Cedar Point. Magic Mountain. Islands of Adventure. When you think of American theme parks, these three really are the gold standard when it comes to Uk enthusiast interest. And for good reason CP and MM have a tonne of rollercoasters, IOA is a goldmine for theme lovers (if you can ignore the sheds). It sometimes amazes me just how many US parks fall completely under the radar like SF over Georgia, or Carrowinds or the park I'll be reviewing, Six Flags Great America. This is no run of the mill Six Flags park, housing the worlds first B&M rollercoaster (Iron Wolf), the worlds first B&M inverter and the one B&M wing rider in the Six Flags chain not to mention the RMC or intamin coasters.
First thing to really cover though, Six Flags is expensive. $22 for parking and $15 for a slice of pizza. Geez.
Now thats out of the way, let us begin.
X Flight opened around the same time as The Swarm and the two feel pretty similar. One of my biggest bug bears with the wing riders though is its use of effects. Up until Gatekeeper (oh I'll get to you later), all four wing riders I've done, rely massively on water or fire or mist and all four fall short because they either have nothing on at all or only a handful of effects. It's kind of frustrating knowing what the ride should be and what its actually doing. X Flight though, is safe, middle of the road B&M. We got the first ride of the day on front row left and it didn't feel like anything mind-blowing. A decent ride experience for sure, but if you want a good example, try Flug at Heide.
We turned our attention to Demon, an arrow looper. American parks have a lot of these old school style Arrow rides and I can't hide it, I kind of love them. Knowing they were designed with pencil and paper and sure they've been outclassed massively, they are still fun (if jerky) rides. This ride was adapted from its initial layout as well, two extra vertical loops added to compliment the two corkscrews.
Next, Raging Bull the only hyper twister that B&M have really ever built and I'm not sure why as this is a great ride. It's long, has air time, lots of force, an unconventional layout and the ride team were operationally perfect. I only wish we had ridden it more in a variety of seats as it was enjoyable and fun.
We made our way to Viper, a wooden coaster which is the mirror image of the Cyclone at Coney Island. I liked this but I took no photos of it because I'm a lazy bum.
Next ride was Superman Ultimate Flight which sported a 30 minute queue (so far we'd walked onto everything). This again, is super safe B&M and whilst the pretzel loop is as good as is found on Manta and Tatsu, the rest of the layout is a big underwhelming. It's better then Galatica if only for the pretzel loop but if you don't like the pretzel, there probably isn't much for you here.
With Batman: The ride closed we decided to head to Goliath, our first ever RMC. I opted for front row and what we found is a masterclass in rollercoaster design, with one problem; it's too short. The ride experience is only thirty seconds long if that but its a damn awesome ride. I was beginning to see the hype but it would be the next day where I came to really feel what RMC are capable off.
For now though, it was V2, one of those terrible Intamin launch impulse things and if you decide to read my Cedar Point blog, I'll save you time. These things kind of suck. If its walk on they are almost acceptable, but I've done three different versions now and they all kinda stink. It's okay though because next ride up was....
It was Batman time. A little bit of history, I've previously done two of these rides and been underwhelmed each time. The 7 row version in Spain wasn't great and backwards at Magic Mountain just wasn't much fun. Finally it was time for the real deal, the first ever B&M inverter.
It was awesome. It has theme, it is intense, it is snappy, it wastes no time at any point in the layout, its fresh coat of paint looks spectacular, it was just fantastic. 26 years on and it runs like an absolute dream. This Batman deserves all the praise regardless of the 11 other versions there are. This is the real deal.
With our minds blown, we had lunch (very expensive) and had a ride on the Dark Knight, an outstandingly themed Mack wild mouse. We then tried to ride Whizzer but that was a no go, went to ride Raging Bull, got in the seat then got asked to get out of the seats and back behind the loading gates. Turned out their had been a park wide power cut and nothing was operational. We took a lap of the park, seeing what was going on but decided to cut our losses and head off. We missed out on a few rollercoasters unfortunately but maybe we'll head back one day. It's a short drive from Chicago and a is a severely overlooked theme parks.
Six Flags in general is a bit of a dark horse. I've heard awful things in the past but with the three I've visted there's been good operations and friendly staff (not in a Cedar point 'how was your ride' kind of way either). I look forward to my next Six Flags park visit.