Trip Report Spring Fling 2004 Six Flags Over Georgia
By: Alan Martin
Great weather, excellent food, top notch service, enthusiastic enthusiasts and LOTS of ERT this was Spring Fling 2004 at Six Flags Over Georgia on March 27th, 2004. An excellent time was had by all and I must begin with a heartfelt thanks to both the Six Flags management team and our superb South Eastern Representative Robert Ulrich. This coordinated effort created a fantastic event with all the thrills.
Jonathan Hawkins, Phil Hart, John Bedtelyon and myself left my place in Franklinton, NC at about 2:00pm. After discovering I had forgotten my shoes and having to go back, we were on the road and cruising toward Kannapolis, NC where we would pick up our 5th member of the Whootah clan Mike Wookie Kerns. This would be Phils first ever trip to SFOG with repeat visits for the rest. After reaching Kannapolis we were back on track and headed for our hotel on Six Flags Blvd. A stop at Hooters along the way provided nice atmosphere during dinner and introduced the restaurant to both Phil and Jonathan for the first time. They seemed to really enjoy it hmmm.. I wonder why?
Saturday morning started with the gathering of friends old and new in the Main ticket area. After a brief note about safety from Robert, we were quickly sent through to receive our ERT wristbands, Event tags (with name and where you were from) and admission ticket. Another quick review of the days itinerary and we were off to the cotton states section of the park where ERT would begin on Superman, The Great American Scream Machine and Bumper Cars.
On our way to morning ERT we bumped into CoasterDave and ragged him about getting rides in on GASM if he was up for it. He explained he was up for one ride and no more. Daves experience with the anniversary rides was enough to last him for the remainder but GASM was running very smooth and delivering plenty of thrills which led to Dave actually making about 5 trips by the end of morning ERT. It is obvious that SF maintains this coaster very well as a fairly fresh coat of paint was evident. We got in several rides from front to back on each train. The front is a great ride on GASM but the back is the money seat for me! Great airtime and excellent pacing a John Allen masterpiece.
Jonathan, Phil, Mike, John and I spent the most part of the ERT moving back and forth between GASM and Superman. This was the first time on Superman for all but Jonathan and it did not fail to impress. The Pretzel is definitely one of the most intense and bizarre moments I have ever experienced on a coaster and left my cohorts equally surprised. We had single train operation on Superman but two trains on GASM. The ride ops for both were organized, efficient and enthusiastic and both machines were a walk-on throughout the morning. Near the end of the session, close to 10am GP opening time, we noticed the trains on Ninja going through their test runs and decided to hit it for a couple of trips before the GP reached the back area of the park. Ninja has always been more impressive to observe than to ride for me so I got a couple of rides in just for fun. The best thing about this coaster is the major head-chopper effect you get making all of the crisscross dives through the tangle of multiple inversions. Each time I leave the station and make it back out to the midway I chuckle as Z-Force flashes back from the deep recesses of my memory. The last train before the GP hit the lines was completely empty except for Jonathan so he got to experience the Ninja from the backseat of a completely empty train for a cycle, a rare opportunity.
We caught a ride on the bumper cars and then headed down the hill to the Lickskillet area and after a few pictures we decided to hop on the Skybuckets to cross the park and make our way down to the Dehlonga Mine Train. The GP had filled the lines up to the back of the rows so we had about a 10 minute wait. We boarded and the ride op proceeded to bash Mikeys thighs with the lapbar several times before he re-situated and she could get the bar down and locked. Mikey is a big guy, not fat just big, so he had a hard time fitting into the Dehlongas small cars. I adore mine train style coasters and this one has a lot of history behind it. It has the cliche but enjoyable oil and wood smell that I really dig. I also love its unusual aspect of having three lift hills. Its path through a natural terrain setting and the dive through the final tunnel with quick directional changes caught our first-time riders by surprise. Just a fun little coaster. We departed the train and decided to grab a quick snack and something to drink. Now, I don’t like to complain unless it’s legitimate but I have to say that $2.89 is way to steep for a small drink. Two drinks and a pretzel came to around $10. I don’t mind paying somewhat inflated prices when I’m in a park but this was outrageous. Maybe they are trying to cover their debt with soda? Really Six Flags, you need to work on this.
After our gourmet snack ahem, we headed out to see what the Mindbender and Batman lines were like. Mindbender was backed out to the entrance so we made our way into Batman only to find it had over an hour wait. We would later find out during evening ERT that Batman had only one train operational as the trains were going through a complete rebuild and only one was ready currently. We would also later find that this one rebuilt train would deliver some of the most fantastic rides ever experienced on any inverted coaster. So, we headed out of the Gotham City area and decided to wait for evening ERT for Batman and MB.
We reached the top of the hill and noticed fairly short lines for The Great Gasp. We had about 20 minutes to burn before the group picnic so we decided to grab the first of 3 must rides for Jonathan. TGG is really smooth and provides some of the best views of the park aside from Acrophobia. After gliding back to earth, we headed over to the Picnic Pavilion by the First drop on GASM. Along the way we stopped to admire Six Flags multi-million dollar paperweight DeJa vu and shoot some more video footage.
Everyone gathered at Picnic Pavilion #3 and admired the beauty of GASMs first drop from the unique vantage point provided at the pavilion. We hooked back up with Dave after the group photo was shot and everyone lined up for an excellent meal consisting of Fried Chicken, Barbecue, potatoes, cole-slaw, potato salad and cobbler. After the meal, the park’s General Manager spoke to everyone welcoming them to the event and a representative from a movie making company recruited volunteers as extras for a movie shooting that would take place on Monday.
Some more video footage was acquired and we, now including Dave, headed up the hill to the great old Riverview Carousel. After admiring the carvings on the horses and the controversial, Janet Jackson like exposure, we boarded the great machine and went round for a cycle. Traditional and majestic, this carousel is a masterwork of carving and color. Most noted and agreed that the lovers carving had a man that resembled the traditional visage of Jesus for the man kissing the woman. We all wondered why this was not more controversial than the breast and nipple on the carving.
We made our way down the backside of Carousel Hill to the train station and rode for a complete circuit around the park. During the ride we were amused by the obviously bored, microphone beset host as he repeated his spiel with lightning fast, indiscernible chatter including a few of his own sarcastic comments thrown in for good measure. A park train is one of the aspects that I wish Carowinds Park would reconsider. Train rides are a high capacity, family friendly attractions that provide great atmosphere to a park. Our train ride complete, we headed across to the park to grab some more photos and video of the Georgia Cyclone and Acrophobia. The GP was fully in force by now and the park would be closing for the GP by 6:00pm so we decided to head down to the front gate, do some shopping and head back to the hotel for a breather before coming back for the evening ERT session. Dave decided to hang in the park and take some high-quality pics 😉
A quick trip to Wendys provided some needed nourishment before we headed back to the park early enough to ensure that Jonathan could get his 2nd must ride trip through Monster Plantation in before our 6pm gathering time at the Crystal Pistol Theater. We called Dave and he said he would meet us at the MP entrance. It was about this time that I decided I would try to take advantage of the Season Pass upgrade offer that was posted all over the park and scrolling at the bottom of every que line TV. The information explained that you could go into any shop in the park and upgrade. Shop #1 – Sorry, can’t do that here, try the shop down the hill called blah. Shop #2 Sorry, can’t do that here, try the shop at the bottom of the hill called blah. Shop #3 Uh, sorry can’t do that here. At this point I simply gave up and decided to try with AAA or Johns Military connections to get better priced tickets. Later, Jonathan wanted to do the same upgrade so he tried one shop different from the other three. They actually sent him back to the first shop we went to in the beginning! They proceeded to tell him that they were out of vouchers and that he would have to come back the next day and purchase his voucher at the front gate. Now, I don’t know about you but I have never had that much difficulty trying to spend $30.00 in my life. I wanted to give Six Flags my money and they were making next to impossible. Again, Six Flags, you need to work on this.
After MP we rounded the corner and went into the Crystal Pistol and were greeted by the Six Flags Management Team including the Parks General Manager and were each handed a bag chock full of goodies including a historical SFOG DVD, ride T-shirt and keychain. They also supplied soda drinks at an open bar for the hour-long gathering. Chock one up to SF for this arrangement as it softened the blow I had just experienced with the season pass shenanigans. A quick presentation was given showing the parks future enhancements/changes including a new family coaster and water park addition that is essentially the same ride as Zinga at Holiday World.
Immediately following the Pistol Presentations we were invited to the Gotham City section of the park for one half of the evening ERT session including Mind Bender, Batman and Shake, Rattle and Roll a new indoor super scrambler ride with flashing lights and clips of 50s and 60s tunes. Jonathan 3rd must ride request was about to be realized. We hit MB and got in a total of around 11 rides over the ERT. Dave and I hooked up as riding partners and he kept me laughing from this point forward as the Whootah bug hit him and he was screaming it at the top of his lungs as we dove through the genius of Schwarzkopf. I never grow tired of this coaster and its style. This coaster speaks to you in a dramatic, engaging session of raw energy, grace and sound during its circuit and I walk away amazed every time. This coaster will be moving higher on my list. However, out of all the great experiences the surprise of the event had to be Batman. As I mentioned earlier, one train but completely rebuilt. This thing was running so good, so fast that it was unbelievable. We were all astounded by the stellar performance that we got from this coaster and its new train. A truly remarkable set of rides that blew my mind. It was the best set of rides I’ve ever experienced on any inverted coaster. Batman is now easily my favorite invert.
Jonathan and Phil split off from the group to catch the last part of the Gotham City ERT riding Shake, Rattle and Roll. They apparently did about 11 circuits on this crazy ride so we moved onto the next half of the evening ERT which included Georgia Cyclone, Georgia Scorcher and Acrophobia. We would catch up with Jonathan and Phil later.
We hit Scorcher first for a nighttime stand-up that includes great elements, sudden changes of direction and smooth, smooth, smooth floating. One ride and Scorcher instantly became my favorite stand-up. I’m not that crazy about stand-up coasters really but with this one they finally got it right. As we came off Scorcher we ran back into Jonathan and Phil both with diliated pupils and dazed expressions but with smiles a mile wide. Shake, Rattle and Roll was a good ride.
We shot some more footage and moved on to catch a couple of circuits on the Cyclone. The craziness that had begun earlier with Dave and the MB was about to reach its zenith. I can’t really say what insanity transpired but I can tell you that I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Dave was really living it up and had me in stitches the entire time. He was having a blast and so were the rest of us as the Cyclone beat us up with it’s typical raw aggressiveness. Dave, you’re a riot! It was the best time.
After our GC rides we moved onto Acrophobia for Phil, John and I to take our first ever rides. This was old hat for Jonathan and Dave. Drop rides have always been a nervous point for me, though I don’t know why. Acro was great! It wasn’t as uncomfortable as I imagined it would be based on the pictures I had seen. The drop was really intense though the Drop Zone ride at Carowinds, NC is still my favorite. Someone on the ride had the perfect description: It’s like a bad skydiving accident where your parachute doesn’t open until the last moment!
After the last of two consecutive drops on Acro, Dave, Phil, Jonathan and I decided to head back for more rides on GC while Mike chose to sit out a few rides and rest. We moved up to the station on the Cyclone and discovered that we were boarding the last train of the last ride for the day. Though we all hated to see it come to an end, we were tired and had more than our fill of ERT time for the day so we happily blasted through the last ride and again Dave had me in stitches the entire time. We slowly moved out to the exit and thanked the SF crew one last time as we crossed the parking lot and headed back to our hotel for a much needed rest. When it was all said and done, this was the best event I have attended yet and as we were walking back to the hotel, we all were talking about attending again next year. It was a fantastic day and a great event that will not soon be forgotten. Thanks to the Whootah group for keeping it fun and to everyone else who attended for keeping it safe. On we go with 2004! WHOOTAH!