Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Great Adventure into the Bizarro World

What a beautiful day in the state of New Jersey! The weather stood in stark contrast to the dark, twisted, maniacal character who has descended upon the roller coaster formerly known as Medusa. Enter Bizarro!

Hundreds of reporters, enthusiasts, and fans made the trek to Six Flags Great Adventure today to witness the unveiling of their newly tricked out coaster. To generate buzz for Bizarro's big day, the park offered upwards of 300 complimentary admission tickets (which included access to the preview event) on a first come, first served basis on the Bizarro Is Here web site. Public Relations Manager Angel Aristone estimates that as many as 500 guests received free or discounted tickets through this special promotion.

The 30 "first riders", however, had to work a little harder for their reward. On May 2, Six Flags Great Adventure hosted a scavenger hunt in which participants had to solve puzzles located in different areas of the park. The first 30 "scavengers" to complete the challenge received a Golden Ticket--literally!--which entitled them to a seat on the first Bizarro train out of the station today.

While we waited for the opening ceremony to begin, Angel briefed the 30 lucky first riders on the morning's activities. It's no accident that they're all dressed alike: Each first rider received a free souvenir t-shirt which they wore with pride.

The PR department even got into character! Nothing spells fun like a cape, my friends. The familiar DC Comics theme music playing in the background didn't hurt, either.

Park President Mark Kane officially kicked things off around 10:30am by giving us some insight into exactly how bizarro this new coaster really is. As he so eloquently put it, "This guy's nuts! Just take a look at the icon on the sign there. You can see he's got some issues."

Mark was followed by Angel, who recapped Bizarro's stats for the non-enthusiasts in the bunch and then went on to discuss the alternate reality game that Six Flags devised to promote the transformation of Medusa and her cousin Superman at Six Flags New England. The viral marketing campaign, which ran for five months, had over 500,000 participants!

Without further ado, it was time to unleash Bizarro. The ribbon cutting honors were bestowed upon regional ACE representatives Adam Revesz and Bret Ulozas, as Mark Kane looked on.

Then something--well, bizarro happened. To the simultaneous dismay and amusement of the crowd, the streamers which were shot into the air as the ribbon was cut became hopelessly entangled with Bizarro's cobra roll! A more appropriate stunt could not have been devised if the park had tried. Fortunately, this little snafu resulted in only a minor delay.

A ginormous entrance sign featuring the hero of Htrae himself beckons unsuspecting riders to pass below the cobra roll and into the Bizarro world.

The citizens of Htrae have reinvented the wheel! They can keep their version...

Um...Did somebody not get the memo? Medusa is el finito! Unless...Ah, I get it. It's all part of Bizarro's master plan to confuse the heck out of us.

It sure worked on this horse!

Signs placed at strategic locations throughout the queue tell the story of the two Six Flags coasters and their twisted transformations. This comic was custom-created for Bizarro by DC Comics. I could post them all, but why spoil your fun? You'll just have to visit Six Flags Great Adventure or Six Flags New England (or better yet, both!) and read them for yourselves.

The streamer debacle left 30 impatient yet impossibly optimistic first riders chomping at the bit. Earlier in the morning I had the opportunity to speak to two of these winners, Brad Emdur and Chris Powers of Cherry Hill, NJ. When asked what inspired them to compete in the scavenger hunt, Brad replied, "Well, we've come to the park a lot and ridden the rides every time, but we never did anything like that. It sounded like a fun way to do something different at the park."

Apparently the park did not make it easy on them, either! While the hunt was expected to last approximately two hours, it ended up bleeding into three. "It was a lot harder than we expected," said Brad. Chris added, "But a lot more fun than we expected."

So were these two big winners excited to experience Bizarro??? Heck yeah, according to Chris! "We're excited, yeah. I mean, this ride was good to begin with, so they could only make it better."

Darn you, festive streamers! Bizarro was obviously behind this...

Finally, the first train was dispatched to chants of, "Bizarro! Bizarro! Bizarro!" That same chant is repeated at the end of the fancy new soundtrack that gets pumped through those fancy new speakers that have been installed in the coaster's trains.

The trains themselves suffered a minor casualty as a result of this facelift: Two seats had to be removed from the last car to accommodate the new audio equipment. (Hence, 30 first riders as opposed to 32.) As you ascend the lift, an action-packed story begins to unfold in your ears.

The first upgrade to assault your senses comes compliments of Bizarro's freeze vision. A "cool zone" tricked out with LED lighting (which probably looks wicked cool at night) has been placed at the bottom of the first drop. It was quite refreshing on this hot May day! I wish it extended the entire length of the drop...

First ice, now fire! Bizarro is multi-talented in the superpowers department. Coming out of the dive loop, a pair of flamethrowers shoots plumes of fire into the air on either side of the track. You can feel the heat all the way over in the queue!

By this point in the ride, I had no idea whether a story was still being whispered in my ears or not. All of my other senses were too overwhelmed!

Props of various shapes and sizes are placed strategically on the ground throughout the ride's course. The coaster maneuvers over and around these obstacles flawlessly, while still providing the illusion that you are one with the story being told.

Just when you're feeling safe and cozy in those spiffed up trains, the Auger of Doom appeareth! (No really, it does appeareth...just not so much in photos!) This spike-shaped element, shrouded in fog and adorned with blinking white LEDs, was added inside the interlocking corkscrews. It is definitely a crowd pleaser, and it also happens to be Angel's favorite element! "It looks like you're going headfirst into it," she told me earlier in the morning. (Thanks for the heads up! Pun intended...)

Imagine my surprise when, following one of my rides, our train returned to the station to be greeted by none other than Mr. Six! He was slapping high fives with everyone as we exited. Didn't see him dance though, unfortunately!

Bizarro swag! Get your Bizarro swag heeeeeere!

Well how do you like that? Bizarro is so cocky, he thinks he's our hero now! He tries to plant that seed in your mind as you exit his lair.

Well folks, that's all she wrote! I hope you've enjoyed your journey into the Bizarro world. I must say, Medusa has made a stunning transformation. Props to Six Flags for kicking the theming up a notch and providing their guests with a truly unique, multi-sensory experience. And many thanks to Six Flags Great Adventure for putting on this great media event! The staff was very well organized and did a fantastic job of coordinating today's festivities to ensure that a good--er, Bizarro--time was had by all.


Flyin Phil said...

Hi Sabrina....I really enjoyed your entertaining and well written captions of media day and BIZARRO. Your pictures came out just grand, too, especially the one where the train is twisting through the zero-g roll - Nice Angle !!!....See ya, Flyin Phil (

Sabrina said...

Thanks, Phil! Looks like yours came out really nice too. And you win hands down on the auger photo - I have yet to see another shot as up close and personal as the one you were able to get! It was a fun day. :-)