Trip Report: Six Flags America

November 11, 2014, 7:17 PM

With roller coaster season in the Northeast about to end, I decided to borrow my dad’s car and take a trip to Six Flags America, a park I’d never visited. From comments about this park on CB and a recent episode of violence, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but things could not possibly have gone any better.

First of all, getting into the park is a two-in-one deal. At other Six Flags parks I have had to first go through a metal detector and then go through a second queue to have my season pass scanned. At this one the metal detector and pass scanning are done at the same time. Secondly, I was greeted by a team member who said that if there was anything I needed, just ask. Thirdly, this park is very good value compared to other Six Flags parks. My gold Flash Pass – I decided that I was going to need one in order to make the most of my visit – cost only $35 as opposed to the $65 I would have had to pay at my home park, Great Adventure. Also, I was delighted to discover that in lieu of the bulky devices in use at other Six Flags parks I’ve visited, SFA uses a simple wristband that can be scanned throughout the park to reserve rides. What an improvement!

It was a given that my first rides of the day would be on Superman, as there’s nothing I like better than long drops. And I did think that the first drop was pretty spectacular. I started out in the front row, which offered some nice hangtime, but then switched to the back and remained there b/c the airtime was so much better. All in all, I liked this ride a lot but of all the Intamin hypers/megas/ gigas I’ve ridden, this is the first one that didn’t completely blow me away, for two reasons: 1) I thought that the helixes were too long; and 2) I found the restraints uncomfortable. The lap bars are connected to a metal pole with a sort of T-bar that has plastic pads designed to rest against the shins. These are hard plastic and they hurt at moments of airtime, so I tried to keep my legs as far away from them as possible.
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Never a fan of unconventional riding positions, I was skeptical about Batwing but because it’s easily accessible from Superman’s exit, I decided to get it over with. This is where the Flash Pass came in handy, as there was a line and only one train running. I wanted to get a photo of myself on the train tilted backwards – just to prove to my non coaster enthusiast friends that I would do something this crazy - so asked someone who was waiting in line to take one and email it to me; he was happy to oblige. So there I was, ready for dispatch and so heavily restrained that I might as well have been in a suit of armor except that the chest restraints were soft plastic. OK, lie back and relax; maybe take a nap. Anyway, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this ride for both the elements and the novelty. The highlights of the ride for me were the vertical loop and consecutive in-line twists. My first Flying Dutchman and the only Vekoma coaster I’ve ridden that I actually liked. Reride!
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Next up was Joker’s Jinx. The launch was a blast and one of the ride ops was a real tease, telling the riders that he was going to count backwards from 20 but of course we never got to zero; the train took off somewhere inbetween. I thought that this was not only a really fun ride but exceptionally smooth and the final inversion was awesome. So this coaster never made it higher than 115 in Mitch Hawker’s steel coaster poll. So what? I like it.
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I had a feeling that Roar was going to be better than Wild One so decided to tackle it next. I was not disappointed. This coaster seemed to have a lot of momentum and surprisingly, was not especially rough for a woodie. I liked it so much that I stayed in my back seat for several consecutive rides.

Wild One was, in a word, meh. It didn’t have much to recommend it and was rougher than Roar.

I didn’t do Mind Eraser b/c I’d ridden that at Six Flags New England and thought it was a ride from hell. And I didn’t do Apocalypse b/c I don’t do standup coasters. Nor did I hang around for Fright Fest events. I returned to the park the next day for a couple of hours for repeat rides on Superman, Batwing, Joker’s Jinx and Roar (no Flash Pass needed that early in the day) before embarking on the three-hour drive back to Pennsylvania. Six Flags America is a nice, clean, well-run little park and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to visit it.
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Replies (6)

Edited: November 12, 2014, 10:28 AM

Six Flags America is our closest SF park, so we visit quite frequently, and perhaps don't see it with "fresh eyes" anymore. However, I would agree that from a customer service perspective, SFA blows SFGAdv out of the water, but there are few places that are worse than the Jackson, NJ park in terms of customer service.

I'm surprised you purchased the Flash Pass. It's really not needed except for maybe on a mid-summer Saturday or holiday. Aside from Batwing, which accumulates lines because of the hidden queue and dreadfully slow loading, waits for rides are rarely longer than 20 minutes.

The park does have a decent blend of rides, but there's not a single one in the park that would make me want to drive more than 100 miles to experience. Considering that there are other, better parks within 200 miles of SFA, this park has very little to offer. Superman: Ride of Steel, the park's best coaster, is a kiddie coaster compared to Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion, Nitro at SFGAdv, or SkyRush at Hersheypark. Batwing is the park's most unique ride, but is an exact clone of Firehawk at Kings Island that has a much better supporting cast of attractions, and is actually operated efficiently. Joker's Jinx is another clone (Flight of Fear at Kings Dominion and Kings Island and Poltergeist at SFFT) except that it's outside instead of inside (Poltergeist is outside). Roar is a decent GCI woodie, but nothing compared to El Toro.

SFA is a decent park, but even the park recognizes that they're not that great. They actively advertise that season pass holders to SFA get free admission to SFGAdv, and provide the value proposition of purchasing a SFA season pass versus a single day admission to SFGAdv.

November 12, 2014, 12:42 PM

As to the Flash Pass, I thought that the park might be more crowded than it was due to the Fright Fest events. But you're right, I wouldn't have needed it at all except for Batwing's slow loading time, especially with only one train running.

Their Superman can't compare to I-305 or Skyrush but is nonetheless a good ride. As to Nitro, I had an interesting experience with a co-worker who used to be a ride op at Busch Gardens VA. I recently took him to SFGAD as my guest; he hadn't ridden a roller coaster in 3 years and after we got off Nitro he described it as a toned down version of Apollo's Chariot. I don't know that I would agree.

As to Batwing, I had read your article on flying coasters, published back in July, with interest. I seem to recall your saying that B&M flying coasters were a vast improvement over Vekoma. I guess it's all a matter of what turns you on and what you feel comfortable with. I dislike Superman: Ultimate Flight at GAD because I find the riding position uncomfortable and hate being stuck outside the loading station in that position while waiting for the next train to be dispatched. Despite my initial trepidation at riding Batwing, I felt both psychologically and physically comfortable with the riding position and thought that the ride was infinitely superior to what I experienced on Superman.

Flight of Fear is in my opinion better than Joker's Jinx for the sole reason that it's a dark ride. Roar reminded me of another GCI I like, Thunderhead. But nothing can compare with El Toro!

Actually wanted to get in touch with you but couldn't email you through this site; Robert says he had to disable that feature due to spamming. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that while I appreciate your disdain for Great Adventure, you evidently do get there from time to time. (I'm more or less stuck there, as it's my home park, but I always enjoy the rides.) And as I'm only an hour away from the park, if you happen to be going there why not look me up? I'd love to meet you, your lovely wife and son.

November 12, 2014, 1:31 PM

I guess flyers can be a matter of preference. I don't like the laying down position on Batwing, because it places your legs and hips above your head. It's fine once you're on the lift hill and through the course, but that initial laydown and occasional delay in that position can be rather uncomfortable, at least for me. Plus, for me nothing can match the B&M Pretzel Loop. Superman: Ultimate Flight is pretty tame, and the course of those three clones pales in comparison to the far superior Manta and Tatsu.

It's a shame we weren't able to link up. We might have even been there the same day and just never crossed paths. We actually visited SFA 3 times during Fright Fest. We usually only get up to SFGAdv once a year, and this year, it was just me for a day when I was up that way for work. We'll probably head up there some Sunday next summer.

November 12, 2014, 2:15 PM

Thanks SO much! I'm visiting in May, and there's virtually no information about it available on TPI.

November 12, 2014, 10:03 PM

o0o0oo I want a theme park insider T-shirt like that! Is there an online store or is it just for the writers?

December 2, 2014, 11:54 AM

That's a cool t-shirt indeed! Love it Bobbie!

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