If you’re reading this article, I’ll bet money that you are a roller coaster enthusiast.

As an enthusiast, I’d also bet that at one time or another you’ve dreamed about taking a vacation that took you around the country riding a bunch of roller coasters at different parks, right? What if you got a phone call out of the blue one day and someone offered to send you on just such a trip? That kind of thing doesn’t really happen, does it? Well, this past summer that’s exactly what happened to my family and me.

My name is Kurt Dahlin and I am a roller coaster enthusiast that lives in the northern Los Angeles area. I am known online as TheThe Coaster Guy - Green Lantern at Six Flags Great Adventure Coaster Guy and I run a blog that mainly focuses on the latest happenings at my local park, Six Flags Magic Mountain. Last June, after seeing my blog and a couple of posts I had done about the benefits of using the Discover card at Six Flags, I was contacted by a representative of Discover Financial Services asking me if I’d like to take my family on a roller coaster vacation.

Discover is the official credit card of Six Flags and they wanted to do something fun during the summer to promote that fact, so they partnered with Six Flags and Ford to create the Discover Coaster to Coaster Tour to send me and my family on a road trip across the country, riding roller coasters at the various Six Flags parks along the way. Our only obligation was to promote the many benefits of the Discover card, which was easy. We used Twitter to let people know what we were up to in real time, and the above tour blog to post photos, videos, and articles about everything we saw and did during the tour.

Ford shipped us a fully loaded 2011 Ford Flex Titanium direct from Detroit, complete with a custom Coaster Tour wrap, to use during our trip. Once we had the Flex loaded up with all of our gear, it was time to start the tour.

Six Flags Magic Mountain

We kicked the tour off at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA on July 8th. We got to the park a couple of hours beforeSix Flags Magic Mountain - Main Gate it actually opened to the public, parking the tour car right in front of the tickets booths. You can’t ask for a better spot than that! After doing some press interviews, such as television, newspapers, and bloggers, we were taken on a tour of the park by a member of the Six Flags’ Corporate Alliance program, along with the Discover card representatives. We were also provided with some ERT before the park opened, on rides such as Green Lantern: First Flight, Batman: The Ride, and Goliath. Even after the park opened, our VIP treatment continued. We were given front of line access to any ride we wanted to go on. I kind of felt bad, because I’ve been that guy that finally made it to the front of a long line only to have to wait for some VIPs to hop on the next train. However, people were very gracious and we were joking around with them, so it was all good. After lunch, both the Six Flags and Discover folks left us alone to finish out the day in the park as a family without a huge entourage following us around. After a good night’s sleep, we hit the open road towards our next destination.

Six Flags Over Texas

After three days of driving, stopping at places such as the Grand Canyon, Sandia Peak Tramway, Meteor Crater, and Cadillac Ranch, we finally arrived at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, TX. This was where Six Flags was started 50 years ago. We were not only greeted by park representatives, but also Mr. Six and several of the Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Marvin the Martian. This park does a Mr. Six Dance Off each morning up on the carousel stage. We were roped into getting up on stage with Mr. Six and dancing as well. It was extremely hot and I have two left feet, so it wasn’t the most graceful performance, but we had fun. You can find videos of us online. The rest of the day was more VIP treatment, hitting rides such as The New Texas Giant (awesome!!), Pandemonium, and Mr. Freeze, followed by family time with a Flash Pass. Awesome way to spend a day at the park!

Six Flags Over Georgia

Our next stop was Six Flags Over Georgia. What an absolutely gorgeous park! The architecture was unique, the landscaping was beautiful, and of course the staff had tons of southern charm. As we had done in the previous parks, we spent some time at the main entrance giving away prizes to unsuspecting guests as they entered through the special Discover card member entrance. We then moved on to one of my most anticipated rides, the Dare Devil Dive Coaster. As expected, it was great! In fact, the whole family loved it. After some more rides, we met up with the park president, Melinda Ashcraft, for lunch. What a super nice lady. We really enjoyed our time with her. After lunch, we had to go on Goliath again. It really puts my local Goliath to shame. The rest of the day was spent exploring the park, touring the shops, and getting an old-time family photo.

Six Flags Great Adventure

Our next stop was Six Flags Great Adventure, in Jackson, NJ. Upon our arrival, we were paired up with one of the best VIP tour guides ever – Tom Benton. He not only knows all about the park’s history, but he The Dahlins at Six Flags Great Adventure  - Coaster to Coaster Touractually wrote a book about it. We were then escorted over to the park’s brand new ride, Green Lantern, where we got to meet and take pictures with the Green Lantern himself. After an exclusive ride on the coaster, we went through Safari Discoveries, where we got to go behind the scenes and hand feed a couple of their bear cubs. I was then blindfolded and led through the park, where I was carefully placed in a coaster seat. When I removed the blindfold, I was sitting on Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster! Since it was a test launch prior to the park being open, we were hurled down the track at a blazing 135 MPH! Words can’t describe the rush. We then hit Nitro and El Toro, with both rides far exceeded my expectations. I never knew a wooden roller coaster like El Toro could pack such a punch! We met up with Brady McDonald, of the LA Times Funland Blog, for lunch. He just happened to be at the park on a coaster tour of his own, so it was nice to finally meet him in person. For the rest of the day, we were given special VIP wristbands that gave us front-of-line access to any ride at any time. It was like a Flash Pass, but with no ride or time restrictions. I loved it!

Six Flags Great America

Our last stop was Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, IL just north of Chicago. Our early morning VIP tour of this park was given by golf cart behind the scenes, which was very cool. We circled the outside perimeter of the park, seeing things that the general public doesn’t typically get to see. Some of my favorite rides in this park were Vertical Velocity, Viper, and of course Raging Bull. We also got to ride Iron Wolf, which was the very first coaster that B&M ever made. This park is unique in that you get admission to both the theme park and the water park, Hurricane Harbor, with a single ticket. Although we didn’t bring our swimming suits, they still set us up in our own private cabana in which to rest, cool down, and have a nice dinner.

Our very last day on the tour was spent at Discover’s world headquarters, just north of Chicago, where we got to meet and thank all of the employees that made our trip possible. We really are grateful for everything they did. After three weeks on the road, covering 4,500 miles, five Six Flags parks, 54 different roller coasters, and countless new memories during all the stops between, we were ready to finally hop on a plane and head for home. Were we completely exhausted? Yes. Would we do it again? In a New York minute!

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One Response

  1. Joel

    Kurt, that must have been an amazing experience. You got to visit parks you’ve never visited, ride coasters that had just opened this year, and do it all with your family. Sign me up for the Six Flags- Schwarzkopf Hair Gel coaster tour. Although, I’m not sure I’d be a great representative for the product. 🙂

    Reply

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