Just about every Stargate SG-1 fan out there has heard something about the new Stargate SG-3000 attraction that can be currently found at three Six Flags Great America theme parks across the U.S. (Chicago, Louisville, and San Francisco). Some have seen a blurb about the simulator ride on the GateWorld home page. Others have read the article about it featured in the first issue of Stargate SG-1: The Official Magazine. Well, here's the inside scoop from a fan who decided that she just had to see it for herself!
On July 7, 2005, I finally succeeded in convincing my parents to take me to Six Flags in Illinois, a place I had not visited for at least eight years. They knew that my primary objective was to find the ride, but had hopes that we could find other things to do as well ... yeah, right!
The ride itself was not hard to spot. I noticed it from the far reaches of the parking lot. However, it was not a replica of the Stargate that caught my attention, though it had been what I had hoped to find. Instead, what I saw was a U.S. shuttle craft in front of a grey steel building, the only space-related object I could see.
I checked the map, and sure enough: "In Space Shuttle America, you will help battle for control of the universe on the park's newest simulation adventure, based on the MGM television series Stargate SG-1." I made a beeline for it the moment we entered the park.
As I neared it, I saw the sign and I felt so proud. To see a ride come from your absolute favorite show is amazing. I could hear the soundtrack of the Stargate movie playing on speakers outside from 10 yards away, and by the time I reached it I was grinning from ear to ear and just fit to burst.
Outside the building not only was a shuttle parked, but also an armored car of some sort. It had the same Space Shuttle America logo on it as the building.
There was also ample room for a very long line of people to stand. Bars to form the line looped around the entrance, weaved around the side, and then came back to the front, continuing inside the building. I was disappointed that there was never really a line there. Is that ironic, or what? I went three times, and only on the third time did I have to wait before going in.
Inside, there were two rooms before reaching the theater where the ride actually takes place. The first held a windowed room full of control panels, obviously meant to look like the control room of the S.G.C. Unfortunately, it was far from realistic. The technology is so outdated that it might correspond with the computers used in Season One of the series, but they are certainly not anywhere near like how it is in the series today. A friend of mine who saw these pictures said to me, "It looks more like 1950s NASA than Season One of Stargate."
My fellow fan and father went with me the first two times and he seemed to remember there once being some type of space shuttle ride in the same building years ago. This might explain the presence of the shuttle, the armored car, and the old technology. No doubt they retrofitted the new ride into the old structure, cutting a lot of costly corners in the process.
Six Flags did clearly try to compensate for their cheating by making full use of the monitors, setting them up to show a continuing reel of an active Stargate, and of the chevrons spinning past, reminiscent of the scene in the movie where Daniel uses the computer monitor to find the point of origin on the gate itself.
I did like the little personal touches that could be seen in the control room. There was a coffee mug at almost every post, and one of them had "Dad" followed by a poem on it.
Also, there were these really neat original posters on the opposite wall.
The next room of the facility might be considered the prep room. It consisted of several aisles in which the patrons were directed to stand until the door at the end opened. At the front of the room was a TV screen suspended from the ceiling with the S.G.C. logo on it, and behind it, a board with the ride's logo on it, and two pictures -- one of the star map, and the other of some alien language.
After a few moments, a presentation began on the TV screen. I took my final picture right before I was asked to put my camera way. It didn't really come out, anyway. My flash killed it and gave me away!
I must say at this point that I was disappointed by the size of the screen and the sound quality. The TV could not have been larger than a 20-inch, and it was difficult to understand what was being said over the voices of the patrons who didn't care enough to be quiet and listen. It did not help and that the sound was a second or two ahead of the video feed, so reading lips to understand hard to hear words was impossible.
None other than our own General George Hammond appeared on the screen ... well, sort of.
The year is now 3000, and for reasons unexplained our allies the Asgard had shut down the gate system over a thousand years previous (which in itself has its plot issues). As Hammond explains, he is in fact a stored consciousness, created in case the Stargate was ever reopened. The S.G.C. is now a museum on display, and Hammond is a sort of guide.
During this explanation, Hammond is interrupted and an unidentified Asgard appears on the screen. He explains that Apophis's daughter, Satra, has discovered the existence of the Gatekey, a device which holds the code needed to find every Stargate in the universe. Holding true to their usual pension for the mythological, Satra is actually a figure from Hindu mythology, a fact that had to be pointed out to me by my good friend Jenny.
The existence of the Gatekey was previously unknown to the S.G.C. because it was never supposed to be found. The Asgard ask that the Gatekey be recovered before Satra gets it, and then he, too, is interrupted.
Satra herself appears on the screen and, in classic Goa'uld fashion, she claims invincibility, proclaims herself the future queen of the galaxy, and swears revenge for the death of her father.
At the end of this message, Hammond returns. I was very amused by the expression on his face as he appears to be rather ticked to say the least! He then explains that the consciousnesses of the original SG team members were preserved along with him, and they are to be activated so they can help us, the audience, save the galaxy.
Hammond also explains that a craft has been made available that can travel through the Stargate. Unfortunately, due to a timely scream from a young child each of the three times I went on the ride, I never was able to hear what the craft was called, so I imagined it to be something like the Ancient's Puddle Jumpers. The dimensions seemed to be consistent with the spaces that the craft was able to fit through, and with its maneuverability.
With this, the doors at the end of each aisle opened to reveal several rows of moving seats able to sit approximately 20 people each, ten on each side of a dividing center aisle. As we were instructed to move down to the end, I ended up in the second row on the right side for my first two rides, and in the first row on the left side on my third ride. I discovered that no matter where you sit, you still feel as though you are in the middle of the action.
In the front of the room there was a gigantic screen, and the music from the movie played in surround sound. I had hoped the theater would have been modeled after the Gate Room on the show, but again it seemed outdated and looked like a small shuttle bay.
Watch your purses, ladies! When that safety bar comes down, don't think it will be safe in your lap. I did that and I nearly had my purse and stomach get smashed!
I don't want to give away too much detail about the ride itself, yet there isn't much I can say that will really give you a feel for what it was like.
You get to travel through the gate not one, but four times! Just as the series suggests, it's fast and jolting, but exhilarating all the same. I did notice that the creators of the ride chose to depart from how the wormhole appears in the series. I had hoped that it would be exactly the same to give the fans of the series the feeling that they were truly taking a step directly onto the show. Instead, the colors were far more purple than blue, and as well as being wider in appearance, it seemed somehow "faked" to me. It just didn't feel authentic, but the sensation of having gone through was very real, even if the feeling of having been half frozen to death while traveling through space was missing.
The ride takes you through the gate to three different worlds, chasing Satra in a chariot-like vehicle complete with a horse-like head in front, and then home again. The voice guiding your craft may seem familiar, but don't be fooled. As much as, after bumping into a pillar, a comment about even machines being imperfect seems to be very characteristic of
Colonel Jack O'Neill, I doubt even a mechanical Jack would be caught rusty saying, "Warning, warning!" ... though he can be pretty cheeky at times.
The adventure includes having your craft tossed about by a very strong ribbon device, followed by an escape from a huge temple about to self destruct.
Next, you get to experience what it's like being chased by multiple death gliders while things blow up all around you as they miss. Arches that connect floating pieces of land amid beautiful white clouds topple and fireballs shoot up.
You then visit another stunning temple filled with Satra's Jaffa. Daniel Jackson would have been amazed by this one. Hieroglyphics and huge pictographs in traditional Egyptian style adorned the walls. A sort of podium that Satra uses to address her minions rests in the combined hands of four guards, two dressed as Horus guards, and the other two dressed in the armor symbolic of Anubis. However, there is little time to examine these amazing things as you once again find yourself in danger of being shot down by death gliders -- or Satra herself -- before escaping through the gate.
Finally, once again in true Goa'uld fashion, Satra vows revenge before Hammond orders the gate shut down and she is cut off in mid sentence. Then the lights come up, the safely bars release, and the voice of General Hammond calling you an official S.G.C. member and the title music of the show rings in your ears as you exit.
All in all, the ride was absolutely wonderful. Don S. Davis did a beautiful job recording the voice for his character's stored consciousness. The graphics of the ride are stunning, and any line would have been well worth the wait. All hardcore fans should make the pilgrimage to experience this ride -- the closest thing to gate travel any of us will ever experience!
But wait! It gets even better!
You wouldn't think that Six Flags would have Stargate SG-1 merchandise, but then you might be surprised. I took a look in one of the souvenir shops just before I left and I found a treasure trove. They had four different t-shirts, one with the team, one that said "Bow down before me. I am your god!", and two different black shirts that said "Stargate SG-1" across the front.
They also had shot glasses with "Stargate SG-1" along the side, army green baseball caps with "Stargate SG-1" embroidered in gold, various magnets of the whole team and the individual team members, and last but not least, a night light with the team on it! I left the park with a camera full of pictures, a sack full with a shirt, a cap, and a magnet, and a mind full of memories that I will never lose.
Special thanks to my parents for taking me, my dad for going in with me, and my friend Jenny for being my beta and adding her valuable opinions!