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The Jersey Devil Coaster is the tallest, fastest, and longest single rail coaster on the planet. It’s open now at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. Ride along with this TravelingDad and his daughters as they test the ride. And learn why you should wait to order that funnel cake sundae and just how tough it can be to impress a teen.
The writer and his daughters were given free admission to the park to test the Jersey Devil Coaster.
“They have a funnel cake sundae here,” my daughter, Maya, 18, says as we pass the Six Flags Funnel Cake Factory.
“We should probably wait on that,” I say.
Not because it’s 10:45 a.m. That’s actually the perfect time to have warm funnel cake blanketed with powdered sugar and luscious vanilla ice cream.
We’re waiting because Maya, her big sister Libby, 21, and I have an appointment to ride the new Jersey Devil Coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure. TravelingDad is among the media invited to preview the ride on this hot but not unbearable 9th of June.
Warming Up on Other Roller Coasters
With a few hours to kill before trying out the Jersey Devil Coaster, we warm up with some other roller coasters. First, a turn on Batman: The Ride. I’m okay afterwards, though I’m pretty sure I’m tasting food from two days ago.
We also knock off Skull Mountain and Runaway Mine Train, which feel like variations on being strapped to a park bench while being propelled along a track, although the latter bench has a cushion that softens the blow a bit as you’re thrown from side to side.
Also on our agenda is Superman: Ultimate Flight, but we just call it “Supaman” in my family. It is far and away, or perhaps up, up, and away, our favorite.
And then Libby takes a breather while Maya and I ride Bizarro. I keep my eyes closed the whole time and there’s an icy cold film of sweat on my forehead as we leave the ride.
“Dad, you’re white,” Maya says, and she’s not wrong. Bizarro has literally thrown me for a loop. Maya has long loved this ride and is fine with it.
Pandemic Protocols at Six Flags Great Adventure
As the three of us wander the park, the crowds are happily thin. Perhaps because it’s a Thursday morning.
But also, as of this writing, the world is still in the midst of a pandemic, battling a deadly coronavirus. Though you almost wouldn’t know it because of the many smiling faces, nearly all maskless.
For much of our visit, except for when we go into shops and eateries, we are maskless, too. According to the current safety protocols posted on the Six Flags website, “Face coverings are not mandatory during your visit but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals.”
There are plenty of hand sanitizer stations on hand as well as “SixSafe” Covid-19 reminders, including the almost quaint “wear your mask.”
If you told me on June 9, 2020 that a year later I’d be wandering around Great Adventure with my kids, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Say What You Need to Say
The park sound system is working tirelessly and loudly to pump that pre-summer fun energy into the atmosphere. The playlist is eclectic. When we stumbled off Bizarro earlier, the first sounds I heard as my head cleared were Brad Paisley explaining that “you lost your job and you need a drink, you look around and start to think,” and well, that’s the perfect song for this moment.
I still have my job, but sure need a drink. But that will have to wait until after the Jersey Devil Coaster.
Presently over the loudspeakers, John Mayer is relentlessly urging us all to “say what you need to say,” over and over, at which point Maya says to Libby irritability, “Is this the WHOLE song?” as if it’s Libby’s fault the lyrics of the song are ruthlessly repetitive and the park is playing it.
Maya’s outburst reminds me how much I miss spending time with these girls who enjoy being sisters. They do have a baby brother, Felix, who is home with mom. Which leads me to ask my daughters:
“When was the last time the three of us hung out without your brother?”
“I don’t know, but it was probably 2005,” Libby says, which was before he was born and is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.
All About the Jersey Devil Coaster
I pull out the Jersey Devil Coaster press release handed to me by Six Flags PR when we arrived. I learn, among other things, that:
- The ride has a 48-inch height requirement. Let’s be clear about that.
- You sit single file — aka inline style, aka one rider per row — with your legs hanging down on either side of the track. Watch the video below for a better idea of what this looks like.
- The Jersey Devil Coaster, which can go up to 58 mph on 3,000 feet of track, will be the fastest and longest single-rail coaster on the planet. I mention this to Maya. She says those superlatives are all well and good, but points out that there are not that many single-rail roller coasters in the world. She’s not snotty about it, but as a theme park enthusiast and architecture student she knows her stuff. Older teens keep it real, Six Flags.
- The longest single-rail roller coaster is also the world’s tallest such coaster at 13 stories, will be the park’s 13th roller coaster, and has its opening date to the public on June 13, 2021. If you’re a triskaidekaphobe you’ve already stopped reading, but the usage of 13 is a hat tip to the enduring New Jersey myth of the Jersey Devil who haunts the Pine Barrens, a million creepy forested acres that meets the northern edge of Jackson Township, where Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari are based.
- The Jersey Devil, according to one version of the myth, was reportedly the child of the Devil and Pine Barrens resident Jane Leeds, aka Mother Leeds. Ms. Leeds did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this article.
Signage outside the ride suggests the Jersey Devil is “a two-legged creature with a horse or goat-like head and large, bat-like wings,” so you could likely pick him out of a line-up. Here’s an artist’s rendering in the form of the statue in front of the roller coaster.
While the rest of the Jersey Devil Coaster is demonically themed, the design stops way short of horror, as this cute sign above the ride entrance underscores.
And a devil’s face adorns the front of each of the four 12-passenger coaster trains, technically bringing the number of riders in each train to, you guessed it, 13.
We check in for the ride. A Great Adventure PR person, Stacy, who kindly took the photo above, asks: “TravelingDad plus two?”
Yes, that sums it up.
Our Ride on the Jersey Devil Coaster
Here’s how the ride went, literally from my perspective.
Jersey Devil Coaster: Our Review
We agreed that the first moments of the ride were the best.
“The anticipation as you move slowly up that first hill – and the fact that it’s loud – makes it scarier, and builds the intensity,” Libby said.
And once you crest that first hill, the subsequent first drop – as you could perhaps tell from my face in the video – is truly thrilling. Maya agreed. It’s an 87-degree drop. And to be in the front car of a roller coaster looking into the abyss of a near right angle? Well, that’s an experience you carry with you for a while.
Libby enjoyed the first drop but liked the zero-g roll more — “It felt like I was floating.” And I heard a few roller coaster enthusiasts murmuring approvingly about the roll later on once we were off the ride.
A Middle-Aged Scream Machine
Maya and Libby agree that the drops of the Jersey Devil Coaster are similar to the Incredicoaster in Disneyland. The feeling on the inversions, they suggest, were similar to those on Bizarro.
As with Bizarro, Batman, and several other of its thrill rides, Great Adventure gives Jersey Devil a “Maximum” thrill rating for its intense elements.
And this is accurate, given the Devil’s first drop following its climb up a 130-foot lift hill. There are three “dramatic inversions,” according to Six Flags. These include a “180-degree stall, raven dive, and zero-gravity roll.”
Though amidst all my screaming — which was not fake, I am a middle-aged scream machine — the only part I remember for sure was the first drop. To recall the rest, I just watch the video over and over, and you should, too.
For Maya, it was hard to articulate precisely what was off for her about the ride, but I gathered she would have preferred slightly different pacing. She liked various elements, but they were almost flying by too fast for her to enjoy them.
Jersey Devil Coaster: The Bottom Line
We enjoyed the Jersey Devil Coaster’s opening moves and selected moments throughout. It truly is a thrill to help break in a brand-new roller coaster. But we prefer the overall experience on some of the park’s other thrill rides.
To put it another way, while parents are supposed to love all their children equally, at Six Flags Great Adventure you are not required to love all the roller coasters equally.
We have the opportunity to ride the Jersey Devil Coaster again, but after three hours of thrill rides we quit while our brains are still intact and turn our attention to filling our stomachs.
What to Eat at Six Flags Great Adventure
Once done with the rides, we knew exactly what we wanted to eat.
Pork Roll is about as New Jersey as it gets. This sandwich had three thoughtfully grilled slices comingled with two heavenly squares of American Cheese. And food snobs, cover your ears: God Bless American Cheese.
Not to be reductive, but it’s a ham and cheese sandwich. But it’s the ham and cheese sandwich I needed after many months of having no pork roll at all.
And at last, the quintessential amusement park food, funnel cake.
We knew this is how the day would end and if you read the opening line of this article, so did you. Libby opted for a plain funnel cake and Maya and I shared the sundae version. The funnel cake itself was pretty good, but the ice cream was exceptional.
We ran around Six Flags Great Adventure all afternoon. But my favorite part of the day was when we sat on a narrow wooden fence, quietly watching riders crest the crazy bell-curved track of Kingda Ka. It was almost Zen-like.
We didn’t ride Kingda Ka, Nitro, El Toro or every other last roller coaster in the place. We didn’t have the fortitude. But maybe next time.
And there will be a next time, because my 14-year-old son was at school while we were here. And I’ll likely tire of him saying, “My sisters spent the day riding roller coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure and all I got was this freakishly long package of multi-colored cotton candy.”
How to Get to Six Flags Great Adventure
You can drive here and park, which is the case with nearly every amusement park in the galaxy.
If you depart from New York, a cost-effective way to get here is by New Jersey Transit Bus. That’s what we did. On the morning we went, the bus ride cost each of us $38 round-trip. It took about ninety minutes each way, between Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC and Six Flags in Jackson Township, New Jersey. NJ Transit also offers fare packages that include the bus and park admission.
Disclaimer: Six Flags Great Adventure covered our park admission as part of the Jersey Devil Coaster media preview. And as I hope is evident, my honest opinions are my own. I paid for transportation and the food described herein.