May 20, 2006

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    I made my first visit to Six Flags Elitch Gardens with a fellow from Westcoaster named Andy (CKY Lunatic on WC). We drove to the park and entered the gates about 12:45 p.m. We both have season passes, and Andy has a parking pass, so this didn't cost anything!

    I told him I wanted to start at the bad rides so things would only look up. I didn't know what to expect because I hadn't heard much about this park. It has some Vekomas and a strange flying coaster, so I wasn't expecting too much.

    We started at Mind Eraser, the Vekoma SLC. Two trains were running, so the wait wasn't long. I'd only been on one SLC before, and that was in 2003 at the former Six Flags Worlds of Adventure. I didn't remember much except that it was rough.

    Mind Eraser was no exception. We sat in the back. The lift hill was OK, but the ride jarred us around like crazy. The first drop had a big jolt in it, the rollover was terrible, but the worst part was the in-line twists. Ouch. The ride was just shake city there. It turns a few times after that and stops abruptly in the brakes. 3/10. My 118th coaster.

    We went to Boomerang next. Oh man, I hate my life. Andy suggested the middle car because that's where the second lift hill catches. This Boomerang was similar to Hersheypark's in the sense that the trains are updated and have a bit more padding on the restraints.

    But that doesn't matter. Vekoma! We banged around in the inversions, but the worst part was that second lift hill. Once the chain engaged, our car was lifted off the rails. The wheels in front were actually off the track! After it released, we slammed back down to the track, to the side, around, and I think we may have turned upside down a few times. Pain. 2/10. No. 119.

    So far I was not impressed with my third Six Flags park.

    We went to Tower of Doom next. It's an Intamin free fall that's 220 feet tall. The line wasn't too bad until the winds picked up. They said they'd only load one of the three sides, so capacity dropped by two-thirds. Fortunately, they asked for two riders when there were maybe six people in front of us. Joy. It's a fun ride. It's not too tall, but you do get good views. It felt like it waited at the top for a while, and I didn't know when it would drop. I enjoy drop rides. 7/10.

    We wandered around to Twister II. From the looks of things, it got some major retracking during the offseason. Nearly every part of the ride has new layered wood for the track. The new wood isn't painted yet. There are a couple hilarious signs in the queue telling people not to spit or throw missiles. What?

    Two trains were running, so we didn't wait too long. We went to the back seat. The seats are comfortable, though they have headrests. The first drop is fun and sort of steep. There's a trim brake at the beginning of the second drop. It didn't take much speed away, but it was still bothersome. There were some spots on the ride that seemed like there might be airtime if the trim wasn't there.

    The retracked part was great. It was smooth and didn't jackhammer when bottoming out in drops. I enjoyed that. The tunnel was also sort of hidden toward the end of the ride. It ends with some lateral G's, turns and a funky hop into the brake run. The brakes stop you quickly, so the whole section of track sways once or twice. This was the best coaster I rode at SFEG. 6.5/10. No. 120.

    We headed to Sidewinder next. This is a unique ride. It's an Arrow shuttle loop that's about a billion feet off the ground. Actually, it's more like 50 feet high. Because there are no turns, it doesn't have the Arrow headbanging. Heck, it probably doesn't need the shoulder restraints. The worst part about it is having to climb all the steps to the top. They couldn't think of a better place for a station or a better way to get up there? Sheesh. We were seated in the next to the last car.

    The launch appears to be a small flywheel-driven catch car that pushes the train down the drop. It enters a loop and goes into a brake run. There it waits. And waits. And waits. Andy said it was a longer wait than usual. I got to take in the scenery. Then the catch car caught and slowly pushed us over the edge. The train shakes around a little after the catch car releases. It's really just a simple ride with a loop. 5/10. No. 121.

    Next we went to The Flying Coaster. This thing looks like a torture device. You sit in a small car with bars behind you and in front of you. There isn't much padding.

    After about 10 minutes, we got in the station. They told us not to load because someone had a bloody nose on a previous ride. We had to wait for a group of people to get there to clean it up. We waited for maybe 15 minutes and chatted with the ride host who was near us.

    They got that cleaned up, and we got in the prison cell. You climb up on a small ladder, keep your feet on that ladder, lay forward, grab onto the fence in front of you and then you cry a lot. This ride was a nonstop boxing match that we were losing. The lift hill is cool, but that's pretty much the only cool thing on the ride. The turns are quick and too sharp, the rollovers are painful, every time we turned I thought my ears would be taken off. Ow, ow, ow! Who came up with this thing?! 2/10. No. 122.

    We decided we'd had enough, so we went to the Observation Tower. This 300-foot tower provides great views of the Rocky Mountains, Elitch Gardens and downtown Denver. I took plenty of pictures from up there. We stayed up there for about 10 minutes because the breeze felt good. I could feel the tower swaying a little bit.

    After that, we called it a day. Andy is not a fan of Halfpipe, so we skipped it. The line looked sort of long, and it doesn't look like it has a good capacity. I'll get it next time I go.

    Six Flags Elitch Gardens is a neat little park. I've never said, "This isn't right" on so many rides in one park before, though. I'll visit quite a few times over the summer. The waterpark is included with admission, so I may go there a few times. I did enjoy Twister II, and I have to ride Halfpipe and Great Chase to increase my coaster count. Elitch Gardens gets a 5/10.

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