Saturday, May 31, 2008

Best Very Good Adventure

The contest from my last post has been canceled because I woke up this morning with a blogging fire in my bones and finally finished this post. But you're still welcome to figure out what turned 4 years old today.

Last Saturday. Last Saturday was a big day and I miss it so bad. Saturday was the day I went to Six Flags Great Adventure out in New Jersey and rode the roller coasters until I could ride them no more. I felt until Tuesday. Man, I'm getting old.

Lindsay drove us there in her cousin's car. I guess Lindsay's cousin deserves a big shout out for loaning us her forest green Corolla so we didn't have to take the bus. But also Peter gets a big shout out for falling ill and not being able to go to the park, because then we were able to fit in the Corolla and not have to take the bus.

See, look at the back seat: Caroline, Kristin, Spencer. Not a bit of space for one traveler more.

I was sort of in charge of navigating, Lindsay was in charge of the actual driving, and Kristin was in charge of holding the paperwork for the trip.

In far less time than we expected we had arrived at our destination. Yes!

Caroline demonstrates the wild electricity that ran through all of us, the sheer animal enthusiasm we all felt for the days fast-approaching awesomeness, the bone rattling eagerness, the jaw-clenching anticipation, the white-knuckled hope for white-knuckled thrills. With a wind of ravenous hope at our backs we were carried off to...

Our first big line! I know, dear reader, that you are imagining that this line must have been for the parks newest and most thrill-inspiring ride but let me tell you that it was not. This line was the line we had to stand in to pick up our Flash Pass*. This was the line we had to stand in to pick up something we had already paid for on the internet the night before. This was the line that nearly demolished all our Six Flags hopes and dreams.

The party was not amused.

*What's a Flash Pass? Let me tell you. The Flash Pass is a lot like a Fast Pass from Disney Land, except that you have to pay to get to use it and it's a little neater than a Fast Pass. It's like a Tamagachi that you feed by wirelessly reserving spots in lines for while you're standing in line for the Kingda Ka at one side of the park, you're signed up for a spot on Superman at another side of the park a little later. As soon as you check in at Superman you can sign in to be in line for another ride somewhere else. We were a little skeptical of our investment at first, but it turned out to be a magnificent tool that kept our day running smoothly and line-free for almost the whole time.

Now, the Adventures. Our first challenge: Kingda Ka. It opened three years ago and I've heard too many stories of people waiting in line for it for 4 hours but then it would break down. Six Flags wasn't so busy yet and we only waited for probably 45 minutes.

Lindsay was a little intimidated at first by the notion of riding the Kingda Ka (no, she's not scared of the posted wait time, like I said, we only waited for probably 45 minutes). I don't know why Lindsay would be afraid of the ride, though, it only rockets you from 0 to 130 miles an hour in about 3 seconds and shoots you straight up and straight down a "hill" that stands about 460' in height and the whole journey is over in about 20 seconds. That's nothing to be afraid of at all.

See. Not scared one bit. Not scared one bit by the Kingda Ka cars rocketing past me with the sounds of thunder cracks.

Something very cool I found on the internet: This one fellow has made YouTubes of the front row rides of all the Great Adventure rides. Get a load of Kingda Ka (during the waiting for the ride to launch is a totally appropriate time for a cry of "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts"):

Us, victorious and windy-headed.

Kingda Ka Addendum:

There was some pretty memorable signs around Kingda Ka:

This is what that looks like:

Don't have a picture of this one, though.

Our little Flash Pass Pikachu started buzzing and we were off to experience Superman.

The gimmick of Superman (and it's a good one) is that you ride it face down, like as if you were the Human Torch flying through the air. It's silly and thrilling.

The group wasn't exactly 100% united in our depictions of Superman. Or Ice Dancers, apparently.

After Superman, while El Toro was in the Flash Pass oven, we decided to check out Fly Me to the Moon, the world's most ridiculous 3d motion simulator ride. (The story? It's about three flies that stow away on the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Weird.)



Q: Brigham, what's on your mind?
A: Oh, just thinking about all the other people that wore my glasses that day.

After our journey to the moon with a couple of young flies in spacesuits it was time to ride El Toro, a massive wooden roller coaster.

This photo does it no justice at all.

I rode El Toro beside a stranger and while we were going up the first hill he asked me if I had ever been on it before and I responded in the negative. "This one's real good," he told me. I was like, "Thanks, but I just rode Kingda Ka, so...." And he was like "You'll see, this one's real good." It was then that I realized "Hey, we're really getting high up here" and I looked over at ride's first drop which I realized went pretty much straight down (the internet later told me it was at a 78 degree angle, the steepest of any wooden roller coaster in the world). Turns out El Toro was Awesome! There was so much lift after the first drop my bottom didn't touch my chair once during the first two hills after it. Absolutely my favorite ride in the park.

This video is a must:

With some pressuring, I'll never pass on a photo opportunity.

It earned me a protege.

Then it was lunch time. El Toro began my descent into nausea and dizziness that would last until three days later, so I only ordered a milkshake. We ate in the shadow of Odyssey, New Jersey's most up and coming amusement park-based boy band.

Oddly enough, they played Caroline's favorite jam of the summer, "Too Late."

Next up, the park's newest ride, "The Dark Knight." If you're the world's biggest Batman fan and you're planning to travel for three days to get to Great Adventure to ride this new Batman rollercoaster, Don't. Turns out it's the Wild Mouse set in Gotham City (barely [barely Gotham City]). Pretty much just fun house quality stuff here. Not that it wasn't a little fun, but it wasn't much more than a little fun.

But as far as Six Flags parks go, it had a pretty elaborate pre-ride area which included a spooky monitor that would put Joker masks on your face as you walked by. Technology!

Then we rode Nitro. Nitro was great! I wish I had done it before Kingda Ka and El Toro because those two really took the edge off of what could have been a much more thrilling ride. It was really long and went way out far away from the park. And near the end of the ride I heard Caroline yell, "A shoe!" I missed it, but apparently someones shoe fell off and flew by us. Fun!

You might wonder what is caribinered to my belt loop. It is the Flash Pass. I was entrusted with so many responsibilities that day, one of which was taking care of the Flash Pass and immediately making a reservation for a new ride once we had checked into a ride, even if it meant doing it while on the ride.

Watch the video! (of Nitro, not of me using the Flash Pass)

Some rides appear so terrifying I shudder to think about the living hell they must put their riders through.

After Nitro we rode Skull Mountain. It was a charmingly obsolete indoor roller coaster and I think it was supposed to be scary because there were lots of things about it that reminded me of a Slayer album. For starters, the skull of Skull Mountain makes me think of the Seasons in the Abyss art. (if you click that link you're only going to think "Not so much.")

After Skull Mountain we did Batman which was the same as the Batman they've got at Great America in Chicago where you hang seated from the track. After the third corkscrew on this ride I was officially very dizzy and very nauseated and nearly threw up in the bathroom (but that was mostly the bathroom's fault).

Something I didn't know was that Robin and the Flash called the girls up that morning to find out what they'd be wearing so that everyone could match.

Then we crossed the park once more because it was Log Ride time!

They fit the five of us in one log and, yes, I had a hat with me!

Five in a log = a Drenching!

I call this sequence of photos, "Yes, but tell us how you really feel."

At this point we had been at the park for a while, and after you've been at a park for a while you stop taking so many pictures. So I've got nothing from the Runaway Mine Car or Rolling Thunder. And were were going to ride El Toro again, but it was closed for whatever reason they close roller coasters for. We held a council and decided to call it a day but then I saw the parachute ride and convinced the group to let me do one more ride.

Man, the parachute ride is fun to photograph. I've got dozens of pictures like this. And by "dozens" I mean "about a dozen."

Everything looks fine here, right?

Then you look down. Parachute ride combines zen like calm with "What if we die? These cables look awfully old."

Opting not to ride, Spencer won a basketball instead.

And Lindsay watched the baby. Oh no! Where's the baby! Has anyone seen the baby!

Uh oh.

And then our day at Great Adventure was officially over. Oh what fun it was to ride all those roller coasters and to be in charge of the Flash Pass.


Since we were in a car and since we were in New Jersey opportunities had to be taken advantaged of and soooo we went to the Cheesecake Factory, the restaurant equally beloved by white girls and NBA stars. (What am I talking about? Read this.)

The food was a parade of ridiculousness. But I love the Cheesecake Factory take on buffalo wings.

However, I definitely expected much better than this in the nacho department. Come on Cheesecake Factory, these are like nachos that my brother would make! Don't let yourself be outdone by Los Hermanos!

Kristin, if you've still go the leftover pasta I will SO finish it for you.

And then, with dinner done, all we had to do was get home, which really wasn't so hard and I got to be in charge of reading the directions back from the iPhone. Yes! More responsibility! I loved it! (Because we did not wind up lost). But seriously, I just want to say that this was a totally good trip to Great Adventure and that we all had so much fun (right?) and I think that was because we were a positive, results-oriented team that never fought and we had no whiners, only winners!