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Six Flags Trip Report
On Sunday, August 31st, I went to Six Flags New England with aliciagayle and volantwish. (Jana spent the weekend with us before heading to her semester of 'study abroad' in Wood's Hole, MA.)

This is the first time I've gone with Alicia to Six Flags; in the past, she was too short to ride many of the rides, and as a big roller coaster fan, I didn't want to end up with her having no fun since I don't know anything else in the park.

The first thing we rode was the Thunderbolt, which is nearest the entrance to the park. A great old-fashioned wooden coaster, this is always a fun ride. We rode in the back car on the train, though it doesn't make a lot of difference, due to the fact that the train is only 4 cars long or so. (Each car is a three-seater, so it's 12 rows of 2 total.) Ali and Jana both enjoyed the ride, though Jana has the common fear of wooden coasters seeming 'rickety'.

Once we finished that, we headed in the direction of Batman. Finding it non-functional, we got lunch at the nearby chicken place, and got in line afterwards. The line only ended up being about 30 minutes long -- it got longer later in the day -- and again, both Jana and Ali were pleased. I've always been a big fan of B&M's Batman coasters: I think that they're fun rides, with none of the head-banging that Arrow/Vekoma's designs typically have. The 'floorless' aspect of the Batman coaster at SFNE is not really something that I have a lot of care for: it doesn't bother me, I just don't get a lot out of it. Maybe it matters in the front of the train, but most of the time, I'm not spending time looking *down* when I'm at a coaster, I'm looking up/forward.

Still, the interesting loops and interlocking corkscrews make this an interesting ride for me.

We decided to skip Mind Eraser; I love the suspended coasters (Batman at SFGA is suspended), but Mind Eraser is just too damn painful on the head. I can't help but get a headache from riding that ride, and that's just not 'fun' to me. Ali and I headed over to Superman.

I'll say this: I *love* mega/hypercoasters. At SFNE, Superman is my favorite ride. At SFGA (when I was there last) it was Raging Bull -- though Raging Bull does suffer somewhat from the over-trimming on crowded days. There is nothing I love more than the huge hang time as you drop down a 200 ft drop and get to 80 mph straight down before you go through a tunnel and then back up with a huge negative-g time at the top of the next hill. On Superman, towards the end there's a series of tight loops at a right angle to the ground, with fun G forces -- making it a huge (fun) challenge to keep your arms in the air.

Coming through the misted tunnel towards the end, over the last three bumps with more negative Gs, and finally to a stop, more than 2.5 minutes after you started, is just an exhilarating experience. In coaster-time, 2.5 minutes is *long*. And Superman is a hugely enjoyable trip all the way through.

Ali enjoyed this one, but was not as big of a fan as I am of the big drops; she prefers the loops/inversions of the Batman coaster, but I figured she had to ride Superman at least once.

One downside of this is that the line was 1.5 hours long; the longest I've ever waited for a ride at SFNE. I thought it was worth it, but Ali was none too happy about it. (Of course, by this point, everything in the park was an hour, so part of this is just "Welcome to a big theme park: deal."

After Superman, it was over to Pandemonium. Pandemonium is a really interesting ride: it's the only one I've ever been on with spinning cars. That said, the low height restriction due to the car design style combined with the relatively low throughput due to single-car 'trains' means that getting onto this ride is always a bit trying. I think we ended up being about 100 minutes in line at this ride in the end, which was a bit much for all of us.

However, when we did get on, we ended up in a *great* configuration for a ride: because weight distribution is what causes the car to spin, we ended up with almost a 2:1 weight differential on one side. (Jana and I weigh practically the same, and Ali is not that much lower than us.) This meant we got a *lot* of spin throughout the entire ride, and because I generally don't want to wait in the line, I think this was only my third time on the ride (compared to 5 or more for almost everything else in the park). The result was a great -- albeit short -- run around the track. No huge surprises here, though the entrenched parts of the track were something that is fun; a quick 10-15 foot drop while spinning into a trench on both sides is a bit exhilarating.

While in line, we saw a Univision news crew riding the coaster right in front of us: a reporter with a giant afro-wig speaking about a million Spanish words a minute rode through with a couple people while the cameraman filmed their trip. No clue what it was about, but it was funny to see.

Next, Ali and I had a plan to do the Flashback, then the Cyclone. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well: as is so often the case for the Vekoma boomerang coasters, Flashback broke down while we were waiting for it. After waiting 20 minutes for a fix, we finally split and headed for Cyclone instead.

Cyclone line was short: less than 30 minutes, in the end. (We got out of line for Flashback at 5:27; we got off Cyclone at 5:53.) Ali enjoyed this ride a lot, as did I: it's a bit of a rough ride, even for a wooden coaster, but that doesn't limit the enjoyment. One thing that has always bothered me about it though is the short first drop; being a big fan of big drops, the first one always feels like it comes up short (though after a loop, it comes around and drops again in a bigger/better way). This is kind of the "American Eagle" (SFGA) equivalent to SFNE. In general, I would prefer American Eagle better -- especially when the trains are running backwards -- but it's not a bad ride for what it is.

After this, we stopped for dinner. We all agreed that Panda Express is probably the only 'meal' food in the park that SF can not screw up. It's not perfect, but it as at least edible, unlike their "Papa John's" pizza. I did spend the 20 minutes in line bemoaning the lack of optimization of their management of incoming customers, but hey, this is what happens when you have a bunch of underpaid teenagers being the people running your businesses. Probably no different than any crowded food court in that regard.

After that, Ali and I rode Flashback (because it had been fixed as we were getting off the Cyclone). We both had fun on this one. Flashback, for the record, is the only roller coaster I've ever been on with Jess -- and that particular decision was one of the worst ones of my life. This was before I really understand that people could have true terror about something so 'simple' as roller coasters -- it triggered a panic attack (*also* new to me) and I learned more about spending time with someone with less than stellar mental health on that day than I did any other day during my first trip to New Hampshire. Sometimes, "I don't really want to" really means exactly that, not "I'm a bit scrared but want to be encouraged".

Anyway, after Flashback, it was 8:30 or so and we started heading out of the park. We ended up spending about an hour actually getting out of the parking lot once we got to the car: the traffic was terrible, and I got to spend a fair amount of time with Jana laughing at the stupid tricks people play when they aren't going fast enough. (People were moving cones out of the way, hopping back into cars, driving the wrong way down different lanes, etc.)

I think it's the longest amount of time I've spent at SFNE in the time I've lived out here -- and probably the longest I've spent at any Six Flags in a while. When I was going to GA every week one summer, we didn't need to stay long :) It's also the first time I've considered a Flash Pass. We didn't end up getting one, and I still haven't decided if it would have been worth it.

All in all, it was a very fun trip. It's the first time I've had someone to ride all these coasters with me and really enjoy it: Ali was a great riding buddy all the way through, and I'm looking forward to going back with her before the end of the season.

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Six Flags St. Louis has that Batman ride as well. What I always liked about it was that it was comfortable to ride. I had a friend riding with me once at the park and she wasn't that comfortable about coasters. But the Batman is about the smoothest ride ever on a coaster. It's pretty good for people who've never been on coasters or don't much like them, once they watch for a bit and get over the fact that it goes upside down.

The floorless aspect, I actually do enjoy. On the lift on the way up, it's fun to look down and see the park beneath you. And yes, when you are in the front, there's nothing out in front of you and it's an interesting view.

*wishes she had time for an impromptu SF visit*

Yeah; That's a general thing for modern B&M rides, I think. Raging Bull is another B&M ride, and I *love* the restraints on that one -- just lap restraints, but the clamshells don't pinch you in any crappy places like almost every coaster does. The coasters are smooth, don't jerk you around, don't bang your head around, etc.

I can totally see the 'not having a floor' thing, but I prefer suspended coasters for that. Part of the reason why I find Mind Eraser so damn *frustrating* is because I generally love suspended coasters, but can't enjoy that one at all. But I do realize that in the front row, it probably makes a lot more difference.

Do you have a car? Do you have weekends free? The St. Louis park isn't *that* far; if you've got weekends free, you can probably get down there, though of course it does cost money. I really *loved* St. Louis when I got to go: Mr. Freeze was an incredible ride, and there is that big wooden coaster along the back of the park that's just a classic ride, taking advantage of the hills we don't have out here. I'd love to get back there again.

Part of it is money, part of it is school, but most of it is that I don't really have anyone to go with. My friends all have jobs around here (suckers). Mr. Freeze is pretty good, despite the short ride and long lines. The Screamin' Eagle is the wooden coaster in the back. They've also got The Boss, which is a newer wooden coaster that's a pretty wild ride.

Yeah, we actually got 'perfect' coaster riding weather: cold, drizzly, and crappy weather all day -- which meant that there were no lines for most of the day :)

Two of my favorite coaster rides ever were on that trip (which was a group thing with Allen Hall):
* Mr. Freeze, at about 8:30PM, totally dark out, front row, with rain falling, and a set of lights behind the coaster shooting beams of light into the sky, hitting a light drizzle of rain as we get to the peak of the ride.
* Coming up the hill on the screamin' eagle, and looking around and seeing all kinds of colors of leaves in the entire area, just as we crested the peak and headed down into the ride.

It was just an incredible trip: lots of fun.

I can sympathize with the 'people to go with' thing. Going on your own is something that I don't have a problem doing, but I really just love the coasters. It's *always* more fun with someone else, but going on your own can be fun too; and you can oftentimes get onto rides quicker by hopping on with someone else who is a single.

I really do wish they had a policy that singles could just come up the exit ramp, let the rie op know they're there, and skip right onto the rides; it would make going on your own more fun. Though they're really not in the business of trying to get people to ride more rides: they want more people buying concessions, they don't care about people riding rides :)

Do you guys have a craigslist? Maybe you could find someone to go with via that...

I'm so glad you found someone who loves roller coasters the way you do, and even happier that it's something to do with our daughter as she's entering her rocky years.

You're an awesome father.

(Deleted comment)
Nope. Never been. It's a trip I plan to do at some point, but it's always been a full day round trip from wherever I've lived, which makes getting there too costly to make it worth going there.

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