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Photo TR: Andy's Texas/Midwest TPR Tour


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I love how we doubled up on photos! I'm sure I have shots of you busy at work too.

 

Glad you liked the lemon/white chocolate bar. I think it might have been a novelty though - you'd be hard pressed to find it even here nowadays.

 

Great photos Andy!

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Once again amazing job on the Trip Report Andy! Makes me really sad that I am not doing a TPR tour this year. I'm so glad you were there to document what has easily been the best 12 days of my life.

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Day 2 Bonus -- International Snack Exchange

 

I took home three packets of Frigeo Ahoj Brausepulver -- German soda powder -- determined to make myself a glass.

 

I opted for the orange packet, and hoped I'd make it correctly.

 

It fizzed the water magnificently, with a very sweet orange taste. Not bad at all!

 

From the back of the packet:

 

MACH WAS PRICKELNDES!

 

Den inhalt des Portionsbeutels in ein Glas mit 0,2 Liter frischen Wasser (Mineralwasser) schütten. Sofort erhält man ein herrlich prickel-frisches Getränk.

 

I gave Google Translate a go, and came out with, well, something close enough to make sense out of!

 

DO WHAT TINGLING!

 

The contents of the sachet into a glass with 0.2 liters of fresh water (mineral water) pour. Immediately obtained a gorgeous prickling-fresh drink.

 

You did it in the described, official, correct way. It´s more enjoyable when you put it directly in your mouth.

 

BUT, there is an unofficial adult-way Combine it with 2cl vodka instead of water! Either in a glass like you did, or my prefered way... put the content in your mouth, take a shot of vodka, shake your head and enjoy your "mouthdrink"

 

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Oh, and by the way... Great report!

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^I got my Vodka ready, now where can I buy some of those soda powder?

 

Hey, that's my line!

 

 

Love all the photos Andy, some really great shots from a fun day at Sea World. It's been nice reliving the trip months later and getting psyched for the next one at the same time. Look forward to next update.

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Thank you all! Seriously, it's very much appreciated.

 

I didn't know Applebees had their own hotel chain!

Ha! Yeah, there isn't even a Drury sign in that view. The Applebees wasn't open yet anyway.

 

Glad you liked the lemon/white chocolate bar. I think it might have been a novelty though - you'd be hard pressed to find it even here nowadays.

Well crap. It's like my favorite pop-tarts of all time, which got discontinued in 2008, reinstated in 2010, and then discontinued again in 2012. Just going to have to enjoy life without it.

 

I'm so glad you were there to document what has easily been the best 12 days of my life.

Two of my favorite weeks that I can recall as well .

 

Amazing update Andy! I'm happy that you enjoyed my German soda candies

A-ha! They were yours! The mystery has been solved.

 

You did it in the described, official, correct way. It´s more enjoyable when you put it directly in your mouth.

I'll try that with one of the other two packets -- if I can dig them out from the mess of wristbands and park maps.

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Day 3 (Part 1) -- Six Flags Over Texas

Thursday, August 1, 2013

 

Lesson of the Day: Check your pockets, and check them again to be sure. I had already lost one item (a pair of sunglasses at SeaWorld San Antonio), but almost left behind something much worse -- my wallet and phone. I had just purchased several new pairs of cargo shorts, and several days into the trip, I was still getting used to keeping everything secure. My valuables dropped into the seat on Mr. Freeze, and had it not been for the supremely quick eye of Tim K, they may not have been recovered. I made an adjustment to my carrying strategies, and ran into no further issues for the rest of the trip.

 

My advice:

1) Find a system that works for you, and never deviate from it.

2) Immediately replace items you take out after you're done using them.

3) Doublecheck your pockets anyway, every now and then, just to make sure.

 

Artifacts:

 

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All I cared to bring home from SFOT -- the park map and ticket.

Scorecard:

 

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast

Runaway Mine Train

Texas SkyScreamer

Batman: The Ride

Mini Mine Train

Pandemonium

Judge Roy Scream

La Vibora

Titan

El Aserradero (Flume 2)

Runaway Mountain

-- Lunch --

Oil Derrick

-- Fair Park --

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast

Yosemite Sam’s Gold River Adventure

Titan

La Vibora

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast

Texas SkyScreamer (x2)

 

Day 3 (Part 1)

 

I wanted to like this park.

 

To start with, Six Flags Over Texas is a large, historic, and relatively attractive place. The park is in the middle of one of the biggest suburban concrete jungles I can think of, yet its layout and charm rarely break the self-contained illusion.

 

Furthermore, SFOT has a very impressive collection of rides. We knew going in that two of the park's best attractions would be unavailable -- New Texas Giant due to the accident on July 19, and Shockwave due to a significant mechanical issue. Even without those rides, the park is home to several other impressive roller coasters, a large number of coasters overall, and quite a few important (and tall) flat rides and attractions.

 

Missing out on New Texas Giant and Shockwave is cause enough for me to want to revisit this park, no matter what else happened during our visit on August 1. Unfortunately, this feeling stands in severe dissonance with the rest of the SFOT experience. As has been described by several other TPR members, our visit to SFOT was easily our most disappointing segment of the trip.

 

Trip participants were made aware of the issues at SFOT weeks before the July 19 incident, confirming that our experience was not the hasty result of the fallout from the darkest day in the park's history. TPR was not treated particularly well by the park's management, with our only perk being a hastily-led walk back for first rides on Mr. Freeze, beating the general public to the queue by only about ten minutes. TPR is not a charity, and I know that our group doesn't simply expect to gain favors for a song. TPR is a business, and putting it in those terms, I find it hard to fathom why a park would allow such a remarkable marketing opportunity to slip through their fingers. In the wake of the New Texas Giant accident, especially, this is a park that could have used any positive press it could find. Unfortunately, none of my TPR peers seemed inclined to spin things in too positive a fashion, and my experience will lead this trip report in a similar direction. Still, because I still enjoyed certain aspects of my day at SFOT, I'll try to be fair in my assessment.

 

Our journey to Six Flags Over Texas was a short one -- just a 5-10 minute walk to the front gate, from the La Quinta hotel just east of the park's property. This was the first time I'd ever walked to (or from) an amusement park before, though I'd repeat the experience while leaving Six Flags Great America, and during our extended stay at Cedar Point. We gathered at the front gate on yet another blistering scorcher of a day -- a high temperature of 102 degrees F, with a heat index of up to 106 F. Thankfully, this would end up as the last miserably hot day of the trip.

 

It was hard to argue with a spot at the front of the line for Mr. Freeze, as we were awkwardly shuttled through a locked chain-link gate into the queue area. That gate ended up locked for the rest of the day, despite the fact that it essentially sealed access between two completely open sections of the park. Can anyone else figure that one out?

 

Intending to knock out both of the mine trains, my Q-Bot group (with Victor, Stacy H, and Tim K) was disappointed to find that Mini Mine Train had yet to begin operations. We moved onward to a few other coasters, including Batman, whose Q-Bot entrance was one of the sketchiest queues I'd ever seen. Shoehorned against the northeasternmost edge of the park's property, the line wound its way behind the ride building, through what looked to be a decrepit backstage area that no guest should really be able to see.

 

Six Flags Over Texas, for better or for worse, carved itself a very important spot in my personal record book. Judge Roy Scream -- my sixth coaster of the day -- became my 100th credit. The three-digit milestone was huge for me, and I initially thought that it would be the only "nice round number" milestone I'd hit on the trip. As it turns out, that might not have been the case!

 

Only two parks on the trip (not counting Mt. Olympus, for reasons to be described later) featured kiddie coasters with strict child requirements. Wile E. Coyote's Grand Canyon Blaster ended up as a missed credit for at least 90% of our group -- only Marcel and a couple of other people were fortunate enough to time out a couple rides with KT. Well played, Marcel. My group was politely declined by the SFOT operators.

 

After making a very quick run through the park's credits, we stopped for lunch -- captive audience to the same cheesy "western" sound effect, from a prime seat directly below a speaker, played once every 60 seconds. I split from my group and made my way to what I, as a photgrapher, considered the "high"-light of my day -- a session of aerial shots from the top of the Oil Derrick.

 

Having spent the morning and early afternoon at the park, our day at SFOT was pleasantly interrupted by a trip across Dallas to Summer Adventures at Fair Park. I will be covering our trip to Fair Park in a future post.

 

After leaving Fair Park, TPR returned to SFOT at night. As I had found that several rides opened late during the morning, some other TPR members found that rides had closed early, and that restaurants were also shut down for the night. With a couple hours before closing, we had enough time for re-rides on a few of our favorites. An attempt to take a second consecutive spin on Titan was ruined by an awful experience at the mid-point of the queue on the way out. Despite the lack of a line, a SFOT employee refused to let us return to the inbound section of the queue. Meanwhile, this employee had been socializing with someone who was apparently an off-duty employee, wearing street clothes and speaking quite boisterously. This individual attempted several times to encourage the employee to let us through, and we took off before the situation got too awkward. Frankly, I'd rather have just had the employee calmly reiterate that policy dictated that we should walk around, rather than awkwardly getting undermined by an obnoxious acquaintence acting in a pseudo-official manner. Overall, it was a bizarre display of behavior and a poor reflection on the park's staff and training.

 

I was dead-set on closing my night on Texas SkyScreamer, hoping to take in an outstanding view from roughly 400 feet in the air. The bad news was that wait times for the ride were fairly miserable. Timing things out with the other TPR members, we found that dispatch times (from riders leaving to the new cycle beginning) exceeded five minutes. This exacerbated the delays inherent to a ride that consistently held some of the longest lines all day long. The good news was that we ended up on the second-to-last ride of the night, with a nearly-empty queue behind us. This forced one more cycle of the ride, and we all stuck around for the double-dose of aerial splendor.

 

I fully expect that I will return to Six Flags Over Texas at some point in my life. I'd love to spend a few days in the Dallas area, and I'd certainly be willing to find the time for a few rides on New Texas Giant, Shockwave, and a few of the other rides I enjoyed. I can only sincerely hope that the 2013 operating season was the rock-bottom low point for the park, because I find it hard to believe how their operations could deteriorate any further without tainting the experience for even the general public. This was the only one of the four Six Flags parks we visited that left us with this sort of impression. I hope they get it fixed, because there's a lot of potential just waiting to be unearthed.

 

Due to the quick pace with which my group moved through the park, I didn't have time for an extensive set of pictures, focusing my efforts on the views from the Oil Derrick. I also missed out on a few rides I would have liked to try -- Superman: Tower of Power (S&S tower) and Six Flags Railroad, in addition to the three closures (New Texas Giant, Shockwave, and El Aserradero Flume 1).

 

Reviews of SFOT's many rides:

 

Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast: This ride was more fun (and forceful) than I had anticipated! The hang-time sensations in the inverted top hat are interesting, especially when getting yanked down in the back of the train. It won't rank as one of my absolute favorites, but it was enjoyable.

Runaway Mine Train: For the most part, this seemed like a middle-of-the-road Arrow mine train, though with important historic credentials -- built in 1966, it's the park's oldest coaster, and the first Arrow mine train ever constructed. The three-segment ride contained a nice surprise near the end, with an unexpected drop after the final lift hill.

Batman: The Ride: The third Batman clone in three days delivered as expected. Not much else to say about these fun and intense coasters.

Mini Mine Train: Perhaps a half-step up from a kiddie coaster, the difficulty in finding this ride operating is about its only memorable aspect.

Pandemonium: Our second of three Pandemonium (ex-Tony Hawk) coasters on the trip, we treated this one as a credit, and moved on.

Judge Roy Scream: This ride will forever have a spot in my record books, being my 100th coaster. I had a front-row seat in one of the back cars, and found the ride mostly enjoyable, with a few pops of air. Other TPR members on wheel seats were less impressed. It's a pretty standard out-and-back, so there aren't any big surprises with this one.

La Vibora: The image in my message board avatar is a secondary logo from a defunct hockey team called the Detroit Vipers. La Vibora, of course, is Spanish for "The Viper." It's fitting that I'd enjoy this coaster, and I did! It was my third bobsled coaster, after Disaster Transport (Cedar Point) and Avalanche (Kings Dominion), and easily my favorite of the three. I thought it provided the closest sensation to what I'd expect out of riding a bobsled, picking up some forces on the big banking curves, with wheels even departing the surface for brief moments in time. I was glad to get on this one twice, especially given how rare these types of coasters are.

Titan: Titan was one of my best pleasant surprises of the entire trip. Although I didn't rank out all the coasters from the 85 I rode with TPR, I'd guess that Titan would end up near the bottom of a top-ten list. The ride has great views, a mix of intense forces (both positive and negative), and speed to burn. I would have loved to ride this a couple more times, especially since there was almost no wait to board. Perhaps, in the ridiculous heat, Titan was too intense for the average park guest? I was proud to have avoided grey-outs entirely on the second helix, though the first "bonus" helix got me on the early-afternoon ride.

Runaway Mountain: This indoor coaster wasn't much to speak of -- a Windstorm-esque model, slightly more intense than a typical mouse, with the quirk of being set in the dark. The big turn off the first brake run got my neck pretty good, and sadly, it was a lesson I didn't apply during the afternoon's trip to Fair Park.

Texas SkyScreamer: This may have been my most anticipated non-coaster ride of the entire trip, and it delivered exactly as I'd expected. I never considered this to be a thrill ride, and as a lover of heights, I was mainly looking forward to the awesome views and remarable freedom rarely afforded at 400 feet in elevation. My night rides were more exciting than the run during the day, with a little bit of wind leading to over 90 degrees of rotation about a vertical axis. I tried my hardest to see the green glow of the Bank of America Plaza in downtown Dallas, only to learn later that the lighting package was in the middle of a half-year-long replacement.

El Aserradero (Flume 2): El Aserradero means "The Sawmill" in Spanish, fitting a common theme for log flumes. The first El Aserradero flume was opened in 1963 as the first log flume in the world, and a second flume was added in 1968. Much to my disappointment (as a flume credit counter) -- yet not outside our expectations given SFOT's poor operations -- only one of the two flumes was running. Aside from knowing that I entered the line marked for "Flume 2," I really can't say for sure if I made it on the 1963 or 1968 version. Based on my GPS track, I know I rode the southernmost of the two flumes. I had no problems with the ride itself, which I found as enjoyable as most log flumes.

Oil Derrick: You can sign me up for just about any observation deck, especially when they're open-air and as tall as this one! Most of my SFOT photography was completed from up top, despite some difficulties I'll describe in the photo section. I wish every park had something like this -- especially Cedar Point.

Yosemite Sam’s Gold River Adventure: Not sure what to think of this one. An odd water-borne dark ride, with Looney Tunes scenes in dire need of upkeep. I guess I'm glad I got to see it, but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

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Pictures from Day 3 (Part 1)

 

Additional pictures and bigger versions of these images can be found here.

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TPR marches to the park from the La Quinta across the street.

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A first look at Judge Roy Scream, which sits apart from the rest of the park, accessible by a tunnel underneath the main access road.

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Here's the station for Judge Roy Scream, and the site of a piece of personal roller coaster history!

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Thanks to Tim, Olivier, and Francis for sharing in my 100th credit -- and to Robb, who was there to witness it and take the picture.

 

Sue me for preparing a sign -- that was a proud milestone! :-)

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The queue for Texas SkyScreamer, which was rather busy for most of the day.

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My first look at Mr. Freeze, as the riders look straight down.

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Too tall. Road Runner is preparing dynamite for the next batch of adults who try to ride.

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A fountain and carousel near the main entrance.

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Globetrotting to Spain. This isn't exactly Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but the themed areas are actually one of the park's strengths.

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Here's the La Vibora station, which was a little more confusing than it needed to be. I don't think anyone was interested in filling those cars to capacity.

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The classic "red to yellow, kill a fellow" / "red to black, venom lack" thing (which refers to Coral Snakes and Milk Snakes, not Vipers) was eschewed here -- on La Vibora, red touches both colors in succession.

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Arriving at Titan -- my favorite coaster at the park!

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The big turnaround over the transfer track shed.

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Orange track through blue supports. Now that segment from Lone Star Nights is making sense!

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A group of exhausted (or possibly unconscious) riders returns to the station.

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They had a scoreboard on the departing side of the station, which seemed to do very little to encourage the operators.

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With all the credits out of the way, it was time to relax for some photography (and great views) from the Oil Derrick observation platform.

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Here's the view from about 300 feet up, and the picture taker's challenge becomes apparent -- those chain link fences are awful for photography! One option would have been to switch to live view mode and hold the camera up above the top, but that's a tough way to take an extensive set of pictures.

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The day was saved by the discovery of these small holes in the fence, which were put in to accommodate the tower viewers (pay-per-use binocular-esque devices). By moving the viewers to the side, there was just enough room to get the lens through, providing unobstructed views on all sides of the tower.

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Speaking of the tower, it sure looks like it could use a little bit of upkeep.

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Now, to enjoy some aerial views. Here's Shockwave -- or is it Shock Wave? Either way, it's not open.

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Sorry, Anton. Maybe next time.

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Ring around the pickup truck.

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A wide view to the south.

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Two cars heading through La Vibora.

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Cresting the hill on the south El Aserradero flume.

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The main view to the east, toward several of the park's tallest attractions.

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Looking southeast, toward the park's reservoir, and our lovely yellow-and-red hotel.

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Superman: Tower of Power (the top of which just barely blocks out the Dallas skyline).

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Mr. Freeze and Batman -- the elusive two-train shot!

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It's a long way down from here.

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The train passes through the inverted top hat with a pretty good amount of speed -- it's intense, and your neck better be ready for it!

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Texas SkyScreamer begins to take flight.

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Texas SkyScreamer. Alternate name: Soarin' Over Suburbia.

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The pinnacle of Texas SkyScreamer -- that top flag is the highest object in the entire park.

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As if the two major closures weren't bad enough, here's a /third/ missed credit for the day.

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The lift hill for my #100.

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TPR's humble home for two nights.

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Tony Hawk's Pandemonium, with far too long a line.

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Looking down at the Roaring Rapids raft ride.

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I'm not so sure about the looks of that water, though.

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The park's biggest amphitheater, just north of New Texas Giant.

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A view off to the west -- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.

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Undulations on Interstate 30.

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Hurricane Harbor looked like a pretty neat water park.

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The sheer number of slides at this park is pretty impressive.

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The Hurricane Harbor water tower.

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The two big coasters at the park's west end -- New Texas Giant and Titan.

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A big lift hill with big overbanked turns.

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ANGUS OIL.

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The crest of the New Texas Giant lift. Is that Wile E. Coyote up top?

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A wide view of Titan, with Arlington's massive stadiums in the background.

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Climbing the Titan lift. Behind is Rangers Ballpark, home of the Texas Rangers (MLB).

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Cresting the lift on Titan, and preparing for a lengthy drop.

 

There sure are a lot of water towers around here.

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Going down faster than the Dallas Cowboys' playoff hopes!

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The big turnaround on Titan.

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AT&T Stadium, formerly Cowboys Stadium, and more derisively known as Jerry World -- home of the Dallas Cowboys (NFL).

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A look at part of Rangers Ballpark -- a place I'd love to see a game at.

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Now, for a few distant views from locations surrounding the park. Grand Prairie is located just east of Arlington, and is one of the many huge suburbs of Dallas.

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This picture of the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport is pretty much the reverse shot of one I got on my first day of vacation:

http://themeparkreview.com/forum/files/0794.jpg

 

You can even see that same building about halfway between!

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Exit sign at 250mm zoom.

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The Trail Dust Steak House? With all the SFOT restaurants closing early, I wonder if this place was open for dinner? Let's ask Yelp...

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/trail-dust-steak-house-arlington-arlington

 

... two and a half stars? Nevermind.

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Well, that was fun -- always nice to get a perspective from up high. Now heading down the Oil Derrick to make my way out of the park.

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A look up at Superman: Tower of Power. It's a pretty big S&S tower, and I wish I could have spared a few minutes to ride it.

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The park's skycoaster, and a billowing cumulus cloud.

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Runaway Mine Train -- a coaster whose age is its most notable quality.

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As I mentioned in the trip report, I thought the park had a lot of potential from a visual / theming perspective. I liked this big oil rig, located near Pandemonium and the Mini Mine Train.

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From the sign:

 

CABLE TOOL RIG

 

Drilled the early deep oil wells in Texas. Derrick here is exact replica and has same rigging and tools used in 1920 to drill the Crowley No. 1, a 250-barrel producer at 3500 feet -- one of the deepest wells up to the time. It was near Breckenridge, in one of Great Fields in oil empire of Texas. (1966)

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The top of the Oil Derrick looms far above the kids' area, which is getting a major renovation for 2014.

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A little bit of history near the park's carousel -- there were signs for each of the six "flags" that flew over Texas.

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A look at the massive Texas SkyScreamer in action.

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Heading back to the La Quinta to prepare for the afternoon at Fair Park. Yes, that sign really does say "God Bless Merica" -- Matt's trip report has proof:

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Returning to SFOT at night -- a view of the skycoaster and Oil Derrick.

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Waiting (and waiting and waiting) for our night rides on Texas SkyScreamer, which were absolutely worth it.

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A quaint Ferris wheel for kids -- miniature hot air balloons.

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The Judge, lit up over the park's reservoir.

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Bye, #100.

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The end of the long day at Six Flags Over Texas. It's like the crazy unkempt uncle you dropped in on at a bad time. I intend to come back, and I hope you're actually ready for visitors when I do return.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Don't forget about that one Texas SkyScreamer cycle where it took them over eight minutes load and dispatch because two of the attendants were scared of a giant-a$$ cockroach crawling around on the platform! There were so many cockroaches out as we were leaving the park. You pretty much had to watch where you walked...

The evening crew at Titan was the worst I have ever seen in my life. I was really close to going to guest services.

You pretty much summed up Six Flags Over Texas perfectly.

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I do hope things get better for SFOT. 2013 really was just a lousy year for the Park, most of which was their own fault. But none the less, you took wonderful pictures in great perspectives I have not seen before. I'm loving your Trip Reports! As always, I look forward to the next installment!

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Some great photos of the park. I really hope SFOT gets a new Park manager soon because I feel the management team is at fault for the lousy training and ethics of the workers.

 

That gate ended up locked for the rest of the day, despite the fact that it essentially sealed access between two completely open sections of the park. Can anyone else figure that one out?

 

This is done to make everyone walk through the games section of Gotham area.

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TPR is not a charity, and I know that our group doesn't simply expect to gain favors for a song. TPR is a business, and putting it in those terms, I find it hard to fathom why a park would allow such a remarkable marketing opportunity to slip through their fingers. In the wake of the New Texas Giant accident, especially, this is a park that could have used any positive press it could find.

 

This hits the nail on the head. Every other park we visited made a better effort to be good hosts, and I would have loved to say the same for SFOT but I just can't. Iron Rattler was closed too, but that didn't stop SFFT from being awesome. They did everything they could to give us the best day possible. That all being said, based on what I've heard about the park in the past, and that I still need those missed credits, I definitely plan on returning there at some point in the future and hopefully things will have improved.

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