On Sunday May 27th I made my first visit to the park ever. (Warning VERY LONG)
I moved to Mississippi a few months ago and SFOG is the closest theme park to me albeit 6 hours away
Unlike having tons of parks within a 2 hour distance when I lived in D.C.
Anyway, on this day I decided to get my season pass just in case I traveled again to this park or others before the year is over. I did not like how they tried to force me to wait in the long season pass line to process when I knew I could use my print out to enter the park and process later on in the day. So after getting the truth from an employee, I left the 30 min line and went into the park to return at the end of my visit to process my pass. This was the pre Memorial Day crowd so I wasn't sure how packed the park would be... as a precaution I just got a regular flashpass for my frat brother and I.
First ride of the day was Dahlonega Mine Train. I love mine trains although hardly any room to fit. This ride was nice. Kids seemed to be enjoying it. I remember on the last drop having my hands up and then gasping at the bottom of the drop when I saw that sharp and brutal turn while simultaneously grabbing my grab bar. Overall was a typical six flags mine train.
Next was Acrophobia. Anyone who knows me... knows these are the only rides that make me scream and cause my nerves to go crazy. I’ve never been on a drop tower that tilts you forward. Prior to riding I told myself it can't be that bad, it’s only a few degrees of tilt... but MAN... when you are up there I felt like I was looking straight down. The operator was playful and gave us the false count down at the top ... my hands were sweating and shaking at the same time... however I managed to put my hands in the air and I felt all air leave my body as we dropped. Great Ride overall, (slightly uncomfortable for a guy), I wish SFA had a ride like this... it would surely give distinction from the competitor's drop towers.
Next was Georgia Cyclone. First the Good…. I actually enjoyed this ride. I sat in the last car and I was out of my seat on every drop. I was pleasantly surprised with the "OMG Im going to fall out" effect that it had on me. The Topper Track was a noticeabye smoother but the part that wasn't didn't bother or rattle me anywhere close to some wooden coasters I've been on. (ROAR @ SFA, Cyclone @SFNE, TimberWolf @ WOF, Hurler @ KD) The level of roughness on Georgia Cyclone is what I'd expect as acceptable from a wooden coaster. The Bad… the Crew! The Operator left his side of the platform to walk to the load side to go check the turnstile. He told the other attendant to check all the restraints on both sides of the train. The gates had closed by this time so he then squeezes his body through on his way back then crosses over the car full of people to get back to his side. HE then failed to check or even look around his area and just pressed the button. This is one time where I felt like the SFGAdv Visual Scan thingy would be necessary.
Next was Monster Mansion... I had to ride based on all the news I've heard about it. The ride was a big Yawn for me, however, I think the chain needs more simple family rides like this. I think had I been to this park as a young kid and then again as an adult I would have a different appreciation for the ride. For what its worth, It’s a great ride for the family and good escape from the outdoor heat. The crew at this ride was BY FAR THE BEST AT THE PARK! They Deserve recognition especially the elderly woman who boarded my boat. They smiled, engaged us, and overall cheerful, yet kept the ride moving.
After that we took the Sky Buckets down to the other end of the park. I headed straight for GASM. This was straight forward and fun. I wasn't particularly excited (Could be that this side of the park just felt dated) but I enjoyed this wood coaster. It was smooth all the way through its out and back run. Only thing that stuck out to me besides its smoothness was the fact that it made you just want to throw your hands up and enjoy. There was the part at the end where I literally thought my hand was going to be chopped as you enter the breakrun. That’s the last airtime bump as you enter the covered breakrun and my hands almost touched the roof... definitely made the whole train scream "Woah". The Operator of this ride left much to be desired. She looked like she did not want to be there and reminded me of Wednesday from Adams Family as if it was a crime to smile. I purposely smiled at her as my train was leaving the station and she just continued to frown back. I remember her saying over the Mic in an annoyed manner "Guest in line PLEASE move to fill in all rows, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you all to ride the front row"
Next was Ninja, just because! No line so why not. I knew immediately by the short line that this was probably going to be like Ninja at SFStl, a Head Banger? Who made this ride? Even the riders who were leaving train as I boarded said "Don't do it"... but hey I knew to push my head firmly back against the head rest... problem was, the headrest are not tall at all so there was hardly any padding to press my headed against. All in all, I was able to manage a ride with ZERO head banging. That’s what you call skill lol! However, other weren’t as fortunate. Good thing the restraints keep you from putting your hands up because there are some serious head choppers on this ride.
Superman Ultimate Flights... DO nothing for me... so it was a big skip (which I regret because I would've been able to say that I've been on all the S:UF clones in US but I'm not a credit whore). We rushed to catch the Illuminate show but, the line was so long, the show filled up before we got anywhere close to the door. That's ok, we planned to catch the last showing of the day.
Next was Dare Devil Dive (which you can't get on regular flash pass, only platinum). We got in line for this while reserving Goliath. Dare Devil Dive was my first eurofighter! I've been on Fahrenheit but had no idea what to expect. I was in the front seat and up we went. The lap bars were very comfortable but then it hit me... "OH S#!T this is a beyond vertical drop and I only have a lap bar" The drop was great! The inversions that followed, especially the first, were taken at a faster speed than I anticipated. It definitely flings your body as the track twists. After the midcourse, we hit the turn-around tunnel and into the in-line twist... It reminded me of Volcano until I was upside down and felt my body leaving my seat which caused me to scream "OH S#!T" lol. I did expect the hang time, but it felt more like airtime because I felt like I was being flung out of my seat... hard to describe it, but all in all I think it was the lap bar that is the main contributing factor here. The ride was the surprise hit of the day for me... as I did not expect much. I think it would be a great addition to SFA to replace Two Face if possible. Also it is worth noting that the crew was doing a great job and the operator was very enthusiastic with his voice... made me laugh every time he would say dare devil dive very quickly "daredevildive".
Anyway it was time for Goliath, I was anticipating this the most. But first I MUST SAY THIS!.... THIS CREW WAS BY FAR THE WORST. They were letting the trains stack every single time. I mean EVERYTIME! They were also more concerned with the conversation with each other than to begin checking the trains. B&M Hypers are one of the easier rides to check seats on because it doesn’t really require you to bend over at all or check a seat belt... If crews on Raging Bull with 3 trains and Nitro with 3 trains can get trains out without stacking, then this crew should be able to do the same with 2. I understand when there's a guest who forgot to use the Fluffy Fluffy Bunnies Filled with Medicine and Goo or doesn't fit in the ride... but had the crew been more proactive, instead of waiting till last minute to check for these things or even to start checking seats then it could be avoided. Now..... THE RIDE was AWESOME, The first drop didn't do much for me though, but everything else was fun, A lot more air on this B&M hyper than the others which was surprising to me. The downward Spiral was the Hit!... you come over the hill with air and speed and then are thrown to the left... Another "Oh S#!T" moment. The Gs increase exponentially as you spiral down into the relief of another airtime hill. Although I do prefer Intamin Ejector Air, I do enjoy B&M hypers. I think I also like that it has no mid-course break run thus the feeling of it never letting up. It just barely inches above Nitro in my list of favorite B&M hypers. Great Ride but I still can't get past the crew (more on them later). You can’t have such a crew on your star attractions
Next I checked out Mind Bender. What can I say that hasn't been said... Ride is Solid and all around fun. I love rides that interact with the landscape and full grown trees. TREES! Something that lots of six flags new more of …ADULT TREES! The portion and drop after the first loop was my favorite and the second loop is taken with great force and speed.
Next was Batman. I just love B:TR Clones. Yeah, I know they are all over the place and have been around for years but I mean till this day, B:TR is one of the most intense G-FORCE monsters out there. I get a kick out of them every time. The crew was decent, but I think the guys at Great Adventure and Great America need come teach these guys how to run one of these rides. Some may think it’s impossible not to stack but it isn't. I just saw a lack of care for efficiency at this park with their major rides which just surprised me. No knack for urgency at all. B:TR was one of the longest lines in the park.
After this I hit up Thunder River (had a light injury with their velcro seatbelts.... Not sure why they switched from the traditional orange belts on this one boat, but the velcro on my seat kept undoing itself every time the raft bumped into something and shifted us) and then Headed for Illuminate. Illuminate was an AWESOME SHOW. I loved the choreography and the lighting effects on the suits. The show has a story line and was all around great. Besides some tweaking to make it flow more cohesive... this show is a Hit. I see why it had such a long line to catch it. More Six Flags parks should add this to their entertainment options. I was surely entertained.
After the show, it was time for Georgia Scorcher which was showing up as unavailable on my flashpass even though the ride was open. The ride had a short line so thus I waited for the front row, like 4 -5 train wait. Did I say Goliath was the worst crew? Well.. I was wrong, this was THE WORST CREW, in fact the WORST Crew of any park I’ve been to. I’m talking about 4 minute dispatches, no this is not Skyrush where you can blame it on the poor station design, this was the crew! The female operator did not do anything. All she said was welcome and then when time, enjoy you ride. She did no announcements on the mic to guest, thus resulting in trains having to be unlocked and rechecked several times on every train. On every stand up coaster I’ve been on, the operators are always speaking to guest and advising them to stand up straight and warn when the seats are going to lock. This operator did nothing…. AND THEN, I witnessed, the load attendant letting trains dispatch with seat belts not even buckled in empty seats. Even my frat bro, who isn’t into parks like I am, commented about the dangling seat belts. They can fly around and hit someone. I always thought it was the rule to buckle all belts. I reported him to the operator but she just stared at me like “SO WHAT”. Accepting that this was a lost cause, I sat on the opposite side of the train from the male attendant who wasn’t checking all seats. As for the Ride, I enjoyed it a lot. It was smooth, compact and forceful. I loved how it hugs the terrain on the hillside. There is not a straight piece of track until the break run which, once we got there, had to sit for what felt like an eternity for the train ahead to dispatch with its dangling, unbuckled seat belts.
I was ready to go after this, but Goliath was now ready on my flashpass to I went to get one more ride in, this time in the front. The ride was even better than the first time when I was in the last row. The crew was behaving better as well but that was because they were being audited by someone wearing what looked like a first aid uniform and a guy in a blue button up. But then those two guys had the attendant hold them two seats and they got on the ride. Hmmm… looks like they were more concerned with sneaking a ride than auditing the crew. SMH!
After my second time on Goliath, I headed out the park, processed my pass, and went home. Dare Devil Dive, Acrophobia, Goliath, and Mind Bender were my favorite rides. Overall the park is nice. I love the trees and the terrain. It adds to the look and feel of the park. It’s still early in the season so hopefully SFOG can get their Operations together and improve the ride crews. The operations left something to be desired (from auditors more concerned with getting a quick ride, to unenthusiastic workers who don’t want to be there, to team members who are not being safe). I can say easily hands down that SFA, SGAdv, SFNE, and SFGAm have better operations. I am big on service as you can see. Rides alone just don’t do it for me. I will give the park another shot as it was just the beginning of full time season so hopefully SFOG can shed some of the dead weight and reach its full potential.