5/24 - A Day of Woe at SFWoA

Associated parks:
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Friday, May 24, 2002 5:13 PM

(written by KicksTheSky and Robodud)

The ride ops at SFWoA painfully slammed the harnesses into me today, and I too want to slam something: the park itself. That pretty much says it all about my trip today, which is sad in a way, since I was actually excited about going for the first time this year. The last time I went to SFWoA it was simply SFO, during the summer of 2000, and I was very disappointed in the park that day as well. A few weeks ago, the Marketing Manager at SFWoA was interviewed on a local radio station, Extreme 92.3, proclaiming how they have “a whole new attitude this year”, they “hired new management”, and they “have a more positive outlook.” As hard as I tried, I could not find any evidence of these changes throughout the park.

With our season passes in hand, Rob (“Robodud”) and I headed out to SFWoA for the first of what we hoped would be many trips this season. We started off our day checking out the queue of X-Flight, which we were looking forward to riding, since it would be our first flying coaster. To our dismay, we found that it had a 45-minute wait and a one train op. Based on the things I’ve heard about the ride and the fact that we waited in that line for ten minutes and didn’t move an inch the entire time, we decided to come back later.

We headed over to S:UE instead, to take in that now-familiar sound of Intamin LIMS firing. We hopped in the very back seats, out of habit from riding Wicked Twister, and off we went...only to be shocked by how weak the launch felt. I didn’t remember it feeling that slow a couple years ago when I rode it. Am I just too spoiled by Wicked Twister now? Superman’s one strongpoint was that we found some great airtime on the back spike, but the fun was short lived, as we received a sudden jolt and a painful stop when we encountered the holding brake. All in all it was a decent ride still, and so far it has aged well, but it just wasn’t as fast or thrilling as I remembered.

Still on a bit of a high from our trip to Kennywood last week, we headed straight for the classic, Big Dipper. Expecting a fun, re-rideable classic, like Jackrabbit or Thunderbolt at Kennywood, we instead found a station full of noisy, screaming, unsupervised kids, and a ride that really needs to be better maintained. This ride is one that hasn't really aged all that gracefully compared to Kennywood's comparable woodies. There were a few fun pops of airtime on Big Dipper, and I’m grateful that they haven’t pulled a Blue Streak yet and replaced the fixed lap bars with adjustable bars and seatbelts, but I still found myself saying ouch a lot. So much for that..it had looked like a lot of fun from the ground at least.

After limping off Big Dipper, I mustered enough willpower to go on Serial Thriller. Not as painful as the "Mike Tyson" ride I remember from 2000, thanks to the new padding. I could have done without the ride op slamming my harness against me though, and their spiel could have easily been changed to “No picture taking or breathing while on the ride.” I have to quote STChick and say “Vekoma....ewww!” on this one.

Batman: Knight Flight was definitely the highlight of the afternoon. The only drawback of this ride would have to be the ops once again. Slamming those harnesses full force into our ribs was totally unnecessary. Is this a new policy or something? There’s going to be rider injuries caused by the ride ops themselves if they don’t cut this out, I was afraid of cracking a rib just while sitting in the station. Another interesting note: this particular ride op was walking around with his pants below his butt, his shirt half un-tucked, and he was wearing combat boots. Where is SFWoA finding these fine individuals who work for them? They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel this time when it comes to employees.

We decided that since we walked off the ride doubled over from the pain in our abdomens, we'd wait until later for another ride on Batman. We headed over to Raging Wolf Bobs instead. Major mistake: getting stuck in front of a dozen high-pitched, screaming, half naked, teeny-bopper type girls was already bad enough, but the bone jarring experience on Wolf Bobs just contributed even more to the afternoon’s theme, which seemed to be centered around pain.

Roadrunner Express was a ride we didn't get to ride the last time we were there, so we took the obligatory ride just so we could say that we rode it. We were shocked to learn that we could ride without borrowing a kid, but it turned out that kids couldn’t ride unless they borrowed someone over 16. A mom with her three kids was trying to figure out a way to get herself and all three kids on one train, so we offered our services, and I got to ride in the front seat with a very cute little girl who was clutching a stuffed dog she won, and looked like a future enthusiast in the making. It was a fun, smooth ride, and I’m glad that I took the time to add that to my track record and make a little kid’s day happier in the process.

My other favorite ride besides Batman during my visit in 2000 was the Villain. This was probably the best wooden coaster I had been on prior to the Beast and Kennywood's classic coasters. Two years can really take a toll on a ride I guess... It ran really rough, and they were only running one train, which stretched the wait time of what would normally be a walk-on, and we ended up in line for about 15 minutes. On the first drop, I got hit in the face by a hat, which flew off the head of a girl in front of me. She then acted surprised that her hat came off while riding a rollercoaster. Does it really take a rocket scientist to figure that out people? Come on now. At the end of the ride, we pull into the station, and that same girl starts coughing and leaning over the side of the train. I knew it was going to happen, and my suspicions were right: about a second after we had made a mad dash out of the train toward the exit, she stands up and pukes all over the station. We just managed to avoid getting hit, but I have a feeling some other people may not have been so lucky. I’m going to have nightmares tonight about just how disgusting that was.

To Rob’s dismay, Double Loop, the only Arrow coaster in the park, was still closed. He looked longingly at the bad Arrow transitions, but I pulled him away, and we decided to head back over to X-Flight. We were excited about the ride until we got up to the line. The queue was empty, and there was a short line out the station and down the steps, but it was still a one train op, and once again, we were greeted by a station full of screaming, annoying kids. Why do people take their kids to amusement parks and then just turn them loose to make other peoples’ lives miserable? I mentioned to Rob that a place like that would be a kidnapper’s dream...no parents in sight, anywhere. Stupid kids were plentiful though. I really felt bad for the ride ops, since they were too busy babysitting their unruly lines to get the rides running efficiently.

After about a 20 minute wait, and a dozen or so harness re-checks, we finally got on the back seats of the train and reclined into place. Rob’s first reaction was that he felt like he was on a hospital stretcher, being led off to the operating room, heck, after our painful day at the park we might as well have been doing just that. The ride was decent, but we both give it a re-rideability score of zero. It was different, but not comfortable, and certainly not worth the wait.

We would like to think that we’re not biased against Six Flags. Rob and I are going to SFA and SFGAdv next week, with somewhat high expectations. I know that even as Geauga Lake, the park had problems...but not as many as it does now. Seeing the rides with 3 or less ops staffed per ride made the park live up to the 'Worlds of Atrocities' name, and my horrible experience at the park made it a definite 'Waste of an Afternoon.' We drove 1 ½ hours each way, and only ended up spending 3 hours at the park total. Will we be returning to the park anymore this year? Most likely not, unless a lot of things change for the better around there. I hope that the two Six Flags parks I’m visiting next week will help to clear the black mark that this particular park has earned in my book.

*** This post was edited by KicksTheSky on 5/24/2002. ***

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Friday, May 24, 2002 5:22 PM
All I have to say is AMEN!!! They have some great rides there I'll admit that, but I really dislike babysitter parks. Which is what SFWoA basically is. Maybe it's just us, or maybe we caught the park on a bad day, but I wasn't impressed with park at all.

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Proud to be Arrow DYNAMIC!

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Friday, May 24, 2002 5:31 PM

KicksTheSky, please post a trip report about your experience at SFA. I'd be very interested to hear if things have improved since last year, e.g. the rampant line jumping, rude employees, and garbage everywhere. Thanks for the SFWoA report!

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Friday, May 24, 2002 7:12 PM

Hey, good luck at SFGADV. The park has been getting better. Hope you have a good time there, and be sure to post a TR.

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Friday, May 24, 2002 7:37 PM
Ummm did you notice all the buses in the parking lot today? There were schools there today which would explain all the kids. Sorry to hear about your day. I think thats the first bad TR I've read this season. As for the ops slamming down bars, I wouldn't prefer to have a harness slammed down, but I'd rather have it secure than loose. Besides the batman employee how were the employee's in general? Was the park dirty? From what I've seen and heard, those aspects have been greatly improved compared to past seasons.

*** This post was edited by LTLWcbYbe on 5/24/2002. ***

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Friday, May 24, 2002 7:44 PM

Kicks the sky:

As an employee, I'm dissapointed you had a less then favorable visit. This comes to a surprise to me because many visitors have reported having a great time. If there is anything that would improve your next visit, please let me know. I personnaly may not be able answer you request, but it's worth a shot. I hope you'll come back to the park and see what changes are made to improve your future visits.

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Jes
Jes's Roller Coasters DJ Jes MCS Please, Feel Free To Call Me Jes!
"Thank You Jeff Putz"

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Friday, May 24, 2002 10:02 PM

A lot of things were good about the park itself, but a lot of the things that were overlooked were the things that really were important. For instance, their bathrooms were some of the worst I've ever seen, which is really a shame, because the rest of the park looked pretty clean, and I saw a lot of sweeps tidying things up on the midways.

Quite a few of the employees seemed to be doing their job well, but a lot of the ones I came in contact with on the rides didn't look like they were doing any more than the bare minimum. A lot of them were just trudging around, looking like they hated their jobs.

Maybe I'm just comparing SFWoA to Cedar Point or Kennywood too much, but it wouldn't kill some of the ride crews if they hurried a little bit or even managed to crack a smile once in a while. I noticed that they seemed very understaffed as well, sometimes they only had 2 or 3 people working a coaster, so the restraint checks took forever, which made the one train op that much slower. I know that's not the operators' faults in any way, but it would have helped to have an extra person or two on each crew to get things running more smoothly and keep the crowds under control. The person behind the controls was trying to dispatch and load trains, do spiels, and at the same time, keep the kids from running around the station and throwing things at each other.

I think if the employees had a little more incentive to do a good job, and if they had a decent number of people working each major ride, the park could be comparable to CP and King's Island with their capacity and orderliness, but today it was definitely a bit of a disappointment.

I'm not saying that I'll never go there again, but even the guy taking our parking money just grabbed the money, made our change, and passed it back to us without saying a word or the faintest hint of kindness. Feeling like I'm welcome at a park as a person instead of just a wad of money means a lot to me, and coming face to face with an unfriendly employee before I've even parked my car doesn't make a very good impression. I think these things could be fixed, and I'll probably try going back later in the season and see if maybe it does indeed change a bit.

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Friday, May 24, 2002 10:50 PM

If you look for something to complain about...you'll find it. I can go to any park and have a great day...even if it is totally terrible.

Obviously you went into the park ready to complain...since you had a bad experience in 2000. Although I know you can have a bad experience at any park at on any day, I did not notice one problem that you mentioned when I went to the park.

You can't expect the park to have full capacity on a day where they expect not many people to go---Friday during the schoolweek. Part of a park, is waiting in lines...that's just something you have to deal with.

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"Tea & Cake Or Death?-Eddie Izzard"~My No Limits Designs...http://coastergames.net/author.php?author=BKF%20Master

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Friday, May 24, 2002 11:48 PM
B&M-Tycoon... but somehow, I feel that her points were significant and not just those of someone pre-bent against a certain park or park-chain.
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Saturday, May 25, 2002 2:43 AM

Hmm... wow.

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Why do they report power outages on TV?

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 7:56 AM

coderGirl: Thanks for the support, I'm glad someone realized I'm not just complaining, but instead offering constructive criticizm.

B&M Tycoon: I'm not biased against Six Flags, and if I was, I sure as heck wouldn't be driving 1500 miles round trip next week to visit two more Six Flags parks. I went to the park yesterday with an open mind after hearing that a lot of good things had happened there since my last visit. I'm not complaining about the length of the lines or the fact that the park was somewhat busy. That's to be expected at any park on any given day. They just seemed very understaffed and unmotivated, which is something I've never seen to that degree before at any other park I've been to. I've definitely had my share of crappy days at Cedar Point or Kings Island, and just about every other park I've been to. I just felt that the cause of some of the problems is the poor work ethic of some of the ride crews, I didn't say all of them, and I'm suggesting that the park should reconsider which people they assign to the jobs that bring them in close contact with park guests. Someone who is not really a people person will do just fine behind the scenes, but it would be nice to be greeted by a few more friendly faces.

The park has some awesome rides, and they've done an okay job considering what exactly they were buying from Geauga Lake and that the location may not be the best, but I have to say that the employees are the thing that make or break the park when it comes to guest satisfaction. I worked as a grocery store cashier for 2 years, so I understand how monotonous it can get doing the same job over and over, 9 or more hours a day, all week. However, we always tried to keep a smile on our faces around the customers, because were usually the only employees that the customer came in contact with during their visit to our store. Impressions are everything in a business, and a little smile can go a long way. :)

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 8:46 AM

Your trip report made me laugh because it reminded me of how bad the park was when I went.

I swore I'd never go back, but I'll be there the day before Coastermania, and only because X-Flight broke down last time and I never got to ride it - better not happen again!

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Coaster Grotto - Save your Top 20 Coasters and Track Record Online!

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 9:09 AM

Kicks the Sky and Robodud said:

.....this particular ride op was walking around with his pants below his butt, his shirt half un-tucked, and he was wearing combat boots. Where is SFWoA finding these fine individuals who work for them?

Let me just respond to this by saying that I've never seen such a rag-tag group of hooligans as I've seen working at SFWOA...anywhere. Their unprofessionalism is astounding.

As for the poorly behaved kids at Six Flags on the day of your visit, that is unfortunate, but hardly the park's fault. I do agree with you though - gangs of yelling teenage groupies don't make for an enjoyable day. Personally, I find that a well-positioned tranquilizer dart to the behind is usually effective....just be careful you don't get kicked out for doing it.

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 9:44 AM
It's a shame that there wasn't some way to have a little more crowd control yesterday. There were security guards all over the place, but it was still left up to the ride ops to control the fighting/screaming/line-jumping/obnoxious kids that we encountered in line. I feel bad for the ride ops because it really isn't their job to babysit peoples' kids and operate the ride in a safe and efficient manner at the same time. That's how accidents happen, and it's the reason that CP has "Please do not disrupt the operator" signs on the control booths. Maybe that was the reason for all the bad moods I encountered yesterday..who knows..
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Saturday, May 25, 2002 2:51 PM

So many mixed reviews in so little time about the new season at SFWoA. CP and HW are pulling me closer and closer as being our first coaster park trips for the season(besides the day trips to PKI and SFKK). I was getting very excited by some of the recent reports, but I trust your TR, so that excitement is heading down. SFWoA is really giving Six Flags a bad name in my opinion, because overall I like all of the SF parks I've been to including SFKK and SFNE. My day at SFO in 2000 was not-so-great as well, but I'll just have to be more optimistic about it. At least they do have Batman and Villain.

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 4:25 PM
What do you have against "combat boots"? (I'm assuming you are talking about leather Ranger boots). At DLP, the cast members on 3 attractions (Autopia, go karts going around on a fixed rail, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain) are forced to wear them! Add to that steel toed versions... But its understandable, especially for Autopia where you never know if a guest is going to press on the pedal at the wrong time and too bad if your toes are in the way. If you say steel toed, you're also saying a harder sole, which is an advantage when you have to deal daily with 5 inches wide stairs... (when going up lifts and the catapult of Space Mountain)
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Saturday, May 25, 2002 6:05 PM

Well gang, its obvious I'm not going to change anyone's opinion here, no matter what side of the ball you side on. Some of you had a great visit, and others didn't. But Ophthodoc, I'm not quite sure how I should respond to you.

I take my job seriously, and working at Six Flags is the highlight of my week. I am truly offended by your remarks because I do my job to the best of my ability, and so do my peers. I take the time to visit the trip reports section on CoasterBuzz, as well as several other websites to read what all the guests are saying, not because I have to, or because I'm a supervisor or team-leader, but because as a Ride Operator, I come in direct contact with the guests more than anyone else.

So, if you have a complaint about an employee, well I guess this is a good place to report it, but please be mindful that hard working people do read your comments so that we can try to address them, and negative words aren't very helpful in trying to do this. If you do have any particular names that you can pass along to me, any particular rides, any particular times, well that would be helpful. Thank you, and please come back to Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure soon.

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Jes
Jes's Roller Coasters DJ Jes MCS Please, Feel Free To Call Me Jes!
"Thank You Jeff Putz"

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 6:32 PM
Yeah, that is pretty funny!

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"The Gay Blazeway"

Available since April, 1985

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Saturday, May 25, 2002 7:13 PM
I wasn't trying to start any wars with my trip report, I was merely reporting what I saw and experienced. I'm not shunning Six Flags, and I'm really excited about visiting SFA and SFGAdv this week. I think the problem is that a lot of Six Flags parks have gotten a bad reputation, and it's hard to clean up an entire park, especially for parks where large groups of inner city kids tend to congregate. I do give them credit for trying new management techniques and so forth, and yes, I'm thinking about going back out there sometime to see if I have better luck the second time around.
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Sunday, May 26, 2002 4:57 PM

KicksTheSky said:
"it's hard to clean up an entire park, especially for parks where large groups of inner city kids tend to congregate."

I've often wondered why people assume the "mis-behaving" kids are from the "inner city". Unless one has done some market research, I doubt one can with any certainty discern the "inner city" kids from the "suburbanites".
lata,
jeremy
--who really needs to take an extended leave of absence from cbuzz...

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