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Gillian's Wonderland Pier- The calm before the Gale Force

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Volcano’s line if it was through all those switchbacks was a good 2-2.5 hours. You’re lucky you skipped all that! The front row, right side is my favorite seat. I only had one ride on Twisted Timbers and while I thought it was excellent, I’m a sucker for launches so Volcano remains my fav ride at the park - with TT a close second. I much prefer coasters that I can marathon which is why I-305, while a great ride, has never been a big draw for me. Good grief, I must sound really old and boring! I promise I'm not

 

I’m not a professional flyer snapper and despite having heard good things I have never had any luck on KD’s flyers. Skipping that line which if takes up even half the queue is a good 20-30 minute wait was a smart move. Their dispatching on it is historically horrible.

 

Looking forward to hearing about your day at BGW!

 

Thanks! If I had any doubts about wasting my FastLane, Volcano alleviated it. That queue is absolutely brutal.

 

My less than snappy ride on Flying Eagles was definitely disappointing since I remember being able to snap them over 10 years ago on my lone ride. Maybe I didn't really know what snapping was at that point? Either way, they were still fun but just not what I remembered.

 

Great report! Glad to hear you got on Twisted Timbers, it's really an excellent ride.

 

Thanks! I'm interested to hear if it speeds up even further with the warmer weather since it's already running wild.

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While I'm not the biggest fan of the ride, I can't deny it was a great add for a lot of smaller parks once it was introduced so it's neat to say I rode the first.

Twisted Timbers is my new number one roller coaster     at the Land of Make Believe. Land of Make Believe The Land of Make Believe in Hope, New Jersey is a small park pr

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg

 

After visiting several European parks last year, it was interesting returning to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Stateside, it’s the park that most reminds me of the parks I visited in Europe. I’m not just saying that because of how it’s themed to Europe (thought that does help), but more so because of how well the park integrates top notch coasters with great theming and beautiful landscaping.

 

Kings Dominion closed at 6 on Friday and Busch Gardens was open until 8. So immediately after my last Twisted Timbers ride, the race against the clock began. I was worried Busch would close the gate early, but then I remembered SeaWorld Orlando let me re-enter the park 15 minutes prior to closing. This time I left myself about 35 minutes.

 

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Busch "Please Forget We're Part of SeaWorld" Gardens

 

My last visit to Busch Gardens was in 2014 and all the major attractions had unbelievably high capacities. Their three additions since then aren’t quite as excellent in that department. Originally I was going to be able to rope drop one the following day, but now I was optimistic I could hit both Tempesto and InvadR in my limited time.

 

I moved through England and crossed into Italy. If only customs was this fast! And let me just say that Tempesto dominates the skyline of Fest Italia, an impressive feat when a hyper coaster stands mere feet behind it. Originally I was skeptical the theming of Tempesto would be uncharacteristically cheap for Busch Gardens, but after seeing it in person, I get it. It has the appearance of a fair without crossing into the cringe-worthy category like Chester and Hester’s Dinorama (Why Disney? Why?!).

 

I was optimistic I wouldn’t see any lines on a Friday nearing closing and I was right. I immediately walked onto the back row. From a ride standpoint, I’m a fan of these Sky Rocket II’s. However, I despise the vehicles. I’m currently typing this as I’m on a plane and I have to say, it’s far easier to get into my cramped airline seat than boarding these trains. That’s saying something. I also don’t like how the shin restraints have an interference fit instead of contouring around them like other manufacturers.

 

The comfort collars did add another layer of difficulty loading, but once the ride began I didn’t notice them. With the longer train, I expected the launch to have more kick to it, but that wasn’t the case. The longer train did have an impact on the rest of the ride though. After the terrifying hangtime on that barrel roll, I was treated to an extremely violent, twisted drop loaded with more ejector air than usual.

 

I know enthusiasts tend to be anti-clone. I’m anti sucky clone. SLCs (without the new restraints) and boomerangs will be greeted with contempt, but I’ll welcome a Sky Rocket II with open arms. Outside of the free flies and ZacSpins, you’d be hard pressed to fit a coaster with more thrills in such a small footprint. 8 out of 10

 

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Tempesto towers over Festa Italia. Even over Apollo.

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Those riders better be ready for extreme airtime.

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Tempesto filled the park's void of an intense launched coaster.

 

I debated immediately running to InvadR, but how could I turn down a ride on Apollo’s Chariot? It was right there after-all. Without any hesitation, I grabbed the back row. The back left is the absolute money seat on this hyper.

 

Last year, Robb and Elissa mentioned something called the Expedition GeForce effect. On past trips, they always went to Holiday Park before Europa Park, meaning everyone would ride GeForce before Silver Star. For last year’s trip, they did this trip in reverse and this may have contributed to several attendees finding Silver Star better than they remembered. Would riding I305 and Twisted Timbers not even two hours ago hamper my enjoyment of Apollo? Not in the least bit. I love Apollo’s Chariot.

 

The setting through the woods and over the Rhine River is one of the best of any coaster. It’s particularly impressive how immersed you feel considering the parking lot is in reality just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Every single drop provided copious amounts of sustained airtime. The return leg in particular is where Apollo shines. While other coasters have drops decreasing in height on the return leg, Apollo uses the terrain masterfully to randomly vary the drop heights and mess with the minds of riders.

 

Did I prefer Twisted Timbers? Of course. But in all honesty I may take Apollo over I305. Apollo’s Chariot is undeniably fun from start to finish and one of the most reridable coasters out there. Those B&M clamshells are ridiculously comfortable and there isn’t any hint of a rattle. It was really hard not to marathon Apollo until close, but I knew I could do that the following day. 10 out of 10

 

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For a coaster so close to the parking lot, Apollo really immerses you in the woods.

 

I knew it would take all my will power to ignore Verbolten and Alpengeist on the way to InvadR. But as I walked through Oktoberfest, I caught a whiff of the intoxicating aroma of buttery, doughy pretzels. Ok those I couldn’t turn down. I grabbed a pretzel to go and wolfed it down on my way to InvadR. Finally I reached the ride’s impressive entrance with 10 minutes to spare.

 

Because of the coaster’s location, you can barely see any of it from the park walkways. Really you have to ride the flume or train to get a good look at one of GCI’s newest creations. The narrow station was cramped towards the front, but I knew I wanted ride number one to be in the front row. 5 minutes later I was crawling up the lift.

 

For a family coaster, that first drop is surprisingly steep. The rest of the ride is trademark GCI- a series of small hills and rapid directional changes. I think I counted 4-5 hills with really good air and another 3-4 with smaller pops. Like White Lightning, this is another shorter coaster that maintains its speed far better than you’d expect.

 

After my first ride, I was just barely able to get back in the queue and grab a seat towards the back on the final train of the night. While that first drop did have some nice air in the back, this is definitely a front seat ride. There was probably only half as much air towards the back. While it can’t compete with the park’s exemplary B&M collection, it’s probably the park’s next best attraction. 8 out of 10

 

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Did they hit "Shift" instead of "E"? Maybe, but I'll just blame autocorrect instead.

 

Flash forward 13.5 hours and I was back at the park. I like to arrive at park’s a half hour early. It’s not because I expect the park to open early, but rather I’d like to beat the rush at the turnstile and metal detector. Well on this day, Busch Gardens opened a half hour early. I was skeptical anything would be operational yet, but sure enough the new for 2018 Battle for Eire was accepting riders.

 

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The only way this could get more British is if there was a royal guard with fish and chips.

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Getting some beauty rest in preparation for next year's Super Bowl shoot.

 

I was leery how good Battle for Eire would be. On one hand, Thorpe’s Derren Brown showed me just how effective VR could be on a dark ride. On the other hand, Battle for Eire was clearly targeting the family demographic instead of trying to give you the Hershey squirts down your leg. Unfortunately my trepidation was warranted.

 

I can tell the park put a lot of effort into the pre-show, but it couldn’t save the ride. I believe the platform moved, but I honestly couldn’t feel it since it was so slight. Then the visuals were intentionally cartoony and never became convincing, particularly when the ride performed a pseudo Care Bear Stare. Hopefully others are higher on the attraction than me, but I honestly preferred Europe in the Sky. 4 out of 10

 

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The revolving door of simulators is Battle for Eire...for now.

 

Griffon was still testing, but I entered the queue and 5 minutes later I was seated in row 1. After cresting the lift, the view of the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia woodlands is truly spectacular. And then like when your movie transitions to a commercial, we turned 180 degrees face to face with the Anheuser Busch brewery. Well played Busch, well played.

 

I think this goes without saying, but I love the drops on dive machines. They’re long and floaty with a hint of that stomach drop sensation only a drop tower, Shambhala, and other dive machines can provide. The following Immelmann isn’t anything special, but the drop off the MCBR sure is. Like the first drop, this one again provides some truly wonderful airtime.

 

The rest of the second half is why I consider Griffon the best dive machine. You have another graceful Immelmann and then the final bit has 2-3 tiny hills with some surprising airtime. And this isn’t the B&M floater variety either, it’s a quick pop more akin to what you’d experience on a GCI. I know dive machines are often considered one trick ponies, but Griffon is definitely more than that. 9 out of 10

 

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I present the mythical Griffon.

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Dive coasters have the reputations as one trick ponies, but Griffon is more than just that.

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Though the initial trick is still the highlight.

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I wonder how strong the air would be if the MCBR were off?

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Griffon stands taller than Napoleon in France.

 

The crowds still hadn’t reached InvadR, so I snagged two additional rides. For my first, I waited 10 minutes for the back and then I waited 15-20 minutes for the very front. I was tempted to grab a third ride, but by now the queue was starting to populate the winding pathway. No thank you, I had a date with a B&M invert.

 

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Short of a perfectly timed train ride, you're hard pressed to get photos of InvadR.

 

But first I decided to give Le Scoot a ride. I didn’t think 60 degrees was that cold, especially for an attraction that doesn’t soak you. But the flume was deserted, so I gave it a spin. Actually two spins to be precise.

 

I remember the flume being heavily wooded alongside the aerial layout. It still is, but the trees have since been replaced by InvadR. Honestly, Le Scoot is the best ride to get views of the park’s GCI. It also has a solid drop at the end that feels even taller than it really is thanks to that shed. 8 out of 10

 

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Looks like the Le Scoot logging company converted that lumber into a shiny new wooden coaster.

 

In all my past visits Alpengeist has been a total walk-on, but on this day, the line was consistently near the half hour mark. Like its brother in Tampa, this is one of the few inverts where I prefer the back. Part of it is the added force on the inversions, but the real reason is that drop. It's unbelievably long and has tremendous whip in the very back. It sets the tone for the flurry of inversions that's to follow.

 

The Immelmann is simply massive and the lone element that's more graceful rather than forceful. The following inversion and cobra roll have some really strong snap to them. Then I can dream how forceful the finale would be without the MCBR, but as it stands, both the zero-G roll and corkscrew manage to be quite snappy even as the coaster quickly hemorrhages speed.

 

Alpengeist is arguably the most imposing invert out there with its massive lift and colossal inversions. It's also one of the more forceful ones. For that reason, it's in the upper tier of inverts with only Nemesis, Montu, and Banshee surpassing it. 9 out of 10

 

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Bigger isn't always better, but it certainly helps.

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Alpengeist's drop is a work of art. Look at that 270 degree twist.

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The first half is a black diamond.

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The second half is more like a blue square.

 

Since Alpengeist had a line, I knew full and well Verbolten would have a line too. I saw the line extending into the first queue house, so like any pretzel aficionado, I purchased a delicious turkey pretzel sandwich to eat in line. The wait was posted at 60 minutes, but in just a half hour I was seated in the very back row about to enjoy one of the best and most varied family coasters out there.

 

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Many parks sell timesaver passes. I call this the timepasser pass.

 

The initial launch has a surprisingly strong kick to it. Honestly I think it may even have more punch than the Flight of Fear clones. Then the Dark Forest delivers a very strong moment of air with a Skull Mountain esque drop following that initial launch. But unlike that death metal blasting mountain, Verbolten has more tricks up its sleeve including a grey-out inducing turn. This is particularly disorienting in the almost total darkness the coaster takes place.

 

The transition to the second half is the best part of the ride (trying not to spoil it but I think most are aware what Verbolten does). The second half feels very short, but it includes another solid launch and a picturesqe drop over the Rhine. Verbolten stands out for its uniqueness, but it also is a much better coaster than you'd expect. 8 out of 10

 

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I'm sure you've never seen this picture before.

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What's in the shed?

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Yes the Big Bad Wolf was a solid attraction, but in all honesty, this is a superior ride in my opinion.

 

Mach Tower was running so of course I gave it a ride. I still can't believe how many issues this drop tower had when it opened, but I’ve been able to ride it my past few visits. And it never has a line to boot.

 

The real highlight of the attraction is the 360 degree views of one of the world's most beautiful parks. Unlike Drop Line, Mach Tower provides multiple rotations for a full view of the park at peak altitude. Then the drop isn't too shabby either. There's a bit of a warning, but it's long and just a notch below the Intamins in terms of intensity. But few of the Intamin ones are in as gorgeous of a location. 9 out of 10

 

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It's no Falcon's Fury in the thrills department, but it isn't too shabby there and has superior views.

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A moment of silence for the now Curse of NoKastle.

 

I was in the mood for more Apollo's Chariot, so I started the trek towards Fest Italia. On the way I saw the Flying Machine was loading so I gave it a whirl. I remembered it being a very fast ride and incredibly short. Unfortunately just the latter was true this time. Not sure if it slowed or I misremembered, but this barely built up any speed. 4 out of 10

 

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I'm sure DaVinci's long lost notebook had secret plans for an amusement ride.

 

Then I had the dumb idea to make one more stop before Apollo. And this ride had the potential to be a real soaker, Escape From Pompeii. I thought about skipping it, but the allure of fire was simply too much to pass up.

 

I'm glad the SeaWorld parks haven't leeched Pompeii’s fire effects away since they make an otherwise pedestrian shoot the chutes ride memorable. The plunge itself has a small pop of air and isn't too soaking. What is soaking are the water cannons from bystanders who happily trade 25 cents to try and induce hypothermia on riders. And of course we were hit with more than a few. Still it comes with the territory for this type of ride and the price I pay for pyrotechnics. 10 out of 10

 

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It seemed like a good idea until those doors opened.

 

I thought about hitting Tempesto, but it had a half hour wait. Meanwhile, Apollo had just a 15 minute wait. The Sky Rocket II’s are really fun coasters, but I can't justify riding it over a fantastic B&M hyper with a shorter wait, especially since one of my home parks also has a Sky Rocket II. Since I already had the credit, I tried to think if I'd ride Tempesto again. It's pretty much a guarantee Apollo's line would be shorter. And when there are no lines at closing, I'd want to marathon Apollo. Really the only way I'd ride Tempesto would be if Apollo's Chariot closed 5 minutes before closing. Any more time and I'd take a chance I could make it back to Alpengeist. But as a highly reliable B&M, what were the odds this would ever happen…

 

But for now, I got two more rides on Apollo. One up front and one in the very back. It's still a fun coaster in row 1, but without a question this is a back seat coaster because of all those drops.

 

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It seems like all the best photos of Apollo can be had from the parking lot.

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Though it is possible to get a clear shot of the final drop.

 

I had one major coaster left to ride and fortunately, it could easily be accessed by the park’s train. Busch Gardens is one of those parks where the transportation rides aren't just for fun; they are major timesavers. I was hoping to get an action shot or two of InvadR along the journey, but we just missed it.

 

After two stops, I was in Scotland to ride the Loch Ness Monster. Nessie was celebrating her 40th birthday in style with refurbished trains and a 30 minute wait. To be perfectly honest, I didn't notice any differences with the trains. But if this keeps the historical coaster running, I can't complain. Like a majority of Arrow loopers, I didn't hesitate one bit to grab the back row.

 

All three drops provide some very strong and abrupt airtime. Then the signature interlocking loops are quite forceful. And the coaster has an incredible setting in the woods and over the water. But unfortunately beyond these awesome parts, the coaster jostles as you'd expect for an Arrow nearly as old as Tom Brady.

 

The Loch Ness Monster is definitely a coaster with some obvious pros and cons. But this nostalgic coaster has more good than bad. 7 out of 10

 

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Straight Arrow drops never fail to provide solid air.

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Inter-loch-ing loops.

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I don't know why people have problems photographing Nessie. All enthusiasts have this shot.

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I see Nessie in the water.

 

As awesome as the pretzels are, I decided I should finally try the recommended Trapper's Smokehouse. Every time I passed the restaurant, the aroma of smoked meats flooded my nostrils and made a very convincing case for dinner. I ordered the brisket and it was fantastic. It was pricey, but the portion was huge and the meat had the perfect amount of juiciness to it.

 

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For meat at theme parks, I'm used to burgers and chicken tenders. This was exceptional.

 

I spent the rest of the day reriding my favorites- Alpengeist, Griffon, Verbolten, InvadR and of course Apollo's Chariot. Apollo's Chariot is one of the best night rides out there thanks to its dark and heavily wooded setting. I love this coaster so much. After my fourth ride, it was 9:50. When we hit the brake run, I noticed all the employees hovering around one row. Uh oh. Sure enough it was announced that Apollo's Chariot was having technical difficulties. Well I guess I was going to have to eat my words on Tempesto.

 

Soon enough they advanced us to the station. I figured the line would be closed, but they were still allowing people to get back in line. They said anyone in line would get one last ride once the technical issue was fixed. 20 minutes passed and maintenance just shook their heads. I was bummed out, but it was worth the chance for one final night ride on the park's best attraction. I'm pretty sure 99% of parks would just apologize and send us on our way home.

 

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I wanted one last voyage to the moon, but Apollo prefers voyages to the sun.

 

But Busch Gardens is in the 1%. They were nice enough to open Tempesto to give us one last ride before leaving. I don't know many parks that would do that. I grabbed a front row ride and was treated to another intense ride. I don't know if I'll ever finish with Tempesto again, but on this night it demonstrated the dedication of Busch Gardens to their customers.

 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg really is one of the world's best parks. It has everything I look for in a park- fantastic theming and elite, reridable coasters. Not that I really need another reason to return, but that mystery permit for the 315 foot attraction certainly doesn't hurt.

 

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I've seen some speculation the ride could be part of a new Spanish area. Because today, this is all they have.

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Very good report! I have ridden Heidi The Ride at Plopsaland, which is essentially a clone of White Lightning, and I was really surprised with how awesome that little GCI is. So it is great to hear that InvadR has a fairly similar ride experience -- short but sweet!

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Just now seeing your KD report (will have to come back for BGW when not so slammed at work!).

 

beautiful pics, and love your commentary.

 

thanks for sharing. . I"m back at KD later this summer, and haven't been since 2015.. so I'm looking forwards to it, and your report got me giddy!

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Very good report! I have ridden Heidi The Ride at Plopsaland, which is essentially a clone of White Lightning, and I was really surprised with how awesome that little GCI is. So it is great to hear that InvadR has a fairly similar ride experience -- short but sweet!

 

Thanks! GCIs really seem to maintain their speed even with modest maximum heights.

 

Just now seeing your KD report (will have to come back for BGW when not so slammed at work!).

 

beautiful pics, and love your commentary.

 

thanks for sharing. . I"m back at KD later this summer, and haven't been since 2015.. so I'm looking forwards to it, and your report got me giddy!

 

Thank you! Yeah I know I can write quite a bit (nothing better to do on an airplane) so they can take a bit to run through, but I'd rather have enough information to rejog my memory on my experience if I look back.

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I don’t usually comment on these types of threads but I really enjoyed this report! You have a fun and engaging way of recounting your experience and I really like your photos from lesser-viewed angles as well. Hope there’s more to come!

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I don’t usually comment on these types of threads but I really enjoyed this report! You have a fun and engaging way of recounting your experience and I really like your photos from lesser-viewed angles as well. Hope there’s more to come!

 

Thanks! There will definitely be more to come. Let's just say the next park isn't quite on the same level as Busch Gardens.

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Six Flags America

 

Ah, Six Flags America. The park actually has a respectable coaster collection, but it is often overlooked by the other major park a drive’s away like Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion, SF Great Adventure, and Hersheypark. And honestly, it's deserved. The park just can't compete with those places in terms of quality, but few parks can. Six Flags America certainly didn't give me a reason why it was better than those parks, but I did have an enjoyable day there.

 

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I feel like I'm back at Six Flags New England.

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At least this fountain is different.

 

I arrived a half hour before opening and was first in line at security. 15 minutes before opening, they opened the gates. That alone isn't out of the ordinary. But what was odd and awesome was the fact that they weren't staging guests. That meant I was comfortably able to walk back to Superman without being mauled at rope drop. I had previously been to Six Flags America once, but Superman was closed. I had ridden the mirror at Darien Lake already, but that was 8 years ago, so I was interested to see how it fared now that I've been on considerably more roller coasters.

 

I made my way through the queue and stopped just short of the station. An employee came out of the station warning the ride wasn't open. I asked if it was just because the park hadn't opened; she looked at her watch, shrugged, and said come back later. I stuck it out and not even 3 minutes later, the same employee apathetically gestured that I could now ride. I think this exchange captures why Six Flags America is the butt of many jokes. That and their new for 2018 lazy river.

 

Because of the lack of crowds, I was able to marathon this coaster without leaving the station. The first drop has some nice air the whole way down, which is refreshing since SFNE’s Superman only gives a brief pop on the drop. The second hill has some sustained ejector air. So far so good! But then comes Superman's kryptonite. I don't mind a helix if it's forceful, but Superman's are so drawn out that they're forceless. Those helices and the section of straight track felt like commercials; I just wanted them to end so I could return to the main feature- airtime. I think the only positive things I have to say about the helices is that the first one has a surprising pop of air entering it.

 

In between those helices is another camelback with major sustained ejector air. Then the coaster ends with 3 consecutive hills each giving strong pops of air. I got a total of 5 rides, including 3 in the front and 2 in the back, and I definitely preferred it up front for the added rush of wind. At its best moments, Superman is as good as any hyper out there. But most other hypers don't waste track like Superman. 9 out of 10

 

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I find it hard to believe a park with an Intamin hyper can get as much flack as Six Flags America gets.

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When Superman is good, it's really good. But at other points, Superman does its best Clark Kent impersonation.

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The airtime here is super, man.

 

Batwing has one of the oddest placements of any coaster. It's way back on its own in a big, empty field and it's only accessible by a narrow path next to Superman's gift shop. It felt like real life Roller Coaster Tycoon here and they spun the pre-built coaster until its layout fit. If Six Flags America wants to expand (and I know that's a big if), I hope they consider adding another ride back there. Not surprisingly, it was completely deserted.

 

In the past, I’ve had overall positive experiences on the Vekoma. This one was really rattly. It's a shame since the layout itself is actually quite good with that intense vertical loop and all those disorienting barrel rolls. I thought about giving Batwing a second chance but decided against it. When you come off a ride and feel like you just completed an endurance test, that isn't exactly the best sign in the world. 5 out of 10

 

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I thought Batman liked to store his plane somewhere well hidden. It seems like he parked his Batwing in the middle of an empty field.

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Layout wise, Batwing is actually pretty good. The execution is flawed though, much like Batman & Robin.

 

Hitting the park’s star flyer wasn’t a priority, but Wonder Woman was loading so I figured why not. As opposed to the AC/DC or Foo Fighters I’m accustomed to on SFNE’s SkyScreamer, Six Flags went all in on the Wonder Woman theme and blasted none other than Beyonce’s Girls Run the World. I couldn’t help chuckle, but it was a very fitting song choice.

 

With two full ascents, the ride gave a full, unobstructed view of Six Flags America...for better or for worse. Having visited Busch Gardens the day before, I couldn’t help but dream of one of these being installed in such a beautiful park. But back to Six Flags America, Wonder Woman fills a much needed void in their flat ride lineup. 7 out of 10

 

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I wouldn't be shocked if Girls Just Wanna Have Fun is also on this ride's playlist.

 

After missing out on Flight of Fear, I received a pretty darn good consolation prize in Joker’s Jinx. While it lacks the ominously creepy indoor setting, Joker’s Jinx has an advantage in the lack of a MCBR. The result is a much more exciting second half that culminates in an extremely snappy and disorienting corkscrew.

 

I’ve heard the launch on Joker’s Jinx is toned down slightly compared to the other versions, but to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t tell. It had quite a bit of a kick to it and the first half didn’t lag at all. Ultimately I grabbed two rides on Joker before moving on to the front of the park. 8 out of 10

 

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I can't really complain about missing out on Flight of Fear now.

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The spaghetti structure is always impressive to see.

 

One of my regrets in my visit to Kentucky Kingdom was skipping that weird and unique flying dutchman swing ride. I know it doesn’t look overly exciting, but it would have been a new style attraction for me. Much to my shock, Six Flags America had the same attraction. So without hestitation, I climbed aboard. Ultimately, it was about what I expected- more relaxing than thrilling- but I’m glad I tried it. 6 out of 10

 

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I didn't know pirates flew.

 

I had two last credits to grab- Great Chase and Ragin’ Cajun. As I’ve ridden more kiddie coasters, I’ve started to develop what I call the Kiddie Coaster Code. Borrowing a child has always been crossing the line for me, but I now also will not wait for a kiddie coaster. Beyond taking time away from superior attractions, I do not want to steal a seat from a kid or be forced into the awkward situation where I am paired next to a child. With Great Chase, the queue was beyond the station so it was an easy pass.

 

While I may have been allowed to ride Great Chase if I really wanted to, a strict no single rider policy was being enforced on the Zydeco Zinger. It was a disappointment since these Chance Falling Stars are becoming pretty rare flats and I’ve still never ridden one, but I wasn’t going to dwell on it to long; there were other coasters to ride.

 

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I was so excited to try this, until I saw the dreaded purple sign.

 

So instead I moved along to Ragin’ Cajun. For a park that often gets flack for their operators, I’m thinking they haven’t encountered the operator at Ragin’ Cajun. The guy was loud, engaging, and had the personna of an auctioneer. He wouldn’t dispatch the train until you interacted with him, which was easy thanks to his personality.

 

As for the ride, it was solid as far as these Reverchon/Zamperla spinners go. Since I was allowed to ride alone, I was ensured a second half loaded with spinning. I know they’re 99% similar, but it seems like the Zamperla versions are better than the Reverchon ones. 6 out of 10

 

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This is the first time I've been able to ride a gator themed coaster. Usually I just see Go Gators.

 

The park is also home to about the smallest Intamin drop tower there is, Voodoo Drop. It’s so small that the view drop towers are known for are almost entirely blocked by an over 100 year old wooden coaster. Despite its diminutive size, it does still pack quite the punch. Just the thrill is fleeting, even more so than usual. 7 out of 10

 

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Size isn't all that matters, but it certainly helps.

 

Wild One is a coaster of mixed emotions for me. On one hand, I applaud Six Flags for not only saving this 100 year old coaster, but also having it running in tip-top shape. On the other hand, I grew up minutes from Nantasket Beach and I can’t help but imagine riding it at Paragon Park.

 

Wild One is still solid in the back, but without a doubt, this is a front seat ride. This coaster has some really strong airtime moments, highlighted by the two taller camelbacks near the former Skull Mountain turntable (I cannot believe they have left it standing...actually who am I kidding) and tunnel. Then the double up and double down each give a nice pop of air as well. The return leg starts to peter out a bit in terms of air, but Wild One compensates with a relatively unbanked and lateral-heavy helix.

 

I truly am impressed with how well Six Flags has kept Wild One running. The chipping paint may raise a red flag, but other than the sign outside the station, there’s no way to tell this coaster is 100 years old. It really is quite smooth. Throw in some good airtime and some laterals for good measure, and you have a really good, classic coaster. 8 out of 10

 

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101 years old and still riding strong.

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I just wish this coaster still had the backdrop of a Massachusetts beach. Now a bunch of rich people just have condos.

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I still can't believe how much air this old coaster contains.

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Just when you think Wild One is slowing down, it has one last trick.

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This is one wild helix.

 

As a whole, I love B&M. They have perfected the art of developing smooth, reridable steel coasters. But even they have a skeleton in their closet- the stand-up coaster. Outside of Georgia Scorcher, which conveniently was their last one, I do not find their stand-ups particularly enjoyable.

 

And Apocalypse is among the worst. The lone redeeming quality about the attraction is the theming. I have said it before and will say it again, Six Flags is the absolute master at apocalyptic theming. The less frequently they paint the coaster, the more appropriate its appearance is, which is music to the ears of Six Flags. Beyond that, they also did a good job with the queue line.

 

The coaster itself is as bad as I remembered. I spent the entire coaster fighting the transitions trying to avoid smashing my head. When you have to ride a coaster defensively, it’s impossible for me to give it a favorable opinion. 2 out of 10

 

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In the Apocalypse, there's a mystical rock formation formerly known as Skull Mountain.

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Stand up and fight the headbanging.

 

I had one last coaster to hit in Roar. As a I approached the coaster, I saw it stuck on the lift. Uh oh. Fortunately it wasn’t a mechanical breakdown. Some yahoo ripped out there phone in an attempt to film a shaky, vertical POV that wouldn’t get more than 100 views on YouTube.

 

I remembered Roar being a rough and unpleasant coaster, so I decided to give it a redemption opportunity by giving it a whirl in the very front. And I have to say, it was pretty good. I’m a fan of the unpredictable and twisted layouts of the older GCIs and many of the hills had some really good pops of air.

 

It was so good that I decided to give it another ride in the second to back. And I learned that I will stick to row 1 on Roar. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either and lacked the air of the front. Sure I wish this coaster had the Millennium Flyers like Discovery Kingdom’s former Roar, but in row 1, this is a pretty nice coaster with some surprising air. 7 out of 10

 

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Roar for now...but is there an RMC in the future? Or was the Grim Reaper just rolling?

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As long as Roar remains a wooden coaster, ride it in the front.

 

Dare I say it, I had an overall enjoyable day at Six Flags America. The crowds were light. So light that I think the kiddie coaster had the longest line. The employees (outside of the WTF interaction at Superman at park opening) weren’t an issue. And then the coaster collection is actually good. They have a hyper, two solid woodies, a nice launched coaster, and a flyer that has given me enjoyable rides in the past.

 

There definitely are areas for improvement, which are especially obvious after visiting Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens in the days prior. Aesthetically, Six Flags America is lacking. But beyond that, Six Flags America is well worth visiting for a few hours, especially if your journey takes you through Maryland.

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Nice report. I certainly do hope that the new attractions comes with a Spanish area, as the park, is mysteriously lacking one. It think t would pretty well round out their list of European countries.

 

I can confer that I don't dislike Tempesto's theming (actually never thought anything negative of it tbh, aside from the cheesy banners on the ride structure), but it's colors clash uneasily with Apollo's Chariot. Even after several years, that yellow-purple-orange-blue still upsets my eyes every time I see it. I'm glad you mentioned something about that drop in the back row, though. That doesn't get enough attention, and everytime I hear someone call Tempesto forceless I am tempted to ask if they even rode in the back. The extreme ejector and laterals in that drop into the non inverting loop and the immediately following sharp positive gs at the bottom of the loop are borderline wondrously painful in the back seat.

 

Sad to hear the BFLE was disappointing. I didn't ever have much faith in it, being a VR ride, but now in the absence of Curse of Darkastle there's not much to reconcile it.

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I'm really enjoying these reports!

 

Roar was in atrocious shape during my last visit to SFA a few years ago (like, Maryland needed to step in and do something about it soon before the jack hammering went much further), so I'm glad to see a respectable 7/10 review. I wish Roar would get the RMC treatment, but at least it's running tolerably. Cheers to the maintenance team, and keep up the good reports!

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Nice report. I certainly do hope that the new attractions comes with a Spanish area, as the park, is mysteriously lacking one. It think t would pretty well round out their list of European countries.

 

I can confer that I don't dislike Tempesto's theming (actually never thought anything negative of it tbh, aside from the cheesy banners on the ride structure), but it's colors clash uneasily with Apollo's Chariot. Even after several years, that yellow-purple-orange-blue still upsets my eyes every time I see it. I'm glad you mentioned something about that drop in the back row, though. That doesn't get enough attention, and everytime I hear someone call Tempesto forceless I am tempted to ask if they even rode in the back. The extreme ejector and laterals in that drop into the non inverting loop and the immediately following sharp positive gs at the bottom of the loop are borderline wondrously painful in the back seat.

 

Sad to hear the BFLE was disappointing. I didn't ever have much faith in it, being a VR ride, but now in the absence of Curse of Darkastle there's not much to reconcile it.

 

Thanks! I actually had some faith in Battle for Eire since Thorpe's ghost train with VR was so well done, but this didn't use the VR to its fullest potential in my opinion.

 

Off-ride, it did look a bit crowded with Tempesto immediately adjacent to Apollo, but seeing Tempesto while ascending Apollo's lift was quite the visual.

 

I'm really enjoying these reports!

 

Roar was in atrocious shape during my last visit to SFA a few years ago (like, Maryland needed to step in and do something about it soon before the jack hammering went much further), so I'm glad to see a respectable 7/10 review. I wish Roar would get the RMC treatment, but at least it's running tolerably. Cheers to the maintenance team, and keep up the good reports!

 

Thanks! I don't remember Roar being great in my previous visit in 2012, but I also don't remember where I sat. For all I know, I rode it in a wheel seat. But in row 1, it gave a really good ride this year. Having said that, I definitely wouldn't object to it seeing the same fate as Roar West.

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Six Flags Great Adventure

 

After leaving Six Flags America, I was faced with a daunting 8 hour drive home. Without question, I wanted to incorporate a break into that drive. Option 1 was to be a complete credit whore and stop at Adventure Park USA. Option 2 was to stop at Six Flags Great Adventure. In the grand scheme of things, Windstorms and Wildcats are decent coasters, but it just felt wrong to select those over El Toro. I did consider trying to hit both parks, but with Great Adventure's 8 pm close, it would have been too tight unless I hit time traveling speeds from Back to the Future.

 

I pulled into the lot around 6:30. I opened my handy dandy Six Flags app and it was clear the park was mostly dead. Originally I was content with just a marathon of rides on El Toro, but I decided to get greedy and hit the park's big four. I immediately started towards Nitro, but along the way I heard the all too familiar B&M roar of a particular invert. I couldn't resist and made my way through the empty queue.

 

The station was mostly deserted, so I happily waited an extra seat for row 1. I'm pretty sure if this coaster weren't a clone, it would receive much more love in the coaster community. This is one ridiculously forceful coaster that always has my legs tingling by the time we hit the brake run. Sure I do prefer the unique layouts of some of the others like Nemesis, Montu, and Alpengeist, but Batman can compete with those coasters in regards to forces. 8.5 out of 10

 

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It's refreshing to see the true Batman the Ride after riding the imposter down in Mexico.

 

After my first diversion, I saw the skull staring directly at me. It was calling for me to ride it in the back row. It was hard denying myself that shockingly strong burst of ejector air, but instead I chose the coaster with floater air on every hill and no heavy metal music (along the ride that is), Nitro. It was maybe a 3-4 train wait for the back row, which took barely anytime thanks to 3 train operations.

 

I feel like Nitro should be one of the better B&M hyper coasters. I mean it has an excellent setting in the woods, a good layout, and airtime on every hill. But for whatever reason I just prefer the other B&M hypers out there. That being said, it's still a good and very reridable coaster. In most parks, it could be the star attraction, and during Holiday in the Park it is. But during the spring through fall, it takes a back seat to El Toro. 9 out of 10

 

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The park's most explosive coaster has the water tower nearby as a precaution.

 

I was hopeful Kingda Ka would also be a walk-on, but I knew better. That coaster is never a walk-on and even if it were, I'd take the extra time to wait for row 1 anyway. How could I say no to the insane blast of wind at 128 MPH? I think the worst part about the mandatory lockers were that I no longer had a way to track the time. My watch resets when exposed to high G-forces (something other users never thought to mention ) and I'm not able to tell time off the sun like the Mayans.

 

Ultimately I think I waited about a half hour and then was staring face to face with that imposing tower. No matter how many times I've ridden these accelerator coasters, the launch always astounds me with its raw power. I've never experienced a rollback, but it always feels like we're dang close cresting Kingda Ka. Even more than on its brothers like Top Thrill Dragster or Stealth. On this day, I thought I may finally get that much desired rollback, but as usual we glided over the top. It's insanely short, but when you hit the brake run, it's impossible not to be amped up. 9 out of 10

 

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El Toro looks so small in this photo. That light post towers over everything!

 

Since my possessions were already in the locker, I decided to walk a mile to Zumanjaro. I'm not sure if it's the absurdly long queue line, the sheer height, or a combination of the two, but I have never seen a wait for this drop tower and the trend continued on this day. There are other towers with more forceful drops (see any Larson tower), but this one isn't too far behind and has a major advantage in its length. This drop feels like it will never end, much like It's a Small World, except in this case I enjoy the entire experience. 10 out of 10

 

After retrieving my phone, wallet, and keys, I realized I had just a half hour left to devote to El Toro. I forked over another dollar to store my possessions and then made my way through El Toro's empty queue. I would have been happy just getting one ride on this monster of a coaster, but SFGAdv's amazing reride policy enabled me to get 5 consecutive rides. On a few of them, I did have to swap my seat, but I never strayed from the very back car.

 

The RMC coaster drops are insane. Their the new kids on the block. But on every single ride El Toro always reminds me why its the king of wooden coaster drops. I know the lift has been slowed since its inaugural year, but you're still cruising at a decent clip when you crest that first drop. It's impossible not to feel excited as you see the front half of the train glide over the crest because mere moments later, you are completely ejected from your seat.

 

The next two camelbacks provide the sustained ejector air that is Intamin's trademark. The speed and airtime is so strong that you feel yourself being ejected before you even hit the crest of the hill. El Toro then lulls you into a false sense of security. The far turnaround and subsequent speed hills are fast, but they lack the insane ejector air of their predecessors. For novice El Toro riders, they may think the bull is finished. But experienced riders know what lies around the corner- the mythical Rolling Thunder hill.

 

When you see this hill off-ride, the apex looks wrong; the radius looks far too tight for a hill that large. However, the end result is one of the top airtime moments in the world. If your loose articles somehow survived the first three moments of ejector air, this would be the straw that breaks the camel's back, or in this case the airtime that breaks your phone and causes you to whine to the operators afterwards. El Toro then feels like it kicks it into hyperdrive as it navigates the series of low-to-the-ground turns before casually rolling into the brakes, but not before giving a gentle pop of air or two.

 

What a rush! El Toro was able to remind me just how awesome of a wooden coaster it is an sneak its way back into my top 5 woodies (keep in mind it was previously 6th behind Voyage, so it's not like it was behind Lightning Racer or something). I can't quite put it ahead of the other 4 since El Toro does have a bit of a reprieve in the middle of the ride when the others haul from start to finish, but that's just nitpicking and a testament to how great the others are. The airtime on this coaster can only be described as insane and otherworldly. I'm glad I rode everything else before El Toro because I wouldn't have been able to pull myself off of this excellent coaster. 10 out of 10

 

And to anyone who calls El Toro rough, I have to ask, have you ridden anything like Clementon's Hellcat. Try that in the back seat and then come talk to us.

 

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I'd love to know just how high this hill could launch a projectile...in the name of science of course.

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Would I be tired the next day? Absolutely. But this was worth it.

 

As I exited the park, I did question if it was irresponsible to leave myself with a 5 hour drive home considering I had work the next day. But as I saw El Toro in the back of my eye I remembered, I'll just fuel up on coffee in exchange for airtime you can't really find anywhere else.

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I've been lurking in this thread for a while and just want to say your TRs are fantastic. The play-by-play reviews of rides and parks give a great visual to someone who's never visited those parks before.

 

I agree with you on the Batman B&M inverts... yeah, they're clones, but they're clones of a great ride.

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I've been lurking in this thread for a while and just want to say your TRs are fantastic. The play-by-play reviews of rides and parks give a great visual to someone who's never visited those parks before.

 

I agree with you on the Batman B&M inverts... yeah, they're clones, but they're clones of a great ride.

 

Thank you! That's what I like to see in parks I've never been to (since it helps me judge whether or not I want to visit), so I'm glad I can help in return.

 

Just want to say loving the last few updates. Nice to end it with the best. Ole!

 

Thanks! El Toro was definitely a very deserving number 1 candidate on the Best Coaster Poll.

 

Great report! That's a crazy amount of rides for such a short time at Great Adventure (especially considering the front seat Ka ride).

 

Thanks! For the most part, I've had good luck with Great Adventure on past trips. Ironically, the times I've had the worst queues are when I visit on weekdays.

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Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier

 

Anytime a work trip arises, the first thing I do is investigate the nearby parks. I needed to travel to Mexico and noticed that I could force a multiday layover in Houston. With the two boardwalk parks and the allure of a shiny new RMC just a drive away at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, the decision was easy.

 

I almost had a panic attack when I realized midway through my flight that Houston had 2 airports and we weren't going to George Bush International where my rental car was. Fortunately JetBlue is awesome and their free (and amazing) WiFi made it easy to swap my reservation. After picking up the car, I was at the Galveston Island Historic Pleausre Pier (that name is a mouthful).

 

I purchased an Adventure Pass which was valid for the entire weekend at both GIHPP, Kemah Boardwalk, and an aquarium that I had no intentions of visiting. I found it interesting this boardwalk park wasn't free admission like most others, especially considering Landry's owns Kemah as well and they're free admission.

 

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This park would be impossible to recreate in Roller Coaster Tycoon. I think the park name exceeds the character limit.

 

With limited time, my first stop was the park’s star attraction, Iron Shark. The ride is incredibly compact, but it looks fantastic and dominates the pier. No one could possibly throw a tantrum over its appearance.

 

I walked right onto the front row and was ecstatic to see the lapbar only trains. I absolutely loved them on Hydrus since these EuroFighters can have some pretty quick transitions. Moments later I was ascending the lift. Vertical lifts are cool, but the sun always seems to position itself right above the lift. Fortunately there were gorgeous views of the Ocean and pier to my right and left.

 

The highlight of all EuroFighters is the drop. And Iron Shark’s doesn't disappoint. The already copious air is augmented by the lap bars. The following Immelmann is ridiculously tight and had me seeing grey on each ride. The ride then follows that up with 3 more transitions that come about as close to inverting as you can possibly get without technically inverting and even throws in this tiny little change of direction that gave a shocking pop of air like I305.

 

It's a perfect fit for the park. It packs an absolute wallop into a tight space. It does rattle a bit on some of the transitions, but without OSTRs it never becomes an issue. 8 out of 10

 

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Pressed with limited space, Gerstlauer delivered this beauty.

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Iron Shark could be the title of one of SyFy's Shark Week movies.

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Amen for lap bar only trains.

 

I decided to try Pirate's Plunge, the park’s flume. I'm not sure if it's an original layout or not, but it's more expansive than the standard boardwalk flumes I’ve encountered. They even add some pirate theming for good measure.

 

It was at this point I discovered the park’s perplexing glasses policy. On Iron Shark, I was told I needed a strap to ride which was no issue since I keep one handy. But glasses weren't allowed even with a strap on the flume. Weird but I wasn't going to object.

 

I was expecting a relatively dry flume but I knew I was porked after seeing the walls in close proximity to the first drop. Sure enough, the wall redirected the entire splash right back into the boat, soaking me from head to toe. Why does it always seem like the small drops are the soakers on flumes?

 

The second drop was taller, but profiled somewhat weirdly. It leveled off far earlier than other flumes I’ve been on. And the resulting splash was as dry as Tennessee on a Sunday morning. I would have ridden it again if it wasn't so prohibitively soaking, but it's solid for the park. 5 out of 10

 

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It isn't much, but I still wasn't expecting this level of theming on a boardwalk flume.

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I also wasn't expecting to get soaked from head to toe.

 

I needed to dry off so I turned to the Texas Star Flyer. It may only be half the height of the not-to-be confused with Texas SkyScreamer, but it was equally as enjoyable. The windy day, long cycle, and location on the pier provided a fantastic ride. The views of the boardwalk below, ocean, and beach were breathtaking. Few star flyers have a location like this and GIHPP’s uses it to perfection. 9 out of 10

 

And I will note glasses (with a strap) were allowed on the Star Flyer.

 

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They missed the perfect opportunity to call the star flyer Sharknado.

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Imagine seeing this from 230 feet in the air. Essentially that's the Star Flyer.

 

On my way back to Iron Shark, I noticed a weird looking flat I had never seen before, the Sky Shooter. I think it's from SBF since it has the same air release as their spinning coasters, but I could be wrong. Basically it was a junior version of Knoebels Downdraft. The seats did seem cramped even for someone smaller (5’10”, 165 lbs), but appeared to be a ride for all ages.

 

The compact nature of the ride induced some forceful spins while the ride got up to speed, but it quickly became a monotonous flat when the speed stabilized. The outward swings didn't really do anything, as they were too slow to induce any sort of air or laterals. It was worth a spin since it was a new flat type, but not something I need to ride again. 5 out of 10

 

This was another ride banning glasses entirely.

 

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In retrospect, this does look more like a kids ride rather than something that could give a thrill.

 

After 3 more rides on Iron Shark, I made my way towards the exit. On the way, I saw their frisbee was loading so I hopped in line. By this point, I was thinking to myself that glasses were allowed on the thrill rides only and banned on the family rides. And sure enough I could wear them.

 

The Revolution was a weaker model in terms of air, but it compensated with the ride's placement. Half the swings go beyond the pier, so riders are staring at the ocean a good 60-70 feet below them. It's definitely a thrilling visual and I can only imagine what it's like on that Screamin’ Swing over the canyon at Glenwood Caverns. 6 out of 10

 

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While this may not appear too tall at first glance, you're actually staring at the water below the pier.

 

In about an hour, I was able to hit the major flats plus ride the lone coaster a few times. I'm guessing the crowds pick up on warmer days and in the evening, but on a Saturday morning in early April, crowds were no problem at all. It’ll be interesting to see if and how this new park expands, but as it stands, it's a small park worth visiting for that location and Iron Shark.

 

And beyond theme park visits, I also made sure to see a Houston Astros game since they were playing the New York Yankees. The least appealing of all the Astros pitchers was on the mound in Charlie Morton, yet he pitched one heck of a game to lead the Astros to victory and help the Red Sox in the process. I'm one of those Sox fans that supports two teams- my Red Sox and whoever plays the Yankees.

 

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Minute Maid was a nice ballpark and had a strong crowd to accompany it.

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That was a fun trip report to read. Minute Maid is my second home. Yeah I’ve only seen Galveston Pier busy during the discount days. I just don’t feel like they have enough rides for the price and I think many other locals would agree.

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^ Thanks!

 

Kemah was absolutely packed later that day and they're similarly sized. I think a big thing that could hurt Galveston Pleasure Pier is the admission price. People are less likely to stop in to ride 1-2 things like they were doing at Kemah. But what Galveston has is good.

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^ Thanks!

 

Kemah was absolutely packed later that day and they're similarly sized. I think a big thing that could hurt Galveston Pleasure Pier is the admission price. People are less likely to stop in to ride 1-2 things like they were doing at Kemah. But what Galveston has is good.

 

not just admission price (since they often offer BOGO and discount coupong), but more so for me: the parking situation. . not only is it not free, but on a nice day? GOOD LUCK finding a spot that's a) relatively close, and b) not under $25 to park.

 

 

great report tho, and glad you had such a great visit!

 

I assume Kemah Boardwalk is up next? curious if you liked the Boardwalk Bullet (since that's the only thing we bother with when there, even tho it's a bit overpriced as well).

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^ Thanks! Yes Kemah will be next. Hope to get that one up later tonight/early tomorrow. I did really enjoy Boardwalk Bullet as a ride but the operations were absolutely brutal.

 

I know it was early in the season, but I must have lucked out on parking. I only had to pay $10 for the Pleasure Pier and I was right across the street. By the time I left (around 1), I'd say only half the lot was filled.

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I love the boardwalk amusement piers. Grew up going to Wildwood NJ, (yay I got to experience Hunts Pier in it's heyday). Have you ever had a chance to ride the Zoom Phlume in Wildwood? Nice layout and kinda long-ish. Nice report and great pics!

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^ Thanks!

 

I made it to Morey's for the first time last year and loved it. Zoom Phloom was probably the best overall attraction there. It's crazy how long that flume was considering the park needs to use every inch of space they have available. I did prefer the Atmosfear though because of the view, the sound effects, and just how insane those Larson towers are.

 

I do think my favorite boardwalk park (unless you count Cedar Point, but that's just cheating) is still the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Giant Dipper helps a ton, but they also throw in a strong mix of classic and modern flats to go with some dark rides.

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