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Shane

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Just over a week ago I took at trip up to Six Flags America in Largo Maryland to give Bolliger & Mabillard's first ever creation, the stand-up roller coaster 'Apocalypse: The Last Stand,' a ride.

I picked up two season passes online with SixFlags' new payment plan which is very similar to Busch Garden's EZPay plan. Twelve Easy payments of $9.95 for one year for two passes. Now a Six Flags season's pass does not get you free parking like our Busch Garden's passes but you can add a $50 parking upgrade to it, otherwise parking is $15. I don't think we will go enough to justify the $50 up-charge but we were fine with what we got. Another bonus to Six Flags season's passes are that they are valid at all of their properties US or otherwise (Yes that means you too LaRonde and Six Flags Mexico!) So we plan on using it to get into Six Flags Great Adventure in August, which is still a great deal even without that free parking.

Part 1: Road Trip and The End of the World

My partner, two friends and myself jumped onto I-64 from Norfolk just before 8am on Saturday June 15 after a filling breakfast at Hardee's. They have great breakfast biscuits! We hit traffic at the the famous Jefferson Ave Bottle Neck and most of the way through the Historic Triangle. Once we got to I-295 it was pretty much smooth sailing. After a couple of unwanted yet long bathroom stops we arrived in at Maryland's Six Flags at about noon.

The ticketing and entry plaza was very crowded and their were employees walking around trying to get everyone to put their name into a drawing for a Chevy Camero or $50,000, I reluctantly filled out the little card and gave it back to the man. Now unlike SWP&E properties you still get that plastic ID card at Six Flags parks and you have to wait in line every season to get a new card and photo. ---The line was awful for this; they split you into two lines, people who had bought their passes online and those that bought them in the park at ticketing. Well we had purchased online so we waited in what seemed like the longer line. I want to say is was about a 45 minute wait from what I could tell, but I lost track of time. The line snaked out into an employee's only area where the park had setup a makeshift security station and the line split off and went into the park. We went through this way where the park had setup tables with computers and webcams in the rear of the main park gift shop. So once we got our pictures taken they scanned our brand new cards and we were already in the park. The people that were split off into the other line went into the seasons pass holders office where they had to enter through main security and the main turn-styles. I'd like to think we saved some time the way we went.

Once we were in the park we headed straight for "Apocalypse: The Last Stand." There was virtually no line, the area around the coaster was very well themed with wreckage and dismay. The Scull Mountain in the background created the perfect backdrop for the ride. There was some really awesome sounding trance music in the midway area around the ride. I will say that even with the extremely well themed queue a lot of the suspense of waiting for the ride was lost in the queue due to "Six Flags Television" and in house marketing and ad system. Although I will say that even Busch has started doing this with all their coaster queues now, abeit they are all park ads at Busch. There are commercials for products and television shows playing on flat screens throughout the queue.

Luckily we did not need to wait in the queue though, we just needed to walk through it, and we only waited a few minutes on the stair heading into the station. We were very quickly loaded into the front row of the train. The ride ops were very quick to load and dispatch the trains considering that they had to deal with a lot of people that were trying to sit in the harness instead of stand. Once dispatched from the station we dropped a short ways down and then started our climb up the lift hill. There are very large JBL speakers all the way up the right side of the lift-hill. I was sitting in the far left of the train and couldn't hear the music very well. It would have been much better had they put the speakers on both sides of the lift so it is audible to all that ride. The music was fitting for the ride we were about to partake. Once we reached the top I braced my head against the headrest since I knew what I had heard about the ride. The first drop and the loop were not bad, there was a bit of shake too it but it was fairly smooth, the second half of the ride was a bit more of a headbanger. I recommend taking off any sunglasses because they are uncomfortable with the restraints. Overall the ride was very fun and the fire effect was really cool on ride. The ride while being short was a bit longer than I had originally expected and was a lot of fun. I had ridden one other B&M standup at Magic Mountain in the past, while not as comfortable a ride as the Cali Coaster it was a ton of fun. [Edit] Now I will say that I rode it twice, once when we first got there and once in the evening, most of my head banging complaints came from the second ride which was around 6pm and in the last row. More first ride was much smoother in the front row. [End Edit] I hope that the GP (general public) will enjoy this ride as it is a GREAT addition to a park that hasn't seen any love in a long time. The only thing I am afraid of is that the GP may not be quick to forgive some of the head banging. All in all I think this bodes well for Six Flags America's Future.

Part 2: Maryland's Got Wood and Missing Memories

After riding Apocalypse we made our way over to its neighboring coaster ROAR. Now as fans of BGW we don’t have the pleasure of riding any wood coasters. The closest place a BGWFan can go to get a woodie fix is Kings Dominion just north of Busch Gardens. In my honest opinion Kings Dominion’s collection of wood coasters is a bit lacking. SFA on the other hand had (up until I went to Holiday World) my favorite wood coaster, ROAR; a really fun and intense GCI. We climbed into the last row of the train and was greeted by plush cushy seats. I pulled down my lapbar and left just a little room for some airtime. The train exits the station and climbs the lift hill pretty quickly. Once you reach the top it’s a wild and out of control ride with great airtime and really fun an unexpected twists and turns. It really is a standout and underrated roller coaster.

Now I’m going to go a little bit out of order here so that I can keep the two woodies together. In the far right part of the park built over top of the parks Go Kart track is a gem known as Wild One. It was originally built in 1917 as "Giant Coaster" at Paragon Park in Hull, Massachusetts before it came to SFA in 1985. It’s awesome out and back layout cuts the park down the middle separating the Gotham City section from the rest of the park before it runs through Skull Mountain parallel to Apocalypse then turns riders around and heads back towards the start where there is an intense helix just before the final break run. This ride has some major ejector airtime throughout and feels like it has a ton of speed. There is just one odd transition in the layout where you turn slightly to the left on the return trip where you feel like you should stay going straight, but overall it is an excellent coaster with great airtime and a very powerful finale. We hopped right back in the queue for this one as there was zero line. It proves a common point that they built excellent coasters in the early 1900s.

SFA gets an A in my book for two awesome, under rated wood coasters with tons of ejector air time that beg for repeat rides.

The next stop after ROAR but before riding Wild One is the copy of all copies; it has 26 clones, 39 if you count the extended/modified layout versions, the Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster, Mind Eraser. There are four of these at former and current Six Flags properties. If you’ve never ridden a Vekoma SLC then you have to ride Mind Eraser. I seem to have some gap in memory on this thing. I rode it two years ago and remembered it being a major head banger. I don’t know if the park put new wheels on it or something but it was not as rough as I remember. Now it’s not a smooth ride by any means. SLCs make for some great photo ops though. I won’t describe the layout or anything you can Google that, but I will say it wasn’t as bad as I remember. I think if the 40ish parks that own these rides bought the new soft touch trains that Vekoma started making or retrofitted them with the new soft touch harnesses these could be really great rides even for clones. They really do have crazy twisty layouts.

After our ride on Mind Eraser we headed over to the eatery near the front of the park. The menu consisted of Pizza, Meatball Subs, Wings, Salads, Philly Cheesesteaks, Fries…. I want some fries… The food was ok, it was really way over priced though. $7 for a single slice of Pizza… That’s insane. $50 for a whole pizza and four drinks… That’s insane too. We picked up a souvenir drink bottle for $15, you get a wrist band for free refills for the rest of the day. We only refilled it twice so I don’t think we got our money’s worth but we have a generic Six Flags bottle that we can take to BGW and get 99 cent refills with now. If you can, I suggest eating before you arrive and after you leave the park, and limit yourself to one meal in the park if you are spending the day. The food is much more expensive than BGW food and the quality is not there.

Part 3: The City of Super Heroes

The entrance to "Gotham City" is underneath the Wild One roller coaster. You pass through some very neat looking gates that you would expect to see at the front of Batman's fictional city. Straight ahead is Gotham Arena where the park holds its concert series much like what BGW uses the Royal Palace Theatre and formerly Festhaus Park for. It is a very wide open area with several small themed structures. The themeing in the area appears to mostly mirror the 1992-1995 Batman: The Animated Series art style in my opinion. Don't get too excited though. The themeing is very sparse and faded/old. The construction is very similar to Sesame Street Forest of Fun, so you might be able to guess that its sort of "cardboard cutout-ish." The lack of good themeing aside there are three solid off the shelf coasters in this section of the park.

Now with most BGWFans living pretty close to Kings Dominion, the first coaster in this area will be pretty familiar to you, but you might not realize it. The Joker's Jinx is a Premier Rides launching coasters. The ride has the same layout as Flight of Fear but it is outside. Even without the enclosure it is still a very fun ride, just not as disorientating as its "cousin" coaster. After getting off we noticed that the Batwing was stuck on the lift and they were unloading people down the catwalk so we assumed we wouldn't get to ride. Across from Joker there is a Penguin themed water ride. We didn't ride it this trip but I had ridden it in the past. Directly across from Penguin was Superman: Ride of Steel which is one of three: Ride of Steel at Darien Lake in New York, which is a mirror image of Superman: Ride of Steel; and lastly Bizarro at Six Flags New England which was formerly named Superman: Ride of Steel and features a more unique layout. Superman is truly a a great experience, it doesn't get a lot of recognition on the top lists like our Apollo, but the ride has massive ejector airtime and powerful helixes. It is basically an out and back coaster, but you have to sit in the front row; you really feel like Superman.

After getting off Superman we noticed that Batwing, a Vekoma Flying Dutchman, was running again. We loaded all our stuff into lockers because you WILL lose ANYTHING in your pockets on this coaster. The line was not long in appearance but it was long in wait. There is ZERO shade in the queue and the sun was blazing. It seems that they were running two trains originally in its double loading station when the ride initially broke down earlier in the day, but was down to one train now. This ride is really really slow to load and dispatch. You start off sitting almost upright and you zip up a vest and then the ride attendants snaps you into the seat more or less. Before dispatching you are lowered flat on your back and then leave the station and climb the lift hill. At the top the train barrel rolls so you are facing the ground and you begin your flight. The ride truly feels like flying. Its very similar in style to Manta at SeaWorld but uses a bit more traditional coaster layout then B&M flyers. Plus B&M seems to have perfected the loading and unloading process a little better than Vekoma. It has two twins at Cedar Fair parks but from what I understand Batwing uses an older style train which is the cause of most of its delays and problems. Personally I think Batwing has a ton of potential if SFA invested in new flyer trains and gave Batwing some fresh paint and some themeing. Its a little rusty and is out in the middle of nowhere in an empty field.

Not much else to say really, took a dip in the wave pool at the included in admission water park to cool down and got another ride on Apocalypse and ROAR before taking the four-ish four trek home.

Overall SFA is a fun park with mostly thrills. The park is taking a noticeable change in the right direction with rides and themeing being repaired and cleaned up. I am looking forward to what SixFlags does in the future to bring this park into the competition. As I said before the two Vekoma's really need new trains and they have solid potential. Their Woodies are excellent, Superman rocks, Apocolypse and Joker are just plain fun.
 

b.mac

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Well the new manager they got has been busting balls in order to reform the park. From what I've heard in the last 2 years it's working really well and this TR pretty much confirms what I've been hearing :D.
 
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I went two years ago, and it started to look like they were getting their stuff together. It's still one of the worst SF parks. But I hope they turn it around.
 

Shane

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Part 2: Maryland's Got Wood and Missing Memories

After riding Apocalypse we made our way over to its neighboring coaster ROAR. Now as fans of BGW we don’t have the pleasure of riding any wood coasters. The closest place a BGWFan can go to get a woodie fix is Kings Dominion just north of Busch Gardens. In my honest opinion Kings Dominion’s collection of wood coasters is a bit lacking. SFA on the other hand had (up until I went to Holiday World) my favorite wood coaster, ROAR; a really fun and intense GCI. We climbed into the last row of the train and was greeted by plush cushy seats. I pulled down my lapbar and left just a little room for some airtime. The train exits the station and climbs the lift hill pretty quickly. Once you reach the top it’s a wild and out of control ride with great airtime and really fun an unexpected twists and turns. It really is a standout and underrated roller coaster.

Now I’m going to go a little bit out of order here so that I can keep the two woodies together. In the far right part of the park built over top of the parks Go Kart track is a gem known as Wild One. It was originally built in 1917 as "Giant Coaster" at Paragon Park in Hull, Massachusetts before it came to SFA in 1985. It’s awesome out and back layout cuts the park down the middle separating the Gotham City section from the rest of the park before it runs through Skull Mountain parallel to Apocalypse then turns riders around and heads back towards the start where there is an intense helix just before the final break run. This ride has some major ejector airtime throughout and feels like it has a ton of speed. There is just one odd transition in the layout where you turn slightly to the left on the return trip where you feel like you should stay going straight, but overall it is an excellent coaster with great airtime and a very powerful finale. We hopped right back in the queue for this one as there was zero line. It proves a common point that they built excellent coasters in the early 1900s.

SFA gets an A in my book for two awesome, under rated wood coasters with tons of ejector air time that beg for repeat rides.

The next stop after ROAR but before riding Wild One is the copy of all copies; it has 26 clones, 39 if you count the extended/modified layout versions, the Vekoma Suspended Looping Coaster, Mind Eraser. There are four of these at former and current Six Flags properties. If you’ve never ridden a Vekoma SLC then you have to ride Mind Eraser. I seem to have some gap in memory on this thing. I rode it two years ago and remembered it being a major head banger. I don’t know if the park put new wheels on it or something but it was not as rough as I remember. Now it’s not a smooth ride by any means. SLCs make for some great photo ops though. I won’t describe the layout or anything you can Google that, but I will say it wasn’t as bad as I remember. I think if the 40ish parks that own these rides bought the new soft touch trains that Vekoma started making or retrofitted them with the new soft touch harnesses these could be really great rides even for clones. They really do have crazy twisty layouts.

After our ride on Mind Eraser we headed over to the eatery near the front of the park. The menu consisted of Pizza, Meatball Subs, Wings, Salads, Philly Cheesesteaks, Fries…. I want some fries… The food was ok, it was really way over priced though. $7 for a single slice of Pizza… That’s insane. $50 for a whole pizza and four drinks… That’s insane too. We picked up a souvenir drink bottle for $15, you get a wrist band for free refills for the rest of the day. We only refilled it twice so I don’t think we got our money’s worth but we have a generic Six Flags bottle that we can take to BGW and get 99 cent refills with now. If you can, I suggest eating before you arrive and after you leave the park, and limit yourself to one meal in the park if you are spending the day. The food is much more expensive than BGW food and the quality is not there.

At this point we head under Wild One through some awesome Fog/Misters through a gate that says, “Gotham City.”

Stay Tuned for Part Three: The City of Super Heros
 
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I rode the Mind Eraser a couple years ago. Definite head banger. The restraints seem to squeeze your face and then you get pretty jostled around in there. I wasn't a fan. Do you really think they've changed something on it?
 

b.mac

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I call SLC's Hang n' Bangs for a reason, doesn't matter if it's soft touch or not you're going to get rattled.
 

Shane

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pandorazboxx said:
I rode the Mind Eraser a couple years ago. Definite head banger. The restraints seem to squeeze your face and then you get pretty jostled around in there. I wasn't a fan. Do you really think they've changed something on it?

I dunno what they did, I'm not saying it was smooth by any means, but I was surprised. I also forgot to mention the AWFUL load and unload time. Whats the point of having two trains running when you have one hanging out in the break run for 2-3 minutes!

B-Mac said:
I call SLC's Hang n' Bangs for a reason, doesn't matter if it's soft touch or not you're going to get rattled.

The new restraint system is like a child's life vest, there is nothing surrounding the riders head. I'm not saying that your head won't fling back and forth but it won't hit anything along the way.
 

b.mac

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I rode with the soft restraints on Nor'Easter in Wildwood, New Jersey, didn't help much with the rattling at all although it was nice not having a bruise on the side of my head.
 

Shane

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Part III: The City of Super Heroes

The entrance to "Gotham City" is underneath the Wild One roller coaster. You pass through some very neat looking gates that you would expect to see at the front of Batman's fictional city. Straight ahead is Gotham Arena where the park holds its concert series much like what BGW uses the Royal Palace Theatre and formerly Festhaus Park for. It is a very wide open area with several small themed structures. The themeing in the area appears to mostly mirror the 1992-1995 Batman: The Animated Series art style in my opinion. Don't get too excited though. The themeing is very sparse and faded/old. The construction is very similar to Sesame Street Forest of Fun, so you might be able to guess that its sort of "cardboard cutout-ish." The lack of good themeing aside there are three solid off the shelf coasters in this section of the park.

Now with most BGWFans living pretty close to Kings Dominion, the first coaster in this area will be pretty familiar to you, but you might not realize it. The Joker's Jinx is a Premier Rides launching coasters. The ride has the same layout as Flight of Fear but it is outside. Even without the enclosure it is still a very fun ride, just not as disorientating as its "cousin" coaster. After getting off we noticed that the Batwing was stuck on the lift and they were unloading people down the catwalk so we assumed we wouldn't get to ride. Across from Joker there is a Penguin themed water ride. We didn't ride it this trip but I had ridden it in the past. Directly across from Penguin was Superman: Ride of Steel which is one of three: Ride of Steel at Darien Lake in New York, which is a mirror image of Superman: Ride of Steel; and lastly Bizarro at Six Flags New England which was formerly named Superman: Ride of Steel and features a more unique layout. Superman is truly a a great experience, it doesn't get a lot of recognition on the top lists like our Apollo, but the ride has massive ejector airtime and powerful helixes. It is basically an out and back coaster, but you have to sit in the front row; you really feel like Superman.

After getting off Superman we noticed that Batwing, a Vekoma Flying Dutchman, was running again. We loaded all our stuff into lockers because you WILL lose ANYTHING in your pockets on this coaster. The line was not long in appearance but it was long in wait. There is ZERO shade in the queue and the sun was blazing. It seems that they were running two trains originally in its double loading station when the ride initially broke down earlier in the day, but was down to one train now. This ride is really really slow to load and dispatch. You start off sitting almost upright and you zip up a vest and then the ride attendants snaps you into the seat more or less. Before dispatching you are lowered flat on your back and then leave the station and climb the lift hill. At the top the train barrel rolls so you are facing the ground and you begin your flight. The ride truly feels like flying. Its very similar in style to Manta at SeaWorld but uses a bit more traditional coaster layout then B&M flyers. Plus B&M seems to have perfected the loading and unloading process a little better than Vekoma. It has two twins at Cedar Fair parks but from what I understand Batwing uses an older style train which is the cause of most of its delays and problems. Personally I think Batwing has a ton of potential if SFA invested in new flyer trains and gave Batwing some fresh paint and some themeing. Its a little rusty and is out in the middle of nowhere in an empty field.

Not much else to say really, took a dip in the wave pool at the included in admission water park to cool down and got another ride on Apocalypse and ROAR before taking the four-ish four trek home.

Overall SFA is a fun park with mostly thrills. The park is taking a noticeable change in the right direction with rides and themeing being repaired and cleaned up. I am looking forward to what SixFlags does in the future to bring this park into the competition. As I said before the two Vekoma's really need new trains and they have solid potential. Their Woodies are excellent, Superman rocks, Apocolypse and Joker are just plain fun.
 
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This thread will be a chronicle of our adventures of our trip to SFA today. However, I am tired at the moment so you will get the highlight of the park in the form of the picture. This picture is of the safety sign for Superman.

IMG_20120711_140025.jpg

IMG_20120711_135723.jpg
 

Thomas

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RE: Tthe the 7/11/12 SFA BGWFans meetup.

Ah, SFA... so much lulz were had. My opinion: park needs paint; desperately. Also, an actual reason to go would be nice (apart from making BGW look even better)...
 
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RE: Tthe the 7/11/12 SFA BGWFans Road Trip

While I'll have more later, I wanted to get this discussion started in little chunks.

Usher's Apocalypse: Great themeing, but stand up coasters are weird. I reminds me a lot of Dominatior at KD, but only stand up. Still meh but way better than Shockwave. I call it Usher's Apocalypse because there was a video of his playing in the queue and I assume that has something to do with the theme.

Roar: Really fun ride, second best in the park. Needs moar dinosaurs to match the theme.

Brain Eraser: Ride matches the name really well, because of the concussions you get riding it! The coaster also decides that it doesn't want your arms to move for some reason, really shitty restraints.

Joker's Flight of Fear: It's such a great ride. In fact, it's so awesome that it's the best coaster in two parks.

That's all for now, more later as my time dictates.
 
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RE: Tthe the 7/11/12 SFA BGWFans Road Trip

I don't think it's really fair for me to talk about the ride aspect of Batwing. It was my first Flyer so it just felt strange to me and couldn't tell if it was a "good" flyer or a "bad" flyer.

What I can tell you that it looked horrible. Everything in that are was faded and the paint on the ride itself was awful.
 

Thomas

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RE: Tthe the 7/11/12 SFA BGWFans Road Trip

Batwing was not a bad/unenjoyable ride by any means... It wasn't rough; it wasn't uncomfortable. It's problems arise from the fact that only one side of the double loading station is ever in use and that it has the single slowest loading crew of any roller coaster in any park I've ever been to. Also, the paint is atrocious (I believe Shane has pictures) and the covering over the queue is completely gone... So, you end up waiting for a long period of time in the burning summer sun to ride something that looks neglected and in disrepair. It's one of those rides which is fun to ride, but it's a shame almost nobody is willing to because it takes forever to get on and for first time guests, it looks like an utter run-down piece of shit that was thrown into a field behind everything else.
 
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RE: The the 7/11/12 SFA BGWFans Road Trip

More coaster thoughts!

Wild One: Good, old school woodie, surprised by it's good condition.

Batwing: I've talked about it before, but I think it needs to be pointed out again just how bad this ride needs a paint job.

Superman 64: Fun, but I have never ridden a ride that hates it's riders so much that it tries to throw them off. Also, we found out that Sunscreen has kryptonite in it.

I have plenty more thoughts about the park itself and it's themeing (since it's a theme park), but those will have to come later.
 
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