Day 4 of our Northeast trip

Today we went to Six Flags New England, our first major park of the trip, containing 11 coasters – singlehandedly making it the day with the most rides and coasters on our trip so far. That said, it wasn’t either of our favorite parks, and there were quite a few disappointments. While the rides are definitely high quality, there are negative aspects to this park that are either new since the last time I’d visited or temporarily forgotten in the time since. This was my second visit to this park, and my first since Superman was rethemed as Bizarro, they added a new wild mouse, and they got a Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang coaster (courtesy of Six Flags Magic Mountain).

The parking fee ($20) was the highest I’ve seen at a park, and as we entered the parking area, the number of people joining us was already sort of a bad sign. Even so, the entrance is rather a pretty one, and security was mostly efficient. The main street is nicely themed, although it could probably use just a smidge of TLC to cover up some peeling paint, remove a couple gaudy ads, etc.

After we were inside, our first order of business was getting in line for Goliath, the Vekoma Inverted Boomerang. These rides aren’t exactly known for their high capacity and reliability (quite the opposite), and so we wanted to get our rides before the line built up during the day. It was good to see this one being operated efficiently, and we didn’t see it down during the day – a dramatic difference from what we normally experienced at Six Flags Over Georgia (and their former GIB, Déjà vu). We got on the ride in about a half hour using the single rider line, which is definitely a new record. Unfortunately, I had a rougher ride than the ones I’d had at Magic Mountain, getting my head bumped quite a number of times – but the drops are still quite fun. I also really liked the new paint job; that bright green is very photogenic, and I like how they chose to color some parts of the supports, etc. green that are not on the others.

Next up with their standard boomerang – placed, totally inexplicably, next to the GIB. It really makes it obvious that they have two similar coasters, and it makes the smaller/traditional one much less appealing, being in the shadow of the larger one. To that point, it was basically walk-on, although this was our first experience with a complaint that would last throughout the day – not being able to choose the row to sit in, even though there was very little reason for it. In our case, the front row was open, and no one else was coming up the line…but we were told we had to sit in row 3. Neither of us could figure out any harm this could have caused, and unfortunately this would be repeated on nearly every coaster in the park. As for the ride itself, it was one of the rougher boomerangs I’ve done, even in row three, despite that it had the newer-style, more curved boomerang trains.

After the boomerang, we tackled Pandemonium – a Gerstlauer spinning coaster that is the same layout as some of the Tony Hawk coasters (among others). It was reasonably fun, and about on par with the Tickler at Coney Island – it didn’t spin quite as much, but it did have more speed and a more dynamic layout. Then, it was off to the catapult, an S&S Sky Swat, one of two in the world. This was one of my favorite flat rides last time I rode it, and it had another great performance this trip as well. I really enjoy the sensation of hang time, and Catapult provides plenty of it.

After Catapult, we headed back toward the center of the park, stopping to have lunch at Panda Express. Here we ran into another slightly annoying part of the park – the difficulty in staying properly hydrated. It took a couple of tries to find a place that had cups of water, and they are quite small – and you have to wait in line each time to get a refill. This wouldn’t be too much of an issue, but we also had difficulty finding water fountains. Six Flags did successfully get both of us to buy a bottle of water, but I would rather not have done so.

After lunch it was time for Thunderbolt, a quite classic and enjoyable wooden coaster from the 40s. Here again we ran into the problem of not being able to choose our seats. There was actually a very annoying situation wherein we were first in line, and we chatted with the ride ops about which seat was the best. We decided we’d try the back, and went for that queue…only to have another ride op tell us we couldn’t. By that time we’d lost our spot as the first in line, and we were forced to go a few rows back from the front. That aside, this is a very enjoyable coaster. It’s both much smoother and more exciting than most classic coasters I’ve been on; despite the peeling paint, the coaster itself is holding up very well.

Following that it was off to Bizarro, for Brian’s first time on it and my first time since they added the onboard audio (no longer functional), flame effects (no longer functional), repainted it, added some theming, etc. One change they made, I particularly appreciated  – the restraints. They modified the restraints to remove the middle pillar and the shin-pieces, and it made the trains so much more comfortable, even for someone like me who isn’t overly large. One other nice aspect was that we were allowed to choose our seats on this coaster, so I could actually try both front and back.

Bizarro is a really excellent coaster with a layout far more interesting than your ‘typical’ airtime coaster. It’s full of strong airtime, good speeds, and intense valleys. My own personal opinion of it is that it is definitely in the very upper echelon of coasters, but I don’t subscribe to the viewpoint of many, who feel it is the world’s best coaster – it is not in my top 5. It’s excellent at what it does, but there are other coasters I find more fun. I did find myself changing my position on which seat is the best , as well– last time I liked the back better, but this time I preferred the front. It afforded nearly as much airtime as the back, though slightly less strong, but it also added a lot of visibility and that wonderful nice wind-in-the-hair feeling.

After Bizarro, we headed to Gotham City Gauntlet: Escape from Arkham Asylum, a Batman-themed wild mouse. This isn’t the Batman-themed wild mouse that SF:NE had originally wanted (they were originally slated to get a Dark Knight coaster like Six Flags Great America or Great Adventure), but a Maurer that originally was located at Kentucky Kingdom. This was actually one of the nicest surprises of the day – it had some of the best operations of any mouse I’ve ever seen, and even more impressively, that was with basically a single employee working both load and unload. The ride itself is a very good mouse, and it had hardly any braking on the top section of switchbacks.

That was followed by another pleasant customer service experience – SF:NE will refill water bottles at their restaurants. Combined with the speedy, attentive employees at Asylum, this leaves some hope for the operations aspect of the park.

Then, we hit Catwoman’s Whip, a large Tivoli kids’ coaster with the typical gigantic train. These are hilarious simply for the weirdness of the extra-long train; the first car is starting down the first hill before the last car is even out of the station. It just looks hilarious. Ride-wise, they’re fun but neutral, nothing notable. Their SLC, Mind Eraser, was our next stop, and it was rather painful – one of the worst SLC’s I’ve done, though not the worst (that one comes later in the trip, at Canada’s Wonderland).

Batman: the Dark Knight was our second-to-last coaster, and it’s a very solid floorless coaster, especially for its somewhat short (117-foot) height. Again here we weren’t allowed to wait for a row, though at least we were allowed to go to the back after we asked. The beginning of this coaster is very enjoyably intense, though I noticed a rather unpleasant amount of vibration and rattle in the later parts of the ride.

On the way back to Cyclone, the remaining coaster we hadn’t done, we hit their Top Spin, Twister . Top Spins are one of my favorite genres of flat rides, and I do enjoy that there is such variation in cycles/ride programs. In this case, that variety played against me – it was unfortunately a boring cycle, and it was the first time I had my head whacked on a Top Spin.

We also wanted to ride the rapids, but super annoyingly, there are no lockers for the rapids ride, and no lockers nearby it, even. We asked the ride host what to do with our belongings and were told to just take them on board. It’s rather frustrating that Six Flags requires lockers at rides that could live without them (e.g. Bizarro and Batman), but they don’t have them on the rides that need them. We would have gladly paid for one here, as opposed to un-gladly paying for one at Bizarro.

That brought us to the final ride of the day – Cyclone, a classic-feeling, though not particularly old (built in 1983) wooden roller coaster that has the best airtime in the park. It is not going to beat Bizarro any day soon – there are only two spots of such airtime – but it is absolutely incredible. Brian had an awesome grunt of “Whoa!!” when he first experienced these. Sit in the very back to get as much as possible – and thankfully, this was one two coasters (the other being BIzarro) where you could actually select your row.

On the whole, our day at Six Flags New England was enjoyable, though this was mostly due to the quality of the rides. There are customer service and operations concerns that kept it from being a particularly pleasant experience, but hope remains that these wrinkles could be ironed out to bring the park experience up to what it could be.

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