Thursday, November 3, 2011

Impression: Six Flags New England

I don't think I'm the first to say that most Six Flags parks are a little underwhelming. Besides the coasters (and even those are often hit or miss), most Six Flags parks lack the quality theming, enthusiastic staff, and park atmosphere that characterizes parks of other chains. This was not the experience that I had at Six Flags New England. Not only were the coasters great, but the staff was attentive and the park was clean.

We arrived at the park just after opening, which usually never happens to me. We knew we would need to start driving home early, so the Flash Pass building was our first stop. Just minutes later, we were checked in for Thunderbolt. After only a one-train wait, we were buckled into the front row, and off we went! You can feel the coaster's age as the cars rumble around the pre-lift turn. The peeling paint and classic wooden coaster sound enhanced the experience, an uncharacteristic one for a Six Flags park. The cute sign at the top of the lift took me back to a time long past. Thunderbolt itself was a lot of fun; we really flew around some of the turns and we even had a bit of airtime. For a Six Flags woodie, I was impressed.

Our next stop was Pandemonium. Not only do I love spinning coasters, but this one looks especially awesome. I love the colors especially, and it's position in the center of this side of the park. We checked in for the ride as soon as we got off Thunderbolt, and we quickly headed to the ride. After another brief wait, we were on the ride. We sat facing backwards for our first ride, and soon we took off up the lift hill. We were at the top in no time, and we twisted and turned down the drop. We headed into the crazy wild mouse section, which was especially intense as we were really spinning. Not only were the helices great, but I actually got some pretty good airtime as we hopped into the midcourse brake run. There's not much to Pandemonium, but it was really a lot of fun.

We got our Flashback credit next, which was nothing special. One ride that I was determined to try was Catapult. I was actually surprised that there was no line, but I wasn't complaining. In a few minutes, I was strapped in, if you can even call it that. The harnesses on Catapult are very unnerving, so I was holding on very tightly. Before I was quite ready, we started to climb the tower. I guess we were going backwards first, as suddenly the blood was rushing to my head and all I could see was Cyclone upside down. You wouldn't have believed how tightly I was holding onto those handles - my knuckles were pure white as we continued to flip backwards. We slowly came to a stop after about 3 rotations, but I knew it wasn't over yet. We flipped forward this time, which was just as intense and no less terrifying. My god, was I glad when it's over. Coming off, I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. Either way, it's something every visitor should try - even though it really was insane, I'm glad I did it.

The last ride in the area was Cyclone, so we checked in for it on our Flash Pass and got in line. We waited for the front row, which was probably a good decision as the ride that followed was unbelievably rough. I don't know why they opted for the topper track on just part of it - it would have been a much better idea to give it a full Iron Horse makeover. Seriously, the topper track was the best section of the ride. Everything else just hurt beyond belief. I was genuinely thankful when the train entered the brake run. Now that we had ridden pretty much everything we wanted on this side of the park, we planned to head back to Bizarro. Of course, I needed the kiddie coaster credit. I hid my face in shame as I boarded along with several other toddlers. The coaster itself was not that bad, but I was eager to get off nevertheless. One ride I did want to stop for was Scream. I love drop towers, and this was no exception; Scream was really fun.

As we were walking back to Bizarro I went to punch it in on the Flash Pass - unfortunately, the ride was down. When we arrived at the entrance, there was a bit of a line forming. We figured this would be a good time to grab lunch across the midway at Johnny Rockets, so we could get right on Bizarro if it opened. After eating the worst Johnny Rockets burger I've ever had (what did I expect from Six Flags), the line was longer but the ride was still not open. We decided to move on for now.

The next coaster in front of us was Gotham City Gauntlet, which I was excited to try because it was new. Normally I don't mind Wild Mice too much, and this one certainly looked good. Fortunately, our Flash Pass got us on with no wait. We'd soon learn that that was all its worth. GCG was brutal - not only was it rough, but it threw you around, more than a usual Wild Mouse. It was flat-out uncomfortable; we experienced some really nasty jolts and painful maneuvers. One good thing I will say is that the theming was nice. Each car had it's own character, which was cool, and there were some cool props and effects throughout the ride. Now if only it were worth riding... Next was Catwoman's Whip, which I actually didn't know existed until we got there. Don't let that fact deter you from the ride, however; we got two great runs that we're fast, fun, and pain-free.

After Catwoman's Whip, we continued up the stairs and through Kidzopolis, where luckily there was not a kiddie coaster. For once, I would be spared the humiliation of finding a kid. We continued towards Hurricane Harbor this time, to hit Mind Eraser and Batman. We still had a bit of a wait on Mind Eraser, even with our Flash Pass. Just as we were boarding, we saw Bizarro running behind us. I put it in on our Flash Pass just as we were boarding Mind Eraser. What a waste of time that was. I thought Cyclone was bad, this was way worse. Now I know SLC's have a reputation, but the one I rode at Siam Park City wasn't really that bad. This Mind Eraser was actually effective in the sense that it bangs one's head back and forth to the point where one might actually suffer brain damage. The point I'm trying to make: avoid Mind Eraser at all costs.

We sprinted back through Kidzopolis after that, and headed straight for Bizarro. Once we threw our stuff in an overpriced locker, we only had a station wait. Seeing a long line for the front row, we settled for the second, and we were seated in just a few minutes. The view on both sides as we headed up the lift; the water on the left and park on the right was strikingly similar to Millennium Force. The drop into the tunnel was not, and with in a few seconds that was exactly where we were headed. We plummeted into the fog, pulling up sharply into the second hill. We got some decent airtime here, but nothing like what we were about to experience. The turnaround was nothing special, but as we entered the next low turn, you could see some of the old red paint showing through on the track. The next two hills took me by surprise. I was almost thrown out of my seat. The next section was completely insane: airtime hills interspersed with strong turns and fog! This ride just did not let up, it was crazy forceful and the airtime was amazing. There was no doubt in my mind - I was riding again.

With a review like this, shouldn't Bizarro be my #1 Steel coaster? As much as I want it to be, it isn't. There are a few things I didn't like about Bizarro. For one, it was a little rough. Nothing extreme, but this automatically put it below Wild Thing (#3). It was really flying, so maybe that was part of it, but the airtime also slammed me into my lap bar a little. These little grievances put Bizarro at #4, even though it is still an amazing ride and one of the best coasters I've ever been on.

That left Batman: The Dark Knight as our last coaster of the day. We were lucky to have ridden Bizarro when we did; it closed again almost right after we got off. Batman turned out to be a very good last ride as well. We were running out of time, so we just took the third row. This was actually a really nice floorless model. It was not only fast, but kept its speed throughout and had several thrilling elements. It really twisted around itself, which was fun and disorienting, not to mention that I love it when rides go over the paths. We started down the curved drop and headed immediately into the loop, picking up quite a bit of speed. The dive loop and turnaround that followed were great as well. Throw in a pair of corkscrews and another turn or two, call it a ride. Batman may not be very big, but it was a lot of fun. One of the best rides of the day.

Unfortunately, it was time to head out of the park after that. I grabbed one quick ride on Twister, the top spin, and we made our way toward the exit. First stop on the way out was the Season Pass Center, however. I guess all of the in park advertising worked, or at least we fell for it. Sporting our new season passes, we headed out of the park, already planning our trip to Six Flags Great America. Our Summer Road Trip was over, but SFNE was a great way to end it.

Overall Park Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars
To view all Six Flags New England photos, click here.


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