Let's Play Hooky & Ride Coasters: July 16th, 2014

My buddy Art and I planned a hooky day to go up to Great Adventure for a full day and get on as much as we could. All year leading up to now I've been thinking of taking a day off mid-week, in mid-summer, hopefully getting low crowds, and just going nuts in the park. We both took vacation days so that we were both getting paid to ride coasters. Sweet!

 On the road again

Art is not nearly as into coasters as I, but is an up-for-anything type most of the time. I did in fact get him on Kingda Ka last summer, but out of nowhere today a new, random 'fear of heights' issue began popping up. With the morning rain we both drug our feet and didn't wind up getting up to and into the park until just after noon. This worked in our favor as we didn't have any issues getting passed the gates quickly and efficiently. 

 Once again lucked out with beautiful weather

 Yum Yum Cafe

The parks very old Carousel

As is now the morning ritual, I dragged him right for El Toro for a first ride jolt. When we arrived, the line was into the 2nd set of switchbacks, maybe a 30 minute wait. I had hoped the predicted but never materialized morning rain would keep crowds low but this was a bad sign for a first ride. We want to enjoy ourselves, not stand in line all day. 

Saddle up

I can't decide if my favorite part is the first drop or the 
insane ejector airtime here, over the old Rolling Thunder tracks

We got out of line, walked right back to Flash Pass HQs, and headed right back to The Bull. Our first ride of the day was in the magic seat, and we returned three times throughout the day and rode it here all three times. I love this ride, I think it's my absolute favorite coaster ever. The loading and dispatches were awful early on but on the last ride the crew was moving and dispatching one train before the previous hit the brake run. There were hustling crews all around the park today which is always nice!


From here we more or less bounced around the park, letting the shortest wait times on our Flash Pass dictate where we headed. While it definitely helped our cause, it turned out that we really didn't need the it. It did allow us to ride a whole hell of a lot of rides.

Bizarro was running great both times we rode it today. We wouldn't have needed Flash Pass at all for this as it was a walk-on both times we rode it. They were even allowing re-rides. 


We rode once earlier in the day and in the front, a first for me, and then once later after sunset. All of the fire, mist and lighting effects were running and it makes it such a great ride at night. The floorless aspect is really amplified in the front row as there is nothing in front of or below you but track. Very cool. 

Runaway Mine Train was a walk-on and is always just kinda rough and silly.  I love the few drops at the end over the lake. It's a classic ride. You have to give some love to the oldest coaster in the park from time to time.


Art: Wow, this ride smells really clean!
Me: Like fresh Lysol clean?
Art (confused): Um... yeah, I guess!
Me (laughing): Like someone puked and they wiped down the train with Lysol?
Art (horrified/disappointed): Awwwwww maaaaan, yeah.
Me (hysterical): At least you know its clean!! 


We did the Saw Mill Log Flume because it got pretty warm in the afternoon. They ops squeezed the two of us in the back half of a log with a family of 3 in the front. 

 For a 40 year old flume its held up well over the years

This tight squeeze made for a ridiculous but funny ride. The combined weight made our log heavier so we got pretty soaked coming down the last drop. This ride is where the Flash Pass worked in our favor, the line was looooong.

We stopped for some relaxing beer and people watching at Best of the West.

Beautiful day, beautiful park

Sitting on the side closer to the park is nice as you can see the drop on the log flume well and sitting on the side away from the park allows you to enjoy all the beautiful greenery that makes this park so great. 

The park is celebrating it's 40th anniversary this year. No huge fanfare, but they did set up a Great Adventure History Museum that we checked out. They had part of Rolling Thunders train on display, lots of old photos, buttons, maps, ride control panels, and more. This was really cool to check out during its limited time. 

Rolling Thunder train

Busted control panel

Old Safari map
Since we were close by I got Art on Superman: Ultimate Flight for his first time, which he loved. I think most people, myself included, are a bit bugged out about the idea of hanging on your stomach under the track, but the restraints are pretty cozy on this thing. 

 A Superman train entering the pretzel loop

I've said it before and I'll say it again - this ride is all about the pretzel loop. The general feeling of flying throughout the ride is great but there is nothing like the sensation of flipping head first into an inversion. We came back and did this again later. 

Last year when he visited he also didn't try Green Lantern and it's right next  to Superman. I want to like this coaster but I can't help but get beat up by it. It's uncomfortable to stand and the shoulder harnesses box my ears after the first vertical loop and through the rest of the ride. I've even attempted to try different sections of the train - the back, the front, right side, left side, it doesn't matter.

 Green Lantern's lift

 Green Lantern on the break run

I would LOVE this ride with seated trains, it has a great course. I especially love the wobbly turn around before the drop, the drop itself is nice and swooping, and the first vertical loop feels insanely high. And then it becomes a 100% defensive ride. 

Green Lantern POV by DeathByIllusion

I also dragged Art into Houdini's Great Escape as its a great ride to take someone into that has no idea what to expect. The intro is cheesy but the ride part is interesting in the least if not a little fun. He liked it, but upon exiting he said "I could see how someone could throw up on that ride".

 Houdini's is a fun mid-day distraction

 How have I had such great weather almost every time I've been to a park this year? 

Over on the other side of the park we gave Batman a shot, once in the back row and this was awesome. I think this ride may even rival El Toro in its intensity. Its such a wild/tight course, it does require some defensive riding. I wish we got back on later. I didn't like this ride last year but I have really come around to it over the summer. It really packs a punch and can be great if you go into it expecting that.

Batman POV by DeathByIllusion

Of course we had to pop over to Skull Mountain which had really slow, one train operations today but it's always a fun ride. I love that its pitch black dark, I love the airtime over the first tiny drop, I love the death metal blaring over the soundsystem, I love the cheap Halloween decorations scattered throughout, I love the lame strobe lights at the end. This is just sort of ridiculous and always a good time. 

 Nitro with trains on the lift and break run

We rode Nitro twice today, both rides in the back, and I loved it both times. I always do. It still gets me even after riding it as many times as I have. A perfect coaster, not a moment wasted. Our last ride of the night was on Nitro, and we snagged the on-ride photo. Nitro night rides are my favorite!

This trip was the first time I had been to the park since their newest drop ride, the 415ft Zumanjaro, has been open. I was even here during a commercial shoot for the new ride a few weeks ago but this is the first time I'd have a chance to ride it. 

Kingda Ka & Zumanjaro viewed from Green Lantern
For a long time I really hated drop rides, but after essentially watching them build this sucker on the face of Kingda Ka all spring, I have an itch to scratch. This is where our Flash Pass truly came in handy. The line for this was the longest I saw for anything all day, and understandably so as it's the parks enormous, flashy new ride. 

  Zumanjaro's 415 foot summit

All day I had been teasing Art about how we were going to ride it but he was adamant that he was not. During our lunch break of Wawa hoagies in the parking lot, I had reserved the ride without telling him and led him over to the entrance in hopes he would go on once he saw I was serious. No dice. He waited there while I was able to walk right on the ride with my Flash Pass reservation. Half of me was terrified, especially without the moral support of knowing Art was doing it with me, and the other half of me was on a mission to do something crazy. I wandered through the rides' never ending queue when the surrounding brush cleared and I was looking directly up the side of the tower...

If not for the Flash Pass I would not have ridden as I would not have waited. But I'm glad I rode. I tried very hard all day to not over think it and psych myself out of doing it. The thing is literally hawking over my shoulder the entire day at the park. The ascent was not particularly scary, and seemed to happen very fast. I don't have fear of heights, maybe because my eyesight is terrible and I won't wear my prescription glasses on rides. During the ascent I concentrated on how the entire park looked so small, especially what behemoths like Nitro and El Toro look like from up there. 

Once we stopped at the top I felt what seemed like a few fake out bounces before the actual plunge. The drop itself was not as forceful as the yank, say, over El Toro's first drop, it was somehow more floaty than that. But the drop is less than ten seconds, so blink and you'll miss it. I would ride it again, so maybe it has turned me on to drop rides. It was certainly a rush!

With Rolling Thunder gone you can see El Toro from a whole new angle 

Like I said I also rode Kingda Ka, also alone. Even though Art did it last year, he did not want to ride it again. Since I could reserve it on the Flash Pass and not have to wait, I did. Its the tallest coaster on the planet and I've been going hard on these coasters all day why not? For whatever reason I just jumped in the back row, and I'd never ridden in the back before. This ride is INSANE. The drop/twist down the drop was actually more forceful in the back, and there is insane rattle/shuffle during the launch while sitting in the back of the train. I definitely had a brief "what the hell am I doing??" moment during the launch. I don't get off this coaster thinking "that was fun!" or "that was amazing", just "that was insane/crazy/ridiculous".

Kingda Ka footage by ThemeParkReview

Overall it was a great day. For food as I said we tailgated with Wawa hoagies for lunch and for dinner we ate Nathans hot dogs, which were OK. We stopped a few times throughout the day for beer at Main Street Pub and Best of the West

Again the weather was perfect, at times even breezy. Operations were in full summer mode on everything. I love when you get stand up comedians running rides. The guy on El Toro later in the day had a great crew and was hilarious on his microphone. We probably could have skipped the flash passes as lines for the coasters were sometimes non-existent, sometimes insanely long, sometimes middle of the road but as I said we splurged because we wanted to really get the most out of our day. Definitely better than sitting behind a desk.

Ride count:

El Toro x3
Nitro x2
Superman: Ultimate Flight x2
Bizarro x2
Zumanjaro Drop of Doom x1 
Kingda Ka x1 
Batman x1
Green Lantern x1
Saw Mill Log Flume x1
Runaway Mine Train x1
Skull Mountain x1
Houdini's Great Escape x1

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