Six Flags Mexico

23rd April 2015

The easiest way for a foreigner to get around Mexico City is to hire a car and driver, and my first trip ten years ago did just that. However, it is both faster and much cheaper to use the metro system, as a single ticket costs just five pesos regardless of the distance travelled. It took us just over an hour to travel from Terminal Aerea beside the airport to Universidad at the southern end of line five, and a sitio taxi from there to the park took ten minutes and cost fifty pesos.

Six Flags Mexico currently offers three different admission options: the standard package, the VIP package, and a private tour. In the interests of maximising our day we selected the VIP package, which included unlimited fast track access to five of the eight coasters and several of the flat rides, as well as a single fast track for the remaining coasters and the Kilahuea tower ride. Buying ahead of time was definitely the correct approach; there were an enormous number of people queueing to purchase tickets when we arrived, but we made our way to the dedicated VIP entry lane and entered the park less than ninety seconds after arrival.

Our first task for the day was to hire a locker. The main facility just inside the gate had already sold out by the time we got there, but we found another set discreetly hidden behind a restaurant in the Pueblo Vaquero area of the park. It was disappointing to find no change machine available given that the lockers would only accept exact payment in coins, but that hurdle was quickly overcome with the purchase of a water bottle that would have been required imminently regardless.

Medusa Steel Coaster

With our possessions stored we headed for Medusa Steel Coaster (#2106), a dreadfully rough coaster renovated from wood to steel last year by the team at Rocky Mountain Construction. We were expecting a lot from the reconstituted ride, given the exceptionally high standard achieved by both previous RMC conversions, as well as their original creations, and I'm glad to say that we were not disappointed.

The queue begins with a crooked house walkthrough, originally a standalone attraction named La Cabaña del Tio Chueco, and continues on to a lengthy walkway that goes through the middle of the ride area, helping to build anticipation for those waiting. A substantial cattle grid can be found to one side of the station, followed by an underpass and a set of stairs up to the boarding platform. The distance from start to end is a brisk three minute walk, and one can only speculate as to how long the wait time might be with the whole area full.

The staff on duty today were allowing exactly one train load of riders into the station at a time, with no preferred seating even though the station was fitted with a dedicated queueing area for the front row. This might have been easier to forgive if boarding was handled efficiently, but the reasoning was hard to understand given that the second train was invariably stacked on the brake run for some time after each lap. We timed the dispatch interval at various points during the day and noted it varying between five and eight minutes, an extremely poor showing from a major coaster. Fortunately the wait time today peaked at fifteen minutes, meaning that operations were less of an issue than they might have been, but we never did manage to score a front seat.

The layout of the reconstituted ride follows the original relatively closely, albeit with the addition of four over-banked turns and three barrel rolls, one of which makes up the first drop. I'd deliberately avoided watching any footage of the ride prior to my trip, and as a result this brilliant element caught me entirely by surprise; the train was already climbing the next hill before my brain realised what had happened. The next turn added to the confusion with some sideways airtime. There were no dead spots on the ride whatsoever; the pacing and sense of speed was maintained all the way to the final brake run, which was reached almost fifteen seconds sooner than it was prior to conversion despite a negligible difference in track length.

Our next stop was at Dark Knight (#2107), a coaster originally planned for Six Flags New England. Management there began construction before the required permits were in order, and the subsequent stoppage and political difficulties led to the ride being shipped to Mexico instead. The experience begins with a dubbed version of the pre-show video found on the American models, and continues with a standard layout Wild Mouse negotiated in almost complete darkness. The theming fell short of the magnificent Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster, and worse yet, the lower section of the ride was uncomfortably rough. Neither of us were sorry when we hit the final brake run.

We decided to continue on an anticlockwise lap of the park, making Roller the next hit. Today the early model roller skater was being run by a single operator who was happy to have extended conversations with patrons on the exit ramp, resulting in a wait time far longer than it should have been. We felt ever so slightly guilty as we used our wristbands to bypass the queue, though we did at least choose a back row so as to not take a front from those waiting. The ride was as good as new despite being over twenty years old.

Batman Closed!

The same could not be said for the Boomerang, the first example of the famous production coaster manufactured in 1982 and installed at the park then known as Reino Aventura six years later. I decided to go for a front seat, oblivious to the fact that the smoothest seat for the outward journey would become the roughest on the return. It seemed like we'd dodged a bullet as the train made it most of the way through the loop with no major distress, but a violent snap on the exit and serious jackhammering in the cobra roll element presented us with a splendid variety of coaster bruises augmented by a pair of matching headaches.

One of the dilemmas faced by coaster counters is the absolute requirement to complete at least one lap on every credit, even those known to be not very good. A significant other with the credit already is normally excused only in extreme cases, and even then may be required to grovel extensively in order to obtain forgiveness. As such, I'll admit to being not terribly disappointed when I noticed a train stuck half way up the lift hill on Batman the Ride. Minutes later the presence of a big crane and several engineers at the apex made it abundantly clear that this was a coaster that we would not be riding today, prompting some small scale celebrations from Megan (even though she still needs the credit!). A security guard later confirmed in broken English that the motor had burnt out.

The back cars on Tsunami were closed off today, but the experience from row eleven was entirely typical, a smooth ride augmented as always by the wonderful whirring noise that any long term enthusiast would immediately recognise as belonging to this style of coaster. It is a testament to the quality of Zierer's engineering that the ride quality is still as good as it would have been on its debut thirty-three years ago.

The Six Flags chain installed four new Gerstlauer spinning coasters during 2007/08, naming them Tony Hawk's Big Spin after the skateboarding legend. The first three remain in their original homes as of this writing, albeit with generic theming, but the fourth was retired from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom after just four seasons and sent south of the border for a new life as Joker (#2108). The theming of the ride in its new home is superb, with a fun house for a queue, a mid-course tunnel, static and moving theme elements, and a multicoloured painted surface beneath the ride structure. The attention to detail turned what would already have been a good coaster into an excellent one that both of us really enjoyed.

That left Superman el Último Escape as the final coaster of the morning. The structure and track were badly in need of a fresh coat of paint today, but aesthetics aside the ride has held up remarkably well over the last decade. The mid-course block brake wasn't completely open, and as a result the airtime hills on the way back to the station were an absolute treat.

Rueda India

With the operational credits complete we spent a very leisurely two hours having some food, relaxing, and taking photographs. In due course we wound up on the Rueda India, a ferris wheel decorated with fiberglass cows and a chieftain bust complete with war bonnet. We shared a car with a mother and young daughter, who seemed more than a little bemused at the two gringos taking enormous numbers of photographs of the nearby coasters.

We seriously considered a ride on Sky Screamer, a seventy-four metre high StarFlyer ride, but decided to give it a miss when it became evident that doing so would condemn ourselves to at least an hour of standing in the unshaded queue area, and the only other attraction we were interested in, the Freaky Dolls haunted house, was closed for maintenance. As neither of us wanted to do flat rides we elected to finish out our day with a few circuits on our favourite credits; three laps on Superman el Último Escape and two on Medusa Steel Coaster.

 

Parque Francisco Villa

23rd April 2015

The cheapest way to get to Parque Francisco Villa is to take the metro system to Parque de los Venados on line twelve, located directly across the road from the park. Stations on this line only accept payment using a smart card, but these can be purchased at the various ticket offices for a nominal fee. For reasons of time we decided to take a taxi directly from Six Flags Mexico, which took us just over half an hour and cost three hundred pesos.

The first thing we saw on arrival was an enormous statue of Pancho Villa, one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals. It was a short walk from there to an area filled with assorted attractions for small children. There was a definite sense that we'd arrived just as things were beginning to wind down for the day; there were only a handful of guests present, and covers had already been placed on a few of the rides. The compressor for the coaster was still running, however, and we elected to stand on the station platform and wait for someone to notice us. It didn't take long; within seconds an elderly operator appeared out of nowhere to run the ride for us.

I'll admit to some amusement at the tickets for Crazy Worm (#2109) costing four times as much as those for the metro system. That said, our money did at least get us three exclusive laps during which Megan demonstrated her coaster enthusiasm by chanting the words Whee, Sartori Noises over and over and over again.

Francisco Villa

2015


Six Flags Mexico

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Parque Francisco Villa

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