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East Coast trip - Park 6: Six Flags Great Adventure


Mark9

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Just like that, the final theme park of the trip was here. Known for Kingda Ka and the largest selection of B&M rollercoasters in the world. With the weather continuing to create issues we wanted to hit the problematic loading rides in Green Lantern and Superman Ultimate Flight. We always knew that King Ka was pretty much a no go with its incident and El Toro wasn't running. Green Lantern it was and it was fine. Nothing extraordinary, nothing awful just a solid ride. I liked that it was a pretty long ride. The ending did tend to fizzle out and the head banging did seem to get worse in the lower to the ground sections.

 

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Superman Ultimate Flight had a massive line and with dark clouds on the horizons, we decided that Nitro was a better option. Unfortunately it wasn't operational so we went for the single rail RMC Jersey devil instead. First thing to note is that nothing whatsoever is allowed in the queue. Security staff at the entrance and it was strict. Weirdly this ride never had a queue and is a significant upgrade on Railblazer at Californias Great America. I'd heard negative things bout Jersey Devil but I actually really liked it. Nice long ride, doesn't feel out of control on speed. The continuous loading is also an excellent addition, keeping the queue moving consistently. We then attempted a second go but the moment occurred, the bad weather hit. Unlike Kings Dominion which didn't really bother telling anyone what was happening, Six Flags was much better. Announcements were playing on all rides, staff were informing everyone and unlike KD, the indoor rides remained open. Sure there's only like three of them but hey, theres still things to do.

 

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And unlike KD, the rides reopened after an hour with announcements declaring the rides are back in operation. We went for a ride on Batman, my fourth clone and by now I'm used to what these rides deliver. This was good but the only one I really like is the one at Great America. It was also weirdly on one train and the only ride on a reduced capacity. With the school crowds still dotted around we went for a wander over to Medusa, the first B&M floorless. I had previously been on the mirrored version (Scream at Magic Mountain) and I really liked that version. After Dominator, this felt good but nowhere near as explosive or impactful. It had a really loud roar which I wonder if it has any impact on the animals as the trail is nearby.  The first half is excellent with full speed and intensity. The trim break though, kills all speed and it feels like the train is barely making it through the final corkscrews. This was easily the quietest ride in the park as its all the way at the very back of the park on its own little pathway. We never had to wait for Medusa and it was easy to get lots of rerides as Six Flags let you stay on. Runaway Mine Train followed, almost at 50 years old and it was pretty crazy. I found it pretty intense if jerky. 

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With a little walking we ventured over to the El Toro area where it remained closed. Good old Intamin. We instead headed to Superman Ultimate Flight. This is not a great ride, distinctly average. After the pretzel loop it just fades into obscurity. With the longest waits in the park, its only worth doing if the queue is less then ten minutes (or you need the cred). I don't think it's the ride operators fault either, they were working damn hard to get those trains out but these flyers just have so many technical issues that get in the way. On and upwards and Nitro was finally open. After walking through the insane long queue to get to the station we chose row 8 for our first go. I have to hand it to Great Adventure on so many levels. They were running this thing like it was Silver Star at Europa Park. Three train operation,  no stacking, the operator using comms to 'gently' push guests to get on the train as quickly as possible. When you are operating a ride like the best theme park in the world, you're doing something right. And I really liked Nitro. The jump from Apollos Chariot to this is quite something. They are pretty similar rides but the forces on Nitro are so much better. I love the adventure into the forest, how you can barely see any of the ride from the park. We had several goes as with the operations, the ride never had a wait. Each ride delivered. 

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After lunch (pizza for like $100), we went on some of the Justice League area rides such as Dark Knight (clunky), the Sally dark ride (fun) and Cyborg Spin (useless). We attempted to get back on Jersey Devil but.. the bad weather was back with a nearby thunderstorm. Beer was grabbed and we waited. A little rabbit emerged and did a little run around the nearly empty pathways. Surreal. Unlike the earlier storm, this lasted ten minutes and the rides opened up quickly. I was impatient and grabbed a ride by myself on Jersey Devil. My own train, lucky me. It delivered again, lovely ride. Chris then wanted a ride so back round we went. Then onto Skull Mountain which was a ride in a theme park. With the park essentially dead with all the school groups gone and the weather closure having an impact, it was easy to mop up lots of rides such as Harley Quinns Crazy Train and the Joker. The Joker incidentally, is the first time I've actually been able to get on an S&S 4D. The version at Great America was closed because of a power cut and the one at Kings Dominion closed and never reopened because of the thunder storm. It was fine, much better than the Intamin equivalent. But lets face it, they aren't great rides.

 

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It was around 5PM now and we thought we'd take one last chance at El Toro. We walked to a good viewing point and waited about five minutes to see if there was any chance of life. Nothing. We were about to walk away and then suddenly, there's a train. With people on. A sudden skip in our step, we raced over to it before downtime naturally happens. I'd heard a lot about this ride. Some have described it as a bigger Balder (which I don't really like), some have called it the best wooden rollercoaster ever created. My opinion is... this is a beast of a ride. It's a monster. It's an outstanding ride really. The reason I've never really got on with Balder is because it feels too controlled, the air time is great but it is the same on every single hill. But El Toro is just out of this world with fast hills, crazy sweeping turns and some of the most aggressive forces on a wooden rollercoaster. It's major downfall is the area which has had a retracking. It's still way to jerky and rough for my liking. Even with fresh wood, the train just does not like the speed and angle of the turn. It hurt my neck and back and after three goes in a way I didn't feel up to doing another ride. Even with this thought, this was the stand out ride at Great Adventure. it isn't necessarily my favourite ride (thats Nitro), but it's the one that left the biggest impression. 

 

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This was a park with a second day and the only real difference in the days was that Kingda Ka was testing all day. Frustratingly it never opened but it was to be expected. I have to say Great Adventure was a nice surprise to be had. Six Flags has this reputation in the industry and at each Six Flags park I have been to, I have never had a bad day. Discovery Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Great America, America and now Great Adventure have been great parks to visit with some unique and interesting rides across them all. There's a whole sea of difference between the active operations that Six Flags has and the awful operations of the Cedar Fair parks. When your parks are all about the rides and less about experiences, then your park needs to deliver the operations otherwise the whole day becomes a frustrating mess. 

 

Next up: Nickelodeon Universe at New Jersey American Dream mall.

 

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