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.