SIX FLAGS OVER GEORGIA + ALABAMA SPLASH ADVENTURE (RAMPAGE) - June 2019
This June I took a long weekend to the Atlanta area for Six Flags Over Georgia plus other sightseeing, along with a day-trip into Alabama for a certain, long sought CCI wooden coaster. Day One was Six Flags and I apparently ended up with the wrong Lyft driver on my way to the park because mine was pretty normal. Had I been content to wait until noon and arrived later in the day with my friend, I could have had his driver who extolled the virtues of “The Mushroom Ride” (Acrophobia. I still don’t get it), would have prepared me for the awesomeness of the “New” Batman: The Ride (blue paint), and could have told me to which ATL nightlife spots “all the Millenniums go.” I really wish I had been in that car.
SFOG has been my favorite Six Flags park ever since my first visit ten years ago. It has all the same operational and customer service issues as the rest of the chain, but the atmosphere has always felt a little nicer and the collection of rides more well-rounded. This was even the case without a stellar Intamin or RMC headliner. The one-two punch of Goliath and Mindbender was always enough for me. But last year they addressed this hole in their lineup by recycling their 1990 Dinn Corp. wooden coaster, Georgia Cyclone, into the 2018 “pocket RMC” Twisted Cyclone, the main reason for my return visit.
I actually liked Georgia Cyclone. It was always in need of more trackwork, but I never found it rough enough to make me avoid it and it wasn’t ruined by trim brakes like some of its Dinn contemporaries. It beat you up a little, but the high points in the layout were worth the grind. That said, with Great American Scream Machine still across the park (more on the fate of that ride in a moment…), the obvious thing to do was for Cyclone to go full-Schilke.
Twisted Cyclone I got to the front gate right before the advertised 10:30am opening to find that Twisted Cyclone had actually been giving rides for the last 30 minutes. Might have been a passholder/membership thing, I don’t know. Anyway, it was still a walk-on by the time I got to the station and it already felt nice and warmed up. The back row on both trains was closed off as was the entire back car on one of the two. Normally that would bother me, but this is RMC, so I there’s ejector airtime aplenty in any row.
I would describe Twisted Cyclone as a more refined version of one-half of Twisted Colossus. Its west coast cousin has a few parts that feel abrupt in a way that’s actually a little too quick to properly enjoy the airtime. The green side double-down and the double-up on both sides almost happen too fast. On Twisted Cyclone everything feels more fluid. Yes it’s short and yes I wish they had found a way to complete a third lap inside the structure, but I also didn’t feel like I really missed it. What the layout has is fine. The wave turn on this ride is one of RMC’s greatest singular elements, even better than the ones on Outlaw Run or Steel Vengeance. This coaster is exactly what SFOG needed, but it hasn’t claimed top spot for my favorite ride in the park. 8.5/10
Goliath Even with a new RMC nearby, this B&M is still the class of the park for me. I like most of the other B&M hypers, but wouldn’t call any of them outstanding coasters (not talking gigas). Goliath is different. It takes the big cammelbacks just a tick faster and the intense helix turnaround packs a punch the others lack. This one feels more like New Texas Giant or even Superman the Ride than it does just another big, out & back B&M. I had read about it developing a rattle this season, and while I don’t visit this park often enough to make a comparison, I could feel it on the pullouts of the three biggest drops, but didn’t notice it elsewhere. Rattle or not, it’s still an awesome coaster and I liked it even more than I remembered. 9/10
Mindbender Has SFOG made any adjustments to it this year? Mindbender was still good, but I felt like the two sets of trims came on harder than I recall. I actually don’t think the second trim activated at all the last time, leading to a nice burst of airtime before entering the second loop. This time they clamped down and the whole ride felt a little sluggish. I don’t know. This is still one of the most unique coasters around and I hope it achieves ACE landmark status one day, as I hope the park realizes what a gem it still is and keeps investing in its upkeep. SFOG truly would not be the same without it. 8.5/10
Georgia Scorcher I miss the yellow, but thank god they finally painted it. The thing is, I can totally picture writing a TR where I say the exact same thing about Goliath in 2024 or something, so… yay SFOG? New paint or not, I think Scorcher is the best standup coaster ever built, and this is from someone who grew up with Riddler’s Revenge in his back yard. The light-on-inversions layout is a throwback to B&M’s early days but with the comfort and smoothness of their prime years. A great, mildly intense little coaster with fun, snappy directional changes that does its own thing in a sea of B&M homogeneity. 8/10
Batman: The Ride For whatever reason, all my best Batman laps have come on this one. It always seems to have an extra 5-10% more oomph behind it than any of the others. I often gray out on these coasters through the first loop and regain my senses exiting the zero-g-roll. But this time I grayed out a second time starting with the second loop and ending with the first corkscrew. It was the single most impressive B:TR experience I’ve ever had. This model is not usually one of my favorite inverts, however if they weren’t clones and SFOG’s was a standalone example, I could see myself rating it higher.
Here’s something I thought was weird. The crowds here seem to regard it as a marquee attraction in a way they haven’t at other Six Flags parks in years. It had as long a queue as anything else in the park and it’s even limited to one ride only on the Flash Pass. For Batman? From 1997? 8.5/10
Superman: Ultimate Flight Confession. I really like these coasters, especially this one, the original installation custom suited to the terrain. It’s easy to dump on them if you’ve ridden Tatsu or Manta because the S:UF clones just don’t do a whole lot, but I still thoroughly enjoy them. Maybe I’m just a sucker for any and all flying coasters. I mean, my third favorite coaster at Kings Island as of a couple of years ago was Firehawk, so.… It’s just too bad they still can’t seem to properly operate the thing. One train ops in a dual-loading station with a second train parked in the shed? I really shouldn’t be surprised by things like this anymore. 8/10
I see you Ninja...
Blue Hawk Wow! This was my first time riding it since its old Ninja days and whatever magic Six Flags and Vekoma did to the trains and track paid off in spades. It went from a once per visit kind of thing that you rode only to remind yourself of why you don’t ride it very often to a coaster worth multiple same day re-rides. I’m no engineer, but the improved ride quality felt like it resulted from some type of shock damping assembly on the wheel bogies. Regardless of how it works, I’d like to see SFMM get a couple of these trains to run on Viper. 7/10
Dare Devil Dive Coaster What a relief to see this thing running without VR again. Now the dispatches improve from abysmal to merely frustrating! Capacity issues aside, DDD is a fun enough Eurofighter that might very well be awful if it had OTSRs, which it thankfully does not. Gerstlauer has certainly done better layouts for these, but I enjoy this one just fine. It’s almost like SFOG thought, “Why don’t we build a deluxe family coaster with a beyond-vertical drop?” 7/10
Great American Scream Machine Why in the world did they feel the need to replace those wonderful 3-bench PTCs with buzz-bars with the 2-bench, ratcheting lapbar trains from Georgia Cyclone? Unless the old trains were becoming a maintenance headache I don’t understand it. First of all, this ride has never run faster. These trains flat-out fly and deliver better airtime than the old ones. Unfortunately they also track a whole lot worse and the roughness becomes painful and jarring in the back half of the train. If only they took care of GASM as well as Six Flags St. Louis takes care of Screamin’ Eagle. Then this could be a great, classic wooden coaster. 5/10
Dahlonega Mine Train I nominate this and Hersheypark’s Trailblazer for worst Arrow mine train. Mine trains can be a lot of fun if terrain and scenery are built up around them, but Dahlonega has basically none. It’s just a starter coaster for kids and nothing more, which is fine, it’s just lackluster compared to a few of its counterparts. 4/10
Monster Mansion This dark boat ride has got to be the single most anomalous ride in the entire chain. Every SF park should have something just like it. Who even needs Justice League? May it live forever. 10+++
It just occurred to me I didn’t even think to ride the new for 2019 Pandemonium. Guess I’ll make do with Crazanity.
ALABAMA SPLASH ADVENTURE
Like my layover at Michigan’s Adventure last year, I can trace my first ever visit to the state of Alabama back to a Discovery Channel coaster special almost two decades ago. I first heard about Rampage from this episode of More Top 10 Coasters from 2001 (the video title states 2002, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong). I recorded a bunch of these Discovery coaster shows on VHS tapes that I watched on what I’m sure must have been at least a weekly basis back then. The top 10 episodes in those days used the Golden Ticket Awards to select the coasters and in that year, an otherwise little-known CCI at a park then known as VisionLand claimed the #4 wooden coaster spot. Skip to 12:11 for Rampage.
Like Shivering Timbers (also featured in this episode), Rampage became a bucket list coaster that was difficult to acquire due to its remote location. There just aren’t any other parks around it. Compounding the difficulty of acquiring the Rampage credit even further is the fact that VisionLand went through several ownership changes and the coaster itself went SBNO for several years starting in 2012, the year I started really making an effort to travel to more parks. The park eventually ended up in the hands of the Koch family under the name Alabama Splash Adventure in 2015 and Rampage has been in consistent operation ever since. Once I knew I would be going back to Atlanta, I checked the distance to Alabama Splash Adventure and decided the three hour drive was worth finally landing my elusive Rampage credit.
There isn’t much to this place. The modestly-sized water park is the main draw and the dry side is little more than ten or so kids rides and a funnel cake shop. Rampage is the only true thrill ride in the park. It looks gigantic, looming over the kiddie rides from a hillside in the back of the park. The place is exceptionally clean and the service from every employee I met inside the park was great.
The weather forecast was clear and I was amped to finally ride this thing, but we arrived at the gate to learn that all the “tall rides” were down due to lightning nearby. We weighed our options for a few minutes, then had our minds made up for us when they announced that Rampage was up and running again. We quickly paid our admission and made it over to the coaster as the first of two test runs was completed. After the second test, they opened the air gates and let us board the train, but as they started checking restraints, the ride ops announced that Rampage would once again be closing for lightning. I WAS SO CLOSE…
And this remained the state of things for the next 2.5 hours. We remained in the park as the lighting grew nearer and all rides shut down until further notice. I was getting pretty nervous. We only got to the park at 3:00 ahead of a 6:00 closing time and Alabama Adventure is not exactly a place I’d be able to easily incorporate into another trip in the near future, so it was looking grim.
With no lightning for a while, we walked back to Rampage at 5:20 to check things out. And wouldn’t you know it, an employee came strolling down the entrance ramp to tell us that Rampage would begin testing again and opening again was looking likely. We chatted with the ride ops for a few minutes as testing commenced. They absolutely could not believe that I had come all the way from California to ride this thing. This is a common sentiment I run into when traveling around rural America. Park employees usually have little understanding of the significance of the coasters they operate and they always love it when I tell them. The day actually ended perfectly and I rode Rampage nine times before leaving. And to the park’s credit, they kept it open past 6:00 as the coaster was still running when I left.
Rampage It was well worth the wait. I’m a huge CCI fanboy and Rampage delivers on all the stuff they’re known for: select spots of jolting ejector air, rows of floater cammelbacks, big swoop turnarounds with lateral g’s, unbanked turns within the structure packing even more laterals. This really is the prototypical CCI in many ways, the ride that best exemplifies the full catalogue of what Custom Coasters could do. That doesn’t mean it’s CCI’s best work though. Boulder Dash, Shivering Timbers, and Legend have greater highs even if they’re more polarizing. Ghostrider, Tremors, and Timber Terror are smoother and more consistent. Raven is friendlier and more fun. But Rampage is still great and it’s in better condition than Shivering Timbers was when I rode it last year. Timbers had several rough sections I had to brace for where Rampage’s only problem spot was the first drop pullout. Other sections showed plenty of fresh wood, so it’s clear the park is taking care of it over time. I think it’s far superior to The Boss and probably The Villain, but I rode that one so long ago I hardly even remember it. Rampage isn’t the most convenient credit to get, but I recommend seeking it out if you can make the drive and want to couple it with SFOG or Dollywood. 8.5/10
CCI Rankings: 1. Boulder Dash 2. Legend 3. Ghostrider 4. Timber Terror 5. Tremors 6. Shivering Timbers 7. Rampage 8. Raven 9. Boss 10. Villain
This may seem low for a coaster I’ve praised so highly, but that’s only because I have so much love for CCIs in general. For perspective, Rampage is above all but maybe 3 of the 14 GCI’s I’ve ridden.
On the cultural side of the trip, one of the attractions we visited was the excellent Atlanta History Center, a museum dedicated to Atlanta's part in the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. By far the coolest thing at the center was the "Cyclorama." It's an enormous painting over 300 feet wide and 30 feet tall situated in a 360 degree wrap-around exhibit hall depicting the Battle of Atlanta of 1864.
This battle was significant because it occurred at a time when Abraham Lincoln was almost certain to lose reelection and the opposition party intended to sign a peace agreement with the Confederacy that would have left the country divided. But Union General William T. Sherman's Northern forces were victorious and captured the city. This victory lent Lincoln a much needed win and all but secured his reelection, insuring the war would go on until the South was defeated.
The Cyclorama itself was painted by German artists in 1886 and has been altered and restored numerous times - first to suit revisionist history and depict a Confederate victory - and then back to the artists' historically accurate original intention much later in the 1950s.
You observe the Cyclorama from a raised platform for proper perspective. This photo also gives an idea of the size of it.
It is actually a mixture of a 2D painting in the background and 3D plaster figures in the foreground. It looks almost seamless in person and practically imperceptible in photos. Since photography of the 1860s could not capture scenes on this scale, art like the Cyclorama was the most immersive way 19th Century people could see Civil War battles.
The figure on horseback in the center is said to be General William Tecumseh Sherman who led the Northern forces to victory in Atlanta.
Gone With the Wind actor Clark Gable came to view the Cyclorama once. Supposedly he stated, "The only thing it's missing is me." So they added him in. Here he is!
Wow! I absolutely loved this report. You have such a great voice and format—I think I’m going to have to steal it in the future lol. That Discovery video brings back such great memories...I remember that Top 10 special almost word for word.
I’m itching to get back to SFOG. Mindbender is such an interesting coaster. From its unique terrain layout to its super cool trains and color scheme. Even if it’s not the “best” coaster in the world, that ride alone is worth the visit.
I would also love to ride Rampage someday. I’m a fellow CCI fan. Give me one of their big, sprawling, unpredictable coasters over a GCI any day.
Now to go back and take a look at your other reports!
Loved the report as well! We moved to the Atlanta area almost 4 years ago, and I finally got my Rampage rides too
It is super worth the trip, isn't it?? What's not to love about big, classic CCIs?! This report just reminded I still need to get out to Idaho, they're some of the last ones I have left - and you might have very well convinced me to make the repeat trip back to Alabama.
great report, and tho I've been going to Atlanta for over 25 years (Dragon*con), it wasn't until last year that I finally made it to SFOG. This year (Labor Day), I've already arranged with Friends that we are blowing off the Monday/Labor Day of Dragon*con and going to SFOG. Yeah, it will be crowded, but we're doing it!
so glad you had a good time, and I think the new paint on Scorcher looks amazing. Especially compared to what it looked like when I was first there last year.
3 hours isn't too far of a drive for Rampage, but not sure I'll be able to squeeze that in on my upcoming visit to Atlanta. noting for future visits tho.
DBru wrote:Wow! I absolutely loved this report. You have such a great voice and format—I think I’m going to have to steal it in the future lol. That Discovery video brings back such great memories...I remember that Top 10 special almost word for word.
Thanks! I figure if I can amuse myself writing it, it will be entertaining to read as well. And yes, those early 2000s Discovery shows were the best coaster footage you could find back then. They would be irrelevant now but I still kind of miss them.
bert425 wrote:so glad to see your thread roar back to life!
Thank you! I would have posted another Cedar Point trip, but almost the entire visit got rained out so I didn't have the pics to make a TR worth it. This might be my last until my trip to Japan in Oct/Nov.
Condor wrote:Like my layover at Michigan’s Adventure last year, I can trace my first ever visit to the state of Alabama back to a Discovery Channel coaster special almost two decades ago. I first heard about Rampage from this episode of More Top 10 Coasters from 2001 (the video title states 2002, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong).
It is slightly wrong. That special aired in May 2001. If I dig around hard enough I still have the VHS that I recorded it on somewhere
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