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Great Escape

Newest ride at Great Escape is 'screamin' ' fun

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Screamin' Eagles

Great Escape guests enjoy the inaugural flight of the Screamin' Eagles ride at the Six Flags Great Escape in Queensbury on Thursday, May 30, 2013. (Derek Pruitt - dpruitt@poststar.com)

QUEENSBURY -- A new ride has landed in Great Escape.

The Screamin’ Eagles, introduced Thursday by amusement park officials, is a family-fun ride and a piloting experience for thrill-seekers.

The interactive flying ride allows guests to soar around an 85-foot diameter at speeds up to 40 mph. The ride hosts eight, two-person flyers, each blazed with a crimson red finish, eagles and flames.

The moveable front wing design, manufactured by Larson International Inc., allows riders to take control as a fighter pilot with dips and dives or as a frequent flyer. Guests have manual control of their flyer, allowing them to glide through the air or nose-dive like an eagle.

The ride’s design ensures no two experiences are the same.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind flight experience based on the amount of thrill you desire,” said the park’s president, Eric Gilbert.

A team of jumpers from Saratoga Skydivers flew over the Screamin’ Eagles ride as eight others took the inaugural flight on the new ride.

“It’s perfect for everyone from young riders to skydivers,” said Rebecca Close, a Great Escape spokeswoman.

Ashley Lammardo, 11, of Ballston Spa, was one of the first park guests to pilot her own eagle. Lammardo and nine other students were invited to attend the ride’s grand opening after they won a writing competition with The Chronicle newspaper. The students got to be reporters for the day to cover the eagles’ first flight and interview the park president.

“The best part was going out over the water,” Lammardo said. “It’s really fun because you’re more out and it feels like you’re flying.”

The name Screamin’ Eagles is the result of an on-site brainstorming session of Great Escape representatives and designers. “We polled some guests and they decided that ‘Screamin’ Eagles’ was the name that captured the ride and the experience the best,” Close said.

Screamin’ Eagles is located in the Fest Area next to River D. Rotating over the water near the Alice in

Wonderland attraction. The eagles allow guests to soar through the sky overlooking the Storytown Train tracks. Before the eagles nested there, the area was home to the old Cinema 80 dome, which served as a storage area for the park.

“The eagles really change the entire face of the Fest Area and of the park,” Close said.

The open-air centrifugal force idea was developed by Alvin Bisch in the early 1930s. Before the flyer became a popular choice ride for theme parks, it was originally used as an airplane pilot training device. The design made its debut as an amusement ride in the 1940s.

The plan for the Screamin’ Eagles ride in Lake George started in July 2012. Great Escape is the only Six Flags park to host the Screamin’ Eagles piloting experience.

Approaching its 60-year anniversary, the park is delivering Screamin’ Eagles as one of a few new ride experience this year. Others include the relocation of the Balloon Race ride from Storytown to the Fest Area, as well as the Blizzard Indoors and Marshal’s Stampede Indoor Bumper Cars.

Gilbert, the park president, announced Thursday the park has other plans to spice up the summer 2013 season.

There will be fireworks every Friday and Saturday from July 19 through Aug. 10, and the Canyon Blaster mine train will run in reverse for a limited time in July.

The Screamin’ Eagles will join flight with last season’s new rides, the Alpine Freefalls and the Tornado.

“We try to add new rides each season to keep a balance between the amount of water rides, thrill rides and family rides we have,” Close said.

The ride will be open exclusively to season pass holders this weekend and will open for regular guests June 6.

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