2015 Roller Coaster Calendar and Book Prices

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Six Flags New England, July 2015

The final amusement park related stop on our way back from our weeklong honeymoon in Maine was at Six Flags New England. At the beginning of the trip we stopped at the awesome Funtown/Splashtown USA in Saco, Maine, and Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach. This was our first visit to the park and we wanted to see what all of the hype was about regarding their perennial favorite, Bizarro, and their brand new Wicked Cyclone.

The skyline looks impressive. The 400 foot red, white, and blue tower of the SkyScreamer ride can be seen up and down the Connecticut River with ease, making the drive in to the park even more exciting. On the left you can see the brand new, 109 foot tall, Wicked Cyclone, and on the far right you can see the nearly 200 foot green towers of Goliath. 
Naturally the first thing we headed to was Wicked Cyclone. The hype surrounding this ride had us heading right to it. It was a fun ride, but I will talk more about it later on in this post.
Here you can see the 208 foot tall Bizarro standing over a coaster that is 58 years its senior, the Thunderbolt. 
But first, another view of Thunderbolt! We opted to ride instead of taking a ton of time waiting for trains to dispatch to take photos, hence the many shots without trains in them.
Our next stop is Goliath. I rode this with an open mind, as I always do when I take in rides. The twin drops off of nearly 200 foot towers are breathtaking. This ended up being my second favorite coaster in the park to Bizarro. 
Can't wait to see this at night! Gotta love classic neon!
ACE Coaster Landmark designation. This is a classic ride and I am glad that the park has taken care of it as the centerpiece of the park. 
Now it is time for Bizarro. Intamin truly made a fantastic batch of coasters at the turn of the millennium, with this coaster, the Ride of Steel coasters at Darien Lake and Six Flags America, Millennium Force, and others. The Ride of Steel coasters up until this visit were my two favorite Intamin coasters, with Darien's getting the slight edge. These coasters have the perfect balance of large drops, extreme ejector airtime, excellent floater airtime, and cutting lateral turns that make this a well rounded ride. From start to finish, these coasters never let up. Bizarro takes a slight edge over Darien's Ride of Steel because of its slightly more twisted layout due to it being built into a more compact plot of land, and the small overbanked turn after the second drop. This layout never lets up. I generally prefer wood coasters over steel coasters, but this coaster is one of only two other steel coasters that breaks into my ten favorite overall coasters. The two of us absolutely love this ride!
The raised arms on all of the riders truly say it all about this coaster. Nonstop airtime and nonstop action.
The helix elements in the second half of the ride are stunning. They are interspersed with some excellent airtime hills, often leading to raised arms getting pulled back down, sideways, and all over the place, from all of the extreme forces. 
There I am getting a backseat ride!
We ended up riding this over and over once we got through the other rides in the park. 
Stunning airtime!
While the coaster is only 208 feet tall, the drop is actually 221 feet down, with the train dipping into a  mist filled tunnel. A great way to cool off on a 92 degree day!
The park's Batman B&M Floorless Coaster is a pretty decent ride. It has the some of the intensity of the older B&M coasters, with the smoothness of their later creations. This is a solid and compact floorless and my favorite in the genre of the ones I have ridden.
I probably look like that rider in row five when I ride on the B&M trains. I always keep my hands raised and legs out.
More Bizarro action!
The airtime seldom stops on Bizarro. The only time you get a breather from the intense airtime on Bizarro is when you are in a turn with intense lateral forces.
Thunderbolt is a fun little wood coaster that should be a great ride for the whole family. 
As I was saying earlier, I did not expect Goliath Vekoma Giant Boomerang to be as fun as it was. 
Now over to a shadowy Wicked Cyclone to start wrapping up the evening. This extremely hyped ride is very fun and a nice complement to the other coasters. My first impression upon approaching the coaster was how loud it is. The park was smart to add a weather theme to this coaster, for the trains are so loud that they sound like the spiraling and roaring winds of an approaching storm. Adding some weather decorations and some TV screens playing tapes of people reporting about an "approaching storm" is a smart way to utilize the roaring sound that those RMC trains make. 
The first drop offers a nice little pop of airtime. I prefer the back part of the train on this ride due to it offering a higher intensity ride. After the first drop you are lead into a portion of straight track that leads you into an overbanked turn that feels smooth as glass and not too extreme. All of the banked elements and inversions feel this way. After the first drop there are about four moments of nice ejector airtime. The inversions are smooth and not terribly forceful. To describe the overall feel of the ride, the coaster feels and sounds like a Miler, and some of the elements feel similar to that of a TOGO. The elements reminiscent of a TOGO are the turning elements where they seem to have attempted to create airtime, similar to that of the return run on Fujiyama. Overall, this is a ride that certainly compliments the rest of the collection of coasters at Six Flags New England. 
The inversions are smooth as glass on Wicked Cyclone. If you closed your eyes while riding, you would not even know they were there. They are visually stunning to ride through and to observe from the midways.
We closed out our day at the park with a final ride on the New England SkyScreamer. This is our second favorite ride in the park to Bizarro. At 400 feet, this is one great ride. This is a beautifully executed ride. The tower is huge, the sound system on the ride plays a soundtrack that really adds to the experience, and the tower is adorned beautifully with an awesome decorative topper and a stunning package of night lighting. The ride itself is awesome as well, offering a breathtaking view of Massachusetts and Connecticut. As I mentioned earlier, you can see this tower from miles away, up and down the Connecticut River. 
The park's boomerang alley.
And another look at SkyScreamer with the lighting starting to pop on. 
This park really comes alive at night with some really cool lighting. Thunderbolt's neon looks awesome.
I really like the park's central midway. They did a great job keeping this area intact with classic rides, hearkening back to the days when this park was known as Riverside Park and park patrons arrived on steamships and trolleys. There are certain parts of the park that this old charm still shines through. 
The park's 1909 Illions Carousel is spectacular. It is one of only eight intact carousels that remain in operation from Marcus Illions, the famed Lithuanian-American immigrant and carousel carver that settled in Coney Island. It is amazing to think about how this carousel has spent more than a century at this amusement park. 
Six Flags New England is a nice park with a solid selection of rides, and Bizarro, a world-class coaster that truly lives up to the hype, in addition to some fun coasters including the new Wicked Cyclone, the giant Goliath, the floorless Batman, and others. We had a great time wrapping up our honeymoon at the park. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Now onto the next stop on our honeymoon. Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach in Maine is a nice little seaside amusement park. The park offers a great variety of flat rides, in addition to an S.D.C. Galaxi coaster. The park follows a similar historical timeline to other major east coast seaside amusement parks, having opened in 1902. Unlike many of the other older parks that are around today, you can still take the train to the park, with Amtrak's Downeaster still servicing the area.

It was a pleasant surprise to see a Huss Troika in operation. Generally these do not operate in smaller parks due to the enormous size and weight of these rides. Troikas are one of my favorite styles of flat rides. There are many other different flat rides at the park that range from small family rides, to fun thrill rides, including a Zamperla Power Surge.
 The park has this Ferris Wheel that is directly adjacent to the beach.
The creations from the former Italian coaster company S.D.C. have become increasingly rare, with only 16 of the original 63 coasters remaining in operation.
Brit did not end up riding the coaster, but ended up getting a shot of me riding this fun Italian steel coaster. I believe that this was my first S.D.C. coaster, and I really enjoyed it. It had some fun moments of airtime, and the seemingly endless helix elements were really fun. S.D.C. really had a winner in this design. The newer family coasters of this size do not compare to the wild ride that this offers. This is a great ride for the whole family.
Here is a view of the old pier and beach area. Old Orchard Beach is a very charming beach town area that I highly recommend checking out sometime.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Funtown Splashtown USA, Saco, Maine

On July 3rd we got married at Wagner Vineyards in the Finger Lakes region near Ithaca, New York, near where Brit grew up. We set off for our honeymoon in Maine and made a stopover at Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco, Maine for the first coaster rides of our married life.
Funtown is a nice amusement park and water park complex with a great selection of rides, including the great Excalibur wooden roller coaster. which we will talk more about later. The park traces its roots back to the 1960s, when the Dellaire family opened up a miniature golf course, and the Cormier family opened up a drive-in restaurant. Eventually the two families worked in unison to create Funtown, a Family Entertainment Center that would eventually expand into a full fledged amusement park with the addition of some rides and attractions. Over the years, more rides were added, and the complex eventually grew into Maine's largest amusement park attraction. 

 Now onto our visit!
The first stop was the park's Dragon's Descent S&S Turbo Drop Tower. At 220 feet, this is the tallest drop tower in New England. The view of the Maine coastline is stunning from the top. 
 The park has a decent selection of rides, with many different classics.
The biggest surprise though was this creation. The Astrosphere is an enclosed Eli Bridge Scrambler. That seems simple enough. 
Add in a laser light show, a spinning disco ball at the top of the ride, and a ride set to the Electric Light Orchestra's "Fire on High," and you have one of the most disorienting experiences out there. This thing is flat out awesome and I would love to see more rides get this sort of treatment. Astrosphere is simply great.
 More midway! It was a hot day, so most of the people were at the waterpark. The crowds grew as the day went on though/
 The park also has this neat Hopkins Log Flume. It meanders throughout the park and was pretty popular on this hot day.
 Now off to cross the Camelot Bridge!
 Off for our first wooden roller coaster ride as a married couple!
 The Arthurian decor is a nice touch to the ride
 The station is even set up to look like a castle.
 Rode this thing at least ten times. Had to get the front seat in, but this is definitely a backseat ejector airtime thriller. The first and second hills have some serious ejector airtime. 
 The rows are even named after King Arthur and his Court
 Ok, we got these guys, what about Sir Paul and Sir Elton?
 I love how many of the CCI coasters have a full listing of specs and statistics of their coasters. It saves a trip to RCDB to find out statistics.
 There's Brit!
This CCI beast is all around awesome, with a great mix of ejector airtime, heavy laterals, and swooping hills. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company train that this coaster uses really helps this coaster shine. Additionally, the recent track work has the coaster feeling like it is brand new.
 It feels like the natural progression in design between Holiday World's two CCI coasters, Raven (1996) and Legend (2000) with Excalibur having been built between the two in 1998. I feel that the design is an improvement from Raven's, and that the swooping drop and quick direction changes in the heavily banked sections on Excalibur would get built on a larger scale when the Legend was built two years later.
 This is one twisted coaster.
 Brit returning to the station in the King Arthur car
 Great ride all around!
The drivers need to keep an eye out..... 
Gotta watch out for the wildlife!
 Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby
 Some more Excalibur love!
Funtown was a great place to stop to help kick off our honeymoon! I highly recommend checking out this park for it has a nice variety of attractions. The park is worth a visit for rides on Excalibur alone, with it being one awesome wooden roller coaster. While you are up in Maine, be sure to spend some time sightseeing and relaxing as well for it is such a beautiful state.