Six Flags Great Adventure - Photo Journal
Jackson, New Jersey – Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
My last visit to Six Flags Great Adventure in 2008 was one of those hot, crowded days where halfway though you and your travel partner turn to each other and mutually admit that neither of you are enjoying this park in the slightest. That was a weekday in early June. I was now attempting a weekday visit in mid July, which on paper seemed an even worse idea. While the temperatures were expected to rival the hellish conditions of last time, I had heard rumors from those in the know that weekday July visits actually tend to see very light crowds. Pulling into the parking lot a half hour before park opening, I was pleased to see that they appeared to be correct, and today would prove to not be a very crowded day at all.
Green Lantern performing its morning test runs. More on this one later.
One thing I've learned from visiting enough Six Flags parks is they can be genuinely enjoyable experiences on lightly attended days (they even allow re-rides if no one's in-line... how about that, Cedar Fair?) but with even a moderate crowd the meager operational budgets allowed by corporate offices ensures you'll be wishing you stayed home instead.
The design of many Six Flags parks seem caught between their kind of stuffy origins as theme parks of American history, and their more recent identity as flashy thrill ride havens for teens who spend too much time plugged into pop culture on their mobile devices.
Through the entrance gates, waiting for them to drop the ropes to the attractions. This whole process is a bit of an ordeal, requiring several security guards to explain the rules for WALKING to the attractions that they actively enforce. I suppose it's mildly preferable to a unregulated stampede.
Anyway, here we have the Boardwalk Area, looking freshly painted.
First stop: Kingda Ka. A friend who visits this park frequently told me that Ka should always be the first stop of the day, partly to beat the long lines that come later in the day, but also because for whatever reason the launch system is faster during the first hour, especially if you can get on one of the first rides of the day.
I was in the forth train of the day in the second row, and indeed we did seem to fly over the crest of the top hat. It's certainly an interesting way to start the morning.
I skipped this coaster in 2008, so my last experience with it was when it was Medusa back in 2003. Rode it four times in the morning before the crowds reached it and quite liked it. Now it's called Bizarro, and I rode it four times in the morning before the crowds reached it, and I still like it.
Bizarro is now blue and purple, features an on-board sound system (calling it an "on-board soundtrack" is too generous) and off-board special effects.
While I'm sure Medusa needed the upgrade, its sister coaster on the west coast, Scream, needs it far more badly.
I'd rather have the extra capacity in the back row than all the special effects.
Bizarro... I'll be back later this evening.
The Saw Mill Log Flume looks like a good ride, but the high heat made this one of the only long waits in the park. Almost decided to go for it anyway, but I got distracted by a bathroom search and never made it in line. Maybe next time.
This is the area on water rides where I scrutinize everyone's clothes for telltale warning signs that this could be a soaker.
The pre-Six Flags park operated by Warner Leroy had a thing for Brobdingnagian (i.e. oversized) theme design. It's a shame the Super Teepee was another recent casualty of Six Flags' modernization.
This way to Runaway Mine Train...
The station is tucked away in this oversized wooden fortress it shares with the (closed) cable cars.
The plaque says: "Originally created for Six Flags, this gravity roller coaster opened with this park, themed to the gold-rushing days of the old west. The mine train features one of the first steel designs for a rollercoaster."
Runaway Mine Train is Great Adventure's oldest roller coaster. With the removal of Rolling Thunder at the end of 2013, that makes Batman: The Ride Great Adventure's second oldest roller coaster. Scary.
This is a single lift Arrow mine ride which means it will never be best of its breed, but it's scores better than Trailblazer.
Three airtime hills in the photo. Surprisingly, the weakest forces are on the upper left crest belonging to the Intamin plug-n-play woodie. This mine train has some kick in it, especially in the front rows.
This final turn skims really close across the water. Sit on the left side of the train for maximum effect.
El Toro. Doesn't quite seem real.
El Toro is the best ride at Six Flags Great Adventure.
El Toro is an Intamin prefabricated wooden coaster, and opened in 2006, the year after Kingda Ka.
El Toro askew
Six Flags usually sucks at presentation of their attraction, but from this perspective they did a really fantastic job with regards to El Toro's and Kingda Ka's overlapping sight lines.
Great Adventure's Carousel is housed under a whimsical candyland pavilion.
The carousel and Great Character Cafe are part of Fantasy Forest, one of the few remains from LeRoy's original Great Adventure.
Stylistically, it's a considerable departure from anything else at Six Flags. It's a terrible fit for the park, and outdated, but I never want it to leave because I know whatever replaces it will be much more dull.