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Photo TR: Andy's 2014 New Hotness / East Coast TPR Tour


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Rocky Rapids holds a special place in my heart. Although I have never been to Indiana Beach, I have ridden Rocky Rapids 31 years ago when it was at Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans. It was known as the Log Ride: The Lost Mine. Most of the flume was elevated at that time. It had a "haunted cave" as part of the ride. Was a great ride! Need to ride it again before it disappears forever!

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Great update again, Andy! I think your assessment of Indiana Beach is spot-on. While it has flaws and has really gone downhill in the last decade, it's still an incredibly unique park and it's easy to have a good time there. I do miss the late 90s and early 00s when the park was amazing and the coasters were all running well.

 

Also, once I threw an entire loaf of stale bread to the carp. It was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.

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Great trip report, awesome pictures! It really is fascinating to see how Indiana Beach built all these rides over water. Looks like a really unique place.

 

Also, once I threw an entire loaf of stale bread to the carp. It was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.

 

Looks like the carp pond would be a good place to go if you have a body and you need to make it disappear.

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Great update again, Andy! I think your assessment of Indiana Beach is spot-on. While it has flaws and has really gone downhill in the last decade, it's still an incredibly unique park and it's easy to have a good time there. I do miss the late 90s and early 00s when the park was amazing and the coasters were all running well.

 

Also, once I threw an entire loaf of stale bread to the carp. It was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.

 

Yes, the park had slipped a bit since my first visit in 2010, but there were signs of improvement here and there. And, hey, you can get "redneck biscuits" . . .

 

 

. . . and great tacos.

 

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Cool report! I always liked, or wanted to like Indiana Beach. A cool park with a cool setting but operationally wise has been a let down. I've been to the park twice and both time Lost Coaster wasn't operating, along with a slew of other flat rides. I think they've been having some troubles.

 

Also, I think Cornball Express got neutered. I went to Indiana Beach in 2006 and loved Cornball, the back seat had awesome ejector airtime. Then I went again this past summer and was quite disappointed, it was nothing like it was. I think maybe they got rid of the last car of the train(?) but I can't remember. You described its current state well as a coaster that wasn't bad, wasn't great, just sort of "meh". I used to be a lot better.

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Thanks for the TR to Indiana Beach. I really need to make the four hour trek to this park, someday. Maybe this summer? Probably not... Especially since KK is of equal driving time from me.

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Fascination was a high point of our trip to Indiana Beach, and that was only with two people, I can not imagine how much fun it would be with the TPR group taking over the place.

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Rocky Rapids holds a special place in my heart. Although I have never been to Indiana Beach, I have ridden Rocky Rapids 31 years ago when it was at Pontchartrain Beach in New Orleans. It was known as the Log Ride: The Lost Mine. Most of the flume was elevated at that time. It had a "haunted cave" as part of the ride. Was a great ride! Need to ride it again before it disappears forever!

 

Now that's some neat history. It's easy to track coasters that have moved around from park to park, but other rides, not so much. Thanks for sharing!

 

Great update again, Andy! I think your assessment of Indiana Beach is spot-on. While it has flaws and has really gone downhill in the last decade, it's still an incredibly unique park and it's easy to have a good time there.

 

I hope that came through in the report -- it's such an interesting place, and with such a variety of things to do, that you'd have to try pretty hard to not enjoy yourself.

 

Also, once I threw an entire loaf of stale bread to the carp. It was a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.

 

That is the worst idea and best idea ever.

 

Looks like the carp pond would be a good place to go if you have a body and you need to make it disappear.

 

Strike that -- this is the worst idea and best idea ever.

 

Also, I think Cornball Express got neutered. I went to Indiana Beach in 2006 and loved Cornball, the back seat had awesome ejector airtime. Then I went again this past summer and was quite disappointed, it was nothing like it was. I think maybe they got rid of the last car of the train(?) but I can't remember. You described its current state well as a coaster that wasn't bad, wasn't great, just sort of "meh". I used to be a lot better.

 

That's an interesting perspective, and not uncommon with aging wooden coasters built 10-20 years ago. There's a lot to be said for getting on a ride in its first few years in existence.

 

That was a trip down memory lane. Also, I wish I was playing FASCINATION right now instead of working.

 

I wish I was playing Fascination instead of just about anything else.

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Alright, Holiday World's done, Indiana Beach is finished, what's next...

 

...oh. This day.

 

Well then.

 

I guess I have some pictures to share, but do I really want to write up a trip report for it?

 

Oh, do I.

 

Heck yes. Let's get started.

 

Day 5 -- Six Flags Great America

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

 

Scorecard:

 

Goliath [back]

American Eagle (Red)

X-Flight (x2)

Goliath [Front]

Goliath

Raging Bull [back] (x2)

Viper

Whizzer

-- Dinner --

Sky Trek Tower

Scenic Railway

Superman: Ultimate Flight

The Dark Knight

Batman: The Ride

V2

 

The Report:

 

Oh my, did we have a Six Flags day.

 

As written up in my previous trip report, TPR's 2013 visit to Six Flags Great America on the Texas / Midwest tour was pretty good -- not that it was necessarily an easy day for Robb and Elissa to set up. This time, we knew going in that things would be different, in large part due to the dismissive and unprofessional attitude taken by SFGAm's staff during the planning phase -- straight up to the office of the park's president. We had no ERT. We had no backstage tours. We had no group meals or photo opportunities. We had no special access to Goliath. Given that the brand-new RMC was one of the big selling points of the trip, and a major item of anticipation for our last stop on the Mini New Hotness tour, we were still hoping for the best.

 

How did things turn out? Almost unbelievably, it was worse than expected. I've now been on five weeks worth of trips with TPR, and in terms of the overall park experience, this was the worst day out of them all. There's never a truly bad day on a trip like this -- as long as you're with good people, you can make the most out of anything. Still, despite going in with an attitude to give the park as fair a chance as possible, we were continually amazed (maybe even impressed) by how many ways the place disappointed us -- over and over again.

 

So, there's your warning -- this is not going to be a gushing review. I won't share other folks' stories, though anyone following along with TPR's social media saw some of the worst of what Six Flags Great America had to offer. I'll simply give a fair assessment of my small group's experience in the park, albeit run through a gold-plated filter of dismissive sarcasm.

 

Let's start with some good news -- our hotel didn't burn down! We got to sleep in, with no need to be to the park early, since we had no ERT. Not a bad idea to pick up some extra rest, after the late nights earlier on the trip. We didn't leave for the park until after 9AM, intending to get there in time for the 10AM opening. We barely made it -- our bus was delayed at the toll gate for ten minutes, which I believe gave Six Flags enough time to investigate if we were actually sleeper agents for Cedar Fair. Well, we fooled 'em good -- we were actually sleeper agents for RMC, if my entire Q-Bot group wearing Outlaw Run shirts wasn't an indication. Troll game: engaged.

 

The park gates opened five minutes early, and what happened next was hilarious -- a mad-dash to Goliath. Just one or two bulls shy of Pamplona, literally hundreds of unruly teenagers took off at full sprint to the back of the park, appearing perfectly ready to trample anything in their path. What a dangerous, disorganized mess that was. By the time we caught up to the crowd, the line for Goliath was already about an hour long -- and we were among the first at the queue outside the main park gate that morning.

 

After we got our first rides in on Goliath, we were given our Platinum Flash Pass Q-Bots for the day. Thank goodness for Accesso -- they loaded two passes for Goliath, meaning that we'd get on the new coaster twice more later in the day. Our next stop was at American Eagle, one of a few major attractions not available on the Q-Bot. Despite the park having been open for over an hour, and on an extremely busy day, only one side (Red) was running -- I presume the blue-side ride ops were critically injured in the Goliath stampede. It took us a half hour to get on, and by the time we were done, the line stretched across the bridge to the entrance -- at least an hour in length.

 

We then headed to X-Flight, where we'd use the Q-Bot for the first time. With good operations, a Platinum Flash Pass should allow a user to get on a ride in around ten minutes or less. That's not how things work at SFGAm. After navigating the twisted corridors beyond the merge point, we finally reached the station platform, only to find that X-Flight was X-Grounded. The ride suffered a breakdown while we were in the station, with several other TPR members still loaded on the coaster, unable to depart. Well, at least we had plenty of time to appreciate the horrendously-generic B-movie top-secret government facility theming, and those awesome flight suits the ride ops get to wear (which I'm sure are in no way uncomfortable in the middle of the summer). It was 35 minutes from the time we entered the queue until the time we got on X-Flight, and by the time we left the ride, it was almost 1 PM. We'd been in the park for nearly three hours, armed with the best Q-Bot available, and had been on three coasters.

 

Discussing our plans for the rest of the day over a plate of fries (that somehow took 20 minutes to cook and still came out lukewarm), half of our Q-Bot group decided not to return to the park after the TPR farewell dinner late that afternoon. So, we opted to cash in our two Goliath passes early. What's better than skipping past a 2-3 hour line? Doing it twice in 30 minutes, and feeling zero shame for the awesomeness of skipping ahead of the hundreds of nitwits who probably charged past us earlier that morning. I skipped lunch, choosing instead to sustain myself on the sneers and glares from the enormous Goliath queue, which I found to be plentiful.

 

After Goliath, we rode Raging Bull, and had one of those deliciously awkward conversations with the back-row ride op. The guy was a TPR fan, and had already seen how well everybody's day was going. Yeah... well... uh... enjoy your ride! He wasn't in a position to apologize, and we weren't in a position to forgive, but we reached a happy balance when he noticed our Outlaw Run shirts. He was thinking of visiting Silver Dollar City, and we tried to convince him to get there as quickly as possible, so hopefully our evangelism for the Herschends made that park a few bucks. Still checking my mailbox for the commission, by the way.

 

Our next coaster was Viper, which I'd been looking forward to (which I realize in retrospect was a pretty stupid idea). Queuing for Viper was an experience akin to rushing the stage at a small-venue general admission concert -- except that the show doesn't start on time, and when it finally does, the band's hopped up on Ambien and playing everything at half-tempo. There's simply no defending the horrifying situation on the Viper station platform -- 5-minute dispatches, no semblance of order to the mass of humanity in the musty wooded building, and ride operators who either won't quit chatting with each other long enough to start checking seatbelts and lap bars, or look like they've just BSOD'd and need a hard reboot. That was another 35 minute wait -- with the flash pass, I again point out -- simply to get one ride on a no-frills wooden coaster.

 

After a spin on Whizzer, we headed out of the park, meeting up with the rest of TPR for our departure at 4PM. Rather than spend any unnecessary money at Six Flags, we opted to have our last dinner at a restaurant near our hotel instead. I believe there were numerous tour participants who didn't return to the park after our dinner was complete. I went back to the park with Mark, knowing we'd at least be able to occupy ourselves with photography, even if we ended up too frustrated to ride much of anything else.

 

Mark and I re-entered the park just after 6PM, and made our way to the Sky Trek Tower for an aerial view of the surroundings. On my 2013 visit, I ran out of time for the observation tower, which would be nearly unthinkable to anyone who knows my favorite spots for photography. Our next ride was on the park's railroad, using the only available station at the front of the park, since the back station had been inexplicably closed off for Goliath's temporary queue. We found time for a few more roller coasters during the evening -- Superman, The Dark Knight, Batman, and V2. We had short waits for the first two, but Batman was "currently experiencing a temporary delay in operations", stretching that wait to almost a half hour.

 

On the way to V2, I had to play meteorologist, noticing a potent thunderstorm was on the way south from near Milwaukee. We opted to make V2 our last ride of the night, thinking there would be plenty of time for one final coaster. That almost wasn't the case.

 

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As we waited, an announcement came through from the ride ops -- storms were coming, and they'd do their best to accommodate the crowds still waiting to ride, but offered no guarantees. You'd think that would be a sign to pick up the pace, but then, you've made it this far in the trip report, right? Slow dispatch after slow dispatch served only to cut the time closer, as we waited 30 minutes on a crowded station platform before finally loading to ride. I thought we still had just enough time to get back to the hotel, and we did -- heading out of the park at 9PM, arriving to our destination by 920PM, and beating the downpour by a matter of minutes.

 

We could have stayed until close, fought through a soaking, and tried to get one more ride on Goliath. We didn't. It just wasn't worth the effort.

 

Overall Impressions:

 

Six Flags Great America is a park with major problems, and almost all of them are related to demeanor of the park's staff -- mood, motivation, and efficiency. These attitudes must be driven from above, and given our experience with park management, I have little to no faith that they will be corrected in the near future.

 

Crowd control is one of the biggest issues. We visited on a very busy weekday in the middle of the summer, which appeared to put the staff behind the 8-ball from the moment the gates were opened. Other established and well-respected parks know how to handle large crowds, and understand that keeping people moving through queues and attractions is paramount. At SFGAm, ride operations were horrendous on an almost across-the-board level. Disinterested and lethargic station staff plagued many major attractions, with station platforms that maintained no sense of order, and ride dispatches at intervals of 4-6 minutes. Viper was by far the worst offender, with V2 and X-Flight coming in close behind. I can give credit to the ops on Goliath -- the ride was properly staffed and moving quickly, though it didn't stop the queue from reaching 2-3 hours in length during the late morning and early afternoon. Raging Bull's crew wasn't awful, and one ride op earned some extra credit by being a TPR fan. Interestingly, outside of Goliath, the best operations in the park were on Superman -- a notoriously-slow-loading B&M flying coaster. Several rides also went down for maintenance, as described in the trip report, though I'm hesitant to automatically blame the park for things like that. However, when another TPR member's trip report included a picture of out-of-order/broken playground slides, it's hard to give the place a pass. Seriously, how do you break a playground slide? The end result of all of the above is that major attractions had lines that exceeded an hour in length for the entire day, and even the second-tier coasters had 30-60 minute waits as well.

 

The sterile, corporate feel of the park seemed a little worse than in 2013 -- from the Blue Man Group ads on American Eagle, to the verbal advertisements stuck at the end of ride spiels park-wide. Can I get off the Sky Trek Tower without being shanghaied into purchasing a funnel cake? Also, any park with a railroad simply needs to keep it as a centerpiece of the ride collection. It's simply unfathomable that the park chose to shut down the back-end train station in order to haphazardly toss down a gigantic temporary queue for Goliath.

 

Operations completely aside, one big part of my 2013 review that hasn't changed is my opinion on the park's coaster collection. It's large, and has several good rides, but few (if any) that are really outstanding. I hoped that Goliath would be the one star attraction that would cap off the collection, but I didn't find that to be the case. It's quite good, as are Raging Bull, Batman, and Whizzer, but the park still lacks a true destination coaster that would make me want to come back any time soon. Throw in the poor experience in general, and I don't see a reason to return to SFGAm for many years.

 

Perhaps the most critical way I can close this section is to note that several TPR members described the park as a "credit run." No park of this size, with 13 coasters and several other notable attractions, should ever have to be described as a credit run.

 

The Attractions:

 

I won't duplicate all of the ride reviews from the 2013 report, but Goliath has to get its due, and a few others need an update.

 

Goliath: Goliath is a very good coaster, but I don't think it's a great coaster. My immediate reaction after riding really hasn't changed much, and I think describing it as a B+ ride is fair. Despite the record height and angle of descent -- largely-meaningless style-over-substance superlatives -- the first drop was a disappointment. There's a lot to be said for the momentum gained on Outlaw Run's pre-drop, because the sensation that ride provides in the back is vastly superior to Goliath's. The common complaint about the ride being too short is certainly valid as well. It was shoehorned into an extremely tiny plot of land, limiting what RMC could design -- and they really made the most of what they had available. If the ride were run to correct manufacturer's specifications, perhaps the overall lack of force and speed could be improved -- elements such as the inverted turnaround and stall seemed like they were taken too slow to have the intended effect. My group was unanimous in thinking that the Goliath ride experience was greatly improved in the front row, adding some pops and snaps to the motion in a few segments of the circuit. Goliath will definitely still earn a spot on my Top 10 wood coaster list, but down in the lower half. It doesn't deserved to be mentioned in the same conversation as Outlaw Run or El Toro, but it's still a good ride, and proof that RMC can build something good even under less-than-ideal circumstances.

 

Viper: I was very excited to ride Viper again after 2013, as I thought the ride seemed like it would be a lot of fun if the trains weren't facing backwards. What a let down. In addition to the horrible staff operating the ride, the coaster was a slow, shuffly, rough experience. The layout is great, but plodding through the course simply ruins the ride. This was not a positive experience at all.

 

X-Flight: I've now been on all four US wing coasters, and X-Flight is solidly my least favorite of the group. Like my experience on Viper, X-Flight is simply too slow and meandering to generate any excitement. At least Gatekeeper has some awesome visuals and a respectable first half -- while Wild Eagle and Thunderbird are fun throughout. X-Flight is a shaky bore from start to finish.

 

Whizzer: I gave a middling review to a Schwarzkopf coaster (Tig'rr) in my last report, so I'll atone for those sins here. Whizzer's a classic. It may not be my favorite coaster at the park, but after Batman, it's probably the most important. From the spiral lift to the tight turns -- which produce some interesting forces given the odd seating arrangement -- it's just a unique, quirky coaster with few remaining peers in operation.

 

Sky Trek Tower: I can never truly complain about a park keeping an observation tower in operation. A word of advice, though -- you may want to replace the windows once every decade or so, or at least clean them once or twice a year. Just another reminder of why I prefer open-air platforms to enclosed gondolas.

 

The End of the Mini New Hotness Tour:

 

Six Flags Great America marked the end of the Mini New Hotness tour -- the first half of TPR's 2014 US trip. That meant that it was time to say farewell to several friends who weren't continuing on to the Mini East Coast tour. That also gives me a chance to say a few mid-point words of thanks to those I shared the experience with. To my SFGAm Q-Bot group and frequent accomplices -- Stacy, Mark, and Paul -- thank you! To others who coasted along the way -- Lisa, Roxanne, and Zach -- thank you! Of course, to Robb and Elissa, for dealing with a few metric tons of junk on this grueling leg of the trip -- thank you!

 

Stay tuned -- this report will pick up again soon with a big hop to the east...

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 5 -- The Pictures (Part 1)

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The sun is shining! That might be a false omen.

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We've arrived at Goliath. What a name for a coaster. OK, Six Flags, here's a little hint. Did you actually read the story of David and Goliath? You know, the one where -- despite his impressive size and statistics -- Goliath lost?

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The infamous Goliath boarding pass -- apparently cheaper than hiring people to keep control of the guests jumping in line.

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Cutting the line at Goliath is strictly forbidden. Running at full speed through the park to get to the ride is perfectly acceptable, though.

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Here's one of Goliath's side queues. This may be the actual intended queue, but given that every inch was filled all day long, it was sort of hard to tell.

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Made it to the station -- one of the only rides at the park with competent operations.

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After slowly working through a couple other coasters, we came back to Goliath for a couple more rides and some photography. Well, this crowd doesn't look so bad, right?

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Oh.

 

Yes, that's the huge temporary queue that completely blocks the park's second railroad station.

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Uh, Mark, what the heck do you think you're doing?

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Oh, skipping the entire 2-3 hour queue and getting dirty stares from everybody else in line. Good idea. Wait up.

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A view of the lift hill from the load side of the station platform.

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I hope the back row is prepared to be underwhelmed.

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10 seconds later, the train pulls into the station.

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Yeah, it's still a bit of a rush, even though it's quite short.

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Lift chain and anti-rollbacks for all the coaster nerds.

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Two pieces of perfectly-aligned wood.

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So, Goliath's elements -- starting with the first drop, which is surprisingly not all that intense for a drop of its angle and height.

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The first turnaround is fun, taken with some speed. It's followed by a decent (but not spectacular) straight airtime hill.

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The inverted turnaround is where things simply start to get too slow to be truly exciting.

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If the stall was done correctly, it'd probably feel like perfect floater airtime while upside down. Instead, there was a clear (though mild) sensation of hangtime, which I'm not a huge fan of.

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TPR members hit the brake run.

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Good ride? Yes. Great ride? Maybe. Outstanding ride? Nope.

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Oh, what's that you guys are wearing?

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Thanks to Paul and Stacy for proudly modeling shirts featuring a far superior coaster.

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Back to the station after three rides on Goliath.

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Have to admit -- the lift structure is pretty awesome.

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OK, so it's not a traditional wood coaster, but it's still a wood coaster.

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One last view of the station and the inverted turnaround. There's probably a technical term for that, but I forgot it.

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Two of the most common scenes at Six Flags Great America: full queues and rampant advertising. The line for American Eagle stretched all the way across the bridge for pretty much the entire day.

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At least you could have a good view of X-Flight while you wait 75 minutes to get on the ride.

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Speaking of X-Flight, here it is -- and yet another full queue!

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The props are fun, but it's one of the most generic "secret military operation" themes I've ever seen.

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As for the station? It's alright. We got to know it pretty well, considering we were in there for almost a half hour.

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JC and TJ? Stuck on X-Flight. Trying to have fun anyway, because that's what we do.

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The drop looks awesome, and feels like almost nothing.

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Now we'll attempt to not get hit by a train.

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Raging Bull. Raging Bore? It's still a good coaster -- one of my favorites in the park -- but oh, that trim brake. You know the one.

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Whizzer. I'll give this classic Schwarzkopf some love.

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So, uh, the Dapper Dans these guys weren't...

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LOL.

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Oh, and what a welcoming sight to the happiest place on earth -- a full-on TSA checkpoint at the front gate! They do the cavity searches behind the carousel.

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OK, enough snark for the moment, time for some aerial photography.

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Six Flags Over the Metal Detectors.

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So, yeah, kind of a busy day.

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There's the first trap-door slides I ever rode -- braved them on the 2013 visit. We didn't find time for the now-upcharge water park in 2014.

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It's a shame Six Flags decided to be stupid about that, because Hurricane Harbor is actually a pretty good water park.

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Quite the assortment of slides -- now sponsored by Welch's Fruit Snacks.

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There's Viper. One of my most disappointing individual rides of the 2014 trip -- it just flat-out wasn't good.

 

In 2013, it was alright going backward...

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...and I was really looking forward to looking forward.

 

Sorry.

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Let's zoom out a little bit. Downtown Chicago might be out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

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Another view of Raging Bull, and parts of the decently-themed southwestern section of the park.

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The huge American Eagle structure makes for an interesting backdrop.

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A wider view to the south.

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X-Flight and American Eagle -- which was actually running both sides late in the afternoon.

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Whizzer, with its awesome spiral lift.

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The park's main square -- formerly the location for their igNight show. The only operating train station is half-hidden at the bottom of the shot.

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A look to the southeast, at some of the park's other major attractions.

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I didn't ride either of the two log flumes on this trip, having been on both of them in 2013. They're pretty good, actually.

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V2 is good, but I prefer Wicked Twister -- two twisted spikes and a heck of a setting on the beach.

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Batman looks so short from way up here. Even Goliath doesn't look all that tall.

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Zooming about as far as I can go. Sadly, most of my attempts at zoomed shots from the Sky Trek Tower didn't really turn out, and I'm going to blame the lousy windows on the gondola for it.

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The northeast end of the park is kind of bland.

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This area does have one classic flat -- the Condor -- but is otherwise lacking in charm.

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A closer view of the entrance to everyone's favorite mouse-in-a-box.

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Superman is at least a little fun, and had one of the only good ride crews in the park. The pretzel loop is worth the wait (and worth putting up with the ride's mediocre second half).

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Still think this is one of the nicer park entrance areas I've seen -- the pond, the flower, and the carousel in the background.

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Six Flags Over the Gurnee Police Department.

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A lonely car on the old Intamin drop tower.

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Welcome to Gurnee.

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I said my zoom shots didn't turn out great, but I had to post this one of the hotel, just to prove that it doesn't have flames shooting out of the roof.

Edited by The Great Zo
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Day 5 -- The Pictures (Part 2)

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On our way out of the tower, the ride operator forcibly attempted to sell us on the park's funnel cakes. Even if I liked funnel cakes -- I don't -- I wouldn't have purchased one here.

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Next up on the agenda was the train, which can be reached by hiking ten miles into the forest, climbing a hill past the construction fence, and desperately hoping to arrive at the station before nightfall hits and we're all left to the wolves.

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The elevation at Hometown Square is 29. Twenty-nine. Feet? Meters? Either way, that'd put us about 500 feet underground in northeastern Illinois.

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Thank you Accesso for being awesome. No thanks to Six Flags for neutering their highest Flash Pass tier with brutal operations.

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V2: back spike edition.

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Lucky shot of American Eagle through the X-Flight supports.

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Good angle of X-Flight from the train station. Again, it's an interesting-looking maneuver...

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...that just doesn't deliver.

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Batman climbs into the clouds...

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...but, uh, where are the wheel covers? Answer: hiding in the tunnel alongside the ride's brake run.

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Goliath rides in the distance.

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Cresting the lift...

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...and dropping.

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OK, time to leave Hometown Square on a one-way return-trip loop around the park.

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The best part about the train? No queue! Empty seats! Relative peace and quiet!

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A wide view over the eastern side of the park.

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Some nice views of Roaring Rapids from the first leg of the train ride.

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Shockingly, Roaring Rapids had a long line! I know, unbelievable, right?

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(nature documentary voice on)

Now, as you look off to the right of the train, observe one of the rarest and most spectacular of all creatures at Six Flags Great America...

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...a park employee attempting to be friendly!

(nature documentary voice off)

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Here's an off-duty engine on the Great America Rail Road.

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The Mule?

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This was the real kicker for the train ride -- some up-close views of Goliath.

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Don't climb in there.

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OK, actually, the views of Goliath may be too close!

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Tricky shot of a train going up the airtime hill after the first turnaround.

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Just to thank RMC for being weird.

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Now past 7PM, that's still a solid two-hour wait.

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As for American Eagle? Still lined up on the bridge.

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The second half of the train ride crosses through and near several coasters, including...

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...American Eagle...

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...X-Flight...

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...X-Flight again...

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...Viper...

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...and Raging Bull.

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That first drop in the back is quite good, if I'm being honest.

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Oh, Whizzer. This park doesn't deserve you.

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Off the train, here's a history lesson on the park's double-decker carousel.

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90 minutes for Superman?

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Yup. That looks like a whole lot of not-fun. This was one of the few coasters in which the Flash Pass worked as intended.

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Hey Zach...

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Flying up the lift hill.

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The best part about the Mouse-in-a-Box next door is the shadows on the wall.

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So, you go from this...

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...to this...

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...and then you ride off into the sunset and dream of being at a better park.

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Or, if you're dumb like me, you go ride a Mouse-in-a-Box.

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For subway enthusiasts.

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For empty pre-show room enthusiasts.

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For map enthusiasts.

 

OK, for me.

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Hey, this cajun-themed area looks nice. I wonder what's around the corner?

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Nothing. R.I.P. spinning mouse of death. Enjoy your trip to the Six Flags Scrap Heap in Maryland.

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Here it is -- the original Batman. It still holds up pretty well!

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Want to know what doesn't hold up well? Getting stuck at the air gates for 15 minutes because the ride went down.

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This just ... doesn't look quite right.

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Last coaster of the night! Here's a look at the totally orderly and not-at-all disastrous ride platform for V2.

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Storms were on their way, and we waited ... and waited.

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We got on and got out just in time, bringing our day to a merciful end.

 

Alright, as that's the last picture in the set, my disclaimer: don't take this post too overly seriously. It's still a vacation. It's still a theme park. It was still a fun day, because TPR is awesome, and my group for the day was awesome, and because a day of good photography is never a waste. So if you're an employee or a fan of SFGAm -- unless you're the park president -- let's not make this personal. Let's not take it as an insult. Let's make it clear, though -- that place has some work to do if I'm ever going to plan another visit.

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Always love your well written reviews and stories, Andy - combine them with your photos and that's an A+ trip report! The 2014 visit was unfortunately a foreshadow to every visit I had to SFGAm in 2015. It's now my home park and a struggle to have a decent trip without a Q-Bot. Hope to see you soon and read more of your reports in the mean time!

-Zach

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Wonderful report as always Andy. You forgot one positive outcome out of that day for you guys - the operations and management at SFGadv heard about that experience and totally upped their game for those of us on the 2nd half of that trip

 

Thanks again for posting!

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How did things turn out? Almost unbelievably, it was worse than expected. I've now been on five weeks worth of trips with TPR, and in terms of the overall park experience, this was the worst day out of them all. There's never a truly bad day on a trip like this -- as long as you're with good people, you can make the most out of anything. Still, despite going in with an attitude to give the park as fair a chance as possible, we were continually amazed (maybe even impressed) by how many ways the place disappointed us -- over and over again.

You know you've had a bad day at a park when you have OTHER Six Flags parks in the chain contacting us and apologizing for our day at Great America. Which, oddly enough, we have yet to ever get any correspondence back from the park. That's because their management and PR teams are just THAT BAD. So we thank the other Six Flags parks for doing the job they should have done and being awesome hosts and apologizing for one of their sister parks when they shouldn't have had to.

 

That day, still, is easily the worst experience we've ever had at a Six Flags park.

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^Yep. Great America was wonderful during a TPR trip a few years earlier, though.

It was also a different PR person we were dealing with then. Shame they lost him. But on the flip side, the park that he's at now is most certainly benefiting from his talent!

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Six Flags Great America is a park with major problems, and almost all of them are related to demeanor of the park's staff -- mood, motivation, and efficiency. These attitudes must be driven from above, and given our experience with park management, I have little to no faith that they will be corrected in the near future.

And this I 100% agree with. I actually really like Great America, it's just a shame that the park has become so poorly run. It needs new blood. A new park president and key management team to get things back to how they used to be. They have some great rides with some good atmosphere and given an attitude adjustment, this could be one of the best Six Flags parks once again. Maybe someday...

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This is the perfect example of how operations and management can make or break your day, in this case it seemed like it was totally annihilated.

However how come the pics you've taken of the waterpark were completely deserted? (was it at the end of the day?) As for Goliath i'm quite surprised that the operations were in the okay to good range, as it is compulsory to let a ride op crush your lab by pressing the restraint far too tight .

Thanks for sharing!

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Loving this TR. Even though it sucks you didn't... Err, well, you did have a "Six Flags day," it's nice to see the negative side of things now and again so that you can appreciate when other parks get it right. And from the looks of things, most every other park absolutely did, including Great Advenuture (which is good to see it's not all SF parks having these issues from the top).

 

I'm also loving the reports for the sake of trip planning this summer, so I'll absolutely be referring to this when I'm making planning decisions. Keep it up!

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Thanks for the great report, Andy!

 

I am truly sorry to hear that SFGAm is in such a bad state. It kinda sounds similar to the SFoT experience from another TPR trip...wasn't that also a year or two ago? I would be curious to know from our experienced folks here at TPR if SFoT has changed it's tune yet?

 

And while these are two parks that have been on my bucket list for quite some time, I am not planning on putting them in my must-do list now just based on the reports that I have read on TPR. Hopefully, the comments/observations made by trusted TPR members make it to someone that can help drive some positive changes to these parks in the near future.

 

SDC & a return visit to Dollywood just got bumped above our (once tentatively) planned Texas and Chicago trips based on what I have read. I would much rather visit parks that are actually serious with providing all guests with a fun filled, enjoyable day rather than park management that only cares about turning a profit.

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I am truly sorry to hear that SFGAm is in such a bad state. It kinda sounds similar to the SFoT experience from another TPR trip...wasn't that also a year or two ago? I would be curious to know from our experienced folks here at TPR if SFoT has changed it's tune yet?

We've actually had some really nice discussions with the folks at SFOT recently and we look forward to visiting the park again!

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