Our first target for our second day in Great Adventure was Rolling Thunder (#468). As yesterday, only the left hand track was operational, but on a positive note the broken seats in the train had been repaired. With this change, the ride was now running at an impressive 25% of designed capacity. On a previous visit to the park, Martin had found the ride to be in dire need of maintenance. None of us were optimistic about this, given the sorry state of certain other wooden coasters at Six Flags parks. We need not have worried. As we pulled off the top of the lift hill and on to the track, it became clear that large portions of the rail had been recently replaced. This came as a very pleasant surprise, but even more remarkable was the sight of engineers working on the other track as our train raced past. Could the park be planning to operate both sides simultaneously once again? That really would be something.
Justin had been working the phone all morning in the hope of getting us closer to Kingda Ka, and he was finally successful; we would be allowed to join in the filming of the commercial that was currently in progress. We made our way straight over there, only to find that the ride had broken down due to a hydraulic motor problem and would be out of commission for several hours.
Justin was quite happy to hang around and photograph the ride. Martin and I chose to ride some of the other coasters while waiting. The first of these was Road Runner Railway (#469), the family coaster I had omitted the previous day. There was nobody waiting when we returned to the station, so the operator decided to send the whole train around for a second go. On most coasters this is considered a privilege, and in this case I am absolutely convinced that all those of 5'11" and less were happy to ride again. Unfortunately, I am 6'2", and my knees paid the price.
In all my visits to theme parks I had somehow managed to avoid ever riding a first generation Intamin free fall. The original free falls predated modern magnetic braking systems, and as such were built in a L shape, with brakes along the horizontal track to stop the ride vehicle. Only a small number survive today, including the one at Great Adventure with the imaginative name of, er, Free Fall. The free fall element was if anything better than that on the more modern rides, but the stop was quite painful, largely due to the bumps in the track that the car bounces over. An interesting experience, certainly, though I think I prefer the modern version!
We were right beside the entrance to Batman the Ride as it reopened following a breakdown, and as there was no wait whatsoever it seemed only right that we take in a single circuit.
One of the most unnerving experiences I have ever experienced on a coaster came on reriding Skull Mountain. The trains have a single lap bar for two passengers. I was sitting beside Martin, who has a substantially larger build than me. The net result was that the lap bar was a good six inches away from me. With an outdoor coaster this wouldn't be a huge issue, as I could anticipate directional changes, but this facility was not available in the dark. As such, I was holding on for dear life as I slid back and forth, and unusually for me I was not sorry when the ride came to an end. It strikes me that there could be a very real safety risk on a ride like this one if a small child was seated beside an corpulent adult. Might this be something that needs investigation?
We made our way back over to Kingda Ka to see what was going on over there, and were immediately roped into a game of what has to be one of the strangest card games ever made. The major idea behind Fluxx is that the rules are constantly changing. The game can get very confusing, and the crazy stacking of rules led us to decide that it must have been developed by computer scientists with nothing better to do. Nevertheless, the game provided a pleasant diversion for an hour or so, and shortly after it ended the ride was up and running again. Top Thrill Dragster has a light tree that illuminates before launching. The solution here is totally different, with a loud bugle blast that can be heard all over the park. The effect of this sound is amusing to watch; wherever you happen to be, you can always see people swinging around to watch the top of that huge green tower in the corner of the park.
Other than that, though, there is very little difference between the ride experience on the two rides. Kingda Ka (#470) does have an extra hill, which increases the overall ride time by several seconds and allows riders to savour the insane speed which has been reached before the brakes cut in and take it all away. However, this element is an anticlimax after the huge tower that precedes it. All it really serves to do is to reduce the maximum frequency for launching trains, with the consequent reduction in ride capacity. The Cedar Point ride is well known for regular two hour wait times, and as such I have to question the merit of designing a similar ride with a lower overall capacity.