Drop of Doom VR Review – Six Flags Great America

On May 13th, I got to experience the Drop of Doom Virtual Reality experience on the Giant Drop at Six Flags Great America. The 227 ft. drop tower received Samsung Gear VR headsets to provide the feeling of being hoisted up 100 stories to the tops of skyscrapers in a massive city being attacked by spiders, robots, and spider-robots.

Yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds.

Unlike my coaster reviews, I don’t really have a bunch of categories or ways to score this ride. Instead, I just want to talk about some of the things I liked and disliked about the reimagined drop tower experience, and if I think adding VR was a good change or not.

First of all, I had never actually been on Giant Drop before it received VR. Although I enjoy riding roller coasters, I’ve never been too enthusiastic about riding drop towers. There’s something about the physics of the ride that my body isn’t used to feeling yet. Nevertheless, I still really wanted to try out another VR ride after enjoying Rage of the Gargoyles on the Demon last year…so I did.

Before we get to the actual ride, I want to touch on the excellent system Six Flags used to reduce wait times. Stationed at the entrance to Drop of Doom was an employee handing out reservation tickets for the ride. These tickets have a certain time listed for you to return by and hand in the ticket in order to ride. For instance, my friends and I received a 5:00 to 6:00 return time when we picked our tickets up at 3:30. Although you can’t ride immediately, it does reduce wait time drastically for when you come back. Now because VR rides usually have waits up to 2 and a half hours (looking at you New Revolution at Magic Mountain), I think the limited reservation system is a smart fix to a serious problem that occurs on those types of rides.

So you receive you’re reservation ticket, return it, and then stand in line for about 15 minutes. The operators then send you to your vehicle, and take their sweet time getting you strapped into the harness and VR headsets. It wasn’t a huge problem, but I do wish the employees had a sense of urgency. Sure, a 15 minute wait is good, but there’s always room for improvement.

Once your headset is on, you’ll immediately be placed in the world of giant mutant spider robots and skyscrapers. The scene begins with you in a helicopter with a small mounted turret (cause that small thing will kill the spider robots). The helicopter then immediately takes off, and you are hoisted into the air. Although you rise up pretty slow on the actual tower, the VR has a fun (but disorienting) way of making you feel like you truly are rising up 100 stories. On you’re trip up to the top you are encouraged to tap the top of you’re VR headset to shoot the evil flying spiders and robots. At the very top, you halt for a minute, and watch a giant robot mech shoot at a giant spider on a building.

Then you drop. To be honest, I couldn’t really tell what makes you fall. While watching other on ride POV’s it looks like the robot explodes or the spider shoots you down, but I’m not quite sure. The point is something causes you’re helicopter to go down, and you fall and tremendous speeds only to be caught by a spider web. Just when you think you’re safe, a giant spider climbs over to you and gets right in your face. This was arguably my favorite part of the ride, which is ironic because the actual ride was over. You’re death by spider seems imminent, but then the giant robot crushes the spider with his giant boot (accidentally?), saving the day.

And then it’s over. There’s no brake run to sit on like a roller coaster, so the experience ends up relatively short. The operators will come and take your VR goggles, and then send you on your way to let you ponder if it was worth it or not.

Which I’d say it was! Sure it was short, and the graphics are nowhere near something like an HTC Vive, but it was still lots of fun! I’m all for Six Flags trying new things, such as putting VR on something other than a coaster. It might’ve not been as good as Rage of the Gargoyles, but it was still a good way to draw in new crowds and appeal to different audiences that want something more than just a simple drop tower.

So should you take the time to get a reservation and try Drop of Doom VR? If you enjoy virtual reality, or just want to try something new, then of course! It’s not like the reservations cost anything, so all it takes is a little extra effort to grab tickets before they run out. The VR experience does end Monday, May 29th, so as of when this is posted there’s only 1 more day. If you’re in the area though, it’s definitely worth checking out before it’s gone!

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Goliath Review – RMC Wooden Coaster at Six Flags Great America

Here’s my full review of Goliath, an RMC Wooden Coaster at my home park, Six Flags Great America.

I had plans to review this coaster along time ago, but just recently rode it again at my most recent trip to Great America on May 13th. Therefor, I decided to scrap the old review and rewrite a new one with some more updated thoughts. Here we go…

Goliath was built by my personal favorite manufacturer, RMC, and was introduced to the park in 2014. The coaster has a height of 165 feet, a drop of 180 feet, a speed of 72 mph, and an incredibly steep vertical angle of 85 degrees. It also boasts two inversions, including the only dive loop on a wooden coaster.

In order to review this coaster, I have created 13 different categories that it will be judged on. Some categories are worth 5 points, while others are worth 10. Each coaster begins with a score of 10 points, and has the opportunity to earn up to 100 points total. Yes, that’s a lot, but don’t worry, I’ll do all the math for you.

First up is the height category. Now for a wooden coaster, Goliath is pretty tall. Combine that with an extremely steep lift hill, and the ride feels almost as tall as its hyper coaster neighbor, Raging Bull. That’s a win for me, so I’d give it a 5 out of 5.

Next up is the drop, out of 10 points. As I stated before, Goliath has a 180 foot drop into a tunnel at 85 degrees…which is crazy. I’d say it’s easily the best drop on any of the coasters at the park, by far. It might not pull you over the lift hill as fast as Wicked Cyclone or Twisted Colossus do, but it’s still an excellent drop that deserves a perfect score.

Then we have speed, which is also out of 10. Until the 2016 debut of Lightning Rod at Dollywood, Goliath held the title of fastest wooden coaster on the planet. Since Lightning Rod only beat it out by 1 mph, I’d say it’s still easy to consider Goliath a very fast coaster for its kind. It still loses when compared to other steel coasters such as Xcelerator or Full Throttle though, so I’d have to give it a 9 out of 10.

Now for the smoothness category, and I mean come on. Goliath is an RMC. It automatically gets a 5 out of 5 for being glossy smooth, no questions asked.

For our next category; airtime, Goliath will be receiving a 2 out of 5. Sadly, Goliath isn’t a perfect ride by any means. Although it has one or two good moments of airtime, the ride just can’t compete when compared to the other RMC creations I’ve ridden. Goliath has a lot of strong suits, but I can’t say airtime is one of them.

To make up for it’s lack of airtime, Goliath will be scoring a 9 in the intensity category. From the second you release from the chain lift hill, you are absolutely hammered with intensity. The bottom of the drop and first overbank provide g-forces that are unmatched by almost every ride in the park. If you are looking for an intense ride, Goliath will definitely satisfy.

However, Goliath will not satisfy in the length of its ride, and will be receiving a 2 in the duration category. The short ride time is by far the most complained about part of this ride. You cruise through the elements very quickly, and before you know it, you’re sitting on the break run. Luckily, duration isn’t everything when it comes to a good coaster. Goliath is short, but makes up for it by being a very strong, fun ride from start to finish.

Next we have theming, which is out of 10 points. As with most rides in the Six Flags chain, the focus is more on the thrills than the look. This isn’t a bad thing, but it also means that it won’t score very high in this category. The most I can do is say the ride structure looks kind of cool, and give it a 3 out of pity. That’s better than just a 1.

Then we have to talk about the restraints. Just like in the smoothness category, Goliath automatically gets a 5 out of 5 for it’s excellent restraint system.  RMC always does a great job with their lap bars/shin guards, ensuring that they provide a comfortable, free experience while on the ride.

Now we have our last major category: the layout. I feel like I’ve either been giving Goliath either really high or really low scores in this review. The layout is the first time I feel like it deserves something more average. There are a lot of great elements in this ride, and it is excellently paced, but sadly the duration is still a problem. Great America did a great job with the space they had to work with, but I still think it wouldn’t have hurt to add a few more airtime hills throughout the ride. 6 out of 10.

After that, we have 3 more quick categories to round things out. First up, the queue. Similar to the theming category, Six Flags isn’t particularly known for having beautiful queues. I guess I could give Goliath a 3 out of 5, but only because of the cool Roman-looking sign at the front, and the fact that you can get lots of good off-ride pictures while waiting.

Second to last, we have the name category. Now most coaster enthusiasts probably know what I’m going to say about the name Goliath, but I’ll say it anyways for those who aren’t. Goliath is arguably the most overused roller coaster name in history, to the point where every bit of originality has been washed out, bleached, thrown in a trash compactor, and shot into outer space never to be seen again. In other words, for such a good coaster, it’s a shame that Six Flags gave it such a terrible name. 1 out of 5.

Finally, we have our operations category. Now here’s where things get tricky. I’ve seen some very good operations on this ride, and some very bad operations on this ride. On my last visit to the park, we ended up waiting about a half hour for the ride in which was only about a 10 minute line, due to some complications with how the ride crew was handling a lap bar situation. I understand there are safety procedures, but they really should’ve announced what was happening over a speaker so that people could decide if they wanted to stay in line or not. It was kind of frustrating, which is why I’d have to give Goliath a 3 out of 5 for operations.

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of our review. I’ve added up the points, and Goliath’s final score is…a 73! This really is one of the stronger rides at Great America. It isn’t my favorite ride at the park, and it’s definitely not my favorite RMC, but it’s still a very solid ride with a lot of good things going for it. If you’re going to Six Flags Great America, Goliath is definitely a must-ride.

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Six Flags Great America Trip Report – May 2017

On Saturday, May 13th, some friends (by the names of Dominic, Jordan, and Dale) and I went to Six Flags Great America for our first visit of 2017! Our main reason for going was to try out the new Drop of Doom VR before it ended later this month, but we were able to get on a substantial number of other rides too! Here’s a run through of our day:

It’s great to be back!

When we arrived at about 10:15, there were already tons of guests piling up at the entrance. It was looking to be a pretty crowded day. Luckily, the staff did a great job of filtering people through the gates, and we made it in the park by opening time at 10:30!

 

Anyone else confused as to why there are 8 flags instead of 6?

 

We decided that we would ride Goliath first. This allowed me to walk past the The Joker and take some pictures.

A bit out of sequence, but this picture I took of Joker while waiting for the rapids ride is probably my favorite picture I took that day!
Even if it’s a clone, I’m still very excited to ride this when we come back in June!
Station is coming together, but it still needs some work. Hopefully it’s ready in time for opening…

We waited about 20 minutes for Goliath. The ride actually broke down while we were waiting, otherwise it would’ve only been a station wait. The ride was running pretty good though. It felt a little slower than usual, but maybe that was just because it was still the beginning of the season.

 

It’s such a badass looking ride. Nothing quite like it!

After Goliath, we went to my personal favorite ride of the park: X-Flight. It was so nice to get back on the only wing coaster I’ve ever ridden. The inline twist at the end is still one of my favorite inversions to this date.

 

 

X-Flight recruits! Report to the…X-Flight tower….or something. I can’t really remember what the guy says in the station…
More inline twist goodness!
2nd favorite picture of the day, but I can’t quite figure out why…

 

Following X-Flight, we rode both Raging Bull and X-Flight. Unfortunately, both coasters seemed to be running a little sluggish that day. They were still fun, but Bull seemed to have a bit more of a rattle than usual, and Viper…well, it’s just not as fun in the front as it is in the back.

 

I’ve found myself comparing Raging Bull to Goliath at Magic Mountain now, and I must say Bull’s overbank is far better than the Giovinolla knockoff. However, Magic Mountain’s Goliath wins at just about everything else. (except the midcourse break run of course)

 

Even the roughest ride in the park is still a good coaster!

Six Flags’ theming at its best, folks.


We then went to get lunch at JB’s Barbecue and Sports Bar. Surprisingly, this ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. I ordered the Southwest Barbecue Burger, Jordan and Dominic each got a ginormous plate of nachos (seriously, they couldn’t even finish half of them), and Dale got a plate of boneless wings. Everything was delicious, but the wings Dale so graciously shared with us were definitely the highlight of the meal. I could go on and on about how excellent this restaurant was (especially for a Six Flags counter service restaurant), but I’ll save that for it’s own separate review.

 

It was even prepared nicely! The colorful chips were a nice touch too.

Once we were done eating, we took a break from coasters and go ride some of the park’s water rides. We had never been on the Roaring Rapids before, so we decided to head to that first. I didn’t expect it to be an absolute soaker like Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but boy was I wrong. By the time we got off the ride we were dripping wet. Combine that with a humungous splash on Logger’s Run, and it was going to take a while for us to dry off completely. They were both very fun rides though!

 

 

I need to remember to not wear kakis next time I ride this…

 

After the two water rides, it was time to go ride the Drop of Doom (or so we thought). We walked up to the entrance of the drop tower, and were greeted with an employee handing out ride reservation times. She gave us each a ticket, and told us to come back at 5 to 6. It was only 3 o’clock, so we some time to kill…

 

I really hope Six Flags implements the reservation system for VR rides at other parks. It reduced the wait time to 15 minutes, which is the shortest I’ve ever seen for VR on a ride.

 

We decided to head into the Mardi Gras section of the park to ride The Dark Knight and Superman: Ultimate Flight. We only had to wait about 30 minutes to get on TDK, which was the shortest wait I’ve ever seen for that ride. I’m sure it has lower wait times at the beginning of the day, but filtering riders through quickly and efficiently isn’t exactly The Dark Knight’s strong suit.

 

Such an awesome façade. I like how they painted on the clouds to make it seem like there is an actual reflection.

 

After our rides Dark Knight and Superman, we made a quick stop at Antoine’s Funnel Cake House to get some funnel cakes. Dale and Jordan were the only ones who wanted the dessert, so I didn’t actually get to eat any. They both seemed to really enjoy the cakes though, and had a hell of a time shaking powdered sugar on each other’s clothes once they were done eating.

 

Picture courtesy of my wonderful @ack1918 Snapchat story (Shameful social media plug).

 

It was finally time to ride what we had all been waiting for: The Drop of Doom VR on Giant Drop. We made it the drop tower just after 5, and handed our reservation tickets to the staff at the entrance. Within 20 minutes we were strapped into our VR headsets and restraints, and heading up the 227 ft. tower. The experience was short, but relatively unique and enjoyable. Like JB’s Sports Bar, I’ll write a more in depth review on Drop of Doom later on.

Get attacked by futuristic space spiders while riding on a helicopter on Drop of Doom, only in the wild west themed Southwest Territory.

 

After Drop of Doom, we managed to get on American Eagle, Demon, and Whizzer before the park closed at 7:30. Even though it was a very early closing time for a Saturday, we still managed to get on every major coaster except V2 and Batman. Combine that with the fact that we rode the drop tower and two water rides, and I’d say we had a pretty successful day at Six Flags Great America!

Dominic J. Longo ends the day with a wonderful ride on The Whizzer.

Obviously this trip report wasn’t as long as some of our others, but don’t worry. We’ll be back at Great America in June to ride The Joker, and I’ll definitely be writing another report about that day!

 

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