USA 06/22 – Mt. Olympus, Bay Beach + Six Flags Great America
We had a troubled history with Mt. Olympus before ever setting foot in the place, which is always a good sign. Back in 2020 I had committed to one of their offensively cheap deals to stay the night on resort, including entrance tickets for both check in and check out days, for the same price as any average hotel in the region.
When it came to cancelling this one, it appeared they were the most solid of any park we had dealings with. An instant reply, where others took weeks or months, to say ‘sure mate, come back any time in the next 5 years when you know what’s what.’
2021 rolled around and while I was playing with the plans once more, I reached out about reserving some tentative dates and was told via email that I would have to phone, even from outside the US. While on international minutes, the news was dropped that in order to book what was essentially the equivalent dates to the previous year, in a worse room this time, would be an additional $200.
“Why has the price trebled?”
Several minutes on hold.
“It is what it is, sir.”
“Well I’d rather cancel it then.”
“But that’ll cost you the $50 deposit.”
Better than 200.
They were throwing around a different cheap deal that year, park tickets for a measly 8 bucks, so we ended up with those instead. Fairer play the second time around, they honoured those in 2022 without quarrel.
Anyway, enough faff, I just wanna ride the wooden one.
Day 9 – Mt. Olympus
We opted for the opposite tactic to Holiday World here – start strong and go smaller, which meant big bad #1 Hades 360 was up first.
In the absence of Voyage rocking my world, the pressure had shifted to the OG Gravity boy. I knew it was the less popular option, mainly for the sake of brutality. A sign was teasing in the station – ‘Hades is running particularly rough right now’, but given my experience with these in the past, that could only ever work in my favour, right? Right?
Well the pre-lift section is insane. That violent, Helix-style drop straight out of the station is like nothing else that’s been done with wood before or since. It bounces around a very strange assortment of corners and surprisingly potent hills almost as if the devil doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s good to this point, though I could already feel it in my bones that this one was gonna get vicious.
But not necessarily in the right places. First drop gave a very similar vibe to Voyage – that’s nowhere near as good as it should be from the back row. Then the tunnel happens. What.
The level of assault on the senses is just surreal. 1000dB of wood, concrete and screams pierce the very soul while you can’t see a single thing and the ride is bucking you all over the place like the very best of Gravity moments. I was laughing uncontrollably with glee at this ridiculousness, thinking please keep this up.
Of course the tunnel can’t keep going forever, people would go deaf. With no way of knowing what’s just happened you emerge into sunlight and are immediately upside down. I love the timing of this element, but the way it rides does absolutely nothing for me, just like the other corkscrews on Gravitys. It’s official, Mine Blower has the best inversion.
The following corner is a bit cornery and then you plunge back into round two of tunnel madness by means of a surprisingly steep drop that’s basically better than the first. More insanity, less speed carries you back out into a double down hidden within the lift structure, another example of great placement. Then the woods happen.
This final third-ish feels like over half the ride and just doesn’t live up to everything that came before it. And sadly that makes this part simply not worth the brutality. It is a super rough ride, even for one of these and I can totally sympathise with those who might not be able to handle it. If Mine Blower broke you, this will ruin you. It bumbles around the trees, again without purpose, but also with much gentler track shaping. And by bumble and gentle I mean it’s actually rattling your brains out through your bowel, before ending on the biggest wet blanket of a brake run.
Visually I had no idea what else was going on in this park, but #2 Zeus is the next biggest, pictured here on the right. And possibly the bottom left, one of them anyway.
Back on the CCI wagon feeling right at home in these PTC trains by now, Zeus was surprisingly good. Solid air, fun laterals, rode well. It ain’t no Raven but it was perfectly enjoyable and got a well earned second lap out of us.
Unlike Adventureland where I had the hunch that something might be bad, I’ve always known Mt. Olympus as the place where everything is bad. Not true at this moment in time.
#3 Cyclops had a turn next, pictured here on the right. And possibly the bottom left. It’s both lesser in stature and ride experience, but was otherwise bearable, to the more seasoned veteran at least. I’m told they’ve changed something about it and that big drop that comes halfway through used to be a lot more… questionable.
The stories did come true here though, one particular woman who rode Cyclops came off more distressed than I’ve ever seen anyone from a rollercoaster. Properly broken down in fits of tears on the offload platform, while the staff and her companion didn’t even know what to do. I felt really sorry for the both of them, they didn’t need this in their lives, it’s only us who have to suffer for our art.
And suffer I did, on #4 Pegasus. How is the smallest woodie the absolute worst? A right proper internal organ shaker, I was very glad that it spends most of the layout unusually high up and at lower speeds. People didn’t know what to do with themselves after this one either, though the children are immune of course.
That marked park complete, as the bastards don’t let you on their only steel coaster Little Titans. We’ll get some E&F Miler goodness at some point, don’t you worry.
We went back for another battle with Hades to try and settle on a stronger opinion. This time we managed to cheese the queue by skipping at least half an hour of poor one train ops as they called for a two and we were the only pair for miles of stairs. In our haste we were back in the thick of it without even having time to contemplate.
The second lap did no favours to the ride. After that initial shock, I would have placed it up there amongst the hard hitters of the Gravity Group world. Not quite top 25 material, but up there.
As soon as I knew what was coming in the tunnel it simply became obnoxious and I just couldn’t look past that. The body was enjoying the being thrown around but the head just wanted the stupid noise to end. The manner in which the ride just gets weaker and weaker as the layout progresses stood out even more and we declared that enough was enough. It’s mid table now and makes me think of it as Cú Chulainn’s abusive older brother. From amazing, to good, to running out of steam.
And so Mt. Olympus took the same turn and we ran out of steam. As a place it’s literally just wooden coasters and a water park, so if you don’t get on with either of those then I can certainly see the lack of love it gets. I wouldn’t say I disliked it, it’s kinda silly and unique with all that timber they don’t seemingly know what to do with. Always worth trying.
On to the next one.
Bay Beach Amusement Park
Elvis would be rolling in his grave. His favourite coaster did not treat us well and once again I really wanted to like this one.
On the journey here I had formulated a new plan, seeing that Mt. Olympus had taken far less time than, perhaps not expected, but hoped. This meant we were in one of our famous hurries as we left the car park and headed towards the one and only ride that meant anything, straight past a ticket booth.
It’s a weirdly laid out park and nothing like I expected for beachy amusements. Rather than the fun, dense, vintage feel of somewhere like Arnolds Park, this was sparse tarmac, sewage soaked grass and strangely spread out attractions, like no one wanted to be near each other.
As seen here, the ticket booth outside the coaster was closed. This was the far end of the park and we had mainly wanted to scout out the queue and operations before committing to purchasing a particular number of laps for the ride. Several other booths were also closed back on route to the car park and we ended up all the way back where we started, which wasn’t an insignificant walk by any stretch of the imagination, especially in the heat and hurry. At last we had the privilege of handing over some cash only (we were witness to several arguments about this in a very short span of time). It is stupidly cheap ($1 a lap), but spirits weren’t swelling.
All the way back to #5 Zippin Pippin once more, we joined the queue for a couple of trains wait and handed some tickets over for lap 1 of 3. 3 felt like the magic number.
It’s cute, nothing special. Small scale wooden fun with some alright drops. Bit of a Jack Rabbit in that there’s one single moment on a triangular shaped hill at the end that far exceeds anything else going on in the layout. I don’t even think this one was intentional.
Our second lap took a little longer to queue for than the first, but we were still enjoying it and felt comfortable enough timewise to go for the third. As it pulled back into the station we noticed they had cleared the queue, other than a handful of folks still standing in the air gates, and were suddenly announcing that the ride would be closing for the wind. Not this again.
As we left the train I asked the attendant if we could ride again with what would now be a half empty train on it’s last lap, we had the tickets in hand for it and everything. She looked at an engineer standing on the exit ramp who instantly pulled a Six Flags New England on us.
“No, we need to clear the area now.”
They then proceeded to send the train half full, as we left without our third lap, laughing. Why?
The plan I had been formulating earlier involved having a little cheeky preview evening at Six Flags Great America. It was another of those parks that felt a little overwhelming on the sheer number of coasters to hit in a day front and we had no way of knowing how Six Flags that day would be.
On a less tactical level, we had just taken note of the fact that we’d ridden 5 woodies so far, an amount that would match any old school visit to Blackpool. With 5 more still available where we were headed to next, could we set some form of record?
On arrival at the car park we drove under American Eagle to find the parking booth abandoned with a sign saying ‘go in and enjoy your day’. Good.
On arrival at the entrance to the park we handed over our passes to be told ‘no mate, these are for St. Louis only, you won’t be coming in today’. Bad.
The initial advice had been to contact St. Louis as they were our ‘home park’, so we attempted that while standing in the queue for guest services. No one picked up the phone. Once it was our time at the window we explained the situation, that we had had 2020 gold passes for ‘all parks’ that were meant to be honoured for 2022 but they seemed to have not been generated properly. The issue appeared to have been that Six Flags have of course since scrapped the old pass system completely and renamed everything, so what we should have had now was called the ‘extreme pass’. St. Louis had sold us short and downgraded us to a pass with only their park.
Bottom line was Great America can’t help. The conversation was a little frustrating as they were acting like St. Louis being our ‘home park’ was a matter of significance and we should ‘just go back there’, when they already knew we were foreign tourists on a road trip. What, jump in the car now and drive for another 4 hours? We want to get in tonight and we don’t care what our ‘home park’ is, it can be this one, it can be anything.
Nothing doing, changing the pass in any way was out of their hands. The temporary resolution was to give us a free ticket for what was now the last hour on park and an alternative phone number for St. Louis, written on the back of another guest’s personal details. Well that was now tomorrow’s problem, let’s see what we can achieve in this time frame.
Six Flags Great America
#6 Goliath. The ride we were most likely to want multiple laps on and that would have perhaps suffered if it came down to coasters vs time tomorrow.
Early signs were good, we got a couple of laps in without leaving the seat because the station was empty. It’s a highly competent ride, but the streak continues for RMC in that their wood ain’t as good. In fact the streak ended that night, because that’s the set. Will they make another?
Short might be the best way to describe it, although maybe it actually felt a little more drawn out than Outlaw Run did. Lacking in significant moments might be the best way to describe it. The drop is amazing, the big turnaround thing is visually impressive but otherwise unremarkable. One strong airtime moment. Inversion and a good old stall. Big turnaround thing V2.0. End.
If anything it shows just how stupidly good RMC are though. Goliath lacks the longevity, the power and the insanity that makes many of their other rides the best of the best. And yet, as their weakest coaster I’d experienced yet, it’s still amongst the greatest rides in existence just for the sake of 3 elements at best.
Our woodie record ended at seven for the day, as we rode the #7 Little Dipper (better than the Boss) and realised it was too far to walk back to American Eagle, plus we hadn’t even laid eyes on Viper yet.
With about 15 minutes to go we just dashed for the nearest bad ride with bad capacity to save having to suffer it the next day and that happened to be another Intamin Impulse. This was the star attraction according to all the maps (though depicted as having Vekoma SLC track) due to having been given a brand new name and lick of paint – #8 Flash: Vertical Velocity. Foolishly we sat near the front to see what the ‘Twist’ side of the ride was like. Not good. Side to side movement in those clunky trains is a recipe for a collision. I’m officially team ‘Spike’ all the way and I assume that means good riddance to Wicked Twister.
With about 5 minutes to go we just dashed for the nearest bad ride with bad capacity to save having to suffer it the next day and that happened to be another S&S Free Spin, #9 Joker. I dread repeating these because the experience is so unpredictable and yet never lives up to my old friend Arashi. I either want a full, unrelenting spin in the same direction for the entire lap, or I want no spin at all. Six Flags ones tend to faff around in between the two and that generates the horrible parts – lurching changes of direction and being pinned upside down for too long. This was no exception.
Sadly it wasn’t a ride suited to being sunglasses on, not caring and upon return to the loose item storage it appeared that someone had taken said sunglasses by mistake. The attendant asked me what was up and I repeated that sentiment, though strangely his solution was to give me a lost and found card and state that they’d walk the ride area at the end of the day.
They’re not in the ride area, they’ve probably been taken.
Oh wait, no, they’re just smashed on the floor, thanks anyway.
And with that the rides were now closed. We were 4 creds closer to safely completing the park in a timely fashion, assuming we could even get in the next day. Most importantly though, our thirst for Goliath had been satiated.