Friday, March 28, 2008

Let's ride a bull!

Well, I said I'd take ya on another guided visual of another favourite coaster. I'll apologise in advance for the video, the dude is screaming before anything happens but it's the only video I could find that starts in the station. I hope you like steep drops 'coz this is the mother of all drops at the moment. El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. 181 feet tall...not too bad given Nitro is 230 feet tall, eh? The drop is 176 feet at a 76 degree angle and for all intents and purposes, it may as well be a sheer 90 degree drop because when you're on that train and round the bed and begin pointing IS a straight drop.

So you make your way to the queue. It's always packed unless you hit it right when the park opens. The only bad thing about El Toro is they let too many people into the station. It's small in there and get too crowded. For air time, you gotta sit in the back. It doesn't really matter where you sit, you get a great ride. As you're standing there, you watch a few trains come down that drop and you wonder what you got yourself into. The train speeds by in a blur...70 mph never seemed so fast and this ride is 10 mph SLOWER than Nitro. It sounds aggressive, it looks aggressive, it IS aggressive. Two people ahead of you then it's your turn to board. They load, their train is checked and off they go. You stand there, heart beginning to race and you think you'll have a few minutes to compose yourself but think again, here comes the second train, it unloads and the air gates hiss open. You notice how long the train looks ass you slowly edge forward and take a seat on the outside seat.

You're sitting down when I tell you you're sitting on the seat belt and you definitely need it on this ride. Lifting up, you grab the belt, fasten it and pull the lap bar down.
"What does extreme uplifting forces mean?" you ask me as you point to an overhead sign. I smirk and tell you it means exactly what it says....this coaster has extreme ejector air...and I mean EXTREME. "But it's fun, don't worry." "It's less scary than Nitro because it's not as high, right?" you ask with a nervous laugh as attendants come down the line and staple you in. "Let me put it to you this way....Nitro is like a Maine Coon's big, and it looks tough but a gentle giant. El Toro means is going to buck you around and your butt isn't going to be in your seat until the end of the ride, during the twister section...just before we pull back into the station." Your eyes widen as the ever-familiar "All Clear, Enjoy your ride on El Toro" is announced and the train begins to roll forward slowly and makes a very sharp left turn.

We approach the lift hill and there's a sudden loud BANG! "That's just the catch car engaging the train." I say leaning my head back to enjoy the warm sun on my face. Suddenly, the train gains a lot of speed, almost like a mini launch. It takes no time at all to reach the top and the cable lift, the first on a wooden coaster, is eerily quiet. It slows as the train inches over the top and you notice the front reaching the drop. It is very quiet and still up here but there's not much time to take it in as we're beginning to get whipped over the drop.

STRAIGHT DOWN the ground is racing up to meet us, your butt is not in the seat and the train is going so fast it feels as if we're going to crash through the track and keep on going straight through the ground. 'Holy shit!" is all you have time to say before the G's plant you firmly in your seat as we race up the second hill where you again become airborne but smile and say CHEESE! It's picture time at the bottom of this hill. Again we race up and there's a very swift,sharp turn to the right...into a very heavily banked swoop to the right. The lateral G's are nice here. Racing to the sky again and turning to the left slightly we're diving into and behind the structure where the head-chopper effect is amazing. The train begins to turn to the left again and I say "This is the best part-hold on!" And it's true....after this swoop there's a slight incline as we cross over the other wooden coaster, Rolling Thunder and get one spectacular moment of extreme ejector air before the train hurtles into a very severe but extremely fun serpentine twister section that snakes along Rolling Thunder's infield. Pulling out everyone is laughing and cheering as the train finally begins to lose some speed and hit the brakes before pulling back into the station. "I wanna do it again!" you say running down the exit to get back in line.

The only real problem with El Toro is for the extreme speed, it's too short a ride. It is honestly over WAY too fast. During construction of this, there was one photograph someone snapped that showed workers on the lift hill and the first drop was in gorgeous view. It make both the lift and the drop lok impossibly vertical, I wish I could find that shot but I can't. I have this one but showing the workers strapped to the lift while laying down the track really put things in perspective.

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