On Monday, I went to Six Flags with some friends. The website for the place makes no mention of the actual address, or even what zip code the place is in, so I could not look at a map and was forced to use the 'From DC and all areas south' directions. I chose the DC and south directions since I knew that 6 flags is in Maryland and that I am near DC and south of Maryland.
The directions directed me to take 95 North to exit 15A which was center ave or something, and then go 5 miles and it's on the left. I would have preferred a little more detail, but I know how to get to 95 so I assumed I could find it. As I merged onto 95 N, I notice that I am at mile 29, well past the requisite exit 15. As it turns out, six flags is in some thin strip of Maryland that is east of DC and apparently south of where I live. So I turn around and get on 95 south and make my way to the place.
When I arrive I call my friends and discover that they have apparently ignored the agreed upon meeting time and have not left yet. Knowing that I am in for a wait I decided to go into the park and roam around. Little did I know that parking was 9$. I only had 4$ and there are, as far as I can tell, no Wachovia's in Maryland, and I am not about to pay 9$ + $6.50 in various bank charges so I can go sit on a bench for an hour, so I went down the street to Wendy's to get lunch. It was one of the Wendys with the old newspaper ads on the tables so I could stare at the table learning about various medicinal treatments to illnesses I didn't have, mortgages for my house, and probably penis enlargement. It was just like I was at my computer. The problem was that the bathroom had two stalls. One stall was full of a disaster I was not about to go near, and the other was occupied by some guy and his squad of kids, who looked as though they would be there for a while. The 99 cents menu, however, was satisfying as always.
Once all of my friends arrived, we made our way into the park. Nothing of interest happened in there except that some punk threw up all over the superman rollercoaster and it had to be closed for an hour to be decontaminated. Speaking of which, it would make so much more sense for the batman coaster to be called superman and vice versa. The batman one you are lying down on your stomach and hanging so it is like you are flying, like superman. The superman rollercoaster, is just a normal steel coaster with tall hills, which is more like batman because he is just a normal guy who jumps around with a complex system of boomerangs, ropes, and pulleys, which are all bat shaped. The batman roller coaster wasn't even the right color, it was purple and yellow. Classic Batman is gray with blue highlights, neo-batman is all black. I guess technically his bat symbol has a yellow background, and his utility belt was yellow, but yellow was never more than a very minor color and he certainly never wore purple. I think he had enough sexual ambiguities without wearing purple. It wasn't even like there were batman oriented decorations. Maybe if the queue area was modeled like the batcave, and when the roller coaster took off the road barrier went down and you came out of the cave like in the show. Maybe they could have had some sort of exploding octopus, or robot attack shark like in the movie. The height measuring stick, instead or a red and green wood rectangle, could at least have been a batman character. The Penguin is pretty short, he would have been a good 'must be taller than me to fight crime on the rollercoaster' sort of guy. Maybe each of the cars of the coaster could have been one of his idiotic transports. You could have the coptor, the boat, the motorcycle, the batmobile, the jet, etc. Or at least made it the bat-train. As I recall the train was just standard rollercoaster cars - painted purple so that I associate them with batman.
The superman ride was no better. They did have the correct blue and red color scheme to match his outfit, but other than that it could have advocated just about anything. They should have had some krypronite sticks on the uphill part since that would make superman slow and boring, then have Lois Lane in some seductive position at the bottom of the hill, making him go as fast as possible. Before a sharp turn they could have had some grubby reporter from the Daily Planet trying to give you a bunch of work. One segment of the coaster was these large helixes, which you may recognize from roller coaster tycoon. For those who have not played rct, a helix is basically a banked circle or a sideways loop i guess. They are usually stacked up on top of eachother. Anyway, they could have put some explosion or something right before the helix and a big globe in the middle of it so that when you go around the globe really fast, it makes the Earth rotate the other direction due to a viscous boundary layer in the atmosphere, which in turn makes time flow backwards since the passage of all time is directly linked to the rotational speed of the Earth, and the explosion would therefore be prevented by going around the helix.
My theory is that the designers of six flags also played rollercoaster tycoon and know that if there is an accident and a bunch of people die on a ride, you just paint it brown and change the name to 'killer bear attack' and then it is safe again. This would be much harder if there was a great deal of themed batman or superman scenery throughout the ride.You would not want to end up with 'The riddler and joker are apparently also afraid of the bear.'
The thing that got me the angriest, however, was not the rides themselves but the areas around the rides. The area of the park with batman, superman, and a couple of rides that were so poorly themed I cannot remember what they were called, is called 'Gotham City.' Superman lives in Metropolis. I guess the superman ride is some sort of deal superman had to try to sell t-shirts in a new market or something. There are also several restaurants and stores with names such as the bat-cave cafe. This would be ok if they sold thing such as "UN-member-rehydrating slurpees" or at least putting the word bat in front of everything on the menu. I, for one, would much rather have bat-funnel-cake than just funnel cake. Especially if the tray was made to look like a utility belt and the food was in various compartments.
Another explanation for the un-thought-provoking decor could have been that it was designed by that senile old man who now appears to be six flags' spokesman. I am not exactly sure what his idea of 'playtime' is, but it probably involves taking that unexplained bus to the hospital to treat whatever condition caused his current facial expression. At the entrance to gotham city, there is a large inflatable old man like this one. I can't imagine what its purpose is, except maybe to imply that the rides inside are themed by someone old enough as to not be able to come up with any cultural icons newer than 1970.
For some reason one of my friends really wanted to see the 'Batman Adventure Show' or whatever it was called, so we did. I can understand that it is tough to come up with a good plot that is easily understood and acted out by minimum wage employees, but someone had to have been fired as a result of this production. There were five of us who watched the show and we could not collectively, deduce the basic plot of the performance. There were several people employed by the joker whos only function seemed to be to crash motorcycles into piles of sand and, from time to time, jump into a pit of acid (which was later revealed to be nothing more than colored water, undermining the Joker's threat to throw the woman into it.) My theory is that they were guarding the unexplained rotisserie chicken that was out front of the factory for some reason. There was this 5 minute long scene of the Joker and Batman telling the batmobile to do various things like 'drive over there' which it did or didnt do, seemingly at random. You might be saying 'well alex, the batmobile wont respond to joker and after the joker messes with it, then it wont work for batman.' But you would not say this if you had seen the show. At first it does not respond to Joker, but then suddenly it does after he asks it a few times. So he gets inside and drives around the stage for a while. He appears to control the car by waving his arms around the cab wildly. Then batman arrives and the car does not respond to him. You assume that this is because joker is in it, but then he just issues his command a couple more times and then it comes right over to him. I think the problem may have been poor communication between the actors and the lackey stuck in some compartment of the car controlling it. Batman and Joker danced around for a while fighting over some woman with large shoulder pads in her shirt until eventually batman decided the only way to catch the joker was to crash his batmobile into a building at full speed and make it explode. Apparently the explosion was supposed to force the joker into submission but not hurt batman, who was driving the car. The outcome of this plan was never revealed since after the car blew up the play was suddenly over. I guess they didnt have the heart to tell the children that batman was dead. It was 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.
After we left the park I decided to take 95 south home, and take the other direction around the beltway hoping it was quicker. This seemed to be working OK until I entered cone city. At first just one lane was closed and I figured since it was pretty late, there would be no traffic. Lane after lane closed, however, until there was only one lane remaining, which, even at night causes traffic stoppage on the beltway. As is usually the case with closed off lanes, I saw nothing inside the cones except for some construction workers lounging around in chairs acting surly. After a mile or two the rest of the lanes reopened and I figure I was safe for the rest of the way home. To my dismay, however, I hadnt even gone two miles when the lanes began closing again. Soon I was once again down to one lane. I wouldn't have cared if they had just kept the other three lanes closed the whole time, since the traffic moves OK once it is in the lane. The real jam occurs during the merge period when everyong is trying to fit into that one lane. This section didn't even have the surly workers and was completely empty. It was over even quicker than the first. Just as traffic was resuming in the four lanes again and I was thinking to myself 'there couldn't possibly be another section of cones,' I saw the next section of cones slowly forcing me into the right lane again. I was pretty irritated by this, but I knew that the toll road was not far and I would soon be finished with whatever clown-conery was going on with the beltway. To my amazement, however, the cones ran down the exit ramp and right onto the toll road. To further explain this phenomenon: The toll road exit is a left exit with two lanes, so there is a break in the beltway cones allowing people to exit, but instead of just having the exit gap, the cones curved onto the ramp, closing the left of the two exit lanes and then resumed in full force on the toll road. (The beltway has very few left exits, so the larger periods between cones could not have been attributed to exits.)
The toll road never gets particularly crowded, so traffic was not a concern, but I was very suspicious of those cones. I did, however, have the pleasant surprise that my old fastoll (or as it is now called 'smartag') had been taken from wherever I threw it and stuck in my parent's car. Apprently it was also still working and deducting money from my checking account. While it may have been costing me money the last few years, it did allow me to save some time on the toll road and make up for all of those cone-oriented delays.
I eventually arrived home after what proved to be an even longer trip than the reverse-I95 route I took to get there. Had I had a passenger in the car, I would have turned to him and said 'let us never speak of the shortcut again'