inversion was smooth, there was some nice slightly floaty airtime on the course. And the final inversion was slow and fun. Overall I was far more impressed than I expected to be. Now if they’d only put these restraints on all the other Eurofighters.
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.
Monday morning sure seemed a lot like Sunday morning. We headed out early from the Crowne Plaza and drove to Six Flags Great Adventure. I really had nothing on the agenda today other than to try and ride Kingda Ka as it was down the entire day when I was at the park last year. We arrived just after opening. I saw Ka testing, so I was excited. We headed into the park and met up with Ken over by Ka, but unfortunately the ride was down once we arrived. There wasn’t much of a line, but they had the queue closed off.
So we waited. We stood in the shade by the ride’s entrance. Monday was a little warmer than the rest of the weekend, but it was still nice with a breeze. After waiting maybe 15 minutes the ride opened and started launching riders. All three of us got in line for the front row, and since Matt and I rode together first when we got off I was able to just switch to the right side of the train and ride with Ken. I had wanted to ride this to compare it to Top Thrill Dragster since it opened. Dragster is a fun ride and only has a lap bar, but Ka had shoulder harnesses. I was adamant when the ride was built that they wouldn’t make much difference, but people had complained ever since. Now I saw why.
Kingda Ka–The launch was no different from Dragster’s launch, but the shoulder restraints felt terrible as you’re launched forward and up the top-hat. The actual ascent feels much the same as Dragster, and going over the top I never felt the magnetic brakes slow us down on the way over. It was interesting to ride this one without having glasses on and being able to see. The downward spiral really hurt my shoulders both times that I rode, and the hill afterwards was more pain, less fun. I was glad it was over the first time, and even happier it was over the 2nd time. I don’t see me riding this many times on future visits.
As I’d started a new job since moving I didn’t have much vacation time, so I was trying to use all of my extra days off that summer, as much as possible, to go on a couple of coaster trips. I had considered Chicago, then Ohio for Labor Day weekend, but then Matt suggested I come up for SFNE & Lake Compounce. That sounded tempting, so after a few weeks of planning I was almost set. I purchased my plane tickets a few weeks prior to the trip, and on Friday afternoon I left work at 4 PM bound for Greensboro for my flight. I was worried that I would get stuck in traffic, but I was in the terminal 25 minutes after I left work, and my flight wasn’t until 5:50 PM.
The flight to Charlotte was quick and easy and my layover in Charlotte was quick as well. Then the flight to Hartford/Springfield was much faster than I’d though it would be. In fact, we were at the airport about 20 minutes early, which was good because Matt was there waiting for me. We made our way to the La Quinta near the airport, which was pretty nice compared to the last La Quinta I’d stayed in. We settled in and I dealt with a stomach ache for the rest of the evening before finally drifting off to sleep after 1 AM.
On Saturday morning we got up and headed down for a quick bite to eat and then we headed out to our first park, a place I’d wanted to visit for a very long time, Six Flags New England. The weather was beautiful, and Weather.com was calling for some clouds and blustery winds, which is what we got and it was fantastic.