The ATRA Tour Continues...June Jersey Shore Tour

A Joint ATRA / VMNCC outing

Clementon Park, SF Great Adventure, Casino Pier, Funtown Pier, Morey's Piers, Gillians Wonder Pier, Playland's Castaway Cove, Steel Pier

June 16-21, 2006

Part I-Clementon and Six Flags Great Adventure

As some of you are already aware, Pete and I took a trip to the Jersey shore. We met our friends Duke and Lisa out there. They are from Vermont. We left the morning of Friday, June 16, starting with Clementon.. It was nothing short of fabulous weather. Not too hot at all. Plenty of sun and comfortable temperatures in the 70's.

Day One (Friday, June 16~Clementon Park, Clementon, NJ)

We left Pittsburgh (Pete's house) right around 10am. Traffic was pretty much okay on the turnpike until we hit Phili, of course. We had previously told Duke and Lisa that we would be there around 3, but I don't think we actually ended up getting there until about 5 or 6 pm. We got caught in a huge traffic jam through Phili. I don't know HOW people live there. It would drive me crazy. Which really makes me think t hat big cities are NOT for me. I mean, c'mon, the biggest city I ever lived in is Dayton, OH. 8-)

So, we get to Clementon about 5 or 6. We saw Duke in the parking lot, going out to his car. They had been there since opening, so they already rode everything. They were about to leave when they saw us pull up, which was perfect timing.

If you like small parks, then you will like Clementon. It comes equipped with a decent S & S woodie, named J2 (f/k/a Tsunami), the brother to Avalanche, which is located in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. (Keep in mind that Avalanche is number two on my top ten woodie list.) So I would expect nothing different from her brother.

But, alas, these are two different rides. J2 does have airtime, and it is an intense ride. Pete will kill me for saying this, and I am not comparing the two in any other way, but after riding The Voyage and feeling its intensity, J2 did not feel that intense. Pete told me I would have felt differently had I NOT ridden Voyage first.

I admit I was a little scared to ride J2, since I had been hearing it is pretty rough. So I sat in the first seat the first time around. I did not feel it was THAT rough at all, and the same goes for the very back seat, which I rode on my second ride.

So after two rides on J2, we headed for the rest of the park to hit those rides, never forgetting to get an Italian Ice, which was also a big part of the trip. You see, Jersey is known for its Italian ice, huge New York style pizza slices, snow cones, etc. I told Pete that this vacation was no limits as far as food, LOL. I think I gained about 10 pounds on this trip.

Anyways... back to Clementon...

We rode such rides as the ferry boat ride. It did not go far, but it was a nice, quaint, relaxing ride. We also rode the train and Ferris wheel, and kind of just took our time through the park and relaxed, thinking they closed at 10pm. The Jack Rabbit is a neat-looking wooden coaster that is standing but not operating. Pete, et al., really wishes that it will open back up.

When we arrived at the park, we asked the girl at the front gate what time they closed, and she said 10. There was also a sign that said they closed at 10pm. So, when we took our time on the other rides, we thought we had all this time to spare before getting some good evening/night rides on J2. Boy, were we wrong...

We got to J2 right about 8:40 pm to begin our evening and night rides. There was an employee there shutting off the entrance. We inquired as to why he was doing this when clearly they do not close until 10pm. He said they are closing the park at 9, and they are just now sending the last train through. We explained to him that we were from far away, and if there was any way he could let us have one more ride on it. He literally yelled up the platform (no radios seemed to be at use), and then told us no. We were upset, I was livid. After standing around in shock, we saw TWO MORE TRAINS being sent, not just the one like the employee said. I should also note that the gift shop was closed at 8:30 as well. What park in their right mind would close a gift shop before the park closed? Isn't that when people tend to shop, when the rides are closed??

Anyways, I decided to go to guest relations and complain. After waiting for what seemed like an hour to get someone up there, finally a man comes up and proceeds to argue with us. Now, here is where the problem comes in. You see, I have worked in customer service since I was 15, making it almost 20 years. When a customer complains, you don't offer excuses, but solutions! This guy was telling us that it takes them a while to close the coaster and that is why it closed so soon. We argued with him and told him that both the sign at the front gate and his employee told us the park closed at 10. He said they reserve the right to close when they want. We pointed out that this should be stated somewhere, and again he proceeded to give us excuses, not solutions. I asked for my money back, he refused. After "twisting his arm", he did give us two free passes to come back to the park. That was when I informed him, "why would I want to come back to your park"?

Yes, this was an unpleasant experience and, had I known they were closing so soon, I would have wasted no time in getting more J2 rides. Whether I will return to this park is still up in the air.

Day Two (Friday, June 17~Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ)

Okay, a fresh day, a fresh start, right? Well, it was shaky grounds for the first part of the day. Our ERT was supposed to start at 8:30 am and go until 10am. Our ERT was supposed to be on Kingda Ka, Rolling Thunder, Medusa, and Mine Ride, for sure, but to be honest, I cannot really remember what other rides we were supposed to have in the morning because they literally changed our itinerary SIX TIMES! I am not kidding! I remember walking back to Kingda Ka and there were about 20 coaster enthusiasts waiting, and there were no ride ops to be found, no testing! So we proceeded to the breakfast, where they essentially had doughnuts, doughnuts, and, alas, more doughnuts! (contributing towards my ten-pound weight gain on this trip) We took our time, Pete, Duke, Lisa, and I, and ate our breakfast.

Also, Duke and Lisa had informed us that they did not receive their registration packets in the mail beforehand, and were told to report to guest relations early to pick them up but, guess what? You got it! No one was there! So, nonetheless, they were flustered. This was not looking to be a very good day.

After breakfast, we headed over to the Medusa area, and rode Medusa and the mine ride. The mine ride is one very cute little ride, with some elements they are sure to shock. 8-) Medusa was at its best, and I got two rides in the front seat and one in the back. After one ride, Pete and Lisa were done. Duke and I got two more on it. I decided that this ride, along with its beautiful Immelman, is right next to Medusa as far as my favorite Beemer floorlesses.

When the park opened at 10am, we decided to head over to Rolling Thunder. On the way, we saw herds and herds of people running for El Toro. And I mean buffalo herds, man! The "running of the bulls, literally!" LOL! Now, we had heard that since its opening the previous Monday, it has not opened any earlier than 1pm in the afternoon. So, we just decided to Q-Bot it for later in the day. (By the way, I took a pic of the herds and herds of people running to El Toro, it was worse than people running back to TTD and MF at CP when they first opened! LOL!)

Rolling Thunder is decent, only waited about 10 to 15 minutes. It gave us a great view of El Toro.

Let me just give you my first reaction to El Toro: WOW! Unbelievable! Just pure out and back, and it sure looked like it had a lot of air! I wanted to marry it right then and there, LOL!

After Rolling Thunder, we decided to go to the Q-Bot line. It looked very long, but Duke and Lisa said they had seen it longer. It only took us about 20 minutes to get through the line. We got the standard q-bot, which was about 19 bucks a head. We proceeded over to El Toro and "slid it in". (That's what HE said, LOL) It told us to come back in approximately a little over two hours to ride. Between the moment we slid it in and we came back, we just got some eats and ran into Brucie (so good to see him again) and went out to the car, etc.

Okay, and now for the El Toro ride report: A good ride, but awful wait...

Sure, the Q-Bot helped us to avoid the two-hour and some odd minutes wait. And the line was moving "fairly" okay, being they only had one train on the thing. Pete, Duke, and Lisa went towards the front of the line, and I, being a back-seat bitch, went towards the back. Here is where things got ugly.

I got in the first seat, back car, and Pete got in I believe the first car, second or third seat? ( I cannot exactly remember). Now, keep in mind, due to our present and past problems with Intamin and being of the bigger proportion, Pete and I were concerned that we would not fit on this ride before we even got to the park. And their sensor system is awful! The computer tells the ride op what CAR is causing the problem, but not the exact SEAT, like B & M has so well mastered.

The problem began with Pete's car. It just so happened that Pete was sitting with other big people, even bigger than him! (and I should comment that Pete is not that big, these people were really big) The computer was not letting the train go, and it said that the car Pete was in was the problem. First they asked the bigger girl to get off, computer still had problem. Then her boyfriend got off. Still same problem. Then another guy AND Pete got off, and finally the computer was okay with that car.

Now, while this was all happening with Pete, I was getting stapled in the back car. I specifically asked the ride op if I fit. He flagged the guy running the panel and he gave a thumbs up, so I knew I fit. Everyone riding with me in the last car was thin except me. So I am sitting there, all ready to ride while all this was going on with Pete's car. Then, when that problem with Pete's car was supposedly all settled, the computer said that MY FREAKING CAR had a problem. But the thing is, the operator already said the computer okay-d me. So they told me to get off the train and guess what? There was STILL a problem. At this point they told everyone to get up off the train and go wait by the exit stairs. Pete and I were among the people waiting.. We were very flustered, especially Pete. The thing is, he did not know whether it was HIM causing the problem, or the people he was sitting with. So, he vowed that he would wait until ERT to try it again, being that the coaster enthusiasts would be more understanding and they tended to be bigger people too, so. (People were yelling such things as "fatso" to everyone that was in Pete's car because "they" were supposedly holding the line back. Why are people such butt holes?)

We waited ONE FULL HOUR for them to do whatever they needed to do with the train before it started running again. Everyone except Pete got back into their seats. I fit with no problem, and the train was okay'd. Duke and Lisa were going to be on the next train out, so they were still waiting in the queue through all this.

That first ride was amazing, but I gotta say I did not really started enjoying it until later, because of all the commotion and fear of fitting. That 76-degree first drop is unlike anything you will ever, ever experience. I felt that on a steel coaster, such as MF, Hypersonic, TTD, the difference between 70, 80, and 90 degrees is not that extreme of a difference. But, on a woodie, I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, it is a whole different story. The best way I can explain it is that your ass falls out from under you. I am not kidding.

The air time on this beast is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Pure, nasty, cunning, EJECTOR AIR! Now, Duke and Lisa told me that to the m, it has even more air time that Superman at New England. I cannot agree because I have not ridden Superman in New England. Pete calls El Toro a wooden Superman. Whatever you choose to call it, the airtime, speed, and first drop are intense. And the name "El Toro" is the perfect name for it because it is like riding a bull-up and down, up and down. You guys reading this have no doubt read reports that they staple you into El Toro? darned right.. And guess what? I am not the only one who believes that if you weren't stapled, you would fly, and, pardon my language, right the fudge out of that seat!

After the three of us rode El Toro, we q-botted Kingda Ka. I had never ridden Kingda Ka before, but the other three had. It told us to come back in about two hours. For those of you who do not know how the q-bot works, you slide it in, wait for your ride time, ride, and then you are not able to slide it into another ride until you are off that first ride.

When the time for Kingda Ka came, it was just a MESS! The line for q-bot was itself a disaster, with everyone standing everywhere, but once we go up on the platform, there was no consistency whatsoever! Just a great big blob of people standing there, not knowing where to go! Pete and I were so agitated that we got into line for the first seat, the only darned queue line that was actually visible! We noticed two other people in front of us doing this, at which time they climbed under the bars and got into line for seat two, which was exactly what we did! This probably saved us about a half hour and about a pound of hair that I would have pulled out of my head in frustration. Duke and Lisa had a more manageable system~they seemed to be able to maneuver through the line better and ended up behind us in the second seat. They were only running two trains!!!! Two freaking trains! And the two trains were only on one side! They were not even using the second loading station.

Duke said the thing was always breaking down when it had more trains on it, so he was thinking that maybe they came up with a new system with only two trains. While it was less capacity, they might have less breakdowns. I could see that.

As to the ride itself, pain pain pain! The thing shatters from the moment it launches. Duke, Lisa, and Pete said that they do not remember it being like this last season. I wouldn't know. But, God, my whole body and especially my head hurt through the whole ride, it wasn't even fun! TTD does not shatter, Ka does, so therefore I like TTD better. I am not going to say anything about the restraints because while Ka was over OTSR, they were very, very comfortable.

For the rest of the evening, we rode Nitro and Skull Mountain. Skull Mountain is still a dear favorite of mine. Nitro's line was not bad most of the day, I would say not more than a 45-minute wait. By the end of the night it was almost walk-on. This is Duke and Lisa's favorite ride in the park. After riding it again after riding Goliath in Georgia, I would say I like them both and they both have the same amount of air time.

Now, during the night time ERT was when Six Flags really made up for the mistakes they made in the morning. Now, I should mention that Kingda Ka was NOT on the night time ERT list, it was only listed for the morning. However, at breakfast, someone came up to Pete and told him that they added on Kingda Ka for the night time ERT. More about this in a bit as I report about night time ERT. First I want to describe one more thing about Kingda Ka.

You know how on TTD, it is on the main dragway, everyone is there, all the lights are shining on you? Well, on Kingda Ka, you are literally out in the middle of nowhere. No one is there to watch you launch, all that surrounds you are trees and shrubs. They launch the first train pretty quickly, and then the second train sits there for a good 4 to 5 minutes before it launches. During this time it is literally scary as you are in the middle of the trees, listening to the crickets. At night it is especially creepy, since there are no lights shining on you, you are just launched into complete darkness.

And now, for the grand finale... the night ERT!

The park closed at 10. We were riding Nitro for about an hour before it closed. The flyer said that ERT would start at about 11:30, obviously they needed time to clear out the park. Well, we got our last general public ride on Nitro right around 10, and we were expecting to just hang around and sit there for about an hour and a half until they opened all the rides for ERT. Well, we were standing at the entrance to Nitro right about 10:00 when we noticed the op was letting people into the closed off line. I went up to her and asked, and she said you could ride if you were a part of Coaster Celebration and you had your orange wristband on. Rock on! We proceeded to get in line, which was essentially walk-on. There were still some general public on the ride, but within about 15 to 20 minutes they were gone and you were able to literally sit on Nitro and ride it over and over again... (unless, of course, you wanted the front or back seat.) This was Duke and Lisa's wet dream, as they stayed on for, if I am not mistaken, about an hour.

So, we were pleasantly surprised that they started ERT a whole hour and a half before the scheduled time.

After about 3 rides on Nitro, Pete and I proceeded over to Skull Mountain. When we got up to the station, all the ops were literally sitting on the train and chilling. They said we were their first customers for ERT that night. (We really believe we were the ONLY people who rode it for ERT, as everyone was on El Toro.) So, I got in the back, Pete in the front, and we rode Skull Mountain by ourselves. It was great, and scary, too. Nothing like being the only one in the backseat with all those creepy sounds. When we came back into the station, Pete asked if they could turn the lights on for us for a second ride. They did! It was fabulous. You know how that first drop gives you some good airtime? Well, you should get a look at that drop! It is insane!

After Skull Mountain we went over to see if what Pete heard at breakfast was correct~were they running Kingda Ka for us? Indeed, they were, and there was absolutely no wait! We firmly believe that a lot of enthusiasts did not know it was even open. After getting our one obligatory ride in the dark, it was off to El Toro.

By the time we got there, which was about 11:30, there was only enthusiasts left to ride and the general public was long gone. Perfect timing! Now was Pete's chance to ride. We got towards the middle of the train, and we were ON! There was ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO PROBLEMS with anyone getting on during the ERT. We saw some people getting on there that were literally three times the size of Pete and I, and there were no problems. Pete loves the ride! We rode it three times for ERT, and every time I rode it, I fell more and more in love with the thing. I am so glad that Pete got to ride it with no problems. As people were coming into the entrance to El Toro, people were telling them that Kingda Ka was open, so, indeed, a lot of people did not know it was open.

So, as you can tell, Six Flags really made up for what happened that morning. We had some awesome ERT that started 90 minutes early. There was no more than a two-train wait for El Toro (keeping in mind, again, that it is only certified for one train.) I closed the night with a back seat ride on Toro, mega awesome! Like I said, that first drop is unlike anything you have ever or will ever experience.

The weather was awesome both Friday and Saturday! Not too cold, not too hot, just perfect! We could not have asked for better weather, or a better evening! Kudos to Six Flags Great Adventure!

Next up... Part Two of our TR: Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Wildwood, and Atlantic City... coming soon!

April M. Bogdanski, J.D., Esquire

[Editors Note: Part II has been lost to the ozone. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause]

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