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Photo TR: Coastin' Thru Maryland


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For a long time I have wanted to visit Six Flags America and I finally got that opportunity last week. My family and I took a 4 day trip down to the Maryland area, hitting up Baltimore, D.C., and Chesapeake Beach in addition to Six Flags.

 

If you’re only interested in the Six Flags report (Totally understandable), then you may want to scroll down to day 3

 

Another note - There will be a mix of camera and phone pics here, which is why some photos look much nicer than others

 

August 4th (Day 1)

 

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A map of our destinations

 

We got up early on Saturday morning and hopped in the rental car. After a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts we were on the expressway and enroute to Maryland.

 

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The Chicago skyline lurking in the background

 

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Guaranteed Rate Field

 

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An ad for Indiana Beach

 

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Entering Ohio

 

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Your typical Highway signs

 

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We stopped for lunch at a McDonalds in Middleburg Heights, Ohio and I noticed this map on the wall. I looked at one of the street names and realized that it was a picture of my hometown, literally 400 miles away. At first I was confused as hell but then I was reminded that the first ever McDonalds is near there. Duh. Still pretty unexpected though

 

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Made it to the Keystone State

 

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I spy a park billboard!

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Pennsylvania is a really pretty state

 

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Getting closer…

 

So around this time of the trip we had f*cked up really bad…..

 

We had just gotten back on the highway after driving through the last town we would encounter for a bit, and my dad noticed that the car was really low on fuel. Like, really low. Unfortunately the GPS said that the next exit wouldn't be for another 20 minutes so we were pretty worked up. Soon the fuel light came on, making us even more concerned. Eventually we made it to an exit, hoping we’d run into a gas station. We didn’t. Instead we ended up in a forest in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.

 

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Literally where we got lost

 

Looking back now, we really should’ve pulled over on the highway and looked for the closest gas station instead of just getting off at a random exit, but we were really desperate at the time. After circling the area for about 10 minutes, seeing a Confederate flag hung from somebodys porch and an abandoned building that looked like somewhere a murder took place, we got back on the highway.

 

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Google Street View (obviously) doesn’t have any pics from that area but this looks pretty similar to the building we saw

 

Five more minutes of driving later, we miraculously arrived at a gas station in Wardfordsburg, PA. But, of course, they just so happened to be out of gas. Talk about bad luck. Thankfully an employee gave us directions to another gas station 5 minutes away, so there was still some hope left. Of course though, we got lost on the way there. My sister (who was reading the directions from her phone) messed up and we missed the exit. We pulled over on some road in West Virginia and looked over the directions again. It said that the gas station was only 2 minutes away. After possibly the longest 40 minutes of my life we arrived. Lesson learned…

 

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Breezewood is the town we went through before realizing we were low on gas, and Hancock is where we finally got it. This map doesn’t include the forest we drove through or when we crossed through West Virginia

 

We ended up at our hotel around 9:30, about an hour later than than planned due to the “incident”

 

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Always nice to see park fliers at hotels

 

 

August 5th (Day 2)

 

Our plan for this first day was to hit up Washington D.C. and check out as many museums and attractions as possible. After our first little taste of DC traffic we arrived in the city. The first thing on our agenda was the National Museum of Natural History. We drove past the building, and my family decided that the line was too long (???) and we were going somewhere else instead. I’m really not sure what they were expecting considering it’s a free museum in Washington D.C. We ended up leaving D.C. and decided to drive 50 minutes to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where my younger sister wanted to go.

 

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Entering Baltimore

 

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The exterior of the aquarium

 

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Sign

 

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The Pratt Street Power Plant

 

I had no clue during the trip, but apparently this used to be the old Six Flags Power Plant!

 

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Ticket Prices

 

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My ticket

 

After paying the ridiculous $40 per person fee, we were in.

 

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This nice looking waterfall greeted us at the entrance

 

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Some info

 

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You can get some nice shots of the waterfront from inside the Aquarium

 

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More scenery

 

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Hey look, a picture of fish!

 

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This may or may not be a picture of a sign

 

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More fish

 

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Even more fish (As you can tell I’m not much of a “fish enthusiast” )

 

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Hey! No PDA in the aquarium!

 

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This aquarium has a mini “Rainforest” exhibit

 

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They even had some chimps here

 

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Shark

 

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Don’t worry, this is my last uncreatively captioned fish picture

 

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Some boats out on the Patapsco River

 

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The dock

 

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We saw the “Dolphin Discovery” show before heading out

 

At this point there was no way we would make it back to D.C in time before the majority of stuff closed (We spent way too much time at the aquarium), so we decided to stay in Baltimore.

 

Right outside the aquarium was the "Pirate Ships of Baltimore" attraction. You could either ride in a Loch Ness Monster paddle boat, traditional paddle boat, or an electric pirate ship. Me and my dad wanted to check out the paddle boats but my sisters wanted to do the electric pirate ships instead.

 

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Another $25? Arghhhh

 

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The boats gave me a Mack Splash Battle vibe

 

After waiting more than a half hour it was finally our turn to go.

 

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The view from the boat

 

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The World Trade Center Institute

 

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All three types of boats

 

Once our 30 minutes was up, we parked the boat and for some reason, decided to enter the Barnes and Noble in the Power Plant building. As I mentioned earlier, this was the former location of the Six Flags Power Plant, but I wasn't aware of that during the trip. Thought that was pretty cool. After yet another half hour at Barnes and Noble, we tried to think of something else we could do but ultimately decided to drive back to our hotel.

 

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The Holocaust Memorial

 

We got back at around 8PM and realized we hadn't eaten anything all day, so we drove to a nearby IHOP to eat

 

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This IHOP was not in the nicest of areas

 

I decided to try one of their new speciality burgers, the “Big Brunch”. It came with bacon, fried egg, and hashbrowns. It was surprisingly decent, but a little on the pricier side.

 

August 6th (Day 3)

 

We woke up early to take advantage of our hotel’s continental breakfast and then headed off to Six Flags.

 

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We’re finally here!

 

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I’ve always thought the Colonial looking entryway looked really nice

 

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Main Street

 

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The fountain on Main Street

 

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Flying Carousel’s color scheme compliments the area well

 

What ride did I run to first?

 

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Apocalypse: The Last Stand

 

So back in 2011, I hit the magical 54 inch mark and was finally able to ride all of the “big” rides at my homepark (SFGAm) Back then I only went to SFGAm once a year, and my 2011 trip just so happened to be on the day they announced the removal of Iron Wolf (August 5th, 2011) Despite being tall enough I was still too scared to go on all the major coasters. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware Iron Wolf was being removed until a few weeks later, but I was really bummed out that I missed out on my chance to ride it. That made me want to start riding all the big stuff, so beginning in 2012 I worked up the nerve to get on a “big” ride, my first being Superman: Ultimate Flight, and ever since then I’ve loved coasters. Despite its reputation, I still wanted to ride Iron Wolf, so for years Six Flags America has been towards the top of my “Must Visit” list of parks. Since we were coming out to the Maryland/DC area, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally get a ride in on the first B&M

 

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The Fan Turn is a super fun element

 

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The ride is a lot more visible here than it was at Great America

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I had been told that front row was the least painful, so that’s where I went

 

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They were only running 1 train (As was every other coaster except for Ragin’ Cajun) but it didn’t matter because the park was a ghost town

 

So after being at the top of my Bucket List for 7 years, what did I think of it?

 

Without a doubt, it’s the worst ride I have ever been on. Constant head and ear banging, super uncomfortable restraints, and just not fun at all…….

 

/sarcasm

 

Seriously though, I honestly do not see how anyone could possibly find this ride rough or painful at all. After years of hearing how much of a torture device this thing was, I was half expecting to walk off with a busted lip and a concussion. You maybe hit your ear three times (fairly lightly) towards the end of the ride, and that’s only if you’re not leaning forward too. The only discomfort I had was that on my first ride, I had put the bicycle seat a little too high to the point where it was digging into my crotch, but that was all. Honestly I think this might be one of my new favorite coasters. Unpopular opinion but I love the feeling of standing up on a coaster. I would totally rather have this than Goliath and I wish SFGAm never got rid of it. I’ll be pretty upset if SFA decides to remove this/convert it to a floorless like rumored, but I’m just happy I finally got to ride it before then.

 

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Roar was the next ride on our agenda

 

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The famous Roar sign

 

I had heard Roar was one of the better rides at the park so I was looking forward to riding it. Like Apocalypse, it was a walk-on, so I decided to go for the back row. The first drop and turn were really fun, but after that? Honestly I thought it was a pretty boring ride. Really no airtime or forces, it just kinda meanders through the course. Maybe front row is better?

 

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The entrance to Coyote Creek

 

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Some koi fish

 

Next up was a ride I was absolutely dreading…

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My first Vekoma SLC, Mind Eraser

 

I reluctantly entered the queue only to be told by exiting riders that the ride was down (They were cleaning up someone’s bloody nose mess).

 

To be honest I wasn’t too upset, and my family and I went on Renegade Rapids to pass the time. Definitely a weak rapids ride, we barely got wet at all.

 

By the time we got off, I heard Mind Erasers vacuum cleaner sounding lift and noticed that the ride was back open

 

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The ride could really use a coat of paint

 

Just like Apocalypse, I had been tipped off that the front row was tolerable so I sat there. I actually sat next to a guy who appeared to be an enthusiast (With a heavy European accent), maybe that was someone from here? Anyway, soon enough we got the “All clear” and began to ascend the lift hill. I was not excited at all and just wanted the ride to be over with. By the time we hit the brake run though, I was pretty confused. I didn’t find this ride rough or painful either. Is this one of the best SLCs or am I just a masochist? Actually, I thought the ride was pretty forceless in comparison to the Batman clones, so I’d say Mind Eraser is more boring than it is rough. I never got around to riding it again, so maybe back is way worse, I don’t know. My sisters who rode just one row behind me absolutely hated the ride, so maybe front row is the only smooth spot?

 

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Inside of the Crazy Horse Saloon

 

After Mind Eraser we grabbed a bite at the Crazy Horse Saloon. Honestly for all the flack this park has gotten for rude employees/bad service, we had a really good experience here.

 

After lunch I decided to venture over to the back of the park, supposedly where the only good rides are located

 

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Entrance to Gotham City

 

We were planning to do Joker’s Jinx first, but it was down so we opted for Superman instead

 

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Incase you don’t know Superman is tucked all the way in the back corner of the park, along with Batwing

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Joker’s Jinx looked really cool from over there

 

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The entrance to Superman

 

Being the most popular ride in the park, Superman was boasting an unbearably long 2 train wait

 

I was really excited to finally be riding an Intamin Hyper coaster, so of course I had to ride in the back car. This ride is freakin’ great. Plenty of airtime and just overall a fun, speedy ride. Easily in my Top 3

 

Next up was Batwing. I ended up getting pretty lucky because I caught this ride on its first open day in a few weeks. It was a nice surprise to see it open as I was totally expecting not to ride it

 

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Batwing’s sign

 

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Love this shot. Would’ve waited for a train, but you know, SFA operations

 

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Some idiots were playing with a basketball in the station and accidentally threw it onto the track

 

So, Batwing…. I didn’t hate it, but I really can’t say I liked it either. It’s not painful, but the ride shakes like crazy and the seating is really uncomfortable, to the point where it kind of ruins the ride. I’d give it another chance, but as of now I can’t call myself a fan.

 

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Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth was up next

 

Just as we had gotten in line for Wonder Woman, we were informed that the ride would be going down for weather. Not a huge deal though as I've been on the Star Flyers at SFSTL and Mt. O and they are a little underwhelming

 

We walked down the path trying to find an open ride and came across the park’s Round Up, Riddle Me This

 

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Riddle Me This

 

It started out really fun, but these are probably the only type of ride where I wish the cycle was shorter, because Round Ups make me feel slightly dizzy Literally doesn’t happen on any other ride

 

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We went to the Mardi Gras area in an attempt to find an open ride

 

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Did a quick spin on Zydeco Zinger, which was surprisingly fun

 

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We had gotten into our seats on French Quarter Flyers when the op announced it was closed for the rain.

 

Because the crappy weather seemed like it wasn’t going to clear out anytime soon, we took a break from rides and searched through a few gift shops. I managed to find a really nice looking SFA shirt for only $5! Score

 

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After buying our stuff and bringing it back to our car, we grabbed our things for the waterpark and entered Hurricane Harbor, where everything was just opening back up

 

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The entry area looks nicer than the one at SFGAm, not quite as good as SFSTL’s though

 

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We did Wahoo River and Shark Attack, then caught a wave cycle in Hurricane Bay

 

After a while, I ditched my family to head back to the dry park for some re-rides

 

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Of course I was going to Apocalypse first

 

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Back row this time

 

Alright, so since I found the front row to be smooth, I decided to see what the back row was like. Honestly, I barely noticed any difference in rideability. I do prefer the front though, for the view

 

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Joker’s Jinx was boasting an empty station

 

Having been on Mr. Freeze at SFSTL, I was happy to hop on another old school Premier launcher. Joker’s Jinx is a really fun ride, probably my third favorite at Six Flags America. The launch was not as gradual as Mr. Freeze, and the ride was more intense than I was expecting.

 

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How could I leave without another ride on Superman?

 

Next I went back to Superman for another lap. This time I went for the front of the train, sitting in the third row. I actually think Superman is even more fun towards the front, the airtime was a lot stronger on every hill. Definitely prefer this to Raging Bull

 

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More rides on Apocalypse!

 

I figured my family would be done in the waterpark soon, so on the way over there I did 2 more rounds on Apocalypse, this time sitting in the middle of the train. I love this ride

 

Apparently they still didn’t want to leave Hurricane Harbor, so I went back to Mardi Gras by myself

 

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Ragin’ Cajun has some misters in the queue

 

I had only ridden Ragin’ Cajun once before, a few weeks before it was removed from SF Great America. I remember really enjoying the ride there, so I was happy to be able to go on it again.

 

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I’ve always thought the ride looked really “temporary”

 

It wasn’t as good as I remembered, and was a bit uncomfortable, but it’s still a fun little ride. I’d still rather have this than The Dark Knight

 

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My last new coaster of the day, Wild One

 

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I was going to do back row, but there was nobody waiting for the front (or any row for that matter) so I went up there instead

 

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Wild One’s Helix

 

It was actually decent. There wasn’t much airtime (I kind of wish I sat in the back), but it sped through the course and overall was pretty smooth and fun. Easily the better of the park’s two wooden coasters

 

Next I rode VooDoo Drop. Short, but sweet. Who doesn’t love an Intamin Drop Tower?

 

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I was able to finally get on French Quarter Flyers. Maybe SFA’s flyers aren’t as good as others (Or maybe I don’t know how to snap right) but I was definitely underwhelmed.

 

After FQF, I met up with my family and we did another ride on Ragin’ Cajun. They seemed to share the same sentiments as me that the ride wasn’t as good as we remembered. Bummer

 

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The stairs leading to Joker’s station

 

They wanted to try Joker’s Jinx so I happily joined them for another ride, this time towards the front. I’ve always thought this ride looked really sluggish in POVS but it doesn’t feel that way when riding. Great ride

 

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The Penguin’s cool sign

 

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Penguin sculptures in the queue

 

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Superman and Joker lurking in the background

 

With less than 10 minutes until closing, Penguin’s Blizzard River ended up being our last ride of the day. I’ve always wanted to try one of these things so I was looking forward to our ride. Right as we were about to get on, the group coming back into the station asked the ops if they could go again, and they let them. It wasn’t until they were almost out of the station again until the attendant asked us if that was okay. I wouldn’t have cared at all if it wasn’t right before closing, but it ended up costing us about 5 minutes, which we could’ve used to get one last ride on Apocalypse or Superman. They would’ve definitely had enough time to ride again too if they had gotten off and hopped back in line before closing. Oh well.

 

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As for the ride - I was actually a bit disappointed. I think someone here had told me that the park’s water rides sucked and they weren’t wrong. I could totally see this meet the same fate as SFNE’s in the near future

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One last shot of Joker’s spaghetti bowl of track

 

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An awesome Intamin hyper

 

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Will do

 

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The swings really do look nice

 

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Until next time, SFA

 

Maybe I just have really low standards (I liked Mt. Olympus too), but I think this park gets way more hate than it deserves. I do prefer Six Flags Great America, but this is probably my 2nd favorite Six Flags park, just ahead of St. Louis. Would totally visit again.

 

August 7th (Day 4)

 

The final (full) day of our trip had arrived. Once again, we got up early for our free breakfast and checked out of the hotel. Originally, this day was going to be spent in Ocean City, MD, but since we literally did nothing in DC on Sunday, we had to push the beach back to later in the day and go to DC in the morning.

 

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Trump International Hotel

 

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DC

 

Since we were short on time, we figured we would only be able to do one museum. We ended up choosing The Natural Museum of Natural History

 

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Colossal Head 4

 

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Info on Colossal Head 4

 

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The museum’s sign

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Another sign (As you can tell I’m not a huge museum guy either, lol)

 

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Are we still at the Aquarium?

 

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Water buffalo and lions

 

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More lions

 

We actually spent more than 3 hours at the museum, but that’s all the pics I have from it because (personally) I don’t find that kind of thing too interesting. So yeah, I apologize for the laughably bad captions

 

We decided to walk around the city a bit for pictures before leaving

 

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Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, in the Sculpture Garden

 

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The National Archives Building

 

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The Sculpture Garden is really nice looking

 

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Thinker on a Rock

 

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The Capitol Building

 

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The Lincoln Memorial

 

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The Washington Monument

 

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Inside of the Lincoln Memorial

 

Leaving DC, we realized we might not have enough time to go all the way to Ocean City, so we changed our plans and instead began driving to Chesapeake Beach.

 

After a quick stop at Wawa for some hoagies, we arrived at the beach.

 

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The seagulls really wanted some of my Wawa sandwich

 

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Uh Oh

 

Unfortunately after being there for less than an hour, the clouds starting moving their way toward us

 

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Atleast it made for some cool shots

 

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About to downpour

 

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One last photo from the Pier

 

Thankfully the rain didn’t start until right as we left, but it still kind of sucked to have to leave early because of it.

 

Overall it was a fun trip, and I had a really good time. Obviously SFA was my favorite day, but going to the beach and walking around DC was cool too.

 

If you managed to make it this far, thanks for reading!

 

-RC

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Glad you enjoyed your trip! I agree that SFA (and Apocalypse) get more hate than they deserve, though SFA’s reputation is steadily improving. A few tips for the rides if you return to the park:

 

-Make sure to try Superman in the very front. It gives an experience noticeably better than the other front rows (at least IMO).

 

-Batwing is most intense in the back row, though also the least smooth from my experiences.

 

-Wild One in 2nd to back seems to give the best ride (though I haven’t tried front row).

 

-Try JJ both in the front and th back. I don’t particularly prefer either one, they’re just different (but both quite good).

 

Anyway, glad you enjoyed your trip, and overall good TR

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Great report! I can’t imagine doing all that driving for just 4 days of visiting this area. Reading that you realized just on the other side of Breezewood that you needed gas had me audibly groan. There is nothing at all on that 20 mile stretch on the DC side of Breezewood except farmland and murder motels haha. Glad you made it out alive!

 

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the National Aquarium in Baltimore since their prices are a bit steep. It’s a pretty good aquarium, though.

 

SFA does get a decent amount of hate but the park is slowly improving overall. Jokers Jinx is fantastic as is Superman, and Wild One depending on the day can be excellent. Next time you take a road trip this way hit up HersheyPark or Busch Gardens Williamsburg! Both are excellent family parks with a good collection of rides.

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Great report!

 

That's definitely cool to see what became of the Six Flags Power Plant. That's definitely one of the odder projects I've heard of and I've always been fascinated by it.

 

That's odd you didn't get an airtime filled ride with Wild One up front. That's definitely one of the better woodies out there. Roar also has some solid airtime towards the front while my back row rides weren't great. As for Apocalypse and Mind Eraser, you must have caught them on good days.

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Thanks guys!

 

Sounds like I chose the wrong seats on the woodies :/

 

Reading that you realized just on the other side of Breezewood that you needed gas had me audibly groan. There is nothing at all on that 20 mile stretch on the DC side of Breezewood except farmland and murder motels haha. Glad you made it out alive! .

 

Seriously though. It honestly felt straight out of a horror movie driving through those woods Can't imagine what would've happened if we ran out of gas there

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Nice trip report! You write very well for someone who wasn't even 54 inches tall until 2011...

 

I'm happy to see that you (more or less) enjoyed your visit to SFA, which unfortunately was my home park from 2015-July 2018. I'd say that your assessment is correct: it's not really the absolute dumpster fire that people make it out to be. It's more like a smaller, more manageable garbage can fire. But hey, kudos to you for approaching it with an open disposition. There's certainly some redeeming stuff there (i.e. Super Man, Wonder Woman, Joker's Jinx, Wild One), even though the majority of the park is made up of the kind of rides that, even though they're walk-ons, I can't even get motivated enough to walk back through the queue in order to re-ride.

 

Also, bummer you didn't like Blizzard River. I always have a blast on it. Did you have anyone else in your raft? Whenever I've ridden I've been with a large group and it spins like mad. Other than that, I agree with your water ride assessment. The rapids ride is severely lacking, in particular. Again, though, that's another one where having a full raft helps exponentially.

 

Part of the fun of the enthusiast community is that we all have different opinions regarding different coasters. Everyone has manufacturers, styles, etc. that they prefer over others, and that's just great! What one person loves, another may not like as much. That level of variance is what makes things interesting. That said, your opinion about Apocalypse is wrong. That coaster is a cataclysmic atrocity.

 

Anyway, thanks for the pictures and report! I certainly don't miss this place just yet. Maybe in a few years it will take on some degree of ill-begotten nostalgia, but not yet.

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Thanks for reading!

 

I rode Blizzard River with my 2 sisters, and we barely spun at all. I guess I just wasn't expecting the ride to be nearly as tame as it was, so I was a bit let down.

 

Part of the fun of the enthusiast community is that we all have different opinions regarding different coasters. Everyone has manufacturers, styles, etc. that they prefer over others, and that's just great! What one person loves, another may not like as much. That level of variance is what makes things interesting. That said, your opinion about Apocalypse is wrong. That coaster is a atrocity.

 

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