Yeah I agree it’s a shame to hear about the woodies. I was only here about a month ago and I thought all three were running great. So I have to completely disagree with you about the Voyage. I personally loved the Voyage so much that it’s my new number one favorite wooden coaster ahead of the Beast and El Toro. I don’t think it’s needs the RMC threatmeant either nor should it ever. Same with the other two woodies as well. Now an ground up RMC woody would be amazing. With that said st least we both loved Thunderbird. Also I hated that helix at the end of the Legend as well. The Raven was my second favorite of the three because of that.
I don't know if RMC can do regular steel wheels, but rubberized -- like El Toro -- may be needed to make a large coaster like that not get rough fast. But then you have to radically reprofile the entire ride. El Toro valleys sometimes as it is, and is down to small coaster elements by the end while still being a shorter coaster. RMC conversions raise the lift and still require sharp little bunnies by the end to keep up the pacing. E.g. Twisted Timbers hits the final brakes slower than Hurler did in its worst days. If anyone's rating Voyage above Toro it's because it's still a traditional wood coaster with steel wheels. Fans talk about how it almost magically maintains momentum. Rubber and Metal Conversion is not a real option.
Continuing along my 2019 Adventures, the next trip was a visit up north to see family in New York. As part of this trip, I also visited two parks, the first of which is a park I make a point to visit at least once a year. The park I visited was:
Six Flags New England
People tend to say that Texas, Six Flags' home market, is the best place to go for Six Flags parks. I wholeheartedly agree with this, but if there's a runner-up region for good Six Flagsing, it'd have to be the Northeast trio of Great Adventure, New England, and Great Escape.
New England in particular has always been a favorite of mine. If I had to name a "favorite Six Flags", I'd logically say Fiesta Texas, but New England is a close second. It's a pretty small park but they really fit a lot into their space. The park is located right alongside the Connecticut River so it has some natural scenery in addition to some nice older buildings from its pre-Six Flags days when it was called Riverside Park. Their admission-included water park, Hurricane Harbor, is actually one of the nicer Six Flags water parks despite not being a separate ticket. Oh, and this park also has the kick-ass one-two punch of Superman and Wicked Cyclone.
The park has also always had pretty consistent operations. However, I'm very disappointed to report that that couldn't be farther from the truth on this visit. On this visit, not only were operations the worst I've ever seen here, but honestly the worst in the chain right now. This wasn't isolated to one area, this was park-wide, with the exception of an otherwise consistent Superman crew. Rather than typing it out all over again, I'm just going to quote myself from the SFNE thread.
XVicesAndVirtues wrote:Visited the park today (Sunday the 15th), came away believing that this is the worst park in the chain right now in terms of operations, which is a real shame because up until now, I've never really had a bad experience here ever, and I actually really love this park. The only exception was Superman, which was the only place where there seemed to be any sense of urgency or employee training.
Wicked Cyclone was running sluggish in the orange train in the morning, but I got some pretty great rides later in the day, especially in the blue train. This is definitely one of the better steel RMCs in my opinion. The Sunday evening crew, however, should all be either terminated or re-trained. They were more focused on going up to the operator's booth and standing around to have personal conversations than with getting the trains dispatched. Restraint checkers on the left side of the platform were unnecessarily crossing over the train to go joke around with the employees on the other side, including the booth operator. At one point, someone who was either just friends with some of them or was an off-duty employee out of uniform went through the exit, crossed the train, and was chatting with them all in the operator's booth.
Same with Batman. The train would be in the brake run for so long that you'd think they went down for maintenance. I walked from the teacups/in front of Joker to the entrance without seeing a train go, made it all the way behind the coaster before they finally dispatched. Again, same thing. Personal conversations/general joking around happening between the staff and not much working going on. One of the girls who was a restraint checker was also literally jumping off her feet and putting her full body weight against every restraint she checked, which every guest was complaining hurt.
I could go on and on with more examples but I won't. Luckily, this is simply a matter of employee training, accountability, and oversight. I really hope that they can get their act together soon and correct this, because they're better than this and from my previous experiences, they've always been better than this.
Anyway, I hate to post a negative report because this is a hobby that we all love and enjoy! So now, onto the photos
Heading in, I knew this was going to be a busy day, as the parking lot was full all the way back to their farthest-back overflow lots.
One other issue I had, and this wasn't really a SFNE issue but a chain-wide problem right now, is that every time I try and enter any Six Flags park, my membership comes up as "wrong park", every single time.
I'm not sure if any of you have had this issue, but apparently it's such a widespread problem that now the parks are keeping stacks of "wrong park comp tickets" on hand instead of directing guests to GR to get one every time, which is what I've had to do up until now.
But...wouldn't it be much easier to just identify which guests' memberships are causing this error and correct it? Oh, Six Flags.
Oh, wow! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this pile of sh*t running. This is my first visit in 4 or 5 years in which I've seen it going.
In case any of you were wondering, Goliath (formerly Deja Vu at Six Flags Magic Mountain) makes Top Thrill Dragster look very reliable.
The "main street" (or whatever its called) area of SFNE is very pretty and very New England, leading up to an iconic S&S triple-tower complex proudly wearing Six Flags' logo
More nice buildings, this time showcasing the remnants of SFNE's old gondola ride. To this day I still think it's a shame that it was removed.
It was still running, but I decided back in 2014 or 2015 that I'd had my last ride on it ever. I want to say I rode in the back or towards the back at that time, and it was totally brutal.
Six Flags New England trying some Busch Gardens Williamsburg up in here
My friend I was with on this visit made me do this thing once. It truly was 400 feet of a$$-clenching terror.
Oh, don't tell me...
Luckily, by the time I located and placed my belongings in the newly-inconvenient fluffy bunny, they were back up and running.
Before, there was a set of these fairly close to the ride entrance. Now, you have to walk back down the hill to where they're shared with Blizzard River.
Back up and running!
Wicked Cyclone was running a little bit sluggish at the beginning of the day. However, by the evening, it was running mostly at it's normal pace. One thing I really love about Wicked Cyclone is how true to it's original layout it is. You pretty much follow the old Cyclone's path to a T, just with a lot less pain and a lot more excitement and airtime.
This is one of my favorite spots on the ride. To those who are unfamiliar with either WC or the original Cyclone; in it's original form, Cyclone would "sway" back and forth when the train traversed this hill, which was both terrifying and entertaining to watch from the queue. I absolutely love how RMC turned the spot into a fake-out inversion, as it essentially has the train do the "sway" the same way it used to.
This was also one of the most necessary RMC conversions, right up there with Mean Streak in my opinion. The original Cyclone was a huge pile of sh*t.
And with that, it was time to head to the DC section of the park to ride this absolute masterpiece.
Remember that time when Six Flags bought a custom Intamin Megacoaster and built an entire section of a park with it as the centerpiece?
Superman is 208 feet tall but it seems way bigger than that. The unique park layout has most of the park on a hill with the DC area downhill next to the river with Superman along the edge. Everything else around it is small, so the perspective of it all makes Superman seem more like 300 feet tall when you're standing next to it
With all that said, let's talk about the ride...which at this time, I was about to get 5 rides on within about an hour, as everyone was in the water park.
The name...Superman the Ride. Ehh, Superman Ride of Steel was a much better name, but they can call it whatever they want and it'll still be great.
Just going up the lift on this coaster is awesome. They put the catwalk on the right hand side so your left side is exposed to the Connecticut River.
The first drop...at 75 degrees isn't all that steep by today's standards, but a 9-car train gives a unique hang in the front and great pull and air in the back, then you're straight into an underground tunnel.
The second hill treats you to some pretty strong, sustained floater air, especially in the front. I'm happy to be able to say this, as apparently a wheel change is responsible for an injection of life back into this coaster.
While I'm still not a fan of these trains and I really wish they'd order a new set of the originals again like Darien Lake did, Superman is currently giving it's best rides in years.
The third hill gives you some mild ejector air, while this fourth hill seen here launches you directly into ejector air heaven
One last look at the ejectorgasm.
The verdict: Superman is still one of the best steel coasters anywhere. Train/restraint issues aside, this ride is seriously amazing and I always look forward to riding it. In my opinion, this is probably the "best coaster layout" ever drawn-up. It really has it all. Setting, midway interaction, 2 underground tunnels, strong airtime, and great positive lateral G force in the helices. There are newer, stronger, faster, and more intense coasters today. But Superman is so re-rideable and the fact that it can still hang with the best when it's in it's 20th season is a true testament to Intamin's brilliance.
Which begs the question: when you have a reliable, thrilling Intamin Mega with consistent uptime, which guests run around to re-ride and is generally loved and considered one of the best...why are parks still building B&M hypercoasters en masse? We're about to get Candymonium, half the Cedar Fair chain has a B&M hyper, Six Flags even went on it's own B&M hyper spree...yet, it's exceedingly rare to see an Intamin mega/hyper get built. Don't get me wrong, B&M hypers are fun, but not a single one of them can touch a ride like Superman. I guess the other side of the coin is that these rides are special, a reminder that we have a pulse.
Moving along down to the south end of the park, we have Joker, which is now a pretty ubiquitous ride among Six Flags parks.
We also have Batman the Dark Knight down at this end as well
Complete with a hangtime-filled vertical loop, Batman has a snappy, compact layout and makes it one of the more underrated B&M floorless coasters
I waited a minute or so wanting to grab a photo here before stowing my phone away, but the glacial, zero-f*cks-given attitude of Batman's crew meant it'd be a while before another train was to be dispatched.
Mind Eraser is now excessively green. And apparently these people thought I was taking their photo
Dinner was to be had at the understaffed JB's, but the food quality and portions here were still good.
In Massachusetts, every home and business is required BY LAW to have a shrine honoring Tom Brady.
I can respect the fact that Six Flags wears the fact that they're trash with pride.
Crackaxle Canyon is a quiet, well-themed area of Six Flags New England. It's exceedingly dead here ever since the park closed off the path from the entrance to this area a few years ago, but Houdini is still going strong.
I used to love these 10 years ago. But now if I rode one I think I'd be sick for days.
Six Flags New England also seems to seems to be the park of twos. Two Boomerangs, two frisbees, two spinny Wipeout-style rides. Now if only they could tear out the Boomerangs and become the park of two RMCs, that'd be great.
It was getting towards the end of the day and my friend left a little early, so I decided to close out the night with some rides on Wicked Cyclone, which was running pretty strong at this point.
So far this season, I've done Twisted Timbers and Storm Chaser. While both of these are more powerful rides than Wicked Cyclone, the more interesting layout, headchoppers, and general awesomeness of Wicked Cyclone makes me prefer it over the other two.
And that's all from SFNE. Still a great park that I love to visit, just please, please fix the operations problems.
Whew, it's been a busy summer/fall for me thus far. I didn't even realize I hadn't posted an update since the end of July and now it's the end of October. Anyways...
The second and final park of this trip up to the Northeast was,
Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom Hurricane Harbor
Or whatever we're calling it nowadays. One of few Six Flags parks that (maybe mercifully?) has never been officially "flagged" with the Six Flags name...although sometimes in publications they do include the Six Flags name...and the hotel is called Six Flags Great Escape Lodge...and the entirety of the property is called Six Flags Great Escape Resort.
Annntyways...this serene park in upstate New York is the one I used to call my home park and I even worked in the finance department here for a stint in my late teens. Having not visited since 2017, I was looking forward to coming back. Now, pictures.
Hey, if the lack of "Six Flags" in the name is what's keeping these nice planters at the entrance instead of steel concert barricades, I'm cool with it.
It's either completely genius or totally idiotic that Six Flags has these "VIP DIAMOND PLATINUM ALL ACCESS ELITE PLUS" entrances at the front of each park. Idiotic because it's so hilariously stupid, but genius because b*tches like to feel special and "walking through the VIP entrance past the plebians" is a mood.
Not that you'll have much of a wait getting into this park's entrance even on the busiest of days.
"Hey Disneyland, you seen this?"
Instead of a main midway, Great Escape has a collection of cute shops leading up to this area in front of their carousel, with the skyride overhead. Wholesome af.
It's a hike up a hill to the park's Ghost Town area, featuring one of the few old haunts left from Opryland.
This is Canyon Blaster, formerly Rock'n' Roller Coaster from Opryland. It had to be modified a bit for Great Escape but is still mostly it's same old self. That is, an old Arrow mine train that doesn't do much at all
In true Great Escape fashion, though, they do give you some nice things to look at while queueing and on the ride.
Believe it or not, this was actually Great Escape's last "big" roller coaster put in, way back in 2003. I was in middle school in 2003.
The coaster's single train beginning it's descent into the helix that's the fastest part of the ride
Speaking of older things...the Nightmare building still stands as a large, expensive piece of theming for the log flume.
From 1999 to 2006, there was a Schwarzkopf Jet Star in this building, which was removed and scrapped in the off season between 2008 and 2009.
Nightmare was at Beech Bend, Kentucky Kingdom, and Six Flags Darien Lake before spending it's twilight years here. It only ran 2-3 cars at a time and double-sitting wasn't permitted, so a queue of 30-40 people would consistently take an hour or more.
The Desperado Plunge log flume sure was popular on this high-80s day in upstate New York. Rest assured, however, that even a full queue for this ride clears in about 15-20 minutes.
So the new for 2020 Vomatron ride, which I'm perfectly okay with never riding, will go immediately to the right of where this photo ends.
Although tbh I'd be perfectly okay with Wells Fargo getting torn down too.
From what I've heard, the Condor will live to see yet another season.
And you know the Dippin Dots guy is never wrong.
The mascot on the Steamin' Demon is...a wide-faced, buck-tooth rat thing?
Fun fact about Steamin' Demon; the coaster originated down in New Orleans at a now-defunct park called Ponchartrain Beach. The previous owner of Great Escape, Charlie Wood, bought it when the park closed in 1983 and it opened at Great Escape in 1984.
Here we have a typical Great Escape queue...
The first drop and loop on these older Arrow loopers are always great! Good airtime in the back, good positive g forces through the loop...
...sensing your pleasure from the first bit, Arrow then goes into full S&M mode
If Six Flags put in a swear jar on their Arrow coasters, they wouldn't have to buy into the leases for other parks just to expand their membership/dining plan purchases in order to pad their metrics and please their shareholders. Boom.
Speaking of pain, here we have a Boomerang.
Actually, Great Escape's Boomerang, called Flashback now for some reason, is pretty smooth.
This park is beautiful.
Arguably the best-themed area of Great Escape is their Fest Area, which is a Bavarian-themed area with nice shops and buildings, a Fest Haus food hall, and of course, Alpine Bobsled
...well, that's a bit embarrassing now, isn't it?
New! Now Open! Machismo Nachismo!
...well, that's a bit embarrassing now, isn't it?
Mucho good! Mucho closed!
Well, maybe the park is one step closer to being flagged by re-naming their water park Hurricane Harbor
Part of the Hurricane Harbor re-theme of Splashwater Kingdom was re-theming the Black Cobra from it's "Pollen-Colored Cobra" state it's been in for the last 15 years to...Orange and Blue Cobra. Cool.
The rest of what we used to refer to as "Lower Splashwater" (the waterpark is split between the top and bottom of a massive hill) appears to have gotten some paint and new umbrellas.
The Comet is one seriously underrated woodie. It was designed by Herbert Schmeck, who brought us greats such as Phoenix at Knoebel's and the also-named Comet at Hersheypark.
This coaster is actually a whole lot like Phoenix, even in layout, but is a little bit larger and longer. When maintained well, I actually prefer Comet over Phoenix. However, the past several seasons have been kind of odd for this ride. For a few years, it ran pretty rough, then some track work got done, and the past 2-3 years it's seemed a little slow. I mostly ride it in the back for the strong airtime, but I suspect that a few trims have either been newly installed or dialed up a bit. Areas that have always had strong airtime, including the double-down, felt a lot weaker on this visit.
That aside, it's still one of the very best classic woodies out there and you should hit up Great Escape and ride it!
Walking back from the Comet, the next thing I saw made me wonder whether or not Herbert Schmeck had just knocked a few screws loose in my mind from the afterlife.
This couldn't be real. Surely, some kids knocked the sign down and pushed open the gate...
Not only was it open, but I had not seen the Great Britain sled out on the track in at least 15 years. Like whaaaaat
Now, rest assured, one thing Great Escape doesn't...escape, is Six Flags' oh-so-stellar operations. Running one station platform (they have two), plus the back row of each sled roped off, they still managed to take quite a while between dispatches and did the seat belt check before allowing riders to lower their lap bars like it was a f*cking RMC. :lmao:
I'm happy to report that some of the easier-to-reach sections even got a little bit of fresh paint, including what appeared to be almost the entirety of the inside of the trough. You can see here in this photo which sections got fresh paint and which didn't.
Which begs the question...Six Flags, would it really kill you to go over the transfer track area with a white sprayer FFS?
While a little rough and tumble, I actually really enjoy these rides and they're becoming extremely rare. I believe Alpine Bobsled and La Vibora are the only two left hanging on in the world, now that Bob at Efteling has met it's demise. This one and La Vibora are both the "Sarajevo Bobsled" layout, and theres a moment where the train seems to "hop" off the track in one spot that's crazy fun.
Luckily, Alpine Bobsled is likely to stay with us, for at least the time being. I know that several years ago, a rumor ran rampant about the coaster's demise. Since this is old enough and now-irrelevant information to share; back several years ago, the park and corporate had been looking at plans for this site, which included removing Alpine Bobsled and replacing it with one of a few different proposals that had been made. Plans got put off for a few seasons before they were ultimately shelved. Unfortunately, Great Escape is kind of a back-burner park for the company in terms of capital, they just don't do the volume necessary to justify a huge expense, and most of the money made at this park comes from the waterpark.
What a difference 2 hours makes.
I'm pretty averse to water rides, but I'll ride this flume, knowing it's typically just a few drops or small splash. Also, old Arrow flumes are awesome.
In the exit area of Desperado Plunge, just after the photo sales area, you'll see some frames from the park's history, including this photo of Steamin' Demon in it's inaugural year
An old frame of the park entrance, showing off the Huss Rainbow that once sat where the Sasquatch S&S towers now are
And a frame of their old Huss Skylab, similar to a Huss Enterprise, which once sat where the Skycoaster is now. I may be wrong, but I think the difference between an Enterprise and Skylab was that Enterprises have single gondolas while Skylab models have double.
...and just like that, I feel old.
One last look at the front area of the park on the way out. Thanks for reading what turned out to be a pretty long Photo TR! Hopefully I'll get the next report out sooner than later.
Great report! In my visit earlier this year, I found the blue train on Comet was running way faster. That being said, it wasn't running quite as well as I remembered even last year but it was still smooth.
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