Tuesday October 25, 2005

six flags fieldtrip (read: "I am not a rollercoaster person")

Since like mid-September, Karen.M has been telling about this FrightFest thing going on at Six Flags / GreatAdventure out in NJ. It's supposed to be like any other trip to the amusement park, except everything is all dolled up in Halloween decorations and, since the summer crowds have presumably died down, there's no lines for any of the rides.

So, me + Karen + Battjer + Natasha trekked out there on Sunday afternoon. Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but theme of the afternoon = "lines".

Starting with the line to get into the Holland Tunnel.

The drive to the park is about 2 hours. We cleverly hit the Burger King that's like 5 mins from the park and picked up some 2-for-1 coupons ($29 admission!).

Apparently, Six Flags adds a new rollercoaster every other year or so. Two years ago it was the Superman ride (no?) and this year it's this Kingda Ka tower that you see in the background. 45 stories tall!

Here's the landscape as we're heading into the park. Kingda Ka first, then Great Space Coaster or something and the last one is the Superman ride. [video, 6mb]

Anyway, we get to the park at like 3:30pm and the first thing we notice is that it's not empty. Not even kind-of empty. It was probably just as crowded as most crowded saturday in July (Karen swears that it was empty last year - like run from one ride to the next, no lines at all empty. On Sunday, the weather was beautiful - after it rained in NYC for like 2 weeks straight - so that could have been the cause of the lines madness).

Oh, so we decided to hit up the Nitro rollercoaster first (no loops, lots of drops) as a warm-up. The line stretched beyond the entrance to the ride...

... and then broke off into this big corral. Wait time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

ps: Remind me to grab the photo Battjer took of some Growing Up Gotti lookalike who was sporting crazy blowdried hair and foundation makeup.

Rewind for a minute. I remember when Karen was trying to recruit me for the whole FrightFest fieldtrip, I remeber her asking "Are you a rollercoaster person?" And I probably said something like, "Sure, I guess so."

Well, it turns out I'm not really a rollercoaster person. In fact, while waiting in line for these things, I turn into the worst little baby ever. Like legs shaking and hands getting all sweaty. As soon as they strapped me into the ride, I was holding as tight as I could.

See? Everyone's having a slamming time and I'm holding on for dear life. Note Brian Battjer staring right into the camera. Player!

We tried to recreate the scene...

... me all balled up like a little beebee. The Nitro ride was really fast - as in speed. Good times - definitely not as scary as I was making it out to be.

Okay, next up = Superman ride. This thing straps you in standing up and then rotates you 90 degrees so you're flying around like Superman. Get it? Estimated wait time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.

The line snakes all the way around the ride and them empties into a bunch of corrals. At this point it's like 8:20pm and the lines for the rides close off at 9pm. I'm standing in line and getting all stressed out again (though thankful that we're standing in line for Superman and not the Kingda Ka deathtrap). It's starting to look like this is going to be the last ride we're going to hit (long lines = only 2 rides for $29!!), but because I'm such a rollercoaster baby, I'm okay with that.

But then the ride breaks down, leaving a whole bunch of people stranded in the Superman position. Now, we've been in the line for almost 2 hours (and we're prob like 30 minutes from getting on) and they're telling us the ride is going to be shut down for an "unknown period of time". Most of the people on line - ourselves included - decided to just wait it out and hope the thing came back online.

Meanwhile, Brian and Natasha are starting to make their case that we should ditch this line and run over to get in line for Kingda Ka before they start closing things off. I had absolutely no intention of getting on the Kingda Ka thing (and at this point, Karen is trying to weasel her way out of it too).

But then about 20 minutes later the Superman ride came back online, ending the Kingda Ka discussion... until the Superman ride broke again (!!) like 15 minutes after bring fixed (and leaving another batch of people stranded hanging in the air).

Okay, so now it's 8:45p and Brian and Natasha are like "This ride blows - we're going to Kingda Ka" and me + Karen are both there saying, "Um, well, er, okay, we'll come and take a look." So we ditch the Superman line (after investing like 2 hours queueing up!) and race across the park to get in line for Kingda Ka.

But when we make it over there, we find out that because the line for Kingda Ka is so long (a 4 hour wait!!) they close the line down at 8:30. So we just wasted two hours in the Superman line to race across the park and get in another line that is already closed off. Brian pleads our case to the line guy ("We just waited two hours on Superman and they closed the ride!!!").

So after much negotiating (and a $20 handshake) the guy opens the gate and let's us in. And once we're inside, we're pretty much at the front of the line (maybe 10 people away from getting on). Now, I'm wicked scared of this thing - and I've been on this crazy super-scared streak all day - Nitro + two hours of stressing in Superman line + should we ride the broken Superman ride dilemma + should we get on the Kingda Ka deathtrap?! - and here we are in line without enough time to think things through.

Meanwhile, Brian and Natasha are happier than pigs in shit now that we've gone from busted-ass-Superman-line to front-of-the-line-for-the-tallest-rollercoaster-in-the-world in 10 minute's time. Me + Karen are standing on the opposite side of the railing debating whether to get on this thing... thinking maybe it's a better idea to get in line for funnel cakes instead.

I was so stressed out that I just put on my hood and stood there. After a minute or two, Karen ducked under the railing, moving from the I'm-not-going camp to the We're-going-to-die camp and, er, I went too.

So, here's us as we're about to get on the thing. Natasha and Brian just chilling.

Me + KM all stressed out. Seriously, I am about to start crying.

KM looking more scared then me. (I stole this pic from Brian)

And this couple behind us that was trying to convince us that we were in fact NOT going to die. (Lies!)

Man, this is getting overly dramatic, no? Here's the description of the ride from the Six Flags website. You can also watch a video of the ride [do it!]

"A hydraulic launch rockets riders horizontally from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds, then vertically 90 degrees into a quarter turn. Riders crest the coaster's tower an exhilarating 458 feet from the ground, then plunge vertically into a 270-degree (three-quarter) spiral."
So yeah - this thing shoots you straight up like 40 stories and then down 40 stories. I closed my eyes for just about the whole time - opened them for a few seconds after what seemed like 30 minutes worth of going 800mph because I was thinking (a) what happens if we get hit by a bird like Fabio did (no joke) and (b) there's no way we can still be going up (which we were). We were riding this thing at around 9pm, so as you're shooting up you're looking straight up at the stars in the night sky which is amazing. Like being in a spaceship I guess.

So here's the pics... Natasha and Brian in the middle, me + KM behind them. Looks like they take one snapshot right as the thing launches and another as you hit top speed maybe?

Pic #2. Me + KM in the middle this time. My face is all smooshed in in the second one.

So, that's it. The ride is actually amazing. It's over before you know it and turns out I was all stressed out over nothing. Would do it again and again if they weren't closing up the park (and, um, the line wasn't four hours long). Whew.

Oh, so what was the theme of the day again? LINES.

Such as: The line to get out of the parking lot.

And the line to get some filthy BK chicken sandwich at some random rest stop.

(yup, BK twice in one day. ugh)

(the end... longest entry ever?)

Also see...
+ Brian's photos

Tue 10/25 @ 3:32 PM | # link| Comments (2)
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