Friday, July 18, 2008

Six Flags Great Adventure - El Toro

The first ride we hit at Great Adventure this year was El Toro, the park's newest wooden roller coaster. I love wooden roller coasters, and I was just awe-struck when I saw this thing. It looks suicidal in person. It is the most intimidating wooden roller coaster I've ever seen.

They've got it set up so you approach it initially from the back, and you can just see the first drop off in the distance. It really looks impossible; I mean my eyes didn't believe what they were seeing. The first drop is humongous and it looks like it's 90 degrees. (It isn't; it's 76 degrees, but that's still one of the steepest drops of any wooden coaster.) The back section has banked turns that also look like they approach 90 degrees - really unusual for a wooden coaster.

The bite matches the bark. Riding it is insane. First of all, you haul ass to the top of the hill - they're using a cable lift, not a winch lift. It's a weird, wild feeling - none of that "clink clink clink" sound as you're going up, just dead silence at 14mph. The rest of the ride is so fast and pulls so many G's in every direction that, and I know this may sound a little disgusting, I had liquid coming out of pretty much every open part of my face by the end of the ride. Eyes, nose, mouth, there was just water and goo flying everywhere. Before I said anything about this, my wife told me the same thing happened to her. This ride is one long punch to the stomach. My wife said she was afraid she was going to lose her eyeballs somewhere on the track. She actually thought she was about done for the day after this! I had to convince her to keep going.

El Toro is partially built through the park's older wooden coaster Rolling Thunder, which now just looks a little pathetic by comparison. (One thing Rolling Thunder does have over El Toro is racing trains.) Honestly, while I was riding it, I didn't even notice the intertwining part of the track - I was too busy trying to avoid the headchoppers! This coaster is supposed to be sort of a hybrid between a steel and wooden roller coaster, but that's really just marketing. It was built by machine, but that's really the only difference between it and other wooden coasters. It's still got all the same features of a wooden coaster, including the somewhat rough ride (smooth enough to hit 70mph, but you still get thrown around), the rickety feeling, the lap bar-only restraints, and the headchoppers as you go back through the structure.

One good thing about it - unlike some wooden roller coasters, it doesn't slam you back down into your seat at the bottom of a hill. That's my big problem with some coasters like this; I feel like I've gotten kicked in the crotch for two minutes after getting off. Not on El Toro.

By the way, there are a lot of POV videos of both this and the other roller coasters I plan to write about out there on YouTube. I'm not a fan of these videos because they really don't capture what it's like; if anything, they always make the ride seem less exciting than it is. You can't replicate the experience of flying along at 70mph, pulling negative G's on a bumpy track with the wind pulling your face backwards in a little 320x240 video box on a computer screen. So I'm not going to link to any of these videos. Feel free to look them up yourself, but just understand that watching POV videos is not. the same. thing. as riding for real.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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