I have been involved with high school quizbowl as a player, then a coach, then a reader/question writer, then a coach again. In fact, I write a large majority of the questions for high school and middle school leagues throughout Ohio. I also write and host the 2nd largest tournament in the state each December (TRASH: the Pop Culture Extravaganza). The past two years, I've volunteered at the National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) High School National Championship Tournament over Memorial Day weekend. I love being a part of the event and since they pay for my airfare to and from the host city (last year Dallas, this year Atlanta), I can turn it into a park-hopping vacation for much cheaper than I normally would have.
My friend Drew and I were going to head to the park on Monday night for a little while after the thunderstorms, except that the thunderstorms never stopped, so we stayed at the hotel, which I happened to book in a really sketchy part of the area. Not going to get into the happenings there, but it was probably a good thing we stayed in our room and kept to ourselves.
We headed out around 9:15am on Tuesday to grab breakfast, make a run to the bank and then head to the park. By the time we parked and walked up to the gate, it was around 10:15am (opening was 10:30, so we planned it pretty well). Walking from the parking lot to the gate, you walk directly next to the track for Georgia Scorcher, which for me was sort of nostalgic, because the only other time I went to SFOG in the year 2000 on a family vacation, it was the “new” ride (it was actually new in 1999). You also walk under a whole lot of Goliath as well. Because I had ridden it in 2000 and because I don’t like stand-up coasters anyways, I skipped GS for the day.
We went in, took care of Drew’s pass getting processed and planned to head to Goliath, but since I passed Dare Devil Dive along the way, I decided to hit that for the credit real fast since there was no line. Now typically, I’m not a huge fan of the EuroFighter style coasters, but DDD ended up being fantastic. Now, as I’m walking up to DDD, it started to rain pretty steadily. I got on the second car of the day with some family, rode it in the pouring rain and then they shut it down temporarily along with the majority of the outdoor rides in the park.
With Goliath closed, we decided to walk over to Gotham City, since Drew is a big comics fan and wanted to take some pictures. Mindbender wasn’t open yet, but there was a line for Batman and it was testing. One thing I always found interesting is how a large number of the Batman clones are the typical black and yellow Batman colors but a few of them have the blue track. We went into the Batman/DC store for a few minutes and when we came out, the line for Batman opened, so I went to ride that. I’ve made it pretty clear I’m not a big fan of inverted coasters, but I wanted the credit, so I sucked it up. I’ve always been told to ride inverts in the back right seat for the most intensity and so I did. And boy was it intense. I’ve never been whipped around inversions like that and luckily I didn’t get off feeling sick, just a little dizzy, which is typical for me.
After Batman, we decided to take a walk a bit to see what was and wasn’t open. We circled the park all the way back to the area of Blue Hawk, GASM and Superman. I did not ride GASM because I had a horrible experience on it back in 2000 that reminded me of Mean Streak last year. Most things were still closed at this point, so we got in line for Justice League, which was our only wait of the day. Even that was only about ten minutes. Six Flags does a pretty good job with theming, especially with the DC stuff, and the theming inside the queue was pretty cool. I’m not a comics/DC fan at all, but Drew is and he really liked it, so it must have been pretty good. I had already ridden the JL ride at Six Flags St. Louis, but this one seemed a little better for some reason. I’m not sure if the screens/projections were brighter, or if the ride were smoother, but something definitely seemed different. Typically, I don’t like motion simulators that much either, but it does a good job and not disorienting riders to the point of nausea and for that, I give the ride manufacturer kudos.
After we got off JL and started walking, we saw Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and since Drew is such a comics/cartoons nerd, he had to take his picture with them. But not only any picture, he insisted I take a “professional level” picture with my Nikon instead of a phone picture. So I humored him.
While we were waiting for the rain to stop and rides to test, Drew and I decided to ride Monster Mansion, because Drew had heard it was one of the oldest rides of its type. So we board the small boat, both in the front and we rode. It was kind of like Splash Mountain-Maelstrom-It’s a Small World got together and had a mutated baby that was much less entertaining. If you ever wondered what it was like to be on drugs, just go ride this ride. It was extremely bizarre and you could tell some of the scenes were inspired by those previously-mentioned rides for sure. We both got off thinking, WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT.
We realized that although it was still lightly drizzling by this point, some of the rides started to reopen, so we got in line for Dahlonega Mine Train, which basically had no wait. Unfortunately, they don’t have a seat for people with larger proportions and while Drew is not overly large, we couldn’t get the bar down with him in it and he had to take the walk of shame. While DMT wasn’t rough, it was my least favorite coaster in the park. There are three lift hills and a bunch of turns and one drop at the end and that’s about it. I had heard good things about it from a few people, but I did not have the experience they described in any way whatsoever.
By the time I got off DMT, many things had started to reopen, so we went back to Goliath, which was walk on. I jumped on in one of the middle rows rather than wait for front or back. I’ve said how much I love the B&M clamshell restraints and that helped make it a great ride for me. I loved the airtime and I really love how it goes out over the front of the park, crosses the street and then comes back. It does have a slight rattle, but the ride overall was pretty smooth. I still prefer Diamondback over any other B&M hyper, but I would probably put it ahead of Intimidator on my extended list of coasters.
Since it was right around the corner, we walked back to Mindbender in the Gotham City area so I could get that credit. While it wasn’t rough, it wasn’t smooth either. I would have ridden it even with bad reviews for the credit. It’s also a Schwarzkopf, so that made me want to ride it even more. I thought the drop was alright, the first loop made me a little dizzy (just like Silver Bullet’s loop at Frontier City), and the rest was mostly slightly banked turns, a few drops and the second loop. It wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t terrible either. I do like that it is sort of surrounded by trees and foliage. That always seems to make coasters better.
After Mindbender, I wanted to get the credits on Blue Hawk and Superman. As we walked by, Blue Hawk had maintenance men in the station and people were walking out, so I figured it was down and walked over to Superman. Now, the only other chance I ever had to ride a B&M flyer so far was at Great America and one of my two trips it was closed and the other I was feeling horribly sick, so I didn’t ride it either time. I had heard they were much smoother and more intense and that was an understatement. I probably enjoyed this coaster more than any other I rode at the park including Goliath. It was silky smooth, the restraint system is light-years better than the Vekoma Flying Dutchmen and the transitions between elements were fantastic. I will say that the dive loop on Superman was one of the most intense elements I’ve ever gone through. That was the only part of the ride I felt any kind of head rush or gray-out type effect. Had we not been in a hurry, I probably would have gotten a couple more rides in.
As I was ascending the lift hill on Superman, I saw that Blue Hawk was up and running again, so I headed over there. When I got in the station, I walked to the very back and immediately got on with no wait. Now, Vekoma is known for the roughness of many of their coasters (boomerangs anyone?), but Blue Hawk was ok. The only parts that felt slightly rough were the inversions, but the transitions between elements weren’t exactly smooth either. I do like the color scheme of the coaster and the restraints, but that was about it. It is not something I would re-ride if I had more time or if I lived near SFOG.
Since the Joker kids coaster wasn’t running, the only coaster I had left to ride was Georgia Cyclone, which was down earlier in the day during the rain. We walked up and it too was walk on. I nearly got to ride it in the front row by myself. The first thing you notice about this coaster is that the trains are one big advertisement for Twix. In fact, each row of seats has vinyls that say “choose right Twix” or “choose left Twix”. I know Six Flags does a lot of advertising tie-ins, so I pretty much just ignored it. Unfortunately, the excitement of almost getting to ride it alone was far more exciting that the ride itself. It was your typical old rickety wooden coaster. Decent drops, but very rough around the turns. The layout is fine, but I think GC could be RMC’d in the future at some point. That said, I think GASM would probably get the RMC treatment before GC would.
Now that I had all the credits, I wanted to get some more pictures taken before we left for the day, so we decided to take a full ride around the park on the train. Interestingly, I found this train to be far more comfortable and spacey than most I’ve ridden at other parks. I think the audio that talks about the history of various rides and the park itself is a nice touch rather than just riding to see the sites.
After our train ride, we saw Yosemite Sam and Pepe Le Pew, so Drew had to get another “professional” picture. We then did a small half-park walk so I could get some final Goliath, DDD and Georgia Scorcher pictures before we headed out.
In terms of the park itself: SFOG has a nice layout. It is very much a big circle, with some smaller areas cut off to the sides. It was pretty easy to navigate and figure out with the map. Once we had walked around one time, we pretty much knew the layout by heart. The park is very clean and well-maintained. We didn’t eat at the park, but there seemed to be lots of different types of food available. We didn’t ride any flat rides or the log flume, but they seemed to have a wide selection. The theming was good, as most Six Flags parks usually do. The employees were extremely helpful and friendly.
On the downside, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find lapel pins, since that’s the one thing I collect. Great America had a good selection of them, and I didn’t get a chance to look at SFOT or SFSTL. SFOG didn’t have any that I found in about eight shops that we visited. There was also a distinct lack of Six Flags merchandise in general. Usually, there’s an emporium type store at the front that has both Six Flags gear as well as DC/Looney Tunes stuff. I couldn’t find very much Six Flags stuff itself in very many stores.
I think overall it’s a nice park, but it needs a true headliner attraction. Goliath, DDD and Superman are three great coasters, but they aren’t a giga or an RMC and I’m not going to return simply to ride any of those. They need that one attraction that keeps pulling people back in. I don’t want to see them get another Joker clone, even though that seems to be the new Six Flags craze. They need either a ground-up RMC, to RMC GS/GASM or a giga. That’s just my personal opinion. I don’t want people to think I’m hating on SFOG because I’m not at all, but I think given their history and that the chain seems to have given something to pretty much everyone else – they should be next on the list to get something great.