Both Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Six Flags America introduced new rides this month - just in time for summer vacation. However, the rides are wildly different and, in the end, one comes out on top. Here's our take on Busch Gardens' 'Finnegan's Flyer' and Six Flags' 'Firebird'.
Finnegan's Flyer looks like a basic swing ride, but it packs a surprising amount of punch when you're actually strapped in. The ride swings visitors up 80 feet in the air at 45 mph and it lasts about a minute. The ride accommodates passengers over 48" tall so it's a good starter for people who aren't fans of roller coasters or younger riders. That being said, there was a moment during my ride where I floated out of the seat a little and realized I should probably double-check my life insurance includes freak amusement park accidents -rest assured though, you're very securely strapped into the ride itself. All in all though, the hype is a little much considering it's just a swing.
Where: Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA
Distance from D.C.: About 2.5 hours without traffic
Cost of admission: $74.99 online, $86.99 in person
Firebird is truly a roller coaster. The ride zips visitors upside down, though sharp turns and the ride itself is floorless so your feet are dangling as you fly over 90 feet above the ground. On the last turn, there's also a burst of fire from a faux-volcano on the ground. The ride lasts two minutes and it's definitely not suited for people who are shy about roller coasters. Although I was able to keep my glasses on for the ride, I didn't heed the warning about wearing bulky earrings so I squashed my own ear against the headrest during one of the figure-eight turns - no damage was done, but don't make my mistake.
Where: Six Flags America, 13710 Central Ave, Bowie, MD
Distance from D.C.: About 30 minutes without traffic
Cost of admission: $50.99 if you buy online at least a day in advance, $70.99 at the park
The winner: Firebird, hands down. The ride is a welcome addition to Six Flags and, given its proximity to D.C.and the lower ticket price, it's tough to beat. Plus Six Flags just introduced a new Firebird-inspired cocktail so you can treat yourself after the ride. Or before, if you really believe your stomach is that strong. The only caveat is that, if you're planning on taking kids along, you may want to trek down to Williamsburg instead. They have more youth-friendly options and the park has more fantasy-related options, so it'll keep the kids entertained.