I want to start this report off with a public service announcement.
One of the common misconceptions here seems to be that I add these cliffhangers because I enjoy being an a**hole (well... okay, you've got me there) or because I just enjoy creating suspense. I want it to be known to the world that the real reason is just that I'm too lazy to write any more and it's a great way to make my laziness look like it's just creative style or something. It's not... I'm just lazy.
Anyway, now that we got that out of the way and I tore down the fourth wall (lol), let's talk about Iron Rattler...
The view from the top of Iron Rattler is kind of insane. You drop off of a quarry wall (which ends up beside you when you bottom out) and down towards a lake at the bottom of the drop. I don't know who's idea it was to build a theme park here, but it was a brilliant idea (I'm sure one of you is about to tell me, hopefully with a LMGTFY link but I don't actually care, though I appreciate his or her vision).
The first drop is great, and it wasn't long before my thoughts of this being a tame RMC like New Texas Giant went by the wayside. It immediately launches into an ejector hill and crazy overbank before barreling off of the cliff again and blasting up into a barrel roll. From there, it heads to the top of the wall which is actually a really cool section of the ride. The pacing up there is actually really solid (better than it looks in povs) and you're treated to all of the twisting and weirdness you could ever want. You're actually up there just long enough to forget the fact that you're on top of a giant cliff, and right when you think it's slowing down you go up fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo hop (lol, go home word filter, you're drunk) and then (after another dose of airtime) rocket back down a cliff, over the water and finally through a super cool tunnel before hitting the brakes. A dark, fast tunnel is a great way to end any ride but when it's a giant tunnel cut through a quarry wall where the temperature drops like a rock as soon as you get inside it it's a lot more impressive than your standard, fake theme park tunnel through a plastic mountain. Iron Rattler doesn't f*ck around.
For whatever reason, people in San Antonio love them some crappy Boomerang action and thanks to a longer-than-usual wait for the back row of Iron Rattler (as one train had the back car roped off), we figured it would be best to reserve the ride with the longest wait time on the Q-Bot. I don't know what's in the water in San Antonio but long story short... there we were.
There are some Boomerangs that I tend to enjoy. The ones with the new trains are great, and even some with the older trains like the Six Flags New England Flashback or Morey's Pier's Sea Serpent can be a good time, but this one was a turd. If I had to say anything good about it, I actually really do like the ride area and think it looks pretty nice in the park. Aside from that... uh... I've got nothing.
I couldn't help but feel that I deserved a reward for suffering through the Boomerang (even though it was totally my own stupid fault), so while in line I reserved Bug's White Water Rapids. Despite the name, Bug's White Water Rapids is not a sh*tty rapids ride, but the park's awesome looking flume-style ride. Thanks to the 106 degree weather the line was a bit excessive, but we chose to spend it back in the air conditioned Festhaus and let the Q Bot did the virtually suffering for us while I enjoyed another overpriced beer.
Time to ride! This is not a Six Flags park. Don't lie to me.
This ride is super cool, and we ended up riding it about 5 or 6 times throughout the day. The boats are 2 across and hold a good deal of people, there's a bit of theming, it has multiple drops and it gets you wet without totally soaking you.
The flume was exactly what we needed on such an oppressive day (although a flume is exactly what I need every day to be fair) and it definitely gave us a nice boost. Up next was Goliath, the second Batman clone of the trip and also one of the best looking rides I've ever seen. The paint job on this ride is so great that it almost doesn't look real. It's incredibly striking with the quarry backdrop and we remarked quite a few times throughout the day how un-Six-Flags-like it was to have a coaster that's been in the park for years looking that pristine.
While this trip was very Batman-heavy, I have absolutely no complaints. You could clone this ride on every street corner in America and I would never get sick of it. It's smooth, fast, forceful and awesome. What's not to love?
At that point we only had one more coaster to ride and thanks to it's short wait time we could basically reserve it and then immediately make our way over knowing it would be time to ride when we got there.
While we had just been on one two days earlier I'm never going to turn down a Pandemonium ride. This ride has a weird location and almost seems forgotten-about at Fiesta Texas but they're always nice rides.
Unfortunately this would be our first encounter of the day with the only negative of Busch Gardens San Antonio and that's that it has the worst wind policy I've ever experienced at any theme park anywhere ever. I've spent a lot of time at Cedar Point but Cedar Point could only dream of something this asinine...
This is how the park's wind policy works. First of all, no trees have to be moving and you don't have to actually feel a breeze for a ride to close. There was probably a light breeze at the top of the quarry but for the most part the anemometer on the top of the lift was so still that you would think someone bolted it into place.
Anyway, most rides have a light bar near the controls that show green, yellow and red. Once the light turns red they immediately go down for wind (and like... these were conditions where a Windseeker could operate) and send empty, valley prone trains into the "devastating" winds to get everyone off of the ride. There doesn't seem to be any waiting period here or common sense if conditions are remaining constant so what usually happens is that they go down for wind, send an empty, wait about 5 minutes and then go back up, load one train, go down for wind, send an empty, wait 5 minutes, go back up, go down for wind and repeat process. This presumably continued all day at Pandemonium so despite the fact that we were only a few people in front of us and despite the fact that it wasn't windy we waited about 30 minutes. As for the ride there's not much to say, it's great but of course it is... it's Pandemonium. When we got off they were sending more empties in preparation of reopening like 5 minutes later, sending one car and closing again.
After exiting Pandemonium we were relieved to see that the rest of the park was still standing despite the dangerously high winds so we backtracked a bit and made our way back to knockoff Festhaus (reserving the log flume again on the way). We can power ride Nitro in the snow, but 100+ degree theme par days kept us retreating for air conditioning and cold beer. I don't know how people live here.
Full disclosure, I wasn't exactly complaining about beating the heat with beer and flume rides. I was also amassing a nice collection of souvenir Fiesta Texas beer glasses which I also wasn't complaining about. After a few more beers and another great flume ride we decided to reserve Iron Rattler and use it as an excuse to take the train.
The train ride here is incredibly cool, though the leg of it that goes by the quarry wall and through the tunnel is significantly better than the other portion. We sort of knew that so we stayed on for a few stops while the Flash Pass did the heavy lifting for us.
Once the Flash Pass started buzzing we exited the train and made our way back to Iron Rattler for another round, though it became clear pretty early on that Iron Rattler was also falling victim to the light breeze that didn't exist so every other train was being sent empty along with an announcement of the ride being closed and then by the time it got back after hauling ass through the course they loaded another train before immediately closing again and repeating the process.
Despite the frustrating operating policies, the ride kicked our asses yet again. This ride is batshit nuts and we couldn't get enough.
Our Flash Pass only allowed us one reservation for Wonder Woman but this was our second ride of the day as we rope dropped it before picking up our Q Bot. By now it had built up a massive, slow-moving line which made the Flash Pass even more of a godsend than it already was. Despite the low capacity, we were on almost immediately with that reservation and somehow I ended up being assigned to the back car once again.
It's really hard to describe the experience of one of these single rail coasters to someone who hasn't ridden one as it's really unlike any other coaster I've been on. The ride is loaded with ejector airtime absolutely everywhere and it moves with an incredible agility. Everything is tremendously forceful but also extremely smooth and comfortable.
I think the closest thing to a single rail coaster (for someone who hasn't been on one) would be a super-smooth old school B&M like Kumba that takes every element at ludicrous speeds but with even less restrictive restraints and a bunch of RMC style airtime thrown in between inversions. Despite it's crazy nature it feels more controlled than a super-intense Intamin like Maverick, El Toro or I305 but it delivers a butter smooth buffet of negative and positive g forces. It's a fantastic experience and I can't wait to have one at Great Adventure next uh... probably August knowing them.
At that point the sun was starting to set, bringing a tiny bit of relief from the insane Texas heat and leaving us time for just a few more rides. Our next stop was Superman which I definitely wanted another ride on and it delivered another awesome ride just like it did earlier. As soon as we got in line I reserved the flume again so since we were waiting for 2 rides at once we took the extra time to wait for the front which was well worth it with the crazy visuals of diving over and off of the cliff. This is easily the best floorless coaster that I've ever been on which is high praise because every single one of them is awesome (well... except Patriot. F*ck Patriot).
The flume was (once again) awesome. I lost count of how many rides we had that day. We debated riding again but with the sun setting we knew we probably only had time for one more ride as we wanted to catch the fireworks show at the end of the night. I was skeptical of the fireworks show and at no point in my life have I ever made a point to watch a show of any kind in a Six Flags park but when we asked for park tips before our trip it came highly recommended so we decided to check it out.
Thankfully we had time for one more ride before it was time to head over there and given the fact that we couldn't reserve Wonder Woman again there really wasn't much to think about...
With New Texas Giant being so much tamer than any other RMC I've been on I really didn't expect the coaster that came immediately after it to be this dramatic of an improvement but holy crap. I feel like Steel Vengeance and Lightning Rod are a big step above the others (in North America at least) but after that this **might** actually be my favorite. The location has a lot to do with that. The crazy drops off of the cliff and insane tunnel really take it to the next level but overall I really do have a hard time thinking of an RMC that I like better than this thing (aside from the ones that I just mentioned) and even if you put it in an empty field without the awesome cliff and tunnel it would still be amazing. This ride is insane and it's even more insane that it's in the same park as so many other great coasters.
We were tempted to say "screw the show" and keep re-riding until they made us leave but for the sake of doing something different we made our way over. They let everyone into a huge grass field and hillside and the massive crowd that had gathered there was definitely an indicator that it was a show worth watching. We were still skeptical that a Six Flags show could actually be good but we were feeling pretty optimistic.
We didn't know what to expect going in, but whatever it was it wasn't that. We were absolutely f*cking floored.
We thought we were just watching a fireworks show, but it turns out that it was a full blown projection mapping and fireworks show with pyrotechnics and even fountains. While it's not like this is Happily Ever After or Paris Illuminations, this is a stunningly good show for a regional park.
I think the best way to describe it is that it's a Disney-quality show...15 years ago. For a Six Flags park I feel like that's really high praise. I'd probably rather watch this than Wishes.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas puts every other American Six Flags park to shame. We knew that this park would be good but we were totally unprepared for the massive difference in quality between this place and what we were used to. I seriously can't recommend it enough. OMG!!!
We will absolutely, absolutely be back... though maybe not in the summer next time