George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord is wafting through a speaker that is camouflaged as the shape of an unsuspicious rock. The peaceful melody is in stark contrast to the hulking metal monster looming just ahead. Six Flags New England Theme Park in Springfield, Massachusetts has just the thrills that will have you screaming, ‘Oh God’ on your very first run.
Our weekend started early on Friday afternoon. My best friend Katy was getting married in a true New England wedding in Longmeadow Massachusetts, where I attended high school.
We arrived at the outdoor ceremony late. The reception had already started at The Carriage House on the Barney Estate in Forest Park. We quickly changed in the car while laughing and giggling; we were more than a bit embarrassed about being two hours late to the 6:00 p.m. nuptials. Upon seeing Katy, done up in her classy strapless wedding gown, and the other five of my best high school girlfriends rushing towards me, I was overwhelmed with a sense of familiarity and love. I had come home to friendship after years of bombardment and noise, stress and refinement in the Big Apple. I felt like I was defrosting. I hugged my friends and we danced to goofy 90’s tunes, retiring to our Marriott hotel to check in just before midnight.
Located across from the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Marriot Springfield was a pleasant surprise for us and the late check-in was swift and accessible. The receptionist was delightful, ordering a plate of crispy Buffalo wings from the hotel sports bar, Champions, to be delivered to our room.
We slept soundly in the clean, quiet king suite. The bed was a fabulous cream puff with a high thread count and the stringent no-smoking policy ensured that our sheets don’t smell like rinsed Parliaments. We woke, showered and I went down to the spacious marble lobby to use the business center, equipped with fax machine, printer and Internet, to research the area. We found a hot air balloon fair close by, an organic Bed & Breakfast called Delta Organic Farm (www.deltaorganicfarm.com) and Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass. There was also the option of the hotel’s indoor pool and outdoor garden area. After an incredible breakfast at Currents in the hotel, we set out for the themed playground.
Beginning with my macho companion who vowed to win me the token stuffed animal, there were the games: bottle rings, Skee-Ball, arcades and Test Your Strength (where we won a blue-haired unicorn). Our neglected youth was but a drumbeat away at the intact MTV Drumscape arcade, where participants could choose a song and play along with drumsticks, base pedal and touch-sensitive drums at concert volume.
We continued on through the park, which had already begun decorating for the Halloween season. Rubber ghouls and fright night paraphernalia appeared around every corner of the park. We made our way to the Mind Eraser, where I enjoyed an adrenaline-packed coaster ride. This contraption not only whips you up and down vertically but upside down and horizontally. I was caught in that hysterical scream-laughter thing. (I highly recommend this place if you need to feel like a kid again.) A huge vertical behemoth called Scream was also available for catapulting people vertically into the air at 55 miles per hour high over the park. The Superman roller coaster was under repair, but the Batman ride with its character descriptions along the waiting line was another great thriller.
After our lovely New England weekend, we started our descent down the east coast back towards Manhattan. The trip between a past life and my new home was bittersweet. I looked out the window at the changing vistas, and thought about my two Siamese cats waiting for me at the door. Trying to shrug off the feeling that I was moving farther and farther away from my childhood friends was more difficult than I could have expected.
Yet passing through the Connecticut countryside, I saw trees with their foliage turning–a flirtation of the autumn to come. My spirits lifted, and I knew I would be back this way soon to peep those New England leaves and apple pick, perhaps this time on the organic farm. The genuine smile still happens onto my face when I think of Katy as the most beautiful bride, and how this weekend I got to fly with Batman and a Beatle.
How to get to Six Flags New England – Take a Peter Pan Bus from Port Authority. Service to the theme park runs daily. Tickets $35, 4 hr ride. Call 1800.343.9399
(Six Flags New England, Route 159, 1623 Main Street, Agawam, MA 01001, 413.786.9300 x0) www.sixflags.com/newengland
How to get to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey – Take the New Jersey Transit bus from Port Authority. Tickets $16. Call (800) 626-7433 to check the schedule. www.sixflags.com/greatAdventure