While I've had quite an epic year of riding this season, I've sadly only been to my home park once and my home-park-away-from-home (Morey's) zero times. Luckily its now officially summer so both of those things are changing. Last week Six Flags Great Adventure debuted their newest coaster experience, affectionately referred to by enthusiasts as "Namtab", otherwise known as Batman... Backwards, and we were excited to check it out.
I originally had plans to head up to Great Adventure for the Fourth of July but those plans were shuffled around a few times and once I was informed I would not have to work July the 3rd, it was decided we would head up Friday to check out the parks new hotness and get a few spins on the old favorites.
Fright Fest advertisement as you enter the park. Jeez, it's only July!
My coaster-bud-for-life Joey and I arrived at the park late in the day for an evening session, pulling into the overflowing parking lot just before 5pm. Joey, like I, now has a season pass, so since we weren't "paying" to get in, we knew we'd head straight toward Flash Pass headquarters to make the most of our night. Normally the "gold" pass does the trick, but even with it we had seriously long waits for the heavy hitters.
Once we plunked down some cash for the Q-bot, we scrolled through to find Zumanjaro: Drop Of Doom had a very short wait - about 15 minutes - and since it would take us that amount of time to get over to the ride entrance, we went ahead and reserved it, giggling nervously that our first ride of the night would be a 41 story freefall at 90 miles per hour. Whew, let's do this!!!
Take a virtual ride on Drop of Doom
Random gift shop swag
Since we broke ritual by not riding the Bull upon entry we reserved it and slowly headed that way as we had a 45 minute wait. We killed some time in a some shops where I picked up some discounted Bizarro, Nitro and Skull Mountain fridge magnets to add to my growing collection, and sat and people watched until we had a few minutes til our reservation and over to El Toro we went. We noticed the parks new "coaster" El Diablo had a huge line. I must say the ride looks great with a proper sign and lighting package.
"El Diablo"After doing Dorney and Cedar Point on my last two park visits, I'm very spoiled by having someone at the top of the station steps holding the crowd back. On a packed day like today it was almost unbearable in the stations, especially El Toro. Six Flags really needs to take a page from Cedar Fairs book on this one, it really sucks the life out of me having to deal with those crushing crowds. El Toro was incredible as always, there isn't much I can say about this ride I haven't already said. It's my favorite wooden coaster overall, its the best ride in this park. Ole!
I don't condone cameras or selfie sticks on rides (don't do it!) but this fun video
of these Europeans (?) riding El Toro really captures the intensity of the ride
While boarding The Bull we noticed Bizarro had a short wait for us so we went ahead and reserved it since its so close by. We had almost no wait for this and it was running really well.
Its such an underrated ride, one of my faves at the park, and my favorite floorless - it just has that old school B&M intensity to me. The effects are just the icing on the cake. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE the zero-g roll element. We had a great ride on it, it was totally hauling ass. Bizarro rarely has a long line so it was crazy to see it with a full queue. The crew was stacking 3 trains as usual though. Lame-o.
Get twisted on Bizarro.
Since we arrived at the park we had been checking waits for Namtab, and for the most part they had been 2 hours - that's with a flash pass! Jesus. At some point the ride must have broken down and cleared the line out or something because all of a sudden we noticed the wait had gone down to an hour. It was about 7pm so we decided to just reserve it and spend the hour eating and wandering around. We stopped at Main Street Pub and got some dinner. I've eaten here a few times, and while the cafeteria style queue is weird (its hardly a pub, is it?), their food, while pretty standard theme park food (fries, chicken, sandwiches, etc) is usually pretty good and I like that their outdoor seating is right beside the parks giant fountain, perfect for people watching. I had the loaded bacon, cheddar and ranch fries and these were light years better than the much raved about but ultimately crappy "Potato Patch" fries we had at Kennywood a little over a month ago.
We finished up and since the sun was going down and there was a slight chill in the air we ducked out to the car so Joey could change out of his tank top and we could take a break from the crowds. It was nice to walk off our dinner before heading back in to tackle Namtab, our main goal of the night. For the unfamiliar, basically what they are doing here is just turning the train around so you go through the normal course, but in reverse. Batman is normally one of the most intense rides in the park - its a small layout that is very tightly packed together and the positive G forces, sucking you into your seat, is sustained throughout the minute long duration of the ride. It's short, its a little old, but it packs one hell of a punch.
They only had one of the trains running, but what a smooth ride! Joey was anxious as we boarded, he hadn't ridden Batman in years and remembered it being rough. I explained many people consider it rough but to me its very smooth. However, the high speed through the tight elements just makes the ride incredibly snappy. While waiting I tried to walk him through the inversions since I know the ride well, and we wouldn't be able to see what was coming: "first the drop, then a vertical loop, the zero-g roll, another loop, some turns, then the two corkscrews..." to which he responded nervously "I don't even want to know!"
My one personal gripe was that we never made it on Nitro as we went to reserve it while in line for Namtab but was coming up as "closed" on our Q-bot. This was at 8pm and we could see Nitro was running with people, so I don't know why we couldn't reserve it, other than the fact that the line, from what we could see from Namtabs lift, was out to the entrance, so maybe they just cut the Flash Passers off. I certainly wasn't waiting in the regular line. Oh well, still haven't ridden Nitro at all in 2015. Lame.
Since we couldn't ride Nitro we saw El Toro had a 45 minutes wait so like earlier, we reserved it and just drug our feet around the park until it was time to ride. Right at 9pm we boarded as the sky had turned completely dark. Our plan was to go out with a bang and head out after El Toro to beat the predictably insane mass parking lot exodus upon park closing at 10pm. However, I couldn't resist a ride on Skull Mountain as it was only a 10 minute wait for us. This meant we had to go across the park yet again but I had not ridden Skull Mountain yet this season and couldn't resist, dragging Joey over to this silly little indoor junior coaster, one of my favorites at the park. It was now about 9:45 so we quickly returned our Q-bot and promptly hightailed it out of there just before the fireworks so we didn't get stuck trying to leave, which was a very good idea as the lot was still filled completely as we exited at quarter til 10. I can't imagine the insanity when everyone eventually left at the same time, I heard it was a mess, as expected.
Another rider that shouldn't be holding his phone (don't do
it!) capturing a great video of his ride on El Toro.
So no explosions for us, but we didn't really care. We were there from 5-10pm and managed 6 rides in that time with a gold pass. To be fair we spent an hour of that eating and sitting around. Other points of note: Kingda Ka was down all day today (according to a security dude we talked to - and we never saw it run @ night), so I'm sure that not sucking some lines away from the other rides made it feel more crowded than it was. Other rides had issues, but nothing that affected us. El Diablo was flat out closed for the day by the time we took our 2nd El Toro ride around 9pm. Bummer as I wanted to see the lighting package after sundown, but the thing was completely shut down.
The day could've been worse. Two evening "magic seat" rides on The Bull and Mission: Namtab accomplished. Not many better ways to spend a Friday night in July. :)
Skull Mountain 1x
El Toro 2x