Last year Six Flags Great Adventure added the Green Lantern, a thrilling stand-up coaster that tested the courage of even the bravest rider. A great addition to the park, it was a hit with the thrill seeker crowd immediately after its opening.
For 2012 the park took a different approach, one that fits the old saying "a little of something for everyone" with its new additions. The rides and attractions that are new for this season cross the spectrum of riders, from the very young to the very young at heart.
Obviously the largest change to Six Flags Great Adventure this year is the addition of SkyScreamer, which has forever modified the skyline of the park. The presence of the ride can be felt over large parts of the park, with riders screaming and swinging high above the midways.
Alas, I've gotten quite ahead of myself already! First things first. Today was the media and VIP event for SkyScreamer, a prelude to a season pass holder preview that will last several days. Greeting us at the park was Communications Director Kristin Siebeneicher, and yes that's a whole lot of Elvises behind her! To fit with the retro vibe of the new park area that contains SkyScreamer, Adventure Alley, the park invited 30 Elvises to help kick things off.
According to Kristin "when completed Adventure Alley will be home to five rides." These include the park's classic 1960's Ferris wheel, SkyScreamer and three new rides - a music themed scrambler named Deja Vu, the Air Jumbo elephant ride, and Fender Bender bumper cars.
Park President John Fitzgerald thought about dressing up like Elvis for today's event, but according to him we'd "have to hear him sing, and that wouldn't be pretty." Speaking of the park's new rides he filled us in on some back-story.
"In 2011 we asked our guests through focus groups and online surveys what they wanted to see in 2012. The results may surprise you, overwhelmingly families and teens told us they wanted more attractions that they can ride together. This is how the concept for Adventure Alley was born. The area features rides and attractions that deliver thrills for all ages. The rides and attractions are rooted in a simpler time before the mega-coasters and giga-coasters."
Not that we mind the mega and giga coasters! Still, it was time for the park to focus on the whole family in one year, and they've done a great job of doing just that in 2012.
Streamers! What ride opening is complete without them? These marked the point where the 30 invited Elvises were able to take the inaugural spin on SkyScreamer, before any other guests.
And ride they did! Afterward there were many reports of the ride being described as "nothing like a hound dog," and that SkyScreamer left them feeling "all shook up." I take that to mean shook up in a good way!
It was a cute idea of the park to invite the impersonators, complete with white and red jumpsuits and strap on wigs. You wouldn't want Elvis' hair to come flying off over 200 feet in the air, after all! I have a creeping feeling that several of the Elvises were park enthusiasts, so I'm sure they didn't mind helping out. Judging by the faces of these two I certainly don't think they did!
But how about that ride, right? SkyScreamer seats 32 guests in two person seats. The seats are about as open-air as you could ever want. There is a simple bar that comes down and locks into place, along with a seat belt. Still, the feeling of freedom while on the ride is incredible! After loading the ride starts to rise up, and slowly begins spinning.
Before you know it the ride has you up some twenty four stories in the air, spinning you at 40 miles per hour. The seats make a 98 foot circle at the maximum, which means that while on the ride you're able to realize just how far out you're swinging. Speakers installed on the ride carriage keep things festive, pumping upbeat tunes out during the ride.
The ride program quickly takes the carriage up to the top, where it spins for a while. It then lowers about a third of the way down, only to quickly head back up to the top for some additional full speed swinging. The view from the top is understandably gorgeous - you can check out all of Six Flags Great Adventure, and even plan where to head next!
The park pointed out that the park's old Flying Wave, an original Wave Swinger attraction, was located right where SkyScreamer is today. While there are certainly parallels between the two you can be sure that the ride experience is quite different! Still, an interesting comparison to make to point out how different rides are in present day from a few decades ago.
And speaking of several decades ago, the park's new section, Adventure Alley most definitely has a retro vibe to it. John Fitzgerald pointed out that in "Adventure Alley you'll see mementos of our history. During our earlier years in the 1970's the hot air balloon and rainbow logos were synonymous with Great Adventure, and you'll find them on the new rides, in some sort of hidden locations. You'll also see some subtle updating of one of the old standards with SkyScreamer."
Deja Vu is a ride where the park's history is played out through the use of old logos on the cars. The located of the scrambler style ride was formerly a smoking area for some years, and it's wonderful to see a ride in that spot again. It's tucked in a nice shady area, giving it almost a restful appearance. The scrambler is a ride that never has gone out of style, and as the park made clear one that you can ride as a family.
If even Deja Vu is a bit too much for your little ones then Air Jumbo will be perfect for them. Located adjacent to SkyScreamer, the ride was once located in Balin's Jungle Land, which has since closed at the park. After taking a season off the ride is back and looks better than ever, filling another previously empty ride pad.
The Fender Benders bumper car ride is not operational at the park quite yet, but is expected to open in June.
SkyScreamer will preview to season pass holders only today through May 20th, and will open to the general public on the 23rd. Air Jumbo and Deja Vu are already open to the public.
Later this Summer the greater Six Flags Great Adventure property will debut the King Cobra water slide at Hurricane Harbor, which will be the first of its kind slide in the United States. As always plenty of adventures await guests in the Wild Safari, located just next to the theme park.
Many thanks to Six Flags Great Adventure for having NewsPlusNotes out for the ride opening, it looks like SkyScreamer and Adventure Alley in general will be a great success this year! Here's a short video of SkyScreamer from today - but the best way to experience it is to go take a spin!