Press-Republican

May 18, 2013

Time to officially welcome summer

By STEVEN HOWELL Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Summer has officially arrived.

Boasting not one but two regional Six Flags amusement parks, The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George and La Ronde in Montreal open today for the season.

“This is one of my favorite times of year,” said Great Escape communications manager Rebecca Close. “We’ve got new landscaping and flowers, some new attractions, and all of the rides are fired up and ready to go.”

NEW RIDE

Close said the park offers one new ride and two updated favorites. The newest thrill ride is called Screamin’ Eagles.

“It’s going to be an awesome addition to the park,” Close said. “It’s great for thrill-seekers and families alike.”

The all-ages, interactive ride lets passengers actually pilot and move the front wing of an open-air flier.

“So no two trips are the same,” Close said. “Basically the guest determines the flight. It’s a completely interactive ride. You can dip and dive, swing in and out, and reach speeds up to 40 mph.”

Screamin’ Eagles opens Thursday, June 6.

UPDATES

Next, two beloved attractions — Blizzard Indoors and the bumper cars — have received well-deserved makeovers.

“The Blizzard is a scrambler ride that’s been a crowd favorite for a number of years,” Close said. 

The ride was formerly Chipper’s Magical Mystery Tour, an indoor ride a few years back. It was updated and moved outdoors in 2005.

“But our guests missed it as an indoor experience, so we had the opportunity to put it back inside for this year.”

Blizzard is now hosted in a chilly igloo dome.

“To keep the blizzard theme,” Close said.

Once inside, flashing lights and pulsating sounds add to the experience. And on the hottest summer days, the ride features one big bonus:

“It’s air conditioned,” Close quipped.

The bumper cars also received a makeover, new location and new name honoring one of the park’s dearly loved employees.

“Bumper cars are so traditional,” Close said. “Everybody who goes to a theme park wants to ride the bumper cars.”

Great Escape’s current bumper cars have been in an outdoor setting since 1984. They’ve now been moved indoors in Ghost Town with the official title of Marshal’s Stampede Indoor Bumper Cars.

“Which pays homage to Marshal Wild Windy Bill McKay, who worked at Ghost Town for many years,” Close said.

McKay worked at the park for five decades and died in 2011. Lights and sound have been added to the bumper-car experience as well as an expanded driving area.

“It’s a larger area so you can crash and bump into your family more,” she said.

TICKET DETAILS

The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom offers four dozen rides in all. The Great Escape opens this weekend; Splashwater Kingdom opens Memorial Day weekend.

Daily adult admission costs $52.99 or $39.99 with a three-day online advance purchase. A special opening-weekend price (today and Sunday only) costs $20.13. 

A season-pass special is also on now. Buy four or more season passes before Memorial Day for a cost of $52.99 each. This deal also includes one free-parking pass good for the season.

To get to the amusement park, take I-87 south to exit 20. Call (518) 792-3500 for questions.

NEW AT LA RONDE 

Boasting more than 40 rides in all, La Ronde’s also got something for everyone.

New this year is Aqua Twist, a super-soaker-style ride where passengers and spectators are guaranteed to get wet.

Daily admission to La Ronde costs $42.99 (Canadian dollars) or $36.99 for junior visitors under 48 inches tall. These are discounted tickets when purchased online. 

To get to La Ronde, travel north on I-87, cross the border, continue on Autoroute 15 North, Route 132/20 East, and then follow the signs for the Jacques Cartier Bridge. The exit to La Ronde is halfway across the bridge. Call (514) 397-2000 for questions.

A Six Flags Theme Park season pass provides access to Great Escape, La Ronde and more — 13 Six Flags parks in all. For more information, visit www.sixflags.com.

The Town of Plattsburgh Parks and Recreation Department also has discounted single-use tickets and season passes on sale. The single-use tickets cost $36; season passes cost $55. These tickets can be purchased at the Town Clerk’s office at 151 Banker Road. Call 562-6860 for questions.

Steven Howell is the author of Montreal Essential Guide, a Sutro Media iPhone travel app available at iTunes.com.