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Six Flags America in an Hour and a Half

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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I was in DC for the March for Science this past weekend, and had the chance to swing by Six Flags America on the return trip home. Unfortunately my phone was totally dead, so no pictures from the day of... So I've used the power of the Internet to supplement!

1:00 PM - Arrive at Six Flags
1:02 PM - Apocalypse

Queue/Theme -
I was pretty excited to ride the original B&M roller coaster, and what roller coaster title couldn't be more fitting for 2017 in America? I really enjoyed the overall theme, more well-put-together than the Apocalypse GCI in Six Flags Magic Mountain (which always felt like a mad scramble to replace the gaps left by the original Terminator Salvation theme). The queue featured plenty apocalyptically destroyed vehicles and structures. Apparently there was a sale on small-prop planes; an entire squadron crashed onto the Apocalypse ride.

Ride - Well, at least it was B&M's original; have to start somewhere, right? Easily the roughest B&M I have ever ridden, with plenty of headbanging to boot. I was rather surprised actually, as Georgia Scorcher was a very smooth experience with a similar, small layout. Ride for the nostalgia, and not for the actual ride.


1:06 PM - Roar
Queue/Theme -
None. Period.

Ride - I have always heard back things about Roar: forceless, rough, meandering. That being the case, we decided to shoot for the very front of the train, if anything to give this ride a fighting chance. And I must say - it was pretty good! Definitely a twister coaster by design without any true airtime, however the speed through the turns and hills kept a good pace, making for a fun ride. Relatively smooth too, despite the dreaded PTC-on-a-GCI trains.


1:12 PM - Joker's Jinx
Queue/Theme -
If there's anything I love, it's Six Flags' overstated station themes for Premier launchers. And Joker's Jinx definitely delivers, between it's YHUGE Joker model and clearly-painted-in-the-90s color scheme. Love it!

Ride - While I have had the pleasure of experiencing the whimsy that is Poltergeist, my friend Kevin had yet to step foot onto an outdoor Premier spaghetti bowl. And man, was he in for a ride! The biggest difference between the indoor Flight of Fears and their outside brethren is the realization of how tightly packed the track structure is. Tons of head choppers, close-calls, and track weaving in and out of itself. And the best part? Completely removed MCBR. Suck it Cedar Fair.


1:20 PM - Superman: Ride of Steel
Queue/Theme
- Really loved the lawn ornaments that is the Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth Starflyer, scattered about the property right next to Superman. Really pulls the theme together.

Ride - This is the first chainlift Intamin Mega I have ridden, and the first of the Six Flags Supermans. Yes, I know, shame. What can I say, it's a copy of the first Intamin Mega (Darien Lake Ride of Steel), a grisly design, and built in the same year as one of the greatest Intamin creations, Superman the Ride at SFNE, another Intamin Mega. It then is one of the most confusing rides built by Six Flags, a clear inferior to a same make and model roller coaster built it's same opening year in the next neighboring Six Flags park. Suffice it to say; my hopes weren't high...

... And I wasn't let down! Yes, this is an ok roller coaster - it has a 200 ft. drop, goes really fast, and has some semblance of forces. Those freaking helices and straightaways though make 7 year old casual RCT players look like Alan Schilke by comparison. I was also intrigued by the very abrupt brake run, with a trim set to the fading hope of airtime on the ride, followed by a final airtime hill straight into brakes. Intamin is notorious for hitting the brakes hard, but this felt quite the extreme.


1:26 PM - Batwing
Queue/Theme
- If the series of signs showing off Batman heroes and villains with jacked abs and size 0 body suits isn't the root cause for bad body image and eating disorder in America, I don't know what is.

Ride - This marks the last in the trifecta that is the Vekoma Flying Dutchman, and I'll say it's my favorite of the bunch, but that is like choosing your favorite historic famine. While it rides similar to Firehawk, it felt faster-ish. Definitely not your B&M flyer experience, hence the reason Six Flags only ever built two of these model.


1:32 PM - The Wild One
Queue/Theme
- The Wild One is actually celebrating it's 100th year anniversary this year. While the roller coaster moved to Six Flags America in 1986, it originally stood at Paragon Park at Giant Coaster. While the ride has seen alterations over the years, including the revision of it's final helix by Dinn Corp. when it was relocated, Six Flags made the effort to lightly theme the roller coaster with a patriotic red, white, and blue to celebrate it's centennial. Nice touches all around...

... Except the roller coaster is now officially in the Mardi Gras zone of Six Flags. So while the entire area is decked out to New Orleans Purple, Gold, and Green, you have an Americana John A Miller wooden classic slapped right in the middle of it. A chunk of the roller coaster's station has even been dedicated to the Mardi Gras theme as a jazz club facade. So while the Wild One has some nice centennial touches, it is totally out of sync with the rest of the area's theme. Unfortunate.

Ride - As I mentioned, The Wild One has seen extensive revision in it's life span. A fire destroyed much of the original John A Miller layout in 1932, allowing Herb Schmeck to redesign portions. A double down was added to the turn around later on to allow for room of additional attractions, also allowing for the addition of a fourth train car. Dinn Corp. also revamped the finale helix upon moving to Six Flags America. Yet despite all of these modifications, Wild One remains the oldest John A Miller wooden coaster in operation, and technically the oldest operating wooden coaster in North America, as Leap the Dips will remain closed for the 2017 season while Lakemont Park goes through major revamps.

So how does it actually ride? Pretty good given it's size and age. The roller coaster stands at 98 ft. tall, mammoth for it's tenure, and features a good series of gentle airtime hills that won't send you out of your seat, but still gives you a good wooden coaster feel. The finale helix is really quite a riot, the turn levels out too quickly, meaning riders experience 100% lateral forces, slamming into their riding partner. Not the most comfortable, but still good fun. So what the roller coaster lacks in ride experience, it gains in being one of only two roller coasters in North America to be 100+ years old.


1:45 PM - Ragin Cajun
Queue/Theme
- As part of the Mardi Gras section of the park, Six Flags America received Six Flags Great America's Zamperla Spinning Mouse. This area of the park is pretty good all things considered, but there certainly isn't any theming associated with this funfair coaster. Outside of a lot of mulch and some nice landscaping, that's all you get (There is a cute sign showing an alligator evolving into king of Mardi Gras... but yeah, not theming). This was the second longest queue we had of the day at 15 minutes.

Ride - So I don't know the difference between Reverchon and Zamperla spinning mouses? Both layouts are the same, and both ride experiences are too. Outside of Exterminator at Kennywood, I have yet to ride one that was note worthy. It's a good laugh with friends, but don't seek more.


2:30 PM - Mind Eraser with VR
Queue/Theme -
It's an SLC in a pond, and I saw deer in the forest. That's about it.

Ride - So a bit to unpack here, as this was my first VR experience:

Loading Logistics
- SFA staff were actually doing well on laying out clear logistics for their VR system. They segregated the 10 car train to 5 with and 5 without VR. Lines were clearly demarcated on which queue was for which feature, with ride staff doing well to shepherd riders to their designated seats.

VR Prep - Man do things fall apart here. The hardware is very simple, an Oculus Rift (using a sturdier climbing helmet construction vs. at-home Oculus Rifts) that you place on your head, and tighten using the screw in the back. Guests could not seem to deal with this concept however. And while ride staff are hurriedly swarming around the train getting VR headsets to each rider and setting them up, no one is giving clear explanation as to the steps needed to set up the VR/be sure it is working properly (Those steps btw are 1. put on VR 2. Ride staff turns up volume 3. be sure Six Flags program is running, which shows calibration software for looking forward, left, and right). This caused confusion by riders, slowing down the process with riders asking questions of ride staff on what to do next. And, unfortunately, not all VRs appeared to be operating correctly, with some riders having ridden the ride without the program running. In these cases, I think they essentially rode the ride only having viewed the world through the smartphone camera? IDK, but this created additional confusion on how to manage these guests. Six Flags staff though remained calm throughout, and handled things with good merit.

My ultimate recommendation would be to use a "VR Readiness" instructional video, describing the ride experience to guests to let them know what to do when they are handed the headsets and what to pay attention to. Average load times were 5:20 minutes for the 8 or so dispatches we saw; anything you can do to reduce this lag time even by 10 seconds is all to the good.

Actual Ride Experience - I can definitely see the potential for VR, and have changed my tune dramatically on its application. The video itself was a galactic space battle, which we "portal" into at the top of the lift hill. The video was synced up well with the ride motion, and while the graphical rendering wasn't the best, it was believable enough, given how much adrenaline you have going while riding a roller coaster that flips numerous times.

I wasn't too disoriented while riding, though there were very large flashes and quickly moving animations at points, especially (weirdly enough) for the portion of the video in the brake run, which was a bit off-putting. I did take a big drink of water after riding and wouldn't have immediately reridden given the chance - breather was much needed.

While not ready for prime time given the slow loading logistics, I can see VR fitting well in certain applications. I would like to try it now on a slower ride, to compare the difference to a large multi-inversion coaster. Overall, not for me, but I do see the spark. Oh, and it was a relatively ok SLC - at least not as rough as T3.


And that was it! We were in and out in an hour and a half, 1/3 of it spent at Mind Eraser. Afterwards, it was back on the road to home.
 

Hixee

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Wow, a whistle stop tour! :p

Good report on the state of the VR. I'm surprised that they don't have some sort of instructional video or poster - I assumed they would!
 

Pink Cadillac

Active Member
Wow I didn't realise Wild One was 100 years old! And the Superman layout annoys me so much that I'm glad it rides underwhelmingly. Great report!
 

Hyde

I Lied About My Age!
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the Superman layout annoys me so much that I'm glad it rides underwhelmingly.
I wasn't expecting much going in, and didn't get much coming out. I was neither over nor underwhelmed... just whelmed.
 

gavin

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Glad to see they've had the common sense to move VR off Superman. That was the single stupidest thing I've ever personally seen at a park, and that includes anywhere in China.
 

gavin

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I stupidly bought a Flash Pass online before I went. Everything except Superman was walk-on, and this was in August.
 
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