La Ronde, QC
Total Timber Tour 2 Blog Day 3
Hi all again and thanks for continuing to follow our little adventure.
Today was a quick hop into Canada, then onto Montréal. Crossing the border was quite painless, but we did find the procedure amusing – once clearing all the formalities, you’re asked to take a chair in a waiting room until your name is called (we were the only 2 people there!). After 5 minutes, they hand you back your passports then ask you to go to another window at the other end of the building. Here you are handed what looks like a car-wash code ticket – in fact it’s the entry barrier code for Canada!
Onto La Ronde then. Situated on an island in the middle of the river, finding our way to the parking lot was quite an adventure. We arrived in good time for opening and shared the rather run-down entrance plaza with quite an unruly crowd of school children and teens. It felt quite alien, probably because Montréal is natively French speaking. Then, 10.30 on the dot, the grills started to rise and the crowd lifted them to push under and onto the 3 or 4 ticket barriers – nightmare.
We had been deliberating if it was worth buying a “Flashpass” for this park, being a week day and all that (the Flashpass allows you to reserve a ride and by-pass the queues when your device says it’s time to ride). Once into the park however, there was a mad-scrum to the flashpass office, so we made our minds up – today we were going to get one. This year Six Flags have added a third tier to the options available. As well as regular (wait the same time as the queue) and gold (wait 25% of the queue), they now sell a platinum version – 90% reduction in wait time and 2 consecutive laps of the coaster without leaving your seat. This comes at a hefty premium but, as it was our first visit to the park, we thought “what the hell!” and went platinum. This was to prove a mixed bag as the day went on, but ultimately saved our day.
La Ronde itself is not the most attractive Six Flags we have been to, in fact it’s positively ugly with little attention paid to landscaping, themeing or tidiness. Litter is under control but the majority of rides are “plonked down” and the under-ride areas look like building sites. Although they didn’t have a wildlife park attached, the seagulls and moths helped fill that gap! As we were to find out, the lack of maintenance to buildings and infrastructure manifested itself into poorly maintained rides. Many were out of operation for the entire day and the remainder with just a few exceptions failed to operate all day without at least one call to an engineer. This made the use of the Flashpass demanding to say the least. At opening, many of their headline coasters failed to open and those that did struggled to carry passengers for more than a few rounds without breaking down.
The main reason we added La Ronde to the trip was for La Monstre and Goliath. Our first ride of the day was 2 circuits of Goliath on the back seat – very nice with perfect floats over every hill. This platinum wrist band was starting to look good. No so for the poor souls in the queue expecting to ride, but having to wait for the next train. With us so far? Well now add to the mix that only Goliath and Ednör had 2-train operation, with the remainder only running one and you can start to see why the park goers started to get frustrated. This was worst on La Monstre which opened the first side 2 hours after the park opened with one train. Flashpass holders had to push their way in front of an already fed up queue to get onto the station. Then, those of us that had platinum stayed in our seats after one ride and those waiting were only told they would have to wait a train when they complained.
Now add to the fact that many coasters we decided to ride broke-down while we were on the platform and you can start to see how frustrating the day was becoming. The first break down on the Batman clone, Vampire we waited for 45 minutes not understanding the nature of the delay. We aborted this and went to Le Monstre and the same occurred. We decided not to wait here. Then onto Ednör and the same. As fast as we were selecting rides on our reserve device, they were becoming unavailable. This park was falling apart. Hell, even the corkscrew and splashdown ride broke down at some point.
So was there anything good about the day. Well yes – Le monster was a great woodie – not raced/duelled as normal with Six Flags, but very rideable. Goliath was also very good – airtime over every hill – not in the same league as Nitro - but easily the best ride in the park. Had it not been for the platinum pass, today would have been a disaster and there’s no way we would have done half the things we did. Getting 2 goes for the price of 1 was great.
It would be hard to recommend the park, but the woodie would be a reason to go back.