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Coaster Con XXXIX at Six Flags St. Louis

By on 07/09/2016

The first half of Coaster Con XXXIX was held at Six Flags St. Louis on June 19-22, 2016. Coaster Con is the annual roller coaster enthusiast convention presented by the American Coaster Enthusiast (ACE). It’s held every year in June and is hosted by different parks each year. Six Flags St. Louis was the host park this year, with Holiday World being the other park we visited. There are also additional ACE events held just before and just after Coaster Con. These are presented by the regional ACE groups and are hosted at other nearby parks. I attended a “post-Con” add-on event that was hosted by Kentucky Kingdom.

This was only my second Coaster Con and I had an absolute blast! It was my first time at all three of these parks. Some of the benefits of attending a Coaster Con are lots of ERT before and after normal park hours, behind the scenes photo tours, special screenings of events, and of course hanging out with hundreds of fellow coaster enthusiasts from all over the world. These photos are only from the first few days at Six Flags St. Louis. I’ll do separate posts for each park.

Day 1

The toll booths at Six Flags St. Louis look pretty much like every other Six Flags park:

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After you pass through the metal detectors, you approach the ticket booths, which had a nice greeting waiting for us:

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It was late Sunday afternoon when the first event kicked off, which happened to be a group dinner in one of the picnic pavilions:

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The park had some fun ACE references at each meal:

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The food was quite delicious. Although I limited myself to mainly meats and vegetables due to my diet, there was a ton of options available, including dessert:

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During dinner, we received a nice welcome from current ACE President Jerry Willard:

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We also heard from ACE’s Events Director, and my regional SoCal ACE representative, Steve Berto:

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Our guest speaker for the first dinner, welcoming ACE to his park, was Six Flags St. Louis Park President Pete Carmichael:

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After the park had closed and was cleared of all guests, we had two hours of ERT on several rides. Most of us started on The Boss:

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I met up with fellow Californian (NorCal), ACE member, and theme park blogger Kris Rowberry. This was my first time on The Boss and I found it to be a lot more intense than I was expecting:

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Part of the intensity for me was riding it for the first time in the dark and not knowing what to expect or where the turns were. Much of this ride snakes through trees on a hill and it was absolutely pitch black out there:

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One of the best parts of any ACE event is the ERT. You get to ride over and over again, often times not even having to get up out of your seat. I think I rode The Boss 4x in a row in different seats that first night before moving on:

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Our next coaster was Screamin’ Eagle, another woodie in the dark trees:

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There was nobody in this station, making multiple rides a must:

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It was pretty hot there, in the mid-90’s during the day. I’m used to the heat, being from LA, but the 90% humidity was what killed me. I wasn’t used to that. You were constantly wet and couldn’t ever get dry. Six Flags St. Louis will be hosting its very first Holiday in the Park this Year. To promote it, they have setup a small preview center. Fortunately, it was air conditioned and felt really nice. Totally worth hanging out and spending a few minutes in Santa’s chair:

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I really like spinning coasters, so a quick ride on Pandemonium was a must. The trains never stop in this station, making it a rolling unload/load process. It actually worked out really well, even if you have stuff to drop off on the far side. I ended up riding this by myself, giving me awesome spin time while on the track. I ended up staying in the car and riding it like 4 or 5x in a row. I eventually got really dizzy from all the constant spinning as you came into the final brake that I had to call it quits. My final ride I counted 18 complete rotations as I was sitting there waiting for the brakes to slow me down and lock the car:

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My final coaster of the night was the River King Mine Train. I like most mine train coasters and this one was no exception. It was a fun layout and had three lift hills, which surprised me:

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One thing that made this particular interesting for me was all the fireflies. I’ve never seen them in person before and they were quite spectacular! There were a ton of them, providing yellow streaks of light as you navigated the course:

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Six Flags St. Louis has a very large Ferris wheel called Colossus. After closing, when it’s no longer in use, they use the lights on it as a giant clock. I think this is a very cool feature:

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The two hours of ERT on the first night seemed to go very fast, however I was able to get a lot of roller coaster rides in. I noticed another shoutout to ACE on my way out of the park that night:

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Day 2

When you show up 2 1/2 hours before the park opens to the public, you pretty much get to park wherever you want:

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I love walking through empty theme parks. Makes you feel like you own the place:

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In addition to Holiday in the Park, they’re also already advertising Fright Fest:

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During breakfast the second morning, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck joined us:

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The second morning was also the annual Midway Olympics competition. Various teams compete by playing games for points. The team with the most combined points at the end wins:

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Another huge benefit of ACE events is making lots of new friends. This is Sondra, who also just happened to be a fellow Californian. She’s up in NorCal and actually works for Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk:

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After the Midway Olympics, we got to start riding The Boss again, before the park opened to the public. This time it was in the light, so I was anxious to see exactly what it was I experienced the night before:

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This ride has one of the longest queues I think I’ve ever seen, leading up to the station. You can see a train going up the lift hill in the background:

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The final helix on The Boss is very intense and most people hold on throughout it. I tried taking it with my hands up like, well…like a boss. Unfortunately, much to Sondra’s dismay, the centrifugal force sent me right into her (Sorry, Sondra!):

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Next up was Mr. Freeze: Reverse Blast:

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I rode this coaster a few years back at Six Flags Over Texas, but it wasn’t running backwards yet, so this was my first time in reverse. I liked it a lot and rode it multiple times:

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For lunch, we decided to cool down and take a load off in JB’s Smokehouse & Sports Bar. Good food, air conditioning, season dining pass options, and lots of seating:

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One of the attractions I was most looking forward to at Six Flags St. Louis was Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, a brand new interactive dark ride from Sally Corporation:

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The theming on this attraction is amazing! Better than any Six Flags attraction that I ever recall seeing. This is part of what you see while waiting in the queue:

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The ride vehicles seat six people, three in front and three in back:

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We were so excited to ride this for the first time that we had no idea that we were supposed to get 3D glasses, which they forgot to give us. Major bubble burst when we started the ride and couldn’t see any of the screens. When we returned to loading area, they would not let us re-ride with glasses. She said we had to exit the building and go get back in line, which as you can imagine was quite long. We were very bummed out.

A couple of hours later, we came across super employee Jessica on the train, a Supervisor for Area 2. She asked us what we thought of Justice League and we told her what happened. She immediately apologized and said that simply wasn’t right. When we got off the train, she personally walked us back over to Justice League, took us through the exit, and put us in the very next vehicle, WITH GLASSES! She was awesome and turned our frowns upside down. Thank you so much, Jessica! You are a true role model for other employees and know what it takes to make the guest experience the best it can be!

Another huge perk of ACE events is that they often times include backstage photo tours. We get to go where most guests don’t, and take lots of pictures of the roller coasters from angles that many have never even seen. This was the start of our backstage tour, covering the rules we must follow:

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We started by taking a stroll around The Boss. That’s a lot of wood:

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We got some great shots of the drops that you just can’t get from the front:

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We had a really good turnout for this tour, walking all around and under The Boss:

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Whoops, missed the train as it whizzed by at a blazing speed:

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You literally get within feet of the tracks on these tours, and this was no exception:

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This is the back of Screamin’ Eagle, a super long out and back coaster:

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Wheee!!! Another train of satisfied customers:

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We even got to check out the Screamin’ Eagle’s maintenance area:

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Spare parts, nuts, and bolts to fix everything on the train:

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Here is a combination shot of the Screamin’ Eagle lift hill and first drop:

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Red train heading up the lift hill:

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Closer shot of the first drop:

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This is the back of the turnaround at the top of the lift hill, prior to the first drop:

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At one point during the day, ACE did a take over of the park’s beautiful steam train and took it for a lap around the park:

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It was nice to see a reminder of home as I was walking around the park:

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Another nice welcome sign for ACE as we were walking around the park:

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In the afternoon, we assembled in the cool theater for the annual ACE Business Meeting. This is where our elected officials discuss the current state of the organization and answer any questions the members may have. We also get to hear from those running for office for the upcoming term so we can make an informed decision:

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They may have removed MooseBurger Lodge from Six Flags Magic Mountain, but it’s still alive and well in St. Louis:

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Here was another nice ACE reference at dinner:

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Sharing a meal with Kris and Sondra:

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Dinner was held in Hurricane Harbor. It was closed to guests and we had exclusive access to it for a couple of hours, while waiting for the theme park to close for the night:

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I walked around and took some pics before people finished dinner an hopped in:

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It’s weird seeing a water park so empty:

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It’s a really nice water park. Much bigger than I realized before I started walking around:

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If I’m not mistaken, this is the exact same slide complex that Six Flags Hurricane Harbor LA just added, called Python Plunge:

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Oh yah! I found my bae waiting for me in the gift shop:

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They had a very unique coaster called Batman. OK, so maybe it wasn’t that unique. At least it was the mirrored image of what I’m used to riding at Magic Mountain:

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Next up was the GCI woodie currently known as American Thunder:

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I was completely shocked by this coaster. I’ve heard people say some not so nice things about it, but I thought it was an absolute blast! It ended up being my favorite coaster in the park:

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After having ridden The New Revolution with VR many times at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I was very curious to check it out on Ninja in St. Louis:

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The loading process here is very different. They get everyone in the train first, then they give them the headsets. It then takes several more minutes for everyone to get them adjusted and working properly. Meanwhile, the other train is just sitting out on the final brake run, in the heat.

I discovered a major flaw as soon as I got settled in – the OTSRs. You cannot move your head around freely without hitting the headset on the OTSR. This was a major buzzkill for the entire VR experience. Then, once the ride started, I was in a bit of pain. Between the OTSR issue and getting beat up by a very rough coaster, I did not have a very good experience. I won’t ever ride this coaster again with VR. The good news here is that anybody who goes from this park to Magic Mountain is absolutely going to love the VR experience there:

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Kris and I then headed back over to Justice League to fight some more bad guys:

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I really hope that Six Flags Magic Mountain gets one of these someday soon:

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Snack time! Popcorn bar setup for us in JB’s Smokehouse:

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Day 3

Kris did not like the weather forecast when we arrived for day 3:

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Again, I love having a theme park all to myself:

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No crowds, you can just go wherever you want:

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I started my ERT at American Thunder because I liked it so much:

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I even like the very patriotic theme they have going:

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I ran into Sondra and we took a ride on it together:

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Wheee!!! More satisfied ACE members:

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In addition to air conditioned buildings to help keep guests cool, the park also has some shaded tunnels with several fans in each. Just standing in here for a few minutes does wonders for helping to cool you down:

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With all the controversy lately on whether or not the Larson Loopers count as coasters, I had yet to ride one. The last couple of times I’ve been to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, theirs was not running. So needless to say, I was looking forward to finally riding one:

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While I agree that this is definitely not a roller coaster, it was a lot of fun! Sondra took a ‘spin’ in it with me while Kris took pictures. Seriously, if you like thrill rides, be sure to check one of these out. It was a blast:

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The threatening rain finally decided to fall, but it was only a light sprinkle. Everyone quickly took cover, but it was gone almost as fast as it showed up:

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While we were there, ACE presented Six Flags St. Louis with a landmark designation for the Screamin’ Eagle roller coaster. Park President Pete Carmichael accepted the honor on behalf of the park:

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American Thunder as seen from the Colossus Ferris wheel:

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Fireball as seen from Colossus:

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Batman as seen from Colossus:

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Ninja (aka The New Revolution) as seen from Colossus:

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During lunch, we gathered on a hillside near the picnic area for a group photo:

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I’m not sure why, but it always takes them so long to snap a few group photos. I decided to take a selfie in-between shots and ended up getting the stink eye from the guy behind me:

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Next up was a spin on the Star Flyer. Kris & Sondra goofing off in the background:

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I can’t pass up a ride on a swinging ship, as they are just loaded with airtime! This one was in the DC area area and was called The Joker:

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The evening of our third night in St. Louis was the annual banquet. In addition to a great meal, this is when we find out the winners of the photo contest, winners of the video contests, winners of the silent auction, and there is a guest speaker among other things. This years guest speaker was Tom Rebbie, President/CEO of Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster (PTC). He was hilarious! If…no, make that WHEN you go to Coaster Con, be sure to buy a ticket to the annual banquet. You won’t want to miss this:

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Me and Pete Carmichael, Six Flags St. Louis Park President, at the banquet:

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That was our first park of Coaster Con XXXIX. Next up was Holiday World. Look for that overview soon!

 

9 Comments

  1. Scott C.

    07/09/2016 at 1:07 pm

    Loved the trip report. Looking forward to the rest. Congrats on your progress with your diet.

  2. Ryan

    07/09/2016 at 2:34 pm

    Looks like an amazing park!! You don’t think they are putting justic league where the stunt show used to be?

  3. Eric

    07/19/2016 at 5:44 pm

    Six Flags St. Louis is one park I’ve been wanting to visit. Looks like it’s a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing your photos! I’ve been an ACE member for over 25 years and I have yet to attend a Coaster Con. (You need money to do that, though, and I’ve been tapped out. Someday…)

    • Eric

      07/19/2016 at 5:57 pm

      And I forgot one other thing…do you think it’s possible that SFMM will get a Justice League ride next year? It looks like it could fit right into the space where the Batman Action Theater was.

  4. Ryan

    07/19/2016 at 8:02 pm

    I was thinking the same Eric. I’m guessing that’s what they have planned

  5. Ryan

    08/04/2016 at 7:58 pm

    Who was the better kisser, kris or sondra?

    • The Coaster Guy

      08/05/2016 at 10:13 pm

      I’m not one to kiss and tell, but I think you can tell by looking at them which one was scruffy and which one was soft. 😉

      • Ryan

        08/06/2016 at 2:05 pm

        Lol!!

        • Ryan

          08/07/2016 at 6:27 am

          Sondra was definitely the scruffy one

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