Six Flags Great Adventure TR Fri10/18/13
I planned to get to the park for 5:00 PM opening, but left late due to having to run some errands after getting my car serviced (it was about 1500 miles overdue!). With DC rush hour and lunch at Chap's pit beef in Baltimore, I wound up getting in Jackson just after 6:00.
I went straight to Nitro, figuring that any crowd would have went to El Toro and KK 1st. My hunch paid off, I walked right into the station and into the back row for my 1st Nitro ride since April. All of the trim brakes were open and the block brake did catch the train, but did little to stop it, so the airtime was more than abundant. After 3 years, I am finally convinced that Nitro is my #1 over I-305. (I have been going back and forth between the 2 since 2010.) Nitro's first drop is just as good as I-305's and the fact that every drop is loaded with "pick your butt off the seat air", it is just as good a ride as I-305. Of course, the speed and intensity of I-305 blows Nitro out of the water, but I feel like "I enjoyed my ride" when returning to Nitro's station as opposed to "I survived my ride" when returning to I-305's. That is just enough to put Nitro ahead. I'm sure I may change my mind again when I go down for the last day of Kings Dominion next week, but this is the 1st time I have felt Nitro finally had an edge. This one ride was worth the trip alone!
I went around for a 2nd ride since the line was so short, but the crowd was starting to mount (wish I had got to the park at 5:00 like planned :( The line was about 5-10 mins to the station. It never stopped moving thanks to an excellent crew moving trains out with minimal stacking. Then they had a shutdown. I suspect it was an e stop since the one train was near the top of the lift and the other train was halfway between the safety brake and transfer brake (not a typical parking place for a normal shutdown.) I thought about waiting it out until I saw them send the cast member all the way to the top of the lift (he was dying about halfway up, it was probably going to take him awhile to get down even after the ride restarted). Figured I should leave and come back rather than lose the rest of my "early" advantage.
I went to Batman TR. The line was just at the drain exit at the main queue rail house. I figured this was not good news for the crowds, so it probably was not going to get any shorter. About 20 mins later, got my ride in the back row. It actually worked out that I could sit on the coveted unloading side (tough seat to get when you are a single rider.) The G-forces are a little stronger on that side. Was able to buckle the seat belt on my own after wiggling around a little.
After riding Batman, I went back to look at Nitro (which was back up) and the line was already in the queue house (thanks to the shut down, I am sure.) I decided to pass and go ride one of the 4 coasters I had skipped earlier, Dark Knight.
The line was almost nonexistent, so there was no real loss. I REALLY think they should have an option for skipping the preshow to just board the ride. I bet the crew does nothing but cycle empty cars for most of the time as the 10 minute preshow is longer than the crowd that was actually getting on the ride (and this is with Nitro and Batman pulling 30-45 minute lines). The ride was as expected; actually the braking was less than it is normally. I forgot this was a mirrored Mouse, so I was leaning the wrong way for the turns at times. The effects seem to be holding up well, so Gradv gets points for that. The ride does receive more venom than it deserves (I have served it my fair share over the years as well.) It is not a bad ride, it just is not one worthy of the Dark Knight name. Call it "Bug's Looney Subway" and it would be perfect for what it does. Ironically, there were hardly any kids riding despite the improportionately large number that were there for halloween stuff that is supposed to be "too scary".
Next up was Skull mountain. The station was barely full, maybe a 2 train wait. First time someone let me in front of them, so I rode almost immediately. I went around for a 2nd back seat ride and had to wait the 2 trains. The ride was lit with black light in the 2 corners, so it was not completely dark as it usually is during the season. I really like Skull Mountain, despite being on the same level of Dark Knight, thrillwise. It is a pretty good dark ride. The back seat produces a ton of air going over the 1st drop (I feel like Verbolten's turn after the 1st launch is the exact same maneuver.) The rest of the course is compact and twisted enough to keep you guessing as to which way it will go, especially when the room is fully darkened.
I can't help but notice that the trains are labeled "B" and "C". In the past, I remember seeing an "A" train. Did Skull mountain ever run 3 trains? I've been trying to figure out the blocking if such a thing did occur at some point in the ride's tenure. I suppose the waterfall section before the lift could be used as a holding area while the other train ran the cycle, but it is an awfully short cycle and the only place to park the 3rd train is on the final brake run within the ride arena. I wouldn't think they would want to do that when stacking trains, but you can see the entire arena when parked on the current final brake run in the back car, so it doesn't really matter.
After Skull mountain, I notice both sides of the Skyride were running. I can't tell you how many years it has been since I have seen that, usually going in April. There was hardly a line, so I went to get in line. For whatever reason, the op made everyone get out of line for the left side to go to the right side. I don't think it closed as it appeared to run the entire night. I used the moment to be 2nd in line and immediately boarded.
After touching down in Frontier Adventures, I went right to Runaway Train. There was no wait for the front of the back car, so I figured I would take that rather than wait 1 train for the very back. The ride was pretty "meh" compared to the very back seat, which has some airtime at the end. Another ride that I wonder if it used to run 3 trains as there is clearly room in the transfer area for 2 trains and Arrows typically ran 1 more train than would fit in transfer.
No Safari this late at night, (I hate how the station appears to have cluttered up the area now.) so I went to Medusa. This is the 2nd longest line of the night. The line ran to the new shorter entrance, no queue rails. They were running 3 trains, but stacking all 3 for several minutes at a time EVERY CYCLE!! I know they only had 2 guys on platform and they were not doddling, but they also didn't move with any sense of urgency either. I have never seen a 3 train coaster run so poorly at any park! It took around 45 mins to get my ride in the back row. Once again, luck worked out on my side as I was able to board 1st in my group and take the unloading side seat. I love Medusa's layout better than Dominator's (no dive loop or zero G roll), but the 2nd half of the ride was dragging due to the block brake being on pretty heavy despite the colder weather. I may have to finally say that Dominator is the better coaster (pains me since I have long dissed Dominator as the worst B&M floorless that I have been on until Hydra came out.) For those that are interested, I needed a very good shove to get in Medusa's seatbelt. I only tried one seat of one train, but it was almost Alpengeist-tight compared to Batman and Dominator.
El Toro's line was starting to spill out into the overflow queue. As much as I would have loved to see if I had lost enough weight to get the bar to clear, the wait was way too long to take the chance, so I had to skip it.
Rolling Thunder is still standing. While I didn't get to ride it this year as we skipped it back in April, I'm ambivalent on its impending doom (especially since there are rumors of something better in the near future and I am not talking about Drop of Doom!). Rot in pieces!!
Next, I walked the Boardwalk to Green Lantern. This was one of the Scare Zones that the park had established, similar to Cedar Fairs'. Since it is an open walk way, there is no charge. I guess with it being a Friday, they were understaffed as I only saw a couple of clowns walking around and they were not really doing anything to startle/interact with guests. I was moving fast, so maybe I missed their act, but based on what I saw, Kings Dominion's and Dorney's scaractors were far better.
Green Lantern's line was about 45 mins long, according to the entrance op. Only 2 trains running since the 3rd was nowhere on site. The single rider line was open, so I opted to do that. The line was pretty slow moving at first, but suddenly picked up speed when 2 kids ducked under the railing separating the single rider queue from the regular line. Soon, everyone in front of me was doing the same, around 10-15 people (and the ride ops were oblivious to it!)
I skipped Superman again. (Knew if the line for Green Lantern was that long, Supes would only be worst!) I decided to go see how bad KK was and it was only 30 mins according to the ride op. I actually got on in less than 25. The 3 train set up is working VERY efficiently. Since they can only launch as fast as the other trains have parked, it makes sense to get rid of the 2nd station and 2nd loading area and just cycle the trains as fast as possible. With 1/4 of the crew! Only time I have seen any park reduce the crew on a ride and have it run MORE efficiently.
At this point, it was 10:00, so I headed back to the Movietown area to try to get my 2nd Nitro ride before closing. Stopped to pick up my 3rd "not ridden" credit on Blackbeard (see Jen, if it was a kiddie ride and Fright Fest is "not recommended for children", then why are they running it, huh? ;) Needless to say, there was no wait. I got to Nitro and the line was still in the queue rail area, so I went to Batman instead. It was a walk-on, so I decided to go twice (had to walk around, but no wait once in the station.) I rode both sides of the train. Still like unloading side better. I am interested to see how the backwards chassis performs at Gradv. I think the ride will be way intense, but doesn't seem like it will kill everybody like many of us initially predicted (it obviously didn't in GrAm).
At 10:45, I could have taken another ride, but decided not to push my luck of them deciding to close Nitro early, so I went over there and got in line. It was still halfway to the queue house, just past the in-line food stand. I waited it out and once in the station, I made a critical decision. There was a group of 2 in front of me and another behind me. I decided to let the 2nd group of 2 in front of me so I could take the unloading side seat (since I rode the loading side earlier.) There was also the slight possibility of a reride when I got back as the last of the line had just entered the station as I ultimately boarded the train with a group of 3, coincidentally. We got back and sure enough, the ride ops broke up the front line to run one more train. There was someone in the back row, but it was only 2 people. Since I rode with the group of 3, they opted to get off. I stayed with the group of 2 and viola, I got a 2nd ride. Score!!! (as Hannibal on A Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together" :)
With my last ride on Nitro, I left Gradv very happy I made the trip.
Thanks for reading,
I am interested to see how the backwards chassis performs at Gradv. I think the ride will be way intense, but doesn't seem like it will kill everybody like many of us initially predicted (it obviously didn't in GrAm).
Is this happening? I was hoping, but haven't read anything. Maybe I missed something in all the hoopla over Zumanjaro?
Thanks for the report Paul, but your comments on the Dark Knight are a tad disturbing....
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
The question is "when" and that remains to be answered.
I am not bothered by Dark Knight. It's a mouse. It's in a building, which is better than the average mouse (not Hershey's). I am bothered by waiting in a line for it. As long as I can walk on it, DK is good for a courtesy ride, maybe more than one if they would ditch the pre-show.
I really don't think the problem was Bizarro's line being long as it was the crew being so slow. Granted, this was just after 8:00, so all of the lines were at their longest. I have waited in Bizarro's line with a near full queue the long way around and it was 45 minutes, so no way a straight shot to the station should have taken that long. I don't even think Flash Pass was an issue. They were just plain AWFUL!!!
Crowds peaked from 7:00-10:00. If I had got there at 5:00, I could have maxed out Nitro and Batman for no less than 5 rides each. Getting there at 6:00 really set me back. 10:00 was fine for "lesser rides" (which, surprisingly included Kingda Ka. I only waited 25 minutes for that!) I could have tried to go back to El Toro and lose the 2 extra Batman rides I took in the last hour, but I figured it wasn't worth the risk of not fitting or having to run to the opposite end of the park for my last Nitro rides.
When I realized how late I was going to get to the park, I contemplated going to Dorney instead (their Halloween event started at 6:00 and went the extra hour to midnight and we know that Dorney would NEVER be crowded at all on a Friday night.) I decided at the last second in Delaware to stay the course and just deal with it. I still had it in the back of my mind to leave Gradv if the crowds were unbearable and drive to Dorney from there (if I didn't get that walk-on ride first on Nitro, I probably would have done it!)
I agree about dk, i've always said that if it had been themed for a looney toons character, then i wouldn't really hate it as much. The ride itself wasn't that bad, but the preshow is a waste if the line is short. I agree they should allow people to skip it if there is no lines. I think the preshow would've been better for batman the ride since the line can get long on that. My other idea for dk would've been to add some more props lik the batpod and flames going off to give the sense that the rider is caught in between the battle with batman and the joker. If they were going to plunk down that much for a mouse in the box, then they shouldn't have half assed it with cardboard cutouts. Make the ride more thrilling by actually taking advantage of the building and use some effects to add to the ride. Nothing fancy like the revenge of the mummy, but it can't hurt.
Man, it's been so long since i've rode a true hyper coaster. Last one was ac in 2009. I liked the air time on i305, but that one you don't really appreciate them as much given how the intense turns and speed overshadows the hills. I would so love to take on nitro again now that i can appreciate it more than i last did in 2008.