4.13.2014

Great Adventure Opening Day: April 12th, 2014

 
 Opening day and the people are here

Well after a very long and painful off-season opening day is finally here. After a few early morning snarls involving picking folks up and somehow getting a bit lost, we arrived at Six Flags Great Adventure around 11:30 on Saturday, April 12th to a much more crowded parking lot than expected. It was an absolutely perfect day weather wise so it wasn't too much of a surprise. Joining me was my fiance Dawn - a definite coaster fan that has not been to the park since the late 90s, along with two friends named Joey - one a lifelong friend who is a borderline enthusiast and visits frequently, and another who is soon moving across the country in a month so this was kind of a bittersweet send off for him, in a way. We dubbed our crew "3 Joey's and a Dawn". 

 Opening Day crew "3 Joeys and a Dawn"

Once we got into through security and the main gate my seasoned SFGAdv buddy spotted Houdini's Great Escape and asked if any of us had ever tried it. We hadn't, and he literally dragged us into the queue. None of us knew what to expect and he wouldn't tell us. It's half dark walk through, half dark ride. Pretty cool experience but the type of ride you don't tell someone about before they have ridden it, so I'll leave it at that. ;) Now let's do some coasters.

Since my fiance hasn't done many of the big dogs here, we knew we had to ease her in. We decided to first check out the season pass processing line (very long! we'll come back later...) and head for Runaway Mine Train. We figured it's the oldest coaster in the park, a real classic, and was a great (albeit rough) warm up before we dove in head first. We walked on, and sat close to the front. Noticed this here first and again on a few other coasters, but was a little weird/unnerving seeing so many operators checking their manuals but reminded myself its opening day & better safe than sorry I suppose. One of my riding buddies lost his hat to the RMT. Doh! (First rule of coaster riding: no hats!!)


Runaway Mine Train

Even though my fiance is a bigger fan of woodies, she was having cold feet about El Toro once she was standing next to it, so we goaded her into going on Bizarro since it was close by and not extreme in terms of height and speed. The line reached halfway down the steps and was very crowded in the station but we didn’t wait long, maybe 15 minutes tops. Very slow dispatches on this gave me worries of what we might experience elsewhere. Once we got on, it rode great, and it reminded me why it’s one of my favorites in the park, and my fiance LOVED it. The only effect I noticed working were the fireballs, and maybe its just me but they seemed enormous. The zero-G roll on this ride is my favorite element. One of my favorite sensations all day. Okay, now we're really warmed up. Time for the bull? 


On our way to Bizarro

It was probably close to 1pm, and was a 30 minute wait for El Toro. We hadn't seen it run very often and at one point after Runaway Mine Train we stood watching Toro and were actually worried it wasn't running at all. We made our way over and once in line trains were dispatching very infrequently. Once we got into the station it became apparent they were having issues with the restraint sensors. Watched quite a few people get off (2nd thoughts?) after issues with their restraints. Finally, we were seated and on the move and it was fantastic. This thing is an airtime machine and probably the closest I'll ever get to riding an actual bull.

El Toro's massive lift, first drop & first airtime hill
 
I had my mind set on Nitro from the moment we pulled up to the park so I suggested we jump on the Skyway (cable cars) for a quick shortcut across the park. Such a perfect day. Great views from up there, including the still ridiculously long line for pass processing, you can see it in the bottom right hand corner of this picture. 

 View from the Skyway

Upon touching down we discovered the line for Nitro was about 20 minutes. On this and Bizarro (and later Skull Mountain) the stations got pretty crowded/somewhat chaotic, I wished they would have had someone at the top of the steps or something to only allow a certain amount of folks in to avoid this. Not a huge deal though. Operations on Nitro are a well oiled machine, even on opening day. The ride was amazing as always. It was the fiances first hyper coaster and she felt the restraint was not enough for the rides' intensity (this is my favorite part of the experience, we agreed to disagree). I sat 2nd row far left and on that second hill/first turn thought I was being throw off the side for a second there. Amazing!

Nitro's crazy tall lift hill. 

We all agreed to skip Batman as it was the only coaster that all of us had done before and we all agreed it was a little rough and not worth a wait if there was one. We popped out to the parking lot for a quick bite of Wawa hoagies we had packed in the car. After re-entering, we wandered over to check out the pass processing line again (still ain't waiting in that line!) and made a bee-line for El Toro. The line was now twice as long as our first ride so we headed for the Boardwalk area as only one of us (not me) had done Superman: Ultimate Flight or Green Lantern before and I wanted to try both. 


 Superman and Green Lantern spotted from the Skyway

We spotted almost no one in line for Green Lantern and went for it. I learned I am not a fan of stand-up coasters. The thing is smooth as it should be for a B&M coaster, it has a really nice drop and has some amazing forces but my fiance summed it up mid ride as she screamed "I'm glad I don't have balls!". You see, while you are standing, you are forced to "sit" on a tiny bicycle seat so when those intense positive G-forces hit during inversions, there's only one place to take the brunt of that force. Not a pleasant feeling. From the lift we were able to see what looked like a decent sized line for Superman so we agreed to skip it. I still have not done a flying coaster. This is a reason to come back. 


We headed back to Nitro for round two and the fiance sat this one out. Too intense for her. The other three of us did the back row and it was, as expected, even better than the first ride earlier in the day. It was while we were about to board when my eyes spotted a weave on the break run catwalk! Too funny. So what next? We hit Skull Mountain since it is in the area. 



There was no line unless you count the crush of people in the station once got through the long and winding queue. It was really hot in the station. We waited maybe 10 minutes total and the dispatches were, like Nitro, extremely fast with efficient operators. This is a ridiculous "junior" coaster in the pitch dark but super fun classic, I don’t care what anybody says. Its tiny but not being able to see anything makes it very intense. 

  El Toro by sunset

It was getting later and we knew we only had another hour or two before closing, so we hopped the Skyway once again in an effort to get a second spin on El Toro. The line was almost nothing at this point and we got on very quickly, maybe a 10 minute wait, tops. At some point in the day we had overheard chatter about someone getting hit in the face by a rogue cell phone from a rider on El Toro. While waiting for this ride we did hear a very aggressive announcement regarding being ejected by the park for a year if you have loose articles on train, so guessing that was due to the guy getting hit by the cell phone? 

In addition, as we were about to board, the dispatcher announced that the train before us was the “lucky train” of the day and would get to go around twice! RATS! If only we’d gotten there a minute earlier. I think it's super cool that they do this, gutted it wasn’t us. Lucky bastards! This time we rode closer to the back of the train and holy shit it’s like an entirely different coaster. The entire twisty end section felt incredibly faster.This thing is so smooth though, it amazes me that this is a wooden coaster. I think after Saturday that it may have crept into my top spot. If we had more time I would have waited again for the very very back. Another reason to come back! 

El Toro POV courtesy of ThemeParkReview 

By now it was just starting to get dark and since we were in the area we figured we would end the day with one more spin on Bizarro as the sun set. We had the same wait as earlier the in the day - the line was down the steps, but we got on the ride within 10 minutes. I love this coaster. Its so smooth and the zero-G roll is fantastic. The fire and mist effects make this a great night ride. I was tempted to jump back in line as by now it was practically a walk-on. But the group was collectively getting weary after a pretty full, non-stop day. 


Joey C goofing off in "Attitudes"

We headed out toward the car and I checked the pass processing one last time. Lucky for me the line was really short compared to earlier so I decided to bite the bullet and get in. It was only a 15 minute wait to get all sorted and they sent me on my way. Overall this was a PERFECT start to the season, I got to ride my three faves twice each, and get my Green Lantern credit in and a few other fun things, and got my pass sorted. I think everything we rode had every train running, and it never felt like the park was obnoxiously crowded. And to be honest, didn’t spend much money at all. I did get a funky little key chain while leaving. After that long horrid winter, it definitely feels like summer has finally arrived. :) 


Heading out after dark.
Ride Totals:
El Toro x2
Bizarro x2
Nitro x2
Green Lantern x1
Runaway Mine Train x1

Skull Mountain x1

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