Category Archives: popcoaster

To queue or be queued?

screwbot_1.gifOne day at Six Flags Great Adventure, we waited in line to ride one of the wooden roller coasters. The wait up until this point was about 35 minutes. We were just about to smush through the turnstile when the attendant stopped us. Just then, two dozen kids appeared in the exit lane. Holding up a little electronic contraption they were all let through, filling up the next car and adding another 10 minutes to our wait. My first experience with the new park queuing system.

Mouth open, shocked. My first thought was anger. Who do you think you people are?! My second thought: Where do I get one and how much?

On our next trip to Great Adventure I inquired as to the price. With 4 of us it breaks down to about $12 per person. Okay, what does $12 get you… exactly.

First they will tell you some crap that it doesn’t wait in line for you. I think this is some sort of mis-information to make the people not paying $12 feel better. If you are clever and plan your queuing like a general going to war, you can ride every coaster in the park on a busy Saturday – twice. Yes – we did it all, again.

You must realize that in a park of this scale it takes you 20 minutes to walk from one section to the other and 30 minutes (or more) to walk all the way across the park. The idea is to have the system wait for you while you walk.

For example: The first ride you will have to wait for. This isn’t too bad as the wait times in the morning are low. When you walk to a ride and queue it – we’ll call that “beeping the ride.” You can queue an unlimited number of rides, but the counter for the next ride won’t start until you finish the previous one. So you beep Batman and it says wait time 35min. Then beep The Chiller. Okay, now go ride Skull Mountain as a warm-up. Buzz, buzz. What’s that? Batman is ready! Okay get off Skull Mountain and ride Batman. On the way over, beep Nitro. Off Batman onto The Chiller. You get there 5 minutes early, but it lets you on anyway. Hop off the chiller and head towards Nitro. Nitro is a big ride so the wait time is still at 40 minutes. That’s okay you have time to ride The Mine Train on your way to beeping Medusa / Viper / etc. and then back to ride Nitro in the nick of time.

So, the guide is this: Always beep (queue) a ride while walking to another one. You may have to backtrack a couple of times (based on the park layout), but your wait time for ride B will be eaten up by you walking to ride A, getting on, riding it, walking back and beeping ride C. Walk to ride B, get on, ride, beep ride D and then ride C. etc. etc. This is much more efficient then: Walk to ride A, wait an hour, ride. Walk to B, wait 45 min, ride. etc. In the same amount of time you went on 3 rides I did 5. The more you keep the ball rolling, the more this time adds up.

Queuing coming to a park near you? Based on the new system they implemented this year at Six Flags New England, I’d say YES. The new system not only does ride queuing, but knows where you are in the park (with a form of RFID – Radio Frequency Ident) and will spam you with “deals” for park food and promotions. They are tracking where (exactly) you go, how much time you spend there and what you ride.

Counterpoint: Cedar Point had implemented a rider queuing system and later pulled it because of complaints and problems. They seem reluctant to implement a full park system. The medieval “hand stamp” system is just not going to cut it in the 21st century. Don’t expect them to adopt any system that Six Flags uses.

Do I like queuing systems? Yes and no. On a busy Saturday when you want to ride EVERYTHING it’s a must. It’s worth the extra $12 per person. I dislike the spam systems they use now. I don’t like that they track you around the park. Should they spend the money on a queuing system instead of training the operators to make the rides queue quicker? Probably.

Have you ridden standup?

standup_pinch_sm.jpgFor those men who have been on a standup coaster, this T-Shirt needs little introduction. As a male of my species, these rides afford little comfort in the way of the lower half. Loose fitting shorts and boxers will pay the price for riding the standup.

We were in a restaurant the night before our big day at Cedar Point. We were talking about rides with our waiter and he mentioned Mantis. “Just – a – watch out for Mantis.” He said with a bit of nervous hesitation. “Is there something wrong with it?” Christine asked. “Well – not for you – but for us men… The seat is a little um…” “Oh – I get it. Okay, cool.”

My advice: Make sure you get on the ride nice and slow. There’s nothing like getting an oversize bicycle seat in the groin just before going upside down. OOF! Warn others of your kind! Click to here to buy the T-Shirt!

This idea spawned a whole catalog of “fun with safety” ideas. Look for more designs coming soon.

Cedar Point vs. SF Great Adventure

cedarpoint_mantis.jpgAfter a little GPS mapping problem we were able to find our hotel. You see everything in Cedar Point is called Cedar Point “Something.” Even the streets. So, It’s Cedar Point Park on Cedar Point Drive, in Cedar Point. It’s right past Cedar Point Lanes and the Cedar Point Hotel. You can’t miss it.

The park is great. The weather was great. I can see why it’s listed as one of the worlds best coaster / amusement parks in the world. As a coaster snob afficinado – I think that this park has a lot to offer, but not necessarilly my favorite rides. They are higher and faster, but they seem to lack the ride time of some of the coasters in the East. The Top Thrill Dragster is an amazing ride, yet only 14 seconds. The Millenium Force only has a couple of turns and a few big hills. Maybe some whoopdies, or a tight spiral? I guess they thought dropping you 300 feet was enough. If we were to compare Cedar Point in Ohio to Six Flags Great Adventure in NJ – Park to park, I would give Cedar Point the crown but tell them to watch out. Six Flags Great Adventure is a close second and could soon take that crown in 2005 with the new Kingda Ka ride.

giga.jpg

The run down: We tried to compare like to like, based on the age or style of the ride. Some rides don’t have a good counterpart.

Millenum Force or Nitro – Nitro wins. Longer but not taller. I love the upwards spiral. Is is apples to oranges? I don’t think so. Mega, Hyper, Giga?
Top Thrill or Superman – Equal in very different ways. Fly like Superman or drive a Dragster… I chose these to compare for the time being, as they are the “newest” big ride of both parks.
Mean Streak or Rolling Thunder – Mean Streak is better. EDIT I actually got this confused with Gemini?!
Wicked Twister or The Chiller – Wicked Twister is awesome. The Chiller is too loud. Both linear induction. Even though The Chiller is 2 rides (Batman & Robin) They never run them together and one is always down.
Magnum XL-200 or Scream Machine – Equal. Both older style unique coasters. One has a big drop. One loops.
Raptor or Batman – Raptor wins, but it’s no Medusa. There are what – 7 identical Batman rides all over the US. They are cool – but all the same.
Mantis or Medusa – Medusa hands down. I know, I know – one is a standup, one is floorless. It’s my show.
Corkscrew or Viper – Viper, even though it’s closed all the time. :)
Cedar Creek Mine Train or Runaway Mine Train – Equal. It’s the same ride. :p Gotta love the 1970’s Arrow coasters.
Disaster Transport or Skull Mountain – Equal. In the dark and not scary.

Now the gem of the park is a little “kiddie” ride called the Wildcat. It’s a old coaster that is really smooth. Very traditional “around then drop, around then drop” but it was a suprise to me how soft and fun it was. If you want a good “warm-up” ride: Skip Disaster Transport and head to the Wildcat.

Here are the final arguments: In order for Great Adventure to overtake Cedar Point as the worlds best amuzment park.
1. Add giga ride… Check.
2. Add a lot more little kid stuff. CP has a huge park – just for the kiddies. This looks like where they are going with the Golden Kingdom.
3. Pretend you’re as friendly as the mid-west. Come on Jersey!

Launch of popcoaster.com

Just as when a coaster designer picks a system for shooting riders hundreds of feet in the air. I am going to take this project step by step. Careful not to forget anything and careful not to rush and try to put all my ideas and thoughts down in one late night session. I will build, slowly at first. Taking steps up the lift hill. The anticipation growing. Even I am not sure where the ride will take us right now.

The store items will be were I focus most of my attention. I have a zillion T-Shirt ideas and a dozen or so will be good enough to make it to the store. I have some more character work to do. I don’t know – maybe even a comic could be in the works. (Do we need another one?)

I’ve ridden on 8 of the top 10 steel coasters, 2 of the top 10 wooden ones, and spent a lot of time at some great parks across the country. My home park is now Six Flags Magic Mountain and I’ve got a trip to Texas planned in December. I’ve got some great experiences to share. Enjoy them, wont you?

One more roller coaster!

Friday morning we got the hell out of Vegas and planned a stop in Primm, Nevada for one more coaster. Desperado was the worlds tallest coaster back in 96, and is still on the list. The timing worked out perfectly and we were the first riders of the day. It’s a fantastic coaster and quite a rush in the morning. There are no other coasters to work your way up to this one. So, it’s a quick lift hill into a 225 foot drop.

I just looked at the record book and on this trip alone we have hit 3 of the worlds top coasters. Goliath in Magic Mountain is sure to be checked off soon. I always wanted to go to Japan. :)

Roller Coaster Drop Location Year
Top Thrill Dragster 400 feet Cedar Point
Sandusky, Ohio
2003
Steel Dragon 2000 306 feet Nagashima Spaland
Mie, Japan
2000
Millennium Force 300 feet Cedar Point
Sandusky, Ohio
2000
Goliath 255 feet Six Flags Magic Mountain
Valencia, California
2000
Titan 255 feet Six Flags Over Texas
Arlington, Texas
2001
Fujiyama 230 feet Fujikyu Highland Park
Japan
1996
Phantom’s Revenge 228 feet Kennywood Park
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
2001
Desperado 225 feet Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino
Primm, Nevada
1993