austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

When I was small I believed in Santa Claus

We took a taxi. We could have walked, and had we been going a week later when I'd had more experience walking around the vicinity of our hotel we might have. But we didn't feel that confident in our ability to navigate. Because the hotel, and Six Flags Mexico, are right by a major expressway there's one-way service roads beside it, and it's a crowded city, and the result is it's surprisingly hard to get from the hotel to the park without a lot of turning around and backtracking.

At the parking lot we saw a nice mix of familiar and not-quite-home. Six Flags branding, a pack of high school(?) students gathering in an unfocused mass outside the metal detectors, entry gates done up in a loosely Southwestern mission style, banners advertising the Pase Anual (and I wondered if a season pass bought in Mexico would be good for US Six Flags parks, and if we'd be liable to go to any this year). A sign warning us of the ``Juegos Descansando'' and ``Shows Descansando'', in case their not running would change our mind about buying tickets. ``Juegos Descansando'' translates literally as ``Games Resting'', bringing up the slight surprise that Spanish refers to amusement park rides as games. We weren't sure where to buy tickets, so tried the customer service desk, and got pointed to the right place, which was the entry gates not with a huge pack of teenagers milling around.

And then inside! An entry plaza that made me think a lot of the old, original Great Adventure midway. Not in details --- that one was a thickly Americana-ish corrodor --- but in style. A mock little picturesque Spanish town, with some park guy trying to take photos to sell. Also a Christmas tree still decorated and a nativity scene set up in the gazebo. This because of something I'd noticed on the signs around town. We were there the 19th of January. They hadn't finished their Christmas In The Park show yet. We've wanted for a long time to get to an amusement park's holiday show, but never been near enough one that was even open in November or December. Here, in a foreign country and nearly a month after Christmas, we were.

The first major ride we passed was Superman: El Ultimo Escape, the queue for the roller coaster tucked inside a building that looked like it could've housed an arcade or a restaurant or whatnot. The ride was closed, and would be closed the whole day. It'd be the only roller coaster of the park that we wouldn't ride. But we could see, most of the way, the huge wooden pile that was Medusa Steel Coaster and just had to find another --- any other --- roller coaster to ride before that.

We found it in Roller, a ``family'' coaster. It was small and, importantly, had no line, saving precious early hours when the queue for Medusa might not be too long. It's a cute little thing with a roller-skating motif for its cars. And we got our first challenge trying to follow ride operator instructors in Spanish. We fumbled the directions about which car to get in; I didn't think there was any way we could both fit into the same car. But they're not quite as narrow as I'd thought. And there was no seatbelt, appropriately, as it's not that fast or steep or dangerous a ride. The restraining bar was fine. We were off and launched onto what I counted as my 199th roller coaster in no time.

Back to Medusa Steel Coaster, where the sign out front warned there was a wait of 15 minutes. Which is great for a major ride. It had a huge queue area with a part about Hiring Miners, No Experience Necessary (and this in English, a bow to keeping the flavor of something I'm not quite sure what). Early on the queue divides into a couple areas, one leading into the Hiring Miners building and apparently taking us away from the roller coaster, the other leading into twisty queue passages all alike. Which way to go? We didn't know, but some teens behind us plunged ahead and into the twisty queues. So we started to follow that and realized we were kind of walking in circles, when one of the park employees watching the front gate came in to guide us all the right way and put up a chain across the not-needed switchback's area.

The building had a path leading through it, and a lot of props for a mining-town setting. Common enough. But it also had a Mystery House air to it. The paths were built at weird angles, so that you were walking at what looked like impossibly steep or gravity-defying angles relative the 'ground' or 'walls'. There was a lot of entry queue, and a lot of it was, essentially, this secondary attraction. Also a fearsomely tricky one to walk; I'm glad we weren't there on a drizzly day. But we emerged from the Mystery House mining shack and got to ... still more queue areas. A long, narrow path wending its way back and forth underneath the roller coaster track, which is great certainly. But also raises the terrifying thought: they expect this much queue to be needed, at least at peak season. How long must that take? We passed one set of switchbacks where people were just giving up and ducking underneath; there was too much queue for the actual need. It seemed like a good omen for the riding day if a major, prominent ride like this was essentially a walk-on, although remember that as huge as Mean Streak at Cedar Point was, it never really got busy.

Finally we got to the station. And got our pick of seats, too, as we were to be the first ones onto the next train. We went for the back seats, and bunny_hugger grabbed some quick pictures of me holding up my '200' sign while I did my best to smile and try not to cover my T-shirt (for Leap the Dips, at Lakemont Park). I succeeded in smiling, not in leaving my T-shirt visible. And then she sat down, quick, because they were loading up the ride fast. Seat belt, shoulder restraint, visual check and we were going.

So what was my 200th logged coaster like? A very satisfying ride, if it couldn't be on a wooden coaster. A lot of the feel of the wooden ride Medusa has to have been. Magnificent views of the park around it. Several great long drops, including drops with helical turns that feel almost a bit much, really. A lot of sideways action; if I were ever able to make myself heard above a thing I'd have joked about it being a Gravity Group coaster.

(To understand why this is a correctly-formed joke and thus quite funny, understand that many Gravity Group wooden coasters, such as Waldameer's Ravine Flyer II, spend as much as 150% of the ride time banked 90 degrees to vertical. Also that Medusa, whose structure was used to make Medusa Steel Coaster, was a Custom Coaster International-designed ride; when CCI inevitably went under most of its team reformed as Gravity Group.)

We were cheering, clapping, hooting as the ride pulled back into the station, marking us as way more demonstrative than the average rider there. Well, we're always glad to have ridden a roller coaster. bunny_hugger got another couple snaps of me before we got out of the way of the oncoming riders. I had the impression the ride operators were baffled by all this photo-taking that we did. But we did our best to not be in the way and to get things done as quick as possible so it's not like they said anything to us about it. If they talked with each other about these weirdos and their camera and their '200' sign, it didn't do us any harm.

We did stop a couple times on the exit queue for more pictures of the ride's beautiful lift hill, and an insurance shot of me holding my sign by the ride in case none of the on-ride pictures came out. And went on, having we truly believed made it to my milestone.

Trivia: ``Pedant'' first appears in print in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Source: Semantic Antics: How and Why Words Change Meaning, Sol Steinmetz.

Currently Reading: Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich , Norman Ohler, translator Shaun Whiteside. It's very breezy, easy reading. Although the breathlessness with which Ohler-through-Whiteside talks about drug use in World War II Germany --- and his-their habit of pointing out how Pervitin was ``basically crystal meth'' every few pages --- give it the slightly trashy, yes-it's-technically-educational tone of a 90s History Channel documentary. This is not to call it bad. It's just that for as relentlessly as every paragraph has citations I'm not sure how much to believe.


PS: Let's get back to the AnthrOhio Friday dance.

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bunny_hugger sitting at the edge of the stage, ready to photograph a DJ and dancers.


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Dancers at the threshold, not quite come in to the floor.


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The guy who does dinosaur/reptilian suits at every Morphicon/Anthrohio.


Tags: anthrohio, mexico city, six flags mexico
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