Alexander: Welcome all to Cabin Crew Coaster Kings’ coverage of the American Coaster Enthusiasts’ annual roller coaster convention, Coaster Con!
It’s ACE’s 40th Anniversary, so the convention is being hosted where the club began: Virginia (Six Flags America is also part of the itinerary, located in nearby Maryland).
After picking up our registration packets and reuniting with some of the hundreds of folks I’ve been riding coasters with the last several years, we set out for Six Flags America.
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Coaster Con generally starts on Father’s Day each year, and that coupled with Six Flags America’s “Bring A Friend” promotion meant tremendous crowds. The park virtually ran out of parking and a special overflow parking shuttle (comprised of a pick-up truck and a trailer) was used to transport guests.
Six Flags America was my last Six Flags park in the U.S. to visit. As expected, it was a mixed bag.
With the park’s Gotham City coasters on ERT for us that evening, we decided to first focus on the park’s non-Gotham coasters.
Our first coaster of the trip was Apocalypse, chosen so that a member of the squad’s 666th credit would be fit to bear the mark of the devil.
As far as 666th credits go, Apocalypse is pretty solid. The idea is to pick a dreadful coaster, so the misfit B&M Stand-up was a good choice.
Apocalypse is my final Stand-Up credit in North America. It’s also probably the most uncomfortable.
As B&M’s first coaster, its place on the industry timeline is indisputable. Experience-wise, it’s hard to believe that a brand known for its remarkably smooth coasters began with this atrocity.
Anchoring the park’s charming Mardi Gras area is Wild One, a traditional woodie that dates back to 1917.
Despite a myriad of reprofiles, Wild One still gives an ideal ride.
SFA’s Mardi Gras area came about with the addition of Rajun Cajun, which came from Six Flags Great America (which was located in their Mardi Gras area, of course). Of the two coasters that wound up here from the Chicago-area Six Flags park, Rajun Cajun is probably the better ride (Sorry, Apocalypse).
For better or for worse, Six Flags America demonstrated full commitment to retheming roughly 20% of their park around a 2nd hand Wild Mouse.
Like Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags America’s most tree-laden area is the obligatory “Bugs Bunny Land”-style kiddie area.
It wouldn’t be standard regional park faire without a Wild West-themed area, would it?
Mind Eraser may not be from the west, but it sure is wild.
While queuing for Roar, we admired one of Apocalypse‘s more bewildering superstructural quirks.
Roar was a nice surprise. Not quite as good as I remember Six Flags Discovery Kingdom’s Roar being back in the 90s (although that would be a lot to ask), but quite good in its own right.
The Coaster Con opening dinner ceremony took place in Hurricane Harbor.
The waterpark here is popular, though not particularly unique.
Brand new is Wahoo River, an enhanced lazy river that was enjoying its first day of operation that day.
Time for ERT! We started with Joker’s Jinx, a slower (but very pleasant) Premier Rides Spaghetti Bowl (the first of two on this trip!).
The favorite coaster of the park for Sean and myself ended up being Batwing.
Though not one-of-a-kind, Batwing performs even better than our beloved Firehawk at Kings Island. We understand that daily operations on this ride aren’t great, but that’s the beauty of Coaster Con; the park ran both stations just for ERT (exclusive ride time), and we enjoyed 4 flights on Batwing without leaving our seats. Glorious!
The next morning we enjoyed even more ERT at Six Flags America.
Wild One got a lot of love, being open for both ERTs this visit.
A special treat for Con attendees: a maintenance mode ride on Wonder Woman: Lasso of Truth, which was great for opportunity photographers, but not great for people who are afraid of heights (me).
Sean enjoyed a ride with our friend Brenton while I enjoyed staying on the ground.
Superman: Ride of Steel is a great ride, but we still like Batwing better by just a hair.
It’s better than Darien Lake’s version of the ride, but still a bit of a headscratcher in some places. Followup designs of this style (like Expedition GeForce and Walibi’s Goliath) make much better use of their height, speed, and length (despite being shorter/slower than Ride of Steel).
Batwing was slow to start in the morning (guests were somehow able to wander into the Batwing station despite the lack of staff), but it did eventually open for us.
No sooner did it open was it down for technical problems, however.
But Sean was able to get some rides in.
Five rides total was enough for me.
We attempted to ride Penguin’s Blizzard River at around 11:40am ,but once again…
…we approached the station and found it deserted, despite running water and a “opens at 11:30am” sign at the entrance.
Six Flags, why are you like this? Why are you letting people just wander around in your ride stations?? Someone could get hurt!
After a little more Joker’s Jinx time, we parted ways from Six Flags America.
Shoutout to the people at Central Park Fun Land (an FEC in between the DC area and Richmond) for being such a great surprise! ACErs were treated to free rides on their new SBF Visa Spinner and complementary pizza!
Join us next time for our next Coaster Con XLI park, Kings Dominion!
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