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Ultimate Rollercoaster > Discussion Forums > Roller Coasters, Parks & Attractions > TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014

TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014

Frontrider Frontrider Profile

Posted:
9/9/14 at
1:53:45 AM

It's been years since I've written a "trip report", and most of those were on the local SF New Orleans board, but here goes.

95 percent of my visits to "regional theme parks" take place in fall during Halloween events, not due to any love of Halloween, but because the late closing time and earlier sunsets during those events means I get to experience more night rides, not just on coasters, but on nearly every ride in the parks! Plus, I'm not a big fan of summer heat.

However, due to the impending closure of the park's Scooby Doo dark ride, I made an exception to that general pattern and decided to visit the park on Labor Day weekend.

Even though the last day for Scooby Doo is September 14th, I chose Labor Day weekend because the Saturday would have a 10 PM close, and 9 PM on Sunday, meaning I'd get at least SOME night rides as compared to the latter weekends before the closure, though obviously not the long 5-6 hour night riding sessions I am used to during October Halloween events.

Other than two visits to my quasi-local Dixie Landin' park in Baton Rouge, this was my first park visit since May! Focused largely around Halloween and Christmas events, and then an annual winter-early spring stint in central Florida, my "season" perversely runs from Labor Day through Memorial Day. So I was eager and excited to get my "season" started!

I had planned to visit all my favorite St. Louis animal attractions during the week after Labor Day, as I am into those type of things just as much as theme parks - so I spent two days at the St. Louis Zoo (one of my favorite zoos of the approximately 50 I've visited), one day at Purina Farms, and one day at Grant's Farm. This would put me finishing my time in St. Louis on the Friday after Labor Day, so I figured what the heck, I may as well do two more days at the park on Sat/Sun! This allowed me to spend the first weekend focusing on visiting the entire park and the three woodies I love so much, and on the second weekend I could focus almost exclusively on marathoning on Scooby since I had a thorough visit to the entire park the week before. As a result of this trip, I'd be doing one less week on the road in October than usual, but it was worth it to get closure with the Scooby Doo ride.

I had previously visited this park in 1986 (trip with parents), and as an "adult" in 2004, 2009, 2010, and 2013. As is typical for me, all days spent in the park were full, rope-drop, open to close days. What follows is some thoughts on each ride:

THE DARK RIDE

Scooby Doo Ghostblasters: The Mystery of the Scary Swamp - This is one of my top 5 dark rides found outside the Disney/Universal dark ride meccas of central Florida and southern Cali. It is also, along with Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World, my favorite target shooting "interactive" dark ride I've ridden anywhere! I rode at least 2 or 3 times a day on the 3 days of Labor Day weekend (would have done more but the line gets LONG early and stays that way), and I marathoned on it on Sept 6 and 7. After riding so many times, my appreciation has only grown, as I got more proficient at scoring and also discovered more and more design and story details, both visual and auditory - such as where various villians were hiding in the ride. I really enjoy hitting the Scooby Snacks which make Scooby appear and say cute and funny things. While the ride has villains and "scary" elements, it is more playful and fun then menacing, and has a high "cute quotient", which is perfect for my taste (I am the rare breed that prefers Small World and Peter Pan's Flight over Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Carribean; and prefers ET and Cat In the Hat over Spider Man and Harry Potter). Back to Scooby, the water-based track allows for a more leisurely-paced ride than the busbar-based target rides, as you have more time to take in all the details and hit all the targets. While I enjoy the busbar-based "Haunted Mansion" Scooby dark rides (the last one standing is at Fiesta Texas), the unique, one-of-a-kind, water-based "Scary Swamp" Scooby dark ride in St. Louis was my favorite of all the Scooby dark rides.

THE COASTERS (listed in order of preference)

Boss - Blew me away just as much as the first time I rode it in 2004. Day rides were solid, but the night rides Labor Day weekend were SPECTACULAR. Boss has a winning combination of length, intensity, speed, airtime, and makes for a great night ride, with 4 tall, epic, drops into a dark ravine. The front had solid airtime, especially on the small hill after the double-down first drop, and at the top of one of the rampy bunnies leading to the helix, but the back car is where the most ferocious airtime was. Particulary on the first drop and ESPECIALLY on the drop off the midcourse, which was as strong or stronger than I ever remember the air being here. The backseat air on the foruth major drop (after the swoop curve just after the midcourse drop) was also fantastic. My rides on Boss were superb and numorous (24), and it retains its strong ranking as my number 3 woodie out of 76, behind only Voyage and Boulderdash (althoiugh it is a LOT closer to reaching Boulderdash than it is to Voyage!)

American Thunder - Wow, I may have to rethink my GCI rankings. I love Gwazi due to it being the most "CCI-like" of the GCI's I've ridden, with it's backseat air-filled straight first drop and straight camelbacks late in the ride; and I've long considered Thunderhead the "gold standard" of GCI's more traditionally twisted creations, but American Thunder is coming on really stong to challenge for my fave GCI coaster. I've ridden it before in 2009, 2010, and 2013, and I've always noticed the solid pops of air throughout the ride in both the front and back seats, but some of those airtime moments seemed more extreme on this trip than I remembered. Like most GCIs, this has more pops of air in the front than the back, but the backseat ride on Thunder gives more moments of backseat air than most if not all of the GCIs I can remember riding. It is also very impressive that such a world-class, airtime packed coaster can take up such a small footprint (sort of the GCI version of Boardwalk Bullet) and I honestly don't get why more parks don't order one of these. A hardcore wooden purist like me who likes my wood physical and aggressive loves it, and the "smoothie" crowd loves it too. The ride seems to be a hit with the "GP" as well.

Screamin' Eagle - John Allen's swan-song is a fun and fast romp through a woodsy setting which gives it a fantastic nightime atmosphere. Though not as long, epic, and extreme as Boss, and not as airtime-packed as American Thunder and Boss, Screamin' Eagle is nonetheless an awesome ride in it's own right that does have some nice airtime moments and is ultimately a very fun ride with it's lengthy, classic Allen profile. Screamin' Eagle completes the Six Flags St. Louis trifecta of having the second best collection of woodies I've experienced in a single park, behind only Holiday World.

River King Mine Train - I'm a big fan of the runaway mine train genre and tend to prefer them over multiloopers even if they are usually less "intense". While this one is not in my top 5 mine trains, it's nontheless a fun ride with a nice woodsy setting which makes it a great night ride, and I enjoy the pitch-black tunneled final drop with its hint of backseat air.

Batman: The Ride - On the strength of their hypers (and to a lesser extent, dive machines) B&M has become my favorite steel manufacturer, and many of their multiloopers (like their larger custom inverts and floorless) have grown on me, despite my general attitude ranging from indifference to dislike of the multilooper genre as a whole. That said, the BTRs, with their "tighter" inversions and limited space between each, have always been my least favorite of the Beemer inverts I've ridden. However, I always seem to enjoy the one in St. Louis a little more than the others, and take a few more rides on it. Perhaps it brings back memories of the one that ran in my SBNO home park, SF New Orleans, which also was a "mirrored" BTR and dropped to the right instead of the left. Or maybe it's because SF St. Louis doesn't really have a destination steelie (ie, a hyper) to compete for my steel coaster attention. Probably a combination of the two.

Mr. Freeze - Along with Swarzkopf's Greased Lightning, the Mr. Freeze's have always been my favorite "shuttle" coasters, light years ahead of Vekoma Boomerangs. That said, my "purist" dislike of the backwards coaster experience means I've never been big on shuttles as compared to full circuit coasters, since I only get into half the ride. I prefer the wind in my face and watching the track pass underneath me when traveling forward. Back when the launch of Freeze was forward, I loved the beginning of the ride and lost interest in the second half. Now that it is in "reverse blast" mode, I enjoy the beginning a lot less, but finally loved the second half, facing forward straight down the spike. In a shuttle, at least part of the ride is forwards, making them actually more appealing to me than a full-circuit coaster with the train running backwards!

Ninja - Yes, it's an OTSR "headbanger" and a multilooper, both of which make it a low priority at this park for me. Yet, I do enjoy the backcar airtime on the first drop...

Boomerang - I'm not a big fan of these as they are shuttles whose sole purpose is to invert you as much as possible with as little track as possible constantly turning inwards on itself. Basically nothing but my least favorite parts of a coaster other than the first forward drop. Despite spending 9 days in this park since it opened (including 5 on this trip) I still don't have the "credit", due to a combination of downtime and long lines whenever I thought about hopping on. I guess I'm not much of a "creho"! ;)

Pandemonium - Being a purist who likes traveling forward on coasters watching the track pass beneath me, I'm not a fan of "spinning mice" with their flatride-like random spinning. I would enjoy this a lot more if you could travel forward the entire time, instead of the random spinning. I also don't like that the seats face inward on this model, giving you a visual of nothing but the other riders. Since I already had this "credit" from a past trip, I skipped it this time.

THE SCENIC RIDES

Tommy G Robertson Railroad - One of the highlights for me on this trip. During Fright Fest when I normally visit the park, this is usually unfortunately closed all day, opening at night only as a "haunted train" with HUGE lines, and the haunted train only goes halfway around the park. I enjoyed finally getting to experience it the way it was intended - as a scenic tour around this beautiful tree-covered park, experiencing the entire layout. Having both stations a short walk apart doesn't make the train very useful for transportation, but it DOES make it very easy to get on the train without having to wait by simply boarding at whatever station it is headed for next!

Colossus - Very large and epic Ferris Wheel, with a beautiful, breathtaking view of the park.

Moon Antique Cars - I'm a big fan of these, and cringe whenever parks remove them. Like trains, log flumes, dark rides, drop towers, flat rides, and other scenic rides, they give parks diversity, making them PARKS, and not just a collection of coasters. I enjoyed riding this both at day and night. Unlike at the SF's in Dallas and Atlanta, it was nice being able to ride without being hassled for being a single rider.

Log Flume - During my Fright Fest trips, the park always closed this before sundown, so, despite having limited dark time for night rides on this trip, I made it a priority to ride it at night, as well as the usual day rides. These were my first night rides on this log ride, and I enjoyed the nighttime atmosphere cruising through the trees. I enjoyed the classic Arrow "speed section" and the drop, and I appreciate the minimal splash as I always enjoy log flumes more as scenic rides than wet rides.

OTHER RIDES / FLAT RIDES / SPINNERS

Superman Tower of Power - A fantastic Intamin drop tower with beautiful views of the park before the big drop. The drop is excellent and I wish I had more room in the restraint to experience the airtime to the fullest.

Sky Screamer - I'm a big fan of these. Rides like Wave Swingers, Flying Scooters, and Chance Aviators are among my favorite "spinner rides" for their gentle thrills and aerial, soaring sensations, and these models take that concept to extreme heights (albeit without the rider control of scooters). I really enjoyed this model at Fiesta Texas and Great Adventure. On my 2013 Fright Fest SF St. Louis trip, I was really disappointed that they were running it backwards. On this trip, it was thankfully running the right way, and I made sure to score a breathaking, beautiful night ride on it, in addition to several day rides

Grand Ole Carousel - A classic carousel that I enjoyed, along with it's lively carousel music (better than the gloomy Fright Fest music it usually plays when I'm there)

Highland Fling - A classic Scwarzkopf Enterprise. Despite not being big on inversions, I enjoy these due to the excellent sense of forward speed and swooping, Paratrooper-esque sense of flight just before (and after) it reaches completely vertical

Shazam - Standard Scrambler; I enjoy these

Joker - Joker-themed Pirate ship

Xcalibur - Unique flat with inversions. Rode it on a past trip and didn't care much for it, so I skipped it this time

Rush Street Flyer - Rainbow/Falling Star type of flat ride. I skipped it due to the silly no-singles rule, which would have made riding it awkward due to the cramped, divider-less seats.

WATER RIDES

Thunder River - Rapids ride with a random chance of getting soaked to the bone. Since I'm not big on getting soaked to the bone, especially while wearing socks and shoes, I skipped it

Tidal Wave - Skipped as it is definitely a complete soaker

Tsunami Soaker - The Pelican at the centerpiece was cute, and I appreciate the link to the classic Hannibarrels, but not being into getting soaked, I skipped it. I'd have preferred simply a return of the Hannibarrels!

BUGS BUNNY NATIONAL PARK

Various rides - Although cute and well themed, and not all the rides had maximum height limits, I never got around to riding any of these

* This post was modified at 9/9/14 9:35:05 AM *

"If it isn't wood, it's not as good!"
Favorite wood and overall favorite - Voyage, Holiday World. Favorite steel - Any B&M hyper
"Voyage To Paradise" - http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/profiles/frontrider/blog/340
Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/9/14 6:43:42 PM
Great TR. I've been to Six Flags St. Louis twice, 2001, 2012. I agree that they have one of the best collections of wooden coasters. I loved American Thunder. I had it in my top 10 just until recent. Now I have it as #11. I agree that Thunderhead at Dollywood is a little better. Prowler is still my favorite GCI coaster. Kentucky Rumbler is another GCI that I really like that's in my top 15.

I also really like Screamin Eagle. I'm a fan of John Allen coasters, and Screamin Eagle is probably my favorite coaster of his. During my first visit in 2001, The Boss blew me away. It was super smooth and had everything you described. It was in my top 10 until I rode it again in 2012. I like wooden coasters to run aggressive. Hades, Voyage, and Shivering Timbers are all in my top 10. The Boss still has one of the best first drops of any coaster. The middle section is rough, but tolerable. The double helix is where it gets to rough for my liking. I really hope the keep The Boss as a wooden coaster and just maintain it better. Its still one of the most popular rides in the park. There's no need for the RMC treatment on The Boss. It has that top 10 potential as a wooden coaster. In fact, if they would retract it, I would make the 12 hour drive out there just to ride it.

I read that you like animal parks and zoos. I visited Columbus Zoo for the first time this summer in order to ride a John Allen junior wooden coaster called Sea Dragon. The coaster was good for its height and speed, but the zoo itself was a pleasant surprise. One of the best, if not the best zoo that I visited. If you haven't been there I strongly recommend a visit. Another thing is we visited Bay Beach for the first time 3 weeks ago. The Zippin Pippin was awesome, a top 20 wooden coaster, the park had a beautiful natural setting, and had a free wildlife sanctuary. The wildlife sanctuary was beautiful and more like a small zoo. With the amusement park and the wildlife sanctuary, we spent the whole day there and had a great memorable time. It's a place that I can't wait to I get back there again.

Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by Frontrider Frontrider Profile at 9/9/14 8:11:03 PM
frontrow said:

I read that you like animal parks and zoos. I visited Columbus Zoo for the first time this summer in order to ride a John Allen junior wooden coaster called Sea Dragon. The coaster was good for its height and speed, but the zoo itself was a pleasant surprise. One of the best, if not the best zoo that I visited. If you haven't been there I strongly recommend a visit.

Thanks for the reply, and the animal park recommendations!

When I last did the Ohio parks, I visited Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as it was the closest zoo to Geauga Lake, and the Cincinatti Zoo as it was closest to Kings Island. Since I was traveling in fall, the Columbus Zoo woodie was closed on weekdays, which is when I found myself passing through Columbus, so unfortunately I didn't stop there.

Had I known then that it was considered one of the top zoos in the country, where Jack Hanna himself was once Zoo Director, I would have visited the zoo - coaster or no coaster. I've heard they even have a Joel Slavin animal show (the trainer whose company does Pets Ahoy at Sea World, Pet Shenanigans at BGW, Critter Castaways/Opening Night Critters at BGT, etc)

The next time I am anywhere near Columbus, I am visiting this zoo whether the coaster is open or not!

PS. Do you think Boss would get more "love" from the "enthusiast community" in the polls and such if it ran PTCs instead of Gerstlauers? I've noticed that woodies running G-trains tend to be underrated IMO, especially Boss and the late Villain. I prefer PTCs, but I am used to the G-trains due to logging thousands of laps on my SBNO home woodie, Mega Zeph, so the G-trains don't bother me or limit my enjoyment of the rides that run them (though I wish the seats were softer for airtime landings!)

* This post was modified at 9/9/14 8:28:07 PM *

"If it isn't wood, it's not as good!"
Favorite wood and overall favorite - Voyage, Holiday World. Favorite steel - Any B&M hyper
"Voyage To Paradise" - http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/profiles/frontrider/blog/340
Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 9/10/14 3:18:00 PM
Frontrider said:

PS. Do you think Boss would get more "love" from the "enthusiast community" in the polls and such if it ran PTCs instead of Gerstlauers? I've noticed that woodies running G-trains tend to be underrated IMO, especially Boss and the late Villain. I prefer PTCs, but I am used to the G-trains due to logging thousands of laps on my SBNO home woodie, Mega Zeph, so the G-trains don't bother me or limit my enjoyment of the rides that run them (though I wish the seats were softer for airtime landings!)

I think it would likely help it. Boss has been a mixed bag for me. My rides on it around 10 years back were really good. The one that I took in May in the front was so rough that I came back with a bad head and neck ache. I can do intense, I don't mind a bit of roughness, but it was severe even for me. And the lack of cushion/ padding/ bracing whatever on the Gerstlauers I'm sure doesn't help it any.

Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by frontrow frontrow Profile at 9/10/14 8:53:30 PM
I think any improvement to make the coaster more smooth, would be appreciated by enthusiasts. You've been to SF Saint Louis more times than I have. You see that GP still loves that coaster. It usually has the longest line in the park. I know The Boss is your 3rd favorite wooden coaster, and you would like to see it ranked higher, but it did come in at #48 for The 2014 Golden Ticket Awards. It beat out some really great wooden coasters that didn't make the top 50, like Renegade at Valleyfair, Zippin Pippin at Bay Beach, Excalibur at Fun Town/ Splash Town, Corn Ball Express at Indiana Beach, Cyclops at Mount Olympus, Grizzly at Kings Dominion, both coasters at SF Over Georgia, Wild One at SF America, and Screamin Eagle, also at SF St. Louis. So really it is appreciated by some of the enthusiast community. New trains may help, but I think the key would be to retract and make it smoother, like it was 13 years ago, when I first rode it.
Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by NotSo NotSo Profile at 9/10/14 9:38:37 PM
This post has me wanting to plan a St Louis/HW trip next year, nice collection of wooden coasters.
Re: TR: Six Flags St Louis, September, 2014 by rollercoastersfreak rollercoastersfreak Profile at 11/24/14 9:13:34 AM
The general public more than just love it. It is still easily one of the most popular in the park and will always be favorite. I'm from St. Louis remember so I used to go there 10-15 times a summer. But I haven't been since 12 now since I no longer live in St. Louis. But The Boss is definitely the best. But great trip report though. It brings back all the memories of going. I hope to go next summer when I go home for a few weeks.