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.
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.
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.
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.
Some time in 2004 some kid on Coasterbuzz sent a private message telling me I wasn’t much of an enthusiast because I had been to neither Cedar Point nor Six Flags Magic Mountain. That, at the time, was untrue as I had in fact been to Cedar Point, but I had let my membership for Cbuzz Club expire, thus I wasn’t able to update my track record from the 51 coasters at that time it had shown I’d ridden. Surprisingly, this was not the first time I had gotten some random email telling me something similar. To the kid that sent me that message, you can sleep better now, because I’ve been to both Six Flags Magic Mountain and Cedar Point. Multiple times.
Like I care.
This is a story about the worst day I’d ever had at an amusement park. This is also the day I had the biggest case of anticipointment I’d ever had. Its not filled with twists and turns, but happens in a rather linear fashion. It wasn’t just because I was at Six Flags Magic Mountain, a notoriously hard park to like, that the cause of my bad day.
Winter Coaster Solace a great event. Great food, fun rides, and lots of friends. This would be my second event. I didn’t want to arrive too late since they were only offering ERT for 2 hours. But we had plans for the evening, so we weren’t going to be at the park until it closing time as we had for most other parks.
Since it was Sunday we were told that traffic wouldn’t be terrible going to Magic Mountain, but we’d need to leave at least an hour before we expected to be there. ACE SoCal and Ride World were holding West Coast Bash from 8-10 AM and I wanted to hit X as much as possible. So at about 7 AM the alarm went off and I called up to Tim Danner’s room to let him know we were up and getting ready to leave in just a few minutes.
The second day of my trip consisted of a first time park for me, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. I had done a good job telling myself that I wish I hadn’t done this park before I got there. I was tired and in pain, but I had already bought my ticket. I got up around 9 am am on Wednesday morning, packed up camp and headed to take a shower. After I was dressed I went to McDonalds for breakfast, and then headed out to Louisville. The sky was overcast and I was hoping that I wouldn’t get rained out of my second day.
The drive was about 2 hours and I arrived at the gate of the park around 11:30, 30 minutes after opening. The parking lot is confusing, and this took up an extra 10 minutes just to find the right lot to be in and the front of the park.
First impressions are lasting, and mine of Kentucky Kingdom were not a good one. It was in a run down looking area of the city. I can see how this is the Midway for a fair because that’s the feeling I got whilst I was there. I got out of my Xterra and went to the front gate. It looked as if it was going to be busy as the line for the turnstiles was long. I then realized I had forgotten my camera, so I went back. When I got back to the gate I got in with no wait and headed to Greezed Lightnin’, going the long way around to view the park.