Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons Great Adventure

Yesterday, I observed the Fortieth Anniversary of Woodstock by participating in gridlock on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Woodstock had some 500,000 attendees, and an estimated 1,000,000 people on the highway trying to get in.)

Why was I in Dodge Neon with five (yes, FIVE) other people? A friend was taking her kids to Six Flags Great Adventure, and I and a friend were invited along. The projected 8 AM start came and went, and we did not leave until about 10:30. The first mistake? Taking the Major Deegan Expressway [sic] instead of the Google Maps recommended Jerome Avenue. Yup... took us forever to get from the Deegan (I-87) to the Cross Bronx (I-95) to New Jersey... and then forever to get to I-195 which leads to Great Adventure. I think we arrived at about 1:30 PM, for a trip which should have taken one hour and thirty-five minutes.

Once there, we had lots of fun, and the lines moved faster than what the posted signs suggested. I had done almost all of the coasters the last time I had visited, except for Batman The Ride (a hanging coaster, I did it with my eyes closed to see how that felt... I think the visual of your horizon twisting adds to the experience.) Bizarro was brand new, so we planned on hitting the lines in the evening. Unfortunately, Sean Hannity was sponsoring a Freedom Alliance Freedom Concert, with lots of country singers (but no Dixie Chicks), and the ride, which is next to the stadium, was shut down while the sold-out concert was held. I suspect this happens whenever a concert was held.

The Dark Knight indoor "coaster" was tepid. Maybe if I had worn my glasses (which I always remove on coasters) it would have been better, but at least the lines moved quickly. (Cars are not linked, making boarding efficient.) Unfortunately, it replaced the Batman & Robin Chiller coaster (based on the movie), my favorite. That ride used maglev technology to rocket you out of the platform, through the tracks, eventually stopping on an incline. Then gravity takes over, and you retrace your trip backwards, with the physics planned so that you almost get stuck at the top of the first loop on the way back. I think the success of the new Batman movies, with the stigma attached to "Batman & Robin" convinced Six Flags to replace it.

The coolest thing? Six Flags is now selling $6 nylon capes with various superhero logos (and other images) on the back! $10 gets you a cape with lights that blink! (There's even a midway game with more, limited edition capes you can't buy, like Batgirl.) As soon as I saw the pink Supergirl cape, I immediately thought of my niece in Denver, who years earlier had gotten her face painted in a pink Spider-Man mask. (Yeah, she loves pink!) Then I saw a pink Wonder Woman belt, and the wheels started spinning... she likes make believe... I and her brother are both comicbook fans... her birthday's in November... but I put off shopping until we left the park. My last ride, Superman: Ultimate Flight, was a blast (arms out front, singing the John Williams theme a cappella), and it exits into a gift shop. They didn't have the capes, but I got that near the entrance, and then there was a superhero store, which had the matching armbands! Alas, the pink Wonder Woman belt was only available at the Hall of Justice shop near The Dark Knight, so I hustled back (the park was closing) and got it. I loved the design of a sweet Supergirl logo... the shield, surrounded by wings and flames, something you'd see as a tattoo... But I'm a guy, so I bought a logo'd coffee cup which is the least girlie version they had.

On the way back, the park exploded an incredible array of fireworks, we met up with our friends, and managed to get out of the parking lot in less than an hour. Traffic was fast until we approached the exit from the Turnpike towards the George Washington bridge. Our chauffeur, the mother, was tiring, and a quick driver change in the middle of I-95 (yes, traffic was that bad) had me riding the brake pedal for the next hour until we got to the toll plaza. (Even with the automated EZ-Pass gates, they were still backed up... why couldn't they just open more?) A few idiots cut in front of me even though there was barely room, but after that, it was quick. Almost had an accident on the George Washington lower deck... I was driving 40 mph in the middle lane at about 2 AM (I saw a sign suggesting that speed limit, and I haven't really driven for three years, and there was no traffic behind me), saw a sign saying that I-95 traffic to the Bronx had to use the right lanes , processed the info in a split second, and swerved to make the lane change, and woke up everyone napping in the back seat. Yes, that sign was posted about thirty yards before the exit... not 200 yards back on the bridge, where it would have been useful. How much gridlock does that sign cause when the bridge is full, and tourists have to change lanes to keep travelling through to the Cross-Bronx? After that melodrama, I opted to avoid the Major Deegan, and drove up Jerome Avenue, where I could take my time. That's where we switched drivers again.

I got to bed at 3:30 AM, 21 hours after I had woken up. Caffeine had kept me going all day, but I was feeling a bit sore from the various rides.

[I'm trying to find a good pic online of the Supergirl cape, but most are personal pics (although Mariah Carey wore one when she celebrated her wedding reception at Six Flags Magic Mountain). "Supergirl pink" on Google image search... WOW! So much stuff! Coolest? The reversable Supergirl/Batgirl cape. Not legit... (lookit the S) but a neat idea. The Sunsmart Supergirl one-piece swimsuit is very cool (the towel is the cape... just like you used to do when you jumped off the garage roof!). There a boy's version as well! Then there are pink and the traditional red-and-blue versions of the costume as well... (Yes, there are pink Batgirl costumes as well...) Amazing... Never thought this stuff might exist... Now if DC would just make some decent comics for 4-8 year-olds...]