USA 04/19 – Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure
My first Six Flags experience and immediately things were not quite what I was expecting. I had assumed with this being one of the chain’s most invested in and visited parks that it would at very least be presentable but no. It turns out the mighty El Toro and Kingda Ka are located in a park that at times resembles a scrapyard.
All we could do was laugh out loud as we pulled into the car park to see several fading coasters crudely plonked right on the tarmac, seperated from us with rusty barbwire fences.
The entrance plaza was a complete shambles too, people everywhere, in all sorts of queues, none of them moving, not the best of starts this.
Once we finally got in we ran to El Toro, observing yet more decay on route.
Let me start by saying I absolutely love Intamin prefabs and love what the prefabricated style allows Intamin to do with their wooden coasters. Of course by this I’m referring to their ability to feature insanely strong moments of ejector air.
T Express, another Intamin prefab, was my favourite wooden coaster before coming face to face with the bull, but there’s no doubt El Toro is everthing T Express is and then some and some more.
Both coasters feature insanely violent first drops that eject you in a terrifying manner, both coasters feature a first air time hill that ejects you into orbit and pins you to the restraint for what feels like a lifetime. It’s from here on out though that the monsters go in separate directions. T Express scales thing back a bit, while the bull is only just getting started.
“You really liked that first air time hill didn’t you? How about another but this time it’s even more forceful?” That’s what the bull asks you and before you have time to answer once again you are violently thrown into your restraint.
Slight time to catch your breath during the turnaround and a nice pop of air over a speed hill up next. Have things finally calmed down?
Nope, next up is the single strongest moment of ejector on El Toro, on the coaster’s famous Rolling Thunder hill. Hands down the strongest ejector air on a wooden coaster and if wasn’t for Skyrush probably the strongest ejector on Earth.
Following this brutality you enter what’s known as the bucking bronco, several low to the ground high speed turns that provide crazy laterals and a real out of control feeling. This is a perfect ending to El Toro for 2 reasons. Firstly it’s something very different from what came before but with the same level of intensity. Secondly during the bucking bronco El Toro rides much more like a genuine woodie compared to the ultra smoothness prefabs are known for. Whether intentional or not everything suddenly getting out of control and a little less smooth is in my opinon a really fun way to end the coaster.
I knew after just one lap that El Toro was my new favourite wooden coaster but I’d only come to love and respect it more with each and every lap after.
As the queue was short and this was an Intamin I convinced Heartline to let us do 2 laps back to back to start the day, which was a struggle on legs already wounded by Skyrush.
Was I honestly excited to experience the tallest coaster in the World? No. Having ridden and been bored by 3 smaller clones, I knew that Ka was going to be a one and done and offer very little to me. In truth though it offered even less.
Kingda Ka, at least when we visited, had absolutely no atmosphere and no hype at all around it. We strolled through an empty queue playing techno music, walked straight into a plain looking station, boarded the tallest coaster in the World without as much as one announcement letting us know that and then we were off. A coaster like this should be all about the spectacle but it just felt sad and unloved.
I was never going to love Ka but I’d have loved to have seen staff bigging up the stats and getting people hyped up, guests freaking out, just anything, but no, we’ll all board in silence and then have casual conversations while waiting for the launch, awesome…
Superman – Ultimate Flight
My 4th B&M Flyer and the 2nd worst, the coaster might as well have ended after the always fantastic pretzel loop.
Superman was in a right state too, the queue decorations and track were faded away to almost nothing and the station exit path takes you into the car park surrounded by the previously mentioned rusting barbwire…
Heartline, a B&M Stand Up veteran, instructed me on how to best survive one of these awful contraptions, to his credit I did walk away mostly intact but it was a miserable time all around. Togo made stand ups that were really enjoyable, B&M and Intamin created torture devices, who let that happen?
The best part of the whole experience was an incident that occured in the station. We got to the air gates with plenty of empty seats left on the ride, the ride host shouts at the operator, “open the gates man we’ve got some riders!”, the operator with fear in his voice then responded, “I can’t open the gates!”. Probably not funny to you, never gets old to me.
Hilarious statements continued over lunch as we witnessed a man in disbelief loudly proclaiming, “I don’t like rides!” to his friends while sitting on a bench outside the World’s best wooden roller coaster…
Runaway Mine Train
Next up was the park’s Arrow Mine Train, which I managed to completely forget the second we hit the end brakes and wasps happened. What I’ll never forget though was Heartline’s disgust at the coaster’s exit path, which was completely blocked by many large people all glaring at us as we attempted to get past.
It’s been a couple of days, how about another boring, slightly rough B&M floorless? Sure, but do you have one that’s faded and neglected? This is Six Flags Great Adventure sir, of course we do! Nice…
Even if the coaster itself was awful, which it isn’t, I’d have still walked away with a huge smile on my face because it’s Skull freaking Mountain. I’m officially a member of the cult now.
Nitro was the best B&M Hyper of the trip in my opinion, it wasn’t anything too special but I did find myself enjoying it.
Batman The Ride
My 3rd Batman clone, way better than Diavlo, no where near as good as la Fuga. In keeping with the aesthetics of the park the waiting block before the station was covered in litter and sick…
I honestly quite enjoyed Dark Knight, sure it’s just a Wild Mouse in the dark but it’s at least something a little different. Also the theming, while not great was far better than I was expecting from what I’d seen of Six Flags up to that point.
My first S&S Free Spin outside of Arashi and I was honestly terrified that Joker was going to ride the same, it didn’t. Infact it was pretty boring and I’m not sure how to feel about that. On 1 hand Arashi is one of the scariest and most intense coasters on Earth and I’m never fully ready to experience it but on the other hand it’s sad to see such a watered down coaster when you know what they can be capable of.
Road Runner Railway
The park’s Zierer kiddy cred wasn’t named or labeled on the park map so we assumed it was either closed or for kids only, thankfully though and after some strange looks we were actually able to tick it off.
Harley Quinn Crazy Train
And with the park’s Tivoli knocked off we were finally done and able to spend the little time we had left in the park with the bull.
For reasons unknown time just slipped away like never before at Great Adventure. I found myself asking was it really worth knocking off all the filler for the count over getting more re-rides on El Toro.
Thankfully though I never had to answer that question and we found ourselves back in the lair of the beast with a little under an hour till park close.
Sadly though El Toro was now running 1 train, which meant we only able to get 2 more laps, a total of 4 today, which I’m more than happy with, it’s just a shame after how hard we pushed that it was operations that kept us from more time with the bull.
Our 3rd lap was give or take the same as our morning rides but it was our 4th lap that was truly special. It was properly dark now, there was a chill in the air and as we ascended the lift I was shaking with excitement, full of emotion. El Toro made my select list of coasters that hit me on an emotional level.
Six Flags Great Adventure, if not for the bull would have been a massive disappointment, a park full of fading clones, a neglected and underwhelming icon coaster, an awful stand up coaster and a watered down Free Spin all presented with as little effort as possible.
Thanks for reading, click here for the next part of my report, where we’re asked to clear the area at Six Flags New England.