Six Flags New England
October 11, 2014

copyright Jay Ducharme 2014

I made one last park trip for the season, back to Six Flags New England.  Armed with my season pass that also gave me free parking plus a bring-a-friend-free pass, I went with my friend Dave on a rainy Saturday.  We arrived shortly after noon.  The main parking lot was about 1/4 full.  The rain was light and was supposed to end within a few hours.  But it was also chilly, with temperatures hovering in the low 50s.  We hopped the tram over to the bridge and walked over to the park entrance.  Two tall inflatable dancing ghosts (like the figures seen at used car lots) were on top of the ticket booths, waving in the breeze.  Nearly every building was adorned with fake spider webs made of cheesecloth.

We walked through the entrance gates and were greeted with a multitude of Halloween decorations.  There was a giant evil-looking pumpkin in front of the carousel.  The display of the ghoul at the organ that Karen and I had seen on our last visit was still there, but augmented by many other displays.  Next to it was a graveyard scene with a corpse that jumped up.  It made a sound as if it was throwing up.  Down the center of the park's Main Street were multiple mausoleum-like structures.  At the bottom of Main Street was a display of three empty coffins, propped up on a large wedge-shaped structure.  It was a photo-op for guests, who could lie inside the coffins.

We both were a bit hungry, so I suggested heading to the Go Fresh Cafe, where I had gotten a delicious veggie burger on my last visit.  Then we could eat indoors until the rain passed.  But when we arrived at the concession, it was closed.  So we instead went into the nearby Primo Pizza to check out their offerings.  Dave wasn't impressed.  And I wasn't about to pay $10.49 for a slice of pizza.  So we walked around the corner to the next open food concession, Macho Nacho Mexican.  But their offerings weren't too tempting.   We then  headed through the Rockville section to Fast Eddie's Diner, which offered the usual burgers and chicken.  Then we backtracked toward Main Street and walked into the Riverboat Cafe.  They as well had advertised pizza, but we couldn't see any on display.  They did offer a caesar wrap, basically a salad in bread.  So I opted for that.  Dave got a hamburg and fries, and also went across Main Street to get a coffee.  We sat down under the cover of the cafe to eat.  The wrap was pretty good.  The kettle-cooked potato chips that came with it were a bit soggy.  Dave said his hamburg tasted a bit like cardboard.  His pile of fries was soggy as well.  I walked across Main Street to the Sweet Shoppe and ordered a fried dough.  It was made fresh, and I went back to the cafe.  The dough was quite tasty, slightly crispy on the outside but soft and chewy inside.  It was better than our meals.

The rain finally stopped.  Dave hadn't ridden Bizarro since its old Superman days.  So we made our way down the winding path into the DC Comics section.  Bizarro didn't seem to be running, but we headed over for the entrance anyway.  An attendant stopped us at the far end of the entrance's locker room.  "I'm sorry," she said to me, "but you can't ride with a fanny pack."  I told her that if I removed it, my pants would fall down since it was also my belt.  She was unmoved.  "You have to leave in in a locker."  There was no way I was going to pay $5 just to stow my fanny pack for a single ride (and continually hold my pants up).  So I told Dave to go ahead and ride without me, and I'd meet him at the exit.  He reluctantly made his way into the queue line.  I went around to the exit ramp.  In the past, guards there didn't allow guests to stand in that area.  But evidently, that was no longer the case.  About a dozen people were hanging out there, waiting for friends or relatives to exit the ride.

I soon saw why the ride hadn't been running; they were putting a second train on the tracks.  That was good, since it meant the line would move a lot quicker.  Once both trains were back in service, the line did indeed move along.  The roar of the trains blasting by the exit ramp was deafening.  In about 45 minutes, Dave had made it to the front seat.  Soon he was flying over the ride's giant hills.  I wished I had been able to ride with him, but maybe it was for the best.  He said the ride was a lot rougher than he remembered it.  At least the deafening music from the headrest wasn't functioning.

From there we went around the corner to the awkwardly-named Gotham City Gauntlet Escape From Arkham Asylum.  It was nothing more than a wild mouse coaster with next-to-no theming.  There wasn't much of a line and in a short time we were seated in one of the tiny cars.  It really felt like a kiddie ride.  My knees were bent up to my chest in order to sit down.  I was expecting a typical violent wild mouse styled ride, but it was surprisingly smooth.  Most similar coasters have deep dips that bottom out with crushing G-forces.  But this one was mild, with hints of airtime on the hills.  It was one of the few rides in the park that brought a smile to my face.

Next we walked next door to Catwoman's Whip, which began its life as Poison Ivy's Twisted Train.  When the ride was first installed, the track travelled through a barren grassy area with small bushes scattered about.  But the bushes had since grown into tall trees, completely obscuring most of the ride.  It gave the coaster a lot more character.  Dave and I sat near the middle of the train.  I wasn't too particular, because most of the seats except the very back were pretty mild.  The ride was smooth and fun, and the vegetation really added a lot to the experience.

We climbed the long staircase up to Kidzopolis.  I noticed that the Go Fresh Cafe was now open.  I wished I had held off earlier and gotten one of their veggie burgers instead of that wrap.   Dave had never seen Batman The Dark Knight, so we walked over to the south end of the park.  We passed by the brutal hemmorhage-inducing Mind Eraser coaster.  Opposite it was a strange display: it appeared to be some sort of pizza oven, but above it was a giant animatronic alien of some sort.  The alien was impressive but the pizza oven made no sense.

The one and only time I had ridden Batman, I greyed out.  So I passed on it and let Dave ride.  The coaster was running an efficient two-train operation.  Even though a steady stream of people passed through the queue line, the ride's high capacity meant there was very little wait.  Within a few minutes, Dave was seated and speeding through the coaster's convoluted course.  Dave said the ride was pretty smooth, but the G-forces were much more intense than what he was expecting.

Across from Batman was a Cold Stone Creamery.  Even though it was chilly out, ice cream seemed like a good idea.  I got a small dish of sweet cream.  Dave got a double mint chocolate chip waffle cone.  It was huge.  The park's south section was a dead end (as was the north section of the park).  So as we ate, we made our way back through the Rockville section.  A hastily-constructed archway there was labeled "Area 51".  There was a black car with a big gun mounted on it, which Dave suspected to be a reference to the Men in Black movies.  Further down the midway was a flying saucer crashed into the pavement.  It was silly, but good fun for kids and not too scary.  Neither Dave nor I had ever ridden Pandemonium, the compact spinning coaster.  So that was the next place we headed.

Most of the statues scattered throughout the park were styled like a typical grim reaper or an alien.  But as we made our way north (ironically toward the Looney Tunes kiddie section), the displays turned much more graphic.  As we neared Pandemonium, there was a display that featured a large truck with a big snow plow mounted to the front.  Attached to the plow was a long horizontal shaft with evenly-spaced saw blades attached.  The plow and truck were covered in blood.  Under the plow was an eviscerated human.  It wasn't scary; it was just gross.  On the east side of Pandemonium, the stage that normally hosted Looney Tunes characters now had a sort of manic game show called Mayhem Mission.  There didn't seem to be much of a plot, but there was certainly a lot of screaming.

We arrived at the queue for Pandemonium.  The ride's sign had been altered to read Zombie Coaster.  Evidently, after dark all sorts of gruesome things took place in that area.  Scattered about the ride's layout were skeletons and chunks of fake meat.  There was also an out-of-place wireframe dragon that looked like it should have been part of a holiday lights display.  The line for the ride was really long, but it moved fairly quickly.  After about a half-hour, we were seated in the molded seats of the single-car train.  Dave sat next to another guy, and I sat opposite them, facing forward.  The car rolled out of the station, turned 180 degrees right and engaged the lift.  At the top, the car rolled into a right-hand banked drop and the spinning began.  It was like being on a manic Tilt-a-Whirl.  The ride was smooth but extremely dizzying.  Dave and our co-rider really enjoyed it.  When we got back to the station, I had trouble walking straight.

I asked Dave if he wanted to try the Sky Screamer.  But he looked up at the 400 foot tower and wanted no part of it.  Plus, for Halloween the park was running the ride backwards.  So we passed on that.  Instead we walked up to the ride's queue line to look at the progress on the Cyclone.  The bright orange steel track now ran all the way up the lift hill and partially down the first drop.  The south end of the coaster was about half demolished.

We then boarded the nearby New England Skyway for an arial ride back to the front of the park.  That gave us better overall views of the Cyclone's condition.  I guess it was somehow appropriate for Halloween, it's dismantled structure looking like some giant prehistoric skeleton.  The new steel track went about 3/4 of the way down the first drop at a really steep angle.  The track then abruptly stopped.  After stepping off the Skyway, we took a walk up into Crackaxle Canyon.  Dave watched Goliath go through its paces but had no interest in riding it.  We went up to the far west end.  The entrance to the Houdini ride was now a queue line for the Midnight Mansion, a haunted house attraction that required an extra $50 pass to view.  Surprisingly, the queue line was nearly full.  I guess people have a lot of discretionary income.  Dave instead queued up for Tomahawk, a sort of combination of a pirate ship ride and a Frisbee.  He enjoyed it, and said the G forces were pretty intense.

I hadn't been on Stampede Bumpers, the park's bumper car ride, in a long time.  The ride was renamed Rage in the Cage for Halloween.  The queue line for it was a bit confusing.  We ended up in the Flash Pass lane and had to double back.  I was still fascinated by the ride's mechanism.  Normally, bumper cars get their power from a ceiling of wire mesh and a ground circuit on the steel floor.  The cars would normally have a long pole at their backs that would touch the ceiling mesh and complete the circuit.  But these cars had no poles.  There seemed to be breaks in the steel floor, but I couldn't understand how the cars completed the circuit; I would have thought that they'd continually short out.  The wheels sent out sparks, so there was definitely electricity in the floor.  Dave asked the operator about it, but even he didn't know the answer.  The walls inside the ride had been decorated with day-glo surrealistic paintings of an evil circus.  When the ride started, the operator would turn out the main lights, leaving just blacklights and strobes to illuminate the arena.  It took about 15 minutes to get through the line.  The ride was enjoyable.  The darkened room didn't seem to add much to the experience.

By then it was approaching 6:00.  The air was also rapidly cooling.  We decided to board the Thunderbolt, the oldest ride in the park.  Lights had begun coming on, including the spectacular neon of the Thunderbolt sign.  I rarely rode that coaster since seating was basically a crap shoot.   If you were lucky enough, you could get a good seat.  So I chanced it and after about a half-hour in line, we ended up in the middle of the train.  There were certainly worse seats, especially the back.  So in short order we were rolling out of the station and up the lift.  The ride had been given a fresh coat of paint and was gleaming white.   We rounded the left-hand turn at the top of the lift and sped down the first drop.  Because of our position in the train, the forces were pretty mild.  There wasn't much airtime (except for the infamous final bunny hop) and there also weren't any heavy positive G forces either.  Overall, the ride was remarkably smooth, one of the best maintained coasters in the park.  If only the old Cyclone had ridden like that....

After that ride, Dave and I were ready to leave.  The temperature had dropped into the 40s, and there wasn't anything else we really wanted to do in the park.  So we called it a day.  As we headed for the exit, a huge crowd had gathered at the base of Main Street where a Halloween performance was going on in front of the Looney Tunes Emporium.  The performer, dressed sort of like a zombie, was screaming at the crowd, trying to whip them into excitement about something or other.  The crowd was so thick, we couldn't see much of what was happening.

This trip to the park didn't impress me as much as my last one.  I'm not big into Halloween, so the decorations didn't do much for me.  Some of them were downright repulsive.   I did go on more rides than before, but there was nothing particularly memorable about any of them.  I was pleasantly surprised by Gotham City Gauntlet.  It turned out to be one of my favorite rides in the park.  And both of us were looking forward to returning next season and riding Wicked Cyclone.  The food was generally forgettable (and overpriced), except for the tasty fried dough.  But next time I'll wait for Go Fresh Cafe to open.  So after nearly a decade, Six Flags New England has given me a reason to return to the park more than once in a season.  And that's probably the most impressive thing about it.

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