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Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report

HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile

Posted:
6/19/14 at
2:53:40 PM

Edit:post visit Trip Report 9-10 posts down.

So this coming Monday, my 12 year old daughter and I will be going to Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ for the first time. Each summer we've been hitting a new theme park or two, and we are both excited for SFGA!

We have a hotel nearby, and plan to get there early for the gate opening. I scheduled the Monday trip to avoid the large crowds and lines. But as the day nears, i'm starting to wonder if it'll be crowded anyway, being summer and all. What type of crowd/lines can i expect on a summer Monday? Fortunately it's not a holiday weekend at least.

Also, we are both excited about Kingda Ka - I was thinking to head there first as I expect the line to get long. Good or bad idea? El Toro is another "must ride" for us of course. Gate opening strategy suggestions?

Also how is the fast pass (or equivalent) system there? Worth it on a summer Monday? There's nothing worse than waiting in line on a hot and humid day!! EDIT: Just saw - high of 78 and partly cloudy Monday at the park. Perfect!

The more info we have the better, so thanks for any tips you guys and gals can offer.

-Nino

* This post was modified at 6/23/14 11:31:27 PM *

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by frontrow frontrow Profile at 6/19/14 3:22:18 PM
There are people on here that visit SF Great Adventure on a regular basis, because its their home park. SF Great Adventure is one of my favorite parks, and I usually get out there every other year. I usually start with Kingda Ka first thing in the morning. Next I usually get a few rides on El Toro, if I fit on it. Then Bizarro is next, and I try to get multiple rides on it. After that I usually make my way to the other side of the park for Nitro and Batman. Nitro seems to have the best capacity, so that's why I usually save it until later. I've had great luck with crowds at Great Adventure. In fact last year we were there on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Easter Monday was the most crowded I ever seen at the park, and the wait times were between 30-60 minutes. Superman usually has a long line, even on a slow day, due to the loading process. Green Lantern is hit or miss. Some days it's almost a walk on, but get very busy also. I usually ride those 2 coasters very late in the day; that's when the lines seem to be the shortest. Other than the coasters, Houdini's Great Escape is very unique attraction that I would suggest riding. I've never purchased a flash pass type upgrade at any park, and there has only been a handful of times when I probably should have. Hope you find small crowds and have fun. I think you and your daughter will really like SF Great Adventure.
Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/19/14 3:28:54 PM
Front Row - thanks for your advice. Kingda Ka and El Toro it is to start then! Maybe we'll do Superman after if it's still early enough to beat the crowds.

Yes SFGA seems to be the best park we have not been to within 6-7 hours. We hit Hershey (great) and Great America (below average) last year and from a coaster perspective, SFGA looks to top both. Next on the list will be Carowinds I think.

Being someone that runs hot anyway (i'm comfy in about 55 degree weather) i'm glad to see it will not be death hot on Monday. That should really make it more enjoyable if the lines start to develop a little.

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 6/19/14 3:49:10 PM
Remember, Kingda Ka may not be open due to the Zumanjaro addition, which I don't believe has opened yet. I heard they've been opening Ka sporadically on weekends, but, not having been since early May, I have no first-hand knowledge.

Have blast, Hampton!

* This post was modified at 6/19/14 3:49:47 PM *

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by alpengeistno3 at 6/20/14 2:14:27 AM
I'm a regular visitor to Gradv (nowhere as near as much as the locals). I have not had much success with the "hit KK 1st" plan as the ride has either been down or late opening everytime I have tried it. The one time it was working, EVERYONE else had the same plan, so it was still an hour wait.

My plan the last 2-3 years has been to go against the crowd and go to Nitro. The crowd does not show up until 12:00, so I can get anywhere from 10-15 rides before any kind of wait develops if all 3 trains are running. I can go hit Batman in under 15 mins and walk on Skull Mountain and Dark Knight before 1:00. At that point, I dabble with shorter wait rides like Rolling Thunder (RIP), Runaway Train, Blackbeard, and sometimes Green Lantern before doing the evening push. Around 6:0 or 7:00, KK is 30 mins or less, Medusa is a walk-on after 8:00 and if you really want to do Supes, you should wait until after 9:00. El Toro has been a no go the last 2 years, but when I could go, I would wait until after 8:00 to ride that and Medusa. It is running best in the evening hours, anyway. I end the night with a quick Nitro marathon (assuming the crowds have sufficiently died down. If not, do a ride in the area and shoot for the last ride as they will let you stay on until the front line is gone if no one is in your line when you get back.) There is an art to figuring it out if you want to ride in the back row, but with 3 trains, you don't have to be the last one in the line in order to make it work.

That's my plan. I will be in the minority around here and that is fine. Nitro is my favorite ride at Gradv, so I use the fact that everyone else is heading to Ka and Toro to my advantage.

Paul

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by depotrat at 6/20/14 5:35:05 AM
I don't know your budget, but a one time only visit would be enhanced with a Flash Pass.
Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/20/14 10:37:27 AM
More good advice to consider, thanks folks. Yeah i may get the flash pass if we get there and the lines are more than 20 minutes regularly. Heck i may get them anyway. These memories will last forever, credit card balance won't.

I was wondering about kingda ka being up too. will have to do some research. If we don't get to ride it at all that will be a pretty big let down for us.

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by parkbookman parkbookman Profile at 6/20/14 12:48:18 PM
We were there last Friday and Kingda Ka did not open until 4 when they were done working on Zumanjaro (we also stopped in for a couple of hours on Sunday and KK opened around 12:30).

As for our plan, we headed straight for El Toro, then went to Bizarro and the Mine Train. Hopped on the Sky Ride and hit Nitro, Batman, Dark Knight. Broke for lunch then got in the kiddie coaster, Skull Mountain and Blackbeards before heading over to Superman and Green Lantern. (we also rode the flume and parachute tower). At that point it was just before 4pm and we saw people starting to gather at the entrance to the area where KK is. Got that one in and by 4:30 had hit all the coasters.

Now the crowds were VERY light that day (about 1000 walkins and 3000 eighth graders who rode in on busses), but the plan seemed to work really well for my family.

We had a great time, hope you do do.

* This post was modified at 6/20/14 12:48:58 PM *

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by Chris27 Chris27 Profile at 6/20/14 3:40:22 PM
Gonna depend on the day and weather. GA is my home park, get passes every year and go about 25 times a year to GA and the water park.

Going for opening is tricky, sometimes its dead and sometimes its a long wait to get into the park but the weather is key. I find the best times to go are around 4-5 in the summer on a weekday to close the park. People from opening are leaving and if you catch it on the right day the park is dead.

Best days are when its raining in the morning but then is set to clear around early afternoon and is cloudy. You get those who see the weather and wont go, its cloudy and not hot out and the park is dead.

I dont think Ka will be open, seems like its been opening weekends at night.

If its gonna be your first time and one time trip and its crowded then you might want to get the flash pass to get on everything.

If everythign is open and its crowded you can expect to wait on Toro and Ka and for some reason everytime I go Superman is always packed. I hardly ever get to go on it. Not that its a great ride, the loop is the best part of the ride, its really too short. But because I live so close and go so often I really wont wait for anything other than Toro and Ka and maybe Nitro.

Anything else isnt worth the wait for me. Bizarro is always dead, Latern usually has nobody on it, Ka, Toro, Superman, Nitro usually have lines and also Batman is hit or miss. Sometimes the line is out the tunnel and sometimes nobody is on it. Depends how many trains they are running.

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/21/14 1:39:49 PM
Thanks for all the detailed responses. In light of all this info, i think we are going to get a thrill pass so we can go Sunday night after the drive up and hopefully ride Kingda Ka and ElToro, maybe Superman. Then come Monday, well have those out of the way and if the lines are hefty we can concentrate on the other rides, which there are plenty of! And if the lines are still short Monday, well then bonus! It will be cheaper than a flash pass and equal more quality time with my daughter, plus no reservation coordination.

Thanks everybody, you have surely made our trip that much better with your help. Here's to short lines and many rides on all your favorite coasters this summer!

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice Photo by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/23/14 8:48:12 PM
So we had a great time at the park! We owe a bit of that to the members here helping out with advice, so thanks!! Here a trip report, or mre of a review of the rides...we hit every adult coaster.

Sunday night...
Green Lantern around 5pm, 30 min wait. Fun but bangs my head alot (im 6'3). My daughter enjoyed it more. Not something i'd ride twice. Ive ridden other b&m stand ups...same as i remember.

El Toro around 6pm, 40 min wait. WOW! Better than the hype! Airtime..ejector and floating. Speed...smooth but its so intense you dont notice. Great from start to final brake run. My new favorite coaster hands down. Daughter agrees! We rode front, middle, and back over course of trip. Back was best for first half, front best for 2nd half of ride. Rode 3 times monday..twice in morning with no line, 20 min line monday afternoon.

Bizzaro..around 7pm..10 min wait. Pretty nice floorless..showing its age a little. Would have been much better up front but we didnt feel like waiting. Good thing too, as the ride ops were pretty slow. Next to El Toro, this felt like an afterthought. We rode the log flume after this...walk on...nice flume!!

Kingda Ka..8pm...1 hour wait. We rode in the back. Another WOW! INTENSE!! Ive been on TTD and this was much rougher, but that actually added to the thrill. Launch and downward twist were amazing. We loved this and got a real buzz from the ride. Made our night. We bought the on ride photo, both of us in death scream mode!!! Park was closed when we got off ride.

Monday rides in next post....will add later tonight when daughter is asleep!

edit: Added the photo of kingda ka - we are the ones that don't look like we are half asleep :-) Opted to remove the fake train border from pic, I like seeing the actual train in the photo...

User Submitted Picture

* This post was modified at 6/25/14 10:17:28 AM *

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/23/14 11:28:48 PM
Ok...so got to the park today (monday) around 10:20. At the gates, once they opened, we waited in line about 6-7 minutes to get in the park...as usual we picked the wrong line!

Superman - we went straight here from the gate, knowing the line would get long and slow. Got on after a 10 minute wait from just outside the station. Pretty fun ride, but not great. I was expecting more inversions for some reason. The pretzel loop was really forceful. I loved diving into it face first, but once in it i couldnt wait to get my breath back. I think I prefer the vekoma flyer at SFA which was even more intense. Neither make me want to ride again, mainly due to body stresses. Guess im old! We took a few short line rides on El Toro afterwards...awesome, great reminder of why i drove 6 hours to a theme park..no need for 2nd el toro review...

Runaway mine train..walk on, could have rode twice in a row if we wanted. Not the best mine train. Only one lift hill. Characteristically rough. Meh. Nice change up at least.

Houdinis great escape - Neat!! We had no idea what this was and were surpised when our world got turned upside down. Worth riding if short to medium wait.

Sky screamer...15 min wait..seemed to spin faster than others? Still, if you've ridden one, you ridden this one.

Skull Mountain...5 min wait. Nice changeup. Not as good as backlot stunt coaster which i was comparing it to. Not really memorable honestly, but glad it was there to ride, we had fun on it.

Nitro..40 min + wait. This is where six flags shows its bad side. Pathetic ride ops. Many trains took 5+ minutes to load. Once on the ride, the train looked painfully neglected. Just a really poor experience up to the first drop. We really enjoyed the ride.Lots of coaster fun in one ride. I greyed out a little during helix. Seemed to have all the elememts of Apollo's with a few more bits added in. Great coaster. Too bad the experience was partially ruined by the poor ride ops and delapidated condition of the trains. We sat waiting at least 5 minutes to get back in the station at the end. Hypers should load quick, but they found a way to buck that trend at six flags today. The ride itself probably trumps apollo for thrills, but seemed "ghetto" otherwise in comparison.

Batman the ride..20 min wait from hell! Six Flags let us down again. We got in line, and soon we were standing in a metal enclosed tunnel, with zero ventilation, nevermind a/c. As we moved along slowly, it got even hotter and pretty claustrophobic. Male funk filled the air. Finally we got out of there and into the station. Again, ride ops are slow for this style of ride. We rode up front which is always a bonus on inverts. I was surprised by how fun this was! Nice near misses and still pretty smooth. I think i prefer this to Alpengiest (maybe ridden too much). Reminded me a little of Nemesis at Alton Towers.

Dark Knight...5 min wait to enter preflight. Way to step it up six flags..well almost..no a/c in preflight room..cmon man! Otherwise, disneyesque theming of a wild mouse. Well done and lots of fun. Impressive.

Blackbeard's Treasure..5min wait. Poor ride op but hey its not gonna have the top team in the park so i give it a pass there. Color- primer orange..really its primer and an eyesore. Fun ride for what it is. Much more fun than the arrow mine train. If you have time, ride it, it's good fun.

Overall, pretty nice park with some let downs with ride ops and maintenance. The area theming was nice. Kingda Ka and El Toro are worth the trip alone and really make SFGAdv a really fun park to visit. The abundance of other rides kept us smiling (and sometimes cursing in line) for the 1.5 days we were there. Would recommend to a friend. El Toro is a MUST RIDE for any coaster fan. Better than i could have imagined!

* This post was modified at 6/25/14 9:53:47 AM *

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by frontrow frontrow Profile at 6/24/14 2:18:42 PM
Great review. Sounds like the crowds weren't bad at all. I personally love SF Great Adventure. I do agree that its overdue for some TLC. Nitro just looks horrible, with its rusty sign, and peeling paint. I really do like the ride itself. They really need to focus on Nitro and Batman in the off season. I've had the same experience while in line for Batman as you did. They really need to put in some fans or AC. I came pretty close to puking on Batman, and it wasn't because of the ride. It was due to heat and smell I had to endure for so long. I agree about Kingda Ka. It's rougher than Dragster, but feels so much more extreme. To me Dragster is just another great coaster at Cedar Point. Kingda Ka is more than that; its very thrilling experience. I'm glad you enjoyed El Toro. I've been throughout most of the country, riding coasters, and El Toro is my favorite wooden. Intimadator 305 at Kings Dominion is the only coaster that I like just as much. I'm glad your daughter enjoyed the park. I have 4 kids of my own. My oldest son is 21, so he's on his own, and barely gets to go with us anymore, due to his work schedule. I have a 14 year old son and a 12 year old daughter that go with me all the time. My youngest son will be 9 next week, and he is just now starting to go with us. I've I loved coasters and amusement parks, but I'm having the time of my life with my kids right now. I'm glad you enjoyed Houdini. It wasn't until my last visit that my friend Mike pointed it out. I saw the building a bunch of times, but never realized a ride was in there. I too was surprised by the experience. Out of curiosity, what is the next park on your to do list?
Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/24/14 10:44:59 PM
Frontrow - glad you mentioned the kids and coasters. I wasnt really a coaster nut until my daughter was tall enough to ride the big ones..then i realized what a great time we could have together, so i went all in on the coasters. We have been hitting a few new parks every summer since together....like you say it's a blast! The youthful excitement rubs off! My 2 year old son hopefully will enjoy them too. My wife is a trooper, but not a total coaster freak.

I was wondering about the Nitro sign...rusty on purpose?? Sounds like not from your post. Pretty sad if that used to be a shiny painted sign!

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by frontrow frontrow Profile at 6/25/14 12:42:17 AM
HamptonRoadsRider said:

Frontrow - glad you mentioned the kids and coasters. I wasnt really a coaster nut until my daughter was tall enough to ride the big ones..then i realized what a great time we could have together, so i went all in on the coasters. We have been hitting a few new parks every summer since together....like you say it's a blast! The youthful excitement rubs off! My 2 year old son hopefully will enjoy them too. My wife is a trooper, but not a total coaster freak.


I was wondering about the Nitro sign...rusty on purpose?? Sounds like not from your post. Pretty sad if that used to be a shiny painted sign!

I can't figure out how to post photos on here, or I would show you a photo of Nitro in its opening year, 2001. There's no rust on the sign, nice and shiny, the paint is bright colored, and the trains are brand new. Even though it looks terrible, it still runs like it did in 2001, as of my last ride on it, last year.

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by Chris27 Chris27 Profile at 6/28/14 11:45:48 AM
Glad you had a good time, sounds like it worked out well and you got on everything.

Sucks though cause the new drop tower ride will open on Thurs for pass holders and Friday for everyone else.

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 6/28/14 8:02:52 PM
Chris27 said:

Glad you had a good time, sounds like it worked out well and you got on everything.


Sucks though cause the new drop tower ride will open on Thurs for pass holders and Friday for everyone else.

Dang. The optimist in me says "just another to reason to go back and use the thrill pass". Honestly I was more disappointed that KK was down most of the time vs Zumanjaro.

Re: Great Adventure first time - questions/advice by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/1/14 2:40:56 PM
frontrow said:
. I'm glad you enjoyed Houdini. It wasn't until my last visit that my friend Mike pointed it out.

Mike? Who dat? :)

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 7/1/14 2:46:01 PM
Glad you got to ride the big 3!

Also, I AGREE about the Nitro neglect. (did anyone see this post coming?) Nitro is my favorite ride of all time and I want is a bit of care put into the big fella. The Nitro sign, the staff, the trains, it all could just use a bit more care!

Somedays you can have an AMAZING experience over there at Nitro, but sometimes you get those ops who just don't know what they're doing. Wish you had better onces so you could keep riding Nitro over and over.

Glad you enjoyed the park overall! REALLY surprised you enjoyed the Batman: The Dark Knight. I find it as the biggest waste of time and money ever. Although the park needed a family attraction I don't think that was the answer.

Hope you come back someday! We may get something big soon! :)

- mugen828
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 7/1/14 6:53:57 PM
Hey mugen - yes im pretty sure well be back at some point. El Toro and Kingda Ka are definitely travel caliber rides. For dark knight, the overall experience was a good one. I think the wild mouse ride works well in the dark.

Its funny with the Nitro sign....the rust is so complete it could pass as part of the theme almost...like a rat rod theme or something. Hopefully they do put some TLC into it, shame to see such a great coaster in that shape. Would like to ride again under better circumstances. Even though I try not to let the little things like slow ride ops bug me, they do end up affecting my recollection of the ride.

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by alpengeistno3 at 7/2/14 6:51:21 PM
Just got back from Gradv yesterday. In the ride ops' defense, there is little they can do with the set up management has given them. 2 ops to check 3 32-36 person trains?!?! To put that in perspective, CP has 6 ops on Raptor's platform. Talon and Great Bear use 4. Busch will use 2 ops, but only when running 2 trains.

With only 2 ops, they are almost guaranteed to stack the 3rd train every time (certainly doesn't help when they check the entire train then the board op says "recheck 1". He/she should have told them that as soon as they checked it like they do on Apollo when only 2 are checking.)

Medusa was even more ridiculous with the seat belts adding more time. I rode 7 times in a row and they never cleared the train before the previous one came back.

It is clear that current management is not as concerned with capacity as when those rides 1st debuted (they were quite proud of running 3 trains with maximum efficiency at their September event after 9/11). Flash Passes and the locker policy has made them complacent on the efficiency of their now older rides. You can't blame a broken system on the ops.

Paul

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/3/14 10:54:50 AM
Seat belts on Medusa? When did this happen? I haven't been since early May, but I wasn't aware of that.
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by alpengeistno3 at 7/3/14 1:10:05 PM
beastmaster said:

Seat belts on Medusa? When did this happen? I haven't been since early May, but I wasn't aware of that.

Nothing more than the usual B&M seatbelts. Those things take more time than Nitro's simple lap bars, especially when dealing with empty seats.

Paul

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/16/14 1:37:55 AM
Great tr hramptonroadsrider!
On dark knight, i think they could've themed it for a looney toons character and plopped that in a different area of the park. If they needed to get a dark knight theme, i'd have been fine if they rethemed b:tr as that indoor ac pre show room would've been a hell of a lot better than the sewer tunnel entrance they have. Plus When b:tr is busy, that preshow would be a great way to break up the crowds than for basically a mouse in the box they currently have.
I dunno how sour the relationship with premier and gadv is, but premier could've built a nice indoor family launched coaster and themed that for the dark knight as a sorta 4 person tumbler/batmobile car. So many other ideas would've been better than what they have now basically.

It's been nearly 6yrs since my last trip there. So much has changed since my last visit. Hopefully this year i may go at least 2-3 days. There's no way i am wasting time on some rides like s:uf and gl and i really would rather not shell out the extra money for the flash pass.

* This post was modified at 7/16/14 1:45:57 AM *

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 7/16/14 9:22:39 AM
Cyclone_Phil said:

There's no way i am wasting time on some rides like s:uf and gl and i really would rather not shell out the extra money for the flash pass.

Phil, as much as I dislike standups in general, you're doing yourself a disservice if you skip a potential (front seat only) ride on Green Lantern.

Mike

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by alpengeistno3 at 7/16/14 11:11:33 AM
And Phil, GL's station is such a long walk from the midway that you can probably ride "all-you-can-stand in the early evening hours. After 5:00, it has been a near walk=on the last 2 trips I took there.

And there is a single rider line, if it is open.

Paul

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by HamptonRoadsRider HamptonRoadsRider Profile at 7/16/14 11:17:34 AM
beastmaster said:

Cyclone_Phil said:


There's no way i am wasting time on some rides like s:uf and gl and i really would rather not shell out the extra money for the flash pass.

Phil, as much as I dislike standups in general, you're doing yourself a disservice if you skip a potential (front seat only) ride on Green Lantern.

Mike

You know a stand up in the front could be good. Less rough i'm sure. I'll have to keep that in mind next time i'm at a B&M stand up. I'm not trying shockwave again regardless of car position.

I see your points about Dark Knight, i suppose they could have done more with it, but for an out of towner just trying to hit every ride, it was a nice experience for us.

Re: Great Adv 1st time - questions/advice + Trip Report by Cyclone_Phil Cyclone_Phil Profile at 7/16/14 12:46:44 PM
alpengeistno3 said:

And Phil, GL's station is such a long walk from the midway that you can probably ride "all-you-can-stand in the early evening hours. After 5:00, it has been a near walk=on the last 2 trips I took there.


And there is a single rider line, if it is open.

Paul

Oh ok, i stand corrected then. My main priority on day one will be jaro, ka, bizzaro, toro, nitro. Anything else after that i will see how it goes.