A Geezer’s Guide to Riding the Rides at Six Flags New England


Roller coasters aren’t the same anymore and neither am I – you’re so confined

Swirls and loops on Batman or Mind-Eraser??

and locked into your seat that the sense of danger isn’t there….and so they twirl you around and flip you over a million times to substitute nausea for fear, or rather fear of nausea for fear of coaster.  I spent a day at Six Flags New England and noticed I got nauseous and hence think that means old.

Scream is nothing to shout about

A long while ago, a friend told me that motion sickness and balance are related, and that makes sense because they both have something to do with the inner ear.  This person (I can’t remember who, now, yikes is that a senior moment) said it was possible to improve balance and tolerance for things like swings by making the ear adjust to motion more often. I thought this would be good to know since I want to prevent falling and walking as tentatively as I see some older people walk.  I’m not at the brittle bone stage by a long shot yet, but forewarned is forearmed as they say.  Since then I’ve committed to getting back on swings (irregularly, at best) and last week I hit the roller coasters at Six Flags New England.  Motion sickness, at least some component of it still hit me hard, though I never needed to (nor could I) lean out of the coaster seat to gulp air and relieve my stomach of its contents.

So I got home, slept for a while then hopped on the internet to google motion sickness and relief and found this interesting article of facts and theories surrounding the problem “Motion Sickness” by Timothy C. Hain, MD   http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/central/motion.htm.

For more practical information I consulted my client, Rosie Battista Healthy

The magnificent drop on Bizarro

Body  “Builder”,Trainer & Food Maven of sleepingnakedafter40.com/ with a whimper:  “Rosie…how can I make my tummy feel better?”

MOTION SICKNESS FACTS

Here are some facts I pulled together.

  • Children under 2 are immune to motion sickness per Dr. Timothy Hain ….good thing because babies are always being toted around and faced backwards in car seats and tossed in the air. So just about the time they start getting too heavy to toss, they start losing their immunity.  Probably not a coincidence.

    New England Skyway….yawn

  • Women are more likely to experience motion sickness than men and there is a correlation between menses and motion sickness. Dr. Timothy Hain
  • People who suffer from migraines are more likely to experience motion sickness.  Migraineurs “have a 5 fold greater incidence than non-migraineurs” and some migraine meds help alleviate motion sickness again according to Dr. Hain.
  • Dr. Hain also reported that “One can often avoid motion sickness by anticipating the motion. Drivers have much less motion sickness than passengers, because they are controlling the motion, and know when they are turning, starting and stopping. Drivers on familiar routes are less prone to getting motion sick than drivers in new territory.”  Unfortunately, this knowledge would do zero for anyone on these coasters because there was no way anyone sane person could anticipate the crazy, careening those cars do.
  • Ms. Battista with her practical food-centric remedies suggested a tea of steeped fresh ginger root to calm my stomach.  She said I could add some cinnamon as well, and I can testify that not only did it help me; I liked the flavor so much it has become my coffee alternative on many a morning and afternoon.

Right about now you must be thinking:  “Quit all yer belly-achin’ and tell us about the rides!”

I’ve been twirling on this planet for more than a few decades (most days without motion sickness) and I can report that the rides at Six Flags come at a cost, both physical (see above) and financial (see below).   http://www.sixflags.com/newEngland/index.aspx

FINANCIAL TOLL AHEAD

  • Tickets at the gate for 2011 are $46.99 per person, or if under 54” $36.99 with kids 2 & under free.
  • If purchased online, however all tickets are $36.99, but there is an online service fee of $5.
  • We bought our tickets through a discounting service akin to Groupon or

    Part of the water park

    Living Social and saved even more.  So keep your eyes open for deals at the beginning and end of the season.

  • Groups of 15 or more get in for prices starting at $26 so it pays to have friends!
  • Parking onsite for one day is $20, with preferred (i.e.: closer) parking running $25.
  • Nearby lots unaffiliated with the park charge $10.
  • Flash Passes put you at the front of the line, every time and start at $35 per person.
  • Slice of pizza and fries will run you $9.00, chicken fingers and fries about $11
  • You can pre-purchase a meal deal for $13.49 that includes either of those entrees and side and a drink.   And since drinks can run about $4 with no refills, (excludes refillable sports bottle for $13.99).  It’s a bit of a savings.  We found the cheapest food onsite was at Panda Express where you can get 2 spring rolls or 1 chicken egg roll or 3 crab Rangoon for about $3.  My take on the food:  not as “good” as a mall food court and much more expensive.
  • And then there are the fees for hauling stuff into the park – most rides will let you put your belongings in bins where you get on the ride, but the biggest most enticing rides require that you purchase a locker to store your stuff and they’re serious.  After waiting an hour to board and a lot of hand signalling between the attendants, Jon was booted from the best ride in the place – Bizarro – because (and I hate to admit this) he was wearing a fanny pack under his shirt.  I had to ride without him, then come back, take his pack, and then he was allowed to ride (at least he didn’t have to wait again.)  So each one of the super rides offers a locker for a dollar per use unless you buy a re-openable family locker for, I believe, $20.  BTW I had a pack, too, to carry my camera, money and antibacterial wipes, but I lockered mine up.  Note on cameras:  If you try to take a pic while riding the big rides, you can be suspended from all Six Flags for FIVE YEARS.  I really wanted a photo looking down the first big drop from a middle car; THAT would have been a contender for my photo contests.  But I’m a by-the-rules kind of gal, so no issues there.

THE RIDES

When we arrived, three of the biggest rides (Bizarro, Batman and Cyclone) were down for maintenance issues. (Somehow this never concerned any of us. Were we just secure in the thought that if one of us died the rest would live well sharing the proceeds from the lawsuit?)   They hoped to open during the day and they did, actually. But, no one volunteered this info when we entered and had they not opened, it would have peeved me big time.  So be sure to ask before cashing out your IRA for a family day at the park.  We played no games, went to no shows. Our objective was simple: ride the most big rides between 11:00 and 5:00.  But we had a side strategy (since we went on a slower day), if we went by something mildly interesting without a line, we’d jump on for the experience.

When we were leaving and passed Scream without a line, I suggested to Leisa that she ought to give it a try.  She and her dad wanted to, but her friend and I weren’t as interested so we ignored it earlier in the day.  I said, “try it now; you never know if you’ll ever get back here; take advantage while you can.”  She said, “Oh we’ll be back.”  My stomach and I disagree, but she ultimately heeded the urging and rode.

GEEZERS RIDE RATING:

Boring                           Happy/Fun             Vomit-Inducer                  Scary

     Blizzard River –This was the most fun non-scary ride.  We rode the “rapids” losing visibility in man-made fog and tried or rather maneuvered desperately to ensure that the other side of the boat would be the one to get soaked.  There is significant soakage in this ride and my denim skort held onto the water for several rides afterward though I did try to go on some fast ones to dry out.  How creepy would that be to ride in the wet seat left behind by a previous passenger….yuckkk?  I did warn the attendants, but to what end I haven’t a clue.

Buzz Saw – Fun, easy, kind of like a Viking Ship ride from county fairs with an extra – it goes all the way around.  First overpass (you’re not upside down) is the most startling. And we made 61-cents from people (most likely from the ride before ours) who hadn’t secured their personal items before getting aboard.

New England Skyway – this ride used to be at Coney Island but has been at this site for over 40 years.  It takes a long time between carriages so it felt like time wasted when we were really trying to speed things up by riding rather than walking to the other side of the park.  Views are not all that interesting. Sadly, the best part of this ride is its history.

Scream – the hype is way bigger than the reality.  This ride went nowhere, wasn’t particularly startling and my stepdaughter and husband (who had been bordering on sickness) looked bored.  Guests are seated on a platform around a 20-story high tower and are randomly dropped.  There are three towers:  Space Shot, Turbo Drop and Combo. We didn’t know they were different at the time, but in any event none was named Lame-Ass Drop so I don’t know which one they took. And FWIW the Scream is nothing to shout about.  Disclaimer:  Visual and anecdotal assessment, I did not ride.

Splash Water Ride – Easy and fun one small dip, minimal spinning.  We would have made it out unscathed except a couple of teen boys used water cannons to drown the teen ladies in our group.  Teen ladies in our group took their revenge (at a cost of one quarter per couple of gallons of water) on other unsuspecting victims.

 

SCARY RIDES

My troubles are caused by spinning.  Can’t figure out what caused Jon’s issues.  But the fact is we responded differently.  He’d get off a disturbing ride kind of blue-ish and wobbly, and I would be pretty nearly alright until I sat down and my body ultimately realized it wasn’t meant to be tossed about, and revolted. My sister had other concerns upon seeing the drop on Bizarro. She commented that the g-forces would probably be permanently bad for your brain.  I don’t think that was the issue.  I’m just not a spinner.

Thunderbolt – Smaller wooden coaster a few good spins, great paint chipping façade made it possible to freak out bystanders with questions of stability and upkeep. But the spins and drops were not enough to be a stomach issue.

 Cyclone – Thunderbolt’s older, bully cousin.  Much bigger, my second favorite.  Rode like, and is, an old fashioned wooden roller coaster without spinning upside down or swirling much at all.  Great rickety ride.

 Mind-Eraser – This was the most sickening ride for me, many upside downs, many twirls, and my stomach never forgave me ‘til I plied it with ginger tea.

 Batman – I held everyone’s stuff when this one opened up right after we got off Mind-Eraser.  My group said it was smoother and less spinny than the M-E but my stomach was on strike and I had to pass on it.  Disclaimer:  Visual and anecdotal assessment, I did not ride.

 Flashback – This coaster has a substantial and fairly normal drop but then it goes backwards.  This one undid Jon; immediately after getting off I could tell he was squeamish.  I bought him a Coke and then made the mistake of sitting on a non-moving chair and felt ill.  As we geezers and wheezers tried repairing the damage, the kids went back on this ride again, so if I wrote this for teens I’d have to throw in a couple of happy faces, but I’m not smiling.

 Bizarro – This steel coaster with the heart of a wooden one stole mine. But there was a super high drop of close to 90 degrees that only a steel could handle.  Such a great ride.  And though closed most of the day, it opened as we were contemplating leaving and would have been our last ride IF we hadn’t headed to the exit and passed Scream and Tomahawk without lines.  Should have been our last ride it was wonderful and worth the only excessive wait we experienced – one hour, plus.

Tomahawk – a young lady in our group had been to the park before but hadn’t even seen this ride.  Without a line and ready to go, we let the two teens hop on board.  It was a giant spinner and though guests are seated it was similar to those Space RoundUp rides at fairs where you stand and the bottom falls out and you’re stuck by centrifugal force to the wall.  Except it was on a pendulum.  I watched from the sidelines and took pics.  Girls didn’t look exactly right when they got off, but no one admitted to feeling ill.  They saved that embarrassment for Jon and me.  Disclaimer:  Visual and anecdotal assessment, I did not ride.

By the end of our visit, we experienced twelve rides, (thirteen if the girls second FlashBack counts) in the 6 hours we canvassed the park.  We were helped considerably in our quest to bag all the big rides by the fact that it was Labor Day and less busy than in the summer.  The four of us spent a total, including lockers, minimal food, drinks and tickets (if we use the online ticket price), of about $240 dollars.  So at $60 per person, the rides averaged out to about $5 each and that is less nausea inducing than I would have guessed.  Just don’t ask me to sit down and figure the cost based on the ratio of time spent ON the rides versus the time spent getting to or waiting to board a ride …that would be like sitting down after FlashBack – a big mistake.

©2011 By Alison Colby-Campbell

2 responses to “A Geezer’s Guide to Riding the Rides at Six Flags New England

  1. You had me at the Rating System.

  2. The Vomitator for those of you who’ve asked was actually a fancified trash barrel in the rides section of the Topsfield Fair a few years back. Lisa gld ou liked my rating system….I think it could be used for multiple purposes – maybe a DatingRating rating system too or EatingRating system fro restaurants…got any other ideas?

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