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.
As I’d taken two weeks off in September of 2017 to visit Japan I really hadn’t planned a lot of domestic travel in 2017. I knew getting back from Japan would lead into a busy time. The following two weeks after my return to the US were busy with local events including a work trip at Kure Beach. Then there was a pre-planned trip with friends in October to Atlanta. I took most of November easy, but I knew that December would be another busy month to cap off the end of the year. I had tickets to see Janet Jackson in Columbia, SC and Atlanta, GA which were rescheduled dates from her Unbreakable World Tour, renamed the State of the World Tour, at the beginning of December. These were the last two dates of that leg of the tour. Needless to say, I was busy.
Earlier in the year I had the opportunity to request 2 days of vacation in between Christmas and the New Years holidays at work, which meant I would have 10 days off in a row. I didn’t plan out anything, but in the back of my mind I had considered spending part of the time in the Orlando area as my sister and her family have been there for 6 years and I’d only made the trip down once. Eventually I made the commitment and let my sister know I’d be down for the latter half of my time off. Time slowly approached and soon it was Friday.
Some more back story, during my trip to Japan there was a position at an office very close to my house that I’d hoped to transfer to before the year’s end. I knew the position would be available, but unfortunately due the incompetence of some human resource employees I missed my chance at an interviewee even though the local management team tried to set up a phone interview while I was abroad. However, in a surprising turn of events, 2 more unexpected positions became available before year’s end. I was able to secure an interview this time, but the wait in between interviewing and finding out whether I was selected for a position was nearly a month an a half. I was in a bad mood during most of that time, but 3 days before the start of my vacation I received confirmation that I would be transferring, starting effective the first of the year.
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.
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.
Not long after I’d moved to North Carolina I had an idea: I could go to Atlanta for opening weekend of Six Flags over Georgia! Since my first and last visit was rained out and gloomy over 2 days at the park, and there were lots of things I didn’t get to do, I hoped I would have a nice warm day with minimal lines. Unfortunately the weekend before I planned on going I was very sick. I had planned to make reservations that weekend but got so sick that I ended up second guessing my decision to go. When Monday came I was still sick. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. But by Wednesday evening I started feeling some better, so I made reservations on Orbitz. On my last visit in March of 2009 I ended up staying in Marietta at a Ramada Limited. It was clean, convenient, and close to the highway, so I decided I would try for Marietta again. I found a similar room, same ratings as last year, for about $10 cheaper in Marietta so I booked it at a total cost of around $80 for 2 nights.
Friday came and after work I rushed home to get my stuff and head out. Traffic thru Charlotte was awful and put me behind schedule. All of my driving was at nite and this gave me a terrible headache as the lights bothered me due to so much traffic. Around midnight, though, I had finally arrived in Marietta. Eventually I saw the hotel and my GPS told me to turn right, which was impossible as there was only a wall and no exit. I had trouble trying to get to the place, so eventually I called and the lady guided me to the entrance, which was up and off a side street across the bridge I’d kept going under. I should have turned left, then right, but the GPS didn’t say anything about turning left. I checked in rather quickly because I wanted to get to the room. So far motel looked nice so I was happy.
After parking around back I got my stuff out of the trunk, locked up and walked towards the stairs. Then I heard a man start coughing, which startled me. He watched me as I walked up the stairs and then started yelling incoherently at me. I didn’t like this at all, so I rushed to my room. I opened the door…and immediately wished I wasn’t staying there. It was dirty. It was really nasty. I closed and bolted the door shut. I was not happy. People started walking by my door loudly talking and stopping right outside of my door. I felt unsafe. I didn’t want to sleep in the bed, but had no real choice. After about 30 minutes, I got on my phone and used Hotwire to get a better room for the next night, which ended up being at the Atlanta Hilton in downtown for $71. I knew I’d be losing my money for the 2nd nite here, but I didn’t care. I didn’t get much sleep and as soon as morning came I packed up, checked out, and left. I’d never stay there again.
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.