After my rainy trip to Cedar Point and the subsequent closing of Top Thrill Dragster, I was looking forward to getting to Six Flags Great Adventure. Not only does Great Adventure have the only other Strata Coaster on the planet, they boast the world record holder for height (456 feet) and speed (128 mph) in Kingda Ka. Top Thrill Dragster and Kingda Ka launch riders in excess of 120 mph. Riders then climb a 40-story hill at 90-degrees only to drop back down, spiraling back to Earth.
Loading was very slow going and the park was only running two trains while two more were set off to the side. If I hadn’t had a Flash Pass I don't think I would have waited for a second or third ride. Waits were two hours or more, but with the pass I waited no more than 15 minutes.
While I didn't get to ride Top Thrill Dragster thanks to the rain, I do prefer its theming and integration into the park to Kingda Ka's. The launch area was near a footpath, but exotic foliage partially blocked the view of the launch section. There were onlookers and you could see the launches, but why not highlight them instead of hide them? Six Flags dropped the ball in that regard.
Any Last Words?
Kingda Ka's intimidating launch and ridiculous height had quite an effect on the park-goers. In the station and aboard the trains people were saying their goodbyes. "If I die, you can have my girlfriend," said one teen-aged rider to a much older gentleman in line.
One girl frantically told her boyfriend that she loved him just before the launch. She begged him to put his arms down for fear that they might be dislocated by the intense launch. Some baggy-clothed onlookers standing near the launch area were yelling to their scared friend waiting to be launched.
"When you hear the click you got five seconds [left]!" They laughed for a moment at the double meaning. If I could have taken excerpts from what people were saying, you would think we were in a war zone, not an amusement park. It was silly, but entertaining at the same time.
A Rocket Coaster Indeed
On my first ride they sounded a horn. On my two later rides there was no horn, just the train shifting backwards a few feet and a small clicking noise. It was the only warning before we started tearing down the long straight track. The faster it got I realized my head was pinned to the headrest and my cheeks were being pushed back. The train felt like it was going too fast.
The experience was unreal! Over in the new Plaza del Carnival section people heard what sounded like thunder, but it came from the ground instead of the sky. As we hit top speed (128 mph), the train was rattling like it might come apart and then you begin your ascent.
The View From the Top of the (Coaster) World
Cresting the top was awesome. The view was amazing and the quietness was in direct contrast to the mayhem from seconds earlier. From certain seats I got a little pop of airtime at the top. Really about as much as you would want when you're 45 stories up. Extreme El Toro-like airtime at that height would be pretty terrifying. I had heard that on a clear day both New York City and Philadelphia are visible from the top.
Call me stupid, but I didn't expect the drop to be that great; maybe because I've scoffed at other ultra steep, 90-degree drops offered by coasters like Hypersonic XLC and SheiKra. Kingda Ka's drop is fun. You feel yourself dropping and you get that nice twist on the way down. Vehicles in the parking lot below looked like ants.
As we picked up speed on our way back down to Earth, the ride became pretty rough again. The train crested the second hill and then smoothly decelerated. I think I was sitting towards the front when I got a little lift on that second hill. It was nothing to write home about, but perceptible.
An Awesome Thrill Ride and a Great Coaster
If I were rating thrill rides, Kingda Ka would get a 10! As a roller coaster, it's way too short and pretty rough in some seats. It has a reported time of 28 seconds, but it felt even shorter. Six Flags really needs to work on the capacity and loading time. If they have four trains, then they should use them. I also hear that breakdowns are very common. I experienced a brief amount of downtime during my trip.
I'm giving Kingda Ka a very weak 8 out of 10. The points are for the insane experience that the launch provided, that unforgettable view, and the long drop. It's an awesome experience, but not a great overall roller coaster. Kingda Ka is still worth the trip to Six Flags Great Adventure if you don't mind a long wait, if it doesn't rain, and if it doesn't break down.Powered by Sidelines