Six Flags Over Georgia was the second Six Flags park, opening originally in June 1967. It is located just outside Atlanta, and as such has a huge catchment area. This is reflected in the size of the park, which features a total of ten coasters in addition to a substantial number of flat rides.
Depending on your point of view I've either been to nine or eleven Six Flags parks at this stage, both Geauga Lake and Walibi Belgium having been Six Flags parks on my visits. During this time I've experienced more than my share of odd rules and general "Six Flags Moments" across the chain. The key rule has always been saving money where possible, even (some might say especially) when it will inconvenience the customer. With this in mind one can only begin to imagine my astonishment when the front section of the park opened a full half an hour before the scheduled opening time, with the rides in that area already operational. It looked like this park was not going to fit within the Six Flags mould I had come to expect.
One of the open rides was the Georgia Scorcher (#403), the seventh, and at the time of writing last standup coaster from B&M. The other six, in chronological order Iron Wolf, Vortex, Vortex, Mantis, Chang, and Riddler's Revenge, had each been improved over the previous model, particularly in regards to rider comfort, and as such I was expecting to enjoy this one. Two trains on the ride, even at this stage of the morning, meant an almost non existent wait time, and we were soon ascending the lift hill. The ride itself was the perfect engineering masterpiece one has come to expect from B&M, and therein lies my only criticism. Designs like this one have become so prevalent now that they are no longer memorable. These days theming is required to provide a truly unforgettable experience, and this ride didn't have any.
Having said all that, even commodity rides are a great deal more fun than disasters such as the Georgia Cyclone (#404), a wooden coaster which made a big impression for all the wrong reasons. The maintenance team looking after this ride must be working from a woefully inadequate budget. This is assuming, of course, that the ride has received recent maintenance; it was not in evidence. The ride jolted around so badly on the rails that by the time it was over my back was sore, and indeed still is as I write this about ten hours later. Georgia Cyclone could easily keep a team of chiropractors in full time employment. Once was definitely enough.
George and I had discussed which rides were likely to have long waits the previous evening, and had concluded that Déjà Vu would be the worst offender. As a result, we made our way over there immediately, but it was experiencing technical difficulties (for a change!) and had not opened yet. The same was true for Ninja, which had one of its trains stranded half way up the lift hill. However, the only other wooden coaster in the park, the Great American Scream Machine (#405) did appear to be operating. We made our way into the queue with more than a little trepidation; would this be as bad as the other pile of lumber had been? Much to my surprise (and relief!), the coaster turned out to be a well maintained out-and-back with plenty of air time. George summed it up very well by commenting that it had been "nice and smooth; not rough at all, and definitely worth a reride."
Superman Ultimate Flight (#406) was the second B&M flying coaster, opening only a couple of weeks after the first model. George observed that it was more than twice the ride of its brother, and with the coaster enthusiast hat on I have to agree there. The best element of the ride was the so-called "pretzel loop", a manoeuvre only really possible on a flying coaster. It is similar to a standard loop, but is entered and exited from the top instead of the bottom. The train is moving at its maximum speed at the base of the loop, which needless to say is a great deal more intense than what is experienced on more traditional designs. I believe I read somewhere that the designers were surprised by how powerful it turned out to be.
The layout of Ninja (#407) was particularly interesting, with many near misses throughout the course. Unfortunately, it uses the old generation Vekoma MK1200 track, meaning that riders spend most of their time bracing for impact rather than enjoying the experience. On the plus side, we only had to wait five minutes for it.
We finally got back to Déjà Vu (#408). The queue had already reached a significant length but we decided to wait it out, figuring (correctly) that it would be worse later in the day. Part of this was due to a ride with an inherently low capacity, though it was exacerbated by the ride operators who were managing a woeful cycle time averaging about five minutes. This model was surprisingly rough when compared to the other three Giant Inverted Boomerang rides, and honestly, once was enough here too. This proved quite a disappointment, as other than their obvious design issues the other three had been good rides. As a little aside, am I the first person in the world to have ridden all four GIB installations?
After a lunch break, we made our way over to the newest coaster in the park, Wile E. Coyote Canyon Blaster (#409). The coaster passes over some rooftops before diving to the ground almost directly beside the giant splash ride. It looked to me like the splash had to be moved slightly to accomodate this, and indeed construction work was still very much in progress on our visit. The ride is unusual in that it has two lift hills; one at the start, and another tire driven lift at the end that hauls the train back into the station.
The Dahlonega Mine Train (#410) is the oldest coaster in the park and the only one dating from the original park opening.The two trains feature a single position lap bar for all the riders in each car. While this might save ride operator time, it is a disaster in a country where twenty stone adults can ride in the same train as ten year olds. We observed one car where this problem was very evident; two children were effectively unrestrained while their father behind them was overflowing out of his seat. In this case it is not a huge problem, as the ride doesn't produce air time, but that then begs the question, why have restraints at all? There is a precedent...
We tried the overhead cable car ride, the Confederate Sky Buckets, with the hope of getting some good photograph angles, but this was largely unsuccessful. It was interesting to see however that nobody was paying attention to the posted limit of four people per car; I saw one car with seven people in it. The sign is presumably for comfort reasons more than anything else, as the drive cable must be strong enough to support all the buckets on it, and one can only speculate on how heavy that must be.
After eight minutes waiting for Mind Bender, the ride broke down. While we were told we could stay in the queue we elected not to, going to Batman the Ride (#411) instead. Much to our consternation, the wait for this turned out to be nearly two hours, but as neither of us had the credit we had little choice but to wait. It seemed impossible to us that a queue this long could form for a B&M on two train operation, but we found out why on arriving at the station. There were a total of nine empty seats on the train in front of us. This is absolutely unforgivable with long queue times, and shows a complete lack of interest by the operators. The ride itself was okay, though not as intense as some of its clones.
Mind Bender was still closed, so we went for a slow walk around the park with the idea of reriding either Great American Scream Machine or Superman Ultimate Flight. Unfortunately, both had absolutely silly wait times, so we decided to abstain. Instead, we decided to go wait for Mind Bender, reasoning that it was the only thing left we hadn't ridden and therefore would have to wait for it regardless. As things turned out, it had already opened by the time we arrived, and a queue of nearly an hour had built up. While the one train operation was a lot of the problem, the biggest issue turned out to be what I should have remembered ahead of time. Anton Schwarzkopf's rides, run in original specification with lap bars, are something truly special. Finding one in such good condition at a Six Flags park was truly a surprise, with the mauling of Revolution remaining a blot on the face of coaster history. Though twenty six years old this year, Mind Bender (#412) remains arguably the best coaster in the park, and was a very nice end to the day.