By Tyler M
It's been a while but I'm here to give another Six Flags Great America update... and this one happens to be the biggest addition(s) since 2001/2003 season.
1) Chang has been confirmed by the park president and the zoning board of Gurnee, not sure if anything else has to be passed I'm pretty sure it's already confirmed.
2) Chang's, placement will be horizontal with the drop facing Viper where the Shuttle and Go Karts (which still exist but not for long) were and the inversions out by the entrance plaza where the six flags are before you reach the ticket booths.
3) Unusual structure going up next to Demon where the rock climbing walls used to be? It's been confirmed by Six Flags in my reply to me question I posted on their official Facebook page, it's a rockclimbing wall that will open this year for both kids and adults.
4) Little Dipper's media day was yesterday and went well. Little Dipper officially opens tomorrow to the public.
5) The new Glow in the Dark Parade starts tomorrow and every weekend until June 21 - August 15 when it runs daily.
Thanks for reading!
Europe in the Air is Busch Gardens’ new ride for 2010. It replaced Corkscrew Hill, another 4d attraction that was constructed in 2001. The original Corkscrew Hill followed the journey of you and all the other people in the theater being transported back in time and mistaken to be fairies, only to end up almost eaten by werewolves, cooked in a stew, and plunging into the depths of a rocky canyon river. However, the new ride takes you on a journey past some of Europe’s most famous monuments, including Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Coliseum.
Sadly, however, whatever legacy Corkscrew Hill left, Europe in the Air definitely did not fulfill it. The first thing I noticed was that Busch Gardens did not change any of the theming (besides the ride sign, which you can view to your right) until after you pass the turnstiles. Even after that, the only changes is painting the walls blue and adding random country travel posters. While the Corkscrew Hill theming is beautiful and well made, it seems completely out of place on a ride that is themed after an airport and travel. Then, you travel into the holding chamber where you sit and listen to some weird British dude tell you about how awesome your “Two week vacation-this just in, low flying over the coliseum” trip is going to be. Then, you stand on the little lights to enter the movie theatre correctly (Tip-If you want to sit next to each other, face the screen and stand one in front of the other), and into the theatre you go. I dawned on me here that, wait, this isn’t 3d! So BGE rushed this enough so that the 3d stuff poking at you from Corkscrew Hill will not happen in this ride. Not that 3d would’ve made this much better, as 3d is a gimmick already.
So you sit in the chair, buckle your seatbelt (which really isn’t needed like it was on Corkscrew Hill), and you’re off…well, first you have to face a simulated steel wall for a couple minutes. Then it opens, and what do you see…a castle? Yes, they reconciled their lack of retheming by making the airport in the middle of a castle. Classy, BGE. Just classy. So I tried to put that behind me, and enjoy the ride. Then, as your plane takes off, you start to fly over monuments right away. But there wasn’t anything special, memorable, or even interesting. It seemed formulaic: See monument, fly down close, barely avoid trees, and fly back into the sky and do a “fast-mo” through the sky to the next monument.
The floor tilted to the flying, but it wasn’t noticeable at all. Corkscrew Hill bounced you around like a rag doll, slamming you into the seatbelt and slamming you back down. Europe in the Air is much more graceful, smoother, and all around almost unnoticeable. The wind effects were really nice on a hot day, however. Another odd thing is the quality of the video. It looked like the filmmakers went a third of the way making the film 3d, and then received the memo that the film will not be 3d, and didn’t change the quality back. This made it look really cheap.
Despite these problems, I’m glad I rode it. Why? Well, because it had a ton of wind effects that felt really nice on a 90 degree day. So if it is hot outside and there is a short line (It was open for 14 days when I rode it and at about 3:00 o’clock and the wait was an entire ten minutes), give this ride a go. But this ride is for people who like pretty visuals, not thrill seekers.
So was this ride worth tearing out Corkscrew Hill for? No. Sure, the Corkscrew Hill storyline got old after a while, but it was pretty crazy, as the floor threw you around quite a bit. While people you don’t enjoy getting beaten up would hate it, it launched you about quite a bit. Also, the storyline was quite original, with several moments of sheer (though cheesy) terror. Europe in the Air had none of the stuff. It seemed like you were flipping through a Powerpoint slideshow of the monuments with a fan blowing at you. If you want some more added realism, sit in a rocking chair. That is all it is.
There have been several coasters which have been started by Arrow Dynamics, and have later ended up being finished by Vekoma after Arrow's temporary plunge into the same bankruptcy that hindered their pipeline coaster. These Vekoma's have the standard Arrow scaffold supporting for their lift hills, which may tip off the fact that they could be Arrow's, but ultimately they have been partially worked on by Vekoma's evil headbanging clutches...
The first I will mention is the one that is the most familiar, Ninja. It is located at Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Missouri. Ninja was originally built for Expo '86, but was relocated here and later painted black from its original red. It contains a vertical loop, a sidewinder, and a double corkscrew, as well as a helix. It certainly seems like the typical Arrow, doesn't it? Well oddly enough, Vekoma picked up a lot of Arrow's tactics in design, and seem to have done a good job at posing as Arrow, but really the only things that are purely Arrow are the scaffolding and the odd straightaway after the lift leading into the trademark turn. Even the trains are from Arrow. Except for the fact that there is no scaffolding after the MCBR, it seems pretty much all Arrow's work. But at least Six Flags kept good taste in color even when it was repainted from red to black, since our next coaster not only has terrible transitions and awkward maneuvers, but it's color scheme is nothing to be desired to add to the fact that it is yet another half Arrow, half Vekoma mutation...
The one that is not so familiar is located in China at Nanhu Amusement Park, which is worse than Ninja, though like Ninja this coaster features a vertical loop, sidewinder and double corkscrew... but not in that order. This coaster is aptly named Crazy Roller Coaster to coincide with its unique and bizarre layout. And uncommon to Arrow coasters, there is a double corkscrew right after the lift and the odd turn leading into it. The only other Arrow coaster to feature the double corkscrew right away is Fantasia Special at Tongdo Fantasia in South Korea. Another odd turn and an out of place bunny hop lead into the sidewinder, which I just assumed was to slow the train down a little so that it would control the speed though the sidewinder... it could just be a random out of place bunny hop, though. The vertical loop is last, and a final helix leads the train to the station. Now I'm quick to judge awkward transitions, and this coaster has plenty of them, from the odd turn into the corkscrews to the bunny hop... it's even painted purple and green for some reason, the iffy color scheme I mentioned earlier. But what can you really expect, I guess, from these Arrow-Vekoma mutations...
By Ryan Shrout
Six Flags has recently taken corporate sponsorship to a disgusting new level. They have completely wrapped the trains of some of their rides in product billboards. Everything from Stride Gum to Axe Bodyspray advertisements are being plastered onto coaster trains.
One of the worst things about this, in my opinion, isn't so much that the new trains look hideous (though they do), but that they are destroying the theme of these rides. Ninja at SFStL and and Demon at SFGAm have been wrapped in Stride Gum adds giving the appearance of running what are being referred to as "clown cars."
A rainbow colored Ninja just doesn't sit right with me, nor a bright happy Demon. Kingda KA for some strange reason has an add for this summer's Karate Kid movie. And SFoT's Shockwave has been transformed into a poster of Axe Twist.
And even though there are some of these rides whose sponsor fit the theme, such as Georgia Scorcher being wrapped in an add for Georgia Natural Gas, or SFMM's Ninja getting the Karate Kid treatment, I think this sets a very unfortunate precedent.
Is Six Flags perhaps headed the way of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and their Pepsi Max Big One? Will the new rides introduced for the chain's 50th anniversary carry names like The McCoaster, Starbucks: the Ride, or Snickerizer? Its the logical next step.
By Ryan Shrout
Armed with a COASTER-net staff badge and my friend's $800 camera, I arrived at the park about 45 minutes before opening. I parked along the back entrance road to get some seldom seen pics of American Eagle and Raging Bull, then it was on to entrance.
It was a great feeling using my season pass for the second time already as I had purchased it during their October promotion. It had rained hard the night before so as soon as the gates were opened, my room mate and I booked it for Viper.
The thing was like lightning. The ride op didn't slow the chain at the top like they normally do and everything from the double-down on flew by. Definitely one of the best rides I've taken on this gem. Since we were in the area, we ran over to get in my first Raging Bull credit of the season
One train wait for the back row and we were off. The Bull was just as powerful as ever and remains my favorite ride in the park. The one train wait we experienced there soon became the theme of the day as the Sunday crowd was light and the ride ops were fantastic. I only got stacked once the whole day and that was on Batman.
My room mate had yet to ride V2 so we opted to wait 2 trains for the front. And the ride did not disappoint. I always love that feeling of wondering, "what if the ride actually goes off the spike?" and seeing others' faces as the same though goes through their head.
We took a front row ride on BtR (hands down SFGAm has the best themed of this cloned ride) and was once again reminded of how good these rides really are. Its no wonder why half the parks in the SF chain have one.
From there we went back to the front of the park to take a front row ride on Superman. The 40 minute wait was the longest of the day and so worth it. Even though the SUF clones can't compare to Tatsu or Manta, the view is still fantastic.
By this point my room mate and I were getting hungry so we headed out to the car to eat. Then it was back into the park for my interview with Ms. Kelleher from the PR dept. and get some good pictures for our galleries.
The rest of the day was spend running ride to ride, enjoying the fact that lines everywhere were slim to none. We were able to ride BtR four times in a row without even leaving out seats and then finished up with a dusk ride on Raging Bull.
It was a great day and I am thoroughly looking forward to the next time I can get out to SFGAm. by which point Little Dipper should be open. And keep watching for more TRs from me over the course of the summer.
By Ryan Shrout
This past weekend while visiting Six Flags Great America, I was able to get an interview with Ms. Meredith Kelleher from the park PR dept.
She was especially excited to talk about the park's new additions for the 2010 season: MagiQuest, Little Dipper, and the Glow in the Park Parade. While MagiQuest is already open the latter two are aiming to be ready by. Memorial Day weekend.
Magiquest seemed to be a huge success when I was at the park. Ms. Kelleher told me some more about it: "We are first theme park to get that kind of attraction. With 10,00- sq ft. 80 special effects, the whole family can get involved and it gets children thinking and moving."
Another of the big additions I asked her about was the Little Dipper. "We really wanted to keep that part of Chicago history alive," she said. "It was many Chicagoans first coaster and we wanted to help make some new memories for new generations."
Now all of this years additions are family attractions, as have been the additions of previous years. When I asked Ms. Kelleher when we might be seeing a new thrill ride, she just responded by saying that the park strove to have a balance of thrill rides to family rides and that the recent additions have all been necessary and well received.
As with any interview, there was also the no comment session. Despite some interesting pictures on other websites, Ms. Kelleher would neither confirm or deny the rumors that pieces of Chang are on site, nor would she speculate on where the ride would be heading.
In a purely hypothetical scenario I asked her if Chang were to come to Gurnee, whether Iron Wolf would enter the "ride rotation program." She responded in saying, "First priority is make the park the best it can be, finding the right fit, and keeping a balance of rides. Ride rotation isn’t official but it is looked to for options."
A big current story was SFI coming out from under bankruptcy. I asked whether or not that whole bankruptcy experience would change the way the company looked at finances regarding new additions. I was told that the official stance was that, "We’re always excited to add new stuff and make the park better with each coming season. We want to deliver the best product.
Overall it was a great interview and I had a great time at the park. It is very understandable that some matters cannot be disclosed at this time, but that gives us all the more to discuss here. We may not know for sure what the future holds in store for SFGAm, but one thing I was assured of; it will be a bright one.