6/30 is National Stacking Day - SFA (Long)

Associated parks:
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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 9:41 AM
Well, it would normally be pleasant to witness Six Flags America participating in a national holiday, but it seemed yesterday that the park created National Stacking Day. While the concept certainly seems like a stupendous idea, the question remains (since yesterday was my first visit to my homepark this season), was this a special occasion or an everyday occurrance? I'm guessing the latter...

Rewind: My former roommate Chuck, who had moved to Mexico (Cancun, the lucky bastard) in December, was in town for about a week, and he had emailed me asking which Washington DC-area theme park had the best coasters (PKD, BGW, or SFA). Not one to play favorites, I wrote him a lengthy reply stating that all three had really high-quality rides, and that he should probably instead base his decision on overall park experience. I know, I know, you're thinking, '...and you chowderheads went to SFA?' Well, yes. But that was because SFA was the one park of the three that he had not yet visited, and since he decided to invite me along, it was the only park I could afford (thanks to my handy Kentucky Kingdom season pass that I picked up on the way back from Stark Raven Mad 2003).

Fast-forward to Monday, June 30th: After having very little to do at work for the last few weeks, yesterday (mind you, a Monday during a holiday week at a government college in the summer, with the parking lot half-empty) I came to work and immediately got slammed with crap to do. No matter, I was leaving at noon to meet Chuck and his friend Chris from Dallas at Six Flags. I arrived in the parking lot at 1pm on the nose, and paid the communist $9 parking fee. Strike #1: I gave the parking attendant a 20 dollar bill, and she gave me $1 in change. When I told her I gave her a $20, she replied with a not-so-embarrassed chuckle, 'I didn't know if you gave me a $10 or a $20.' Didn't know? Perhaps Six Flags failed to include Recognizing the Different Bills of American Currency in their employee handbook. I parked in the BFEgypt section of the lot and trekked to the gate. The old lady at the turnstile scanned the barcode on my SFKK pass about 6 times, looked at me all weird-like, and gave it back to me. Odd.

I finally met up with Chuck and Chris--who had already been in the park for about an hour and had just finished lunch--near the front gate, and we headed for Superman: Ride of Steel. The line was a decent length out of the station, and to my utmost surprise (NOT) the ops were running one train. Fortunately, the wait wasn't too terribly awful.
Superman: Ride of Steel - Darn good as always. Good floating air on the second hill, near-grey-out forces on the first helix, and that unbelievable 3-second ejector air on the third hill. Bunny hill heaven at the end.

Chuck and Chris were very impressed, and commented that they wanted to hit S:RoS again later. For now, however, we decided to take a spin on Joker's Jinx. As we entered the station, we discovered that someone had already taken a spin on it in the front car, and couldn't quite withhold their lunch. We waited a good 15 minutes for the sloth-like op to spray down the seats and restraints in the front and wipe them down, while the other ops watched and laughed at him. After letting the train run a couple of times (both trains were operating to my true surprise), the ride reopened. We opted for a middle seat, even though the front was empty (couldn't imagine why). After our ride, we sat in the hot sun on the brake run while we waited for the next train to load. Again, the Sloth Family Robinson did a wonderful job of stapling each rider in record time (about 3 minutes). This was our first clue that today in fact was National Stacking Day. We couldn't wait to see what other rides would be stacking!
Joker's Jinx - Good. Nice speed and disorienting turns during the second half.

The heat was really getting to all of us, and I had expressed interest earlier in riding the new Penguin's Blizzard River, so we crossed the midway to the line that didn't seem very long, but turned out to be our longest wait of the day--45 minutes. Not bad for a not-so-crowded park, but it would be nice if there was more shade and/or perhaps some misters to keep us cool in line. Oh, wait--they have these neat concrete penguins near the station turnaround that spit water onto the guests in line! Eh, nevermind...scratch that. The water falls about two feet short of the queue. We finally boarded the unique, round inflated rafts, and soon we were at the top of the lift. Drenched with sweat, we couldn't wait to feel the cool water splashing up into our raft. As the boat hit the first turn, we soon forgot about getting wet. None of us are fans of spin-and-spew rides, and it turns out that Blizzard River is nothing more than that, with a little H2O added (and I do mean a little--nowhere on our trip down the trough did we feel even a drop of water). It resembles a Rotor ride the entire way down, so much that you can't even feel the raft travelling anywhere but in circles. Many, many circles. When the raft stopped spinning, I suddenly had to take deep breaths for fear of getting sick. The Sahara-like heat didn't help. Neither did the celebration of National Stacking Day, where we sat for a good 6 or 7 minutes basking (baking?) in the oppressive sun. The only relief was one of the aforementioned penguins that spit water toward our boat every 30 seconds or so. Those 5 drops of water on my left knee were quite welcome.
Penguin's Blizzard River - If you like spin-and-spew rides, you'll like this. For fear of sounding like an ungrateful n00b, I think it suX0rs.

We made our way out of Gotham and its mind-blowing theming and grabbed a much needed beverage for the reasonable low price of our right arms. Feeling a bit rejuvenated, we made our way to Roar. Chuck asked if it was as good as PKD's Grizzly, and being quite the non-enthusiast was probably sorry he asked after receiving a lengthy dissertation about the differences between certain wooden coasters and how it was hard to compare the two since one thrives on rough, out-of-control airtime, and the other on disorienting curving drops and highly-banked turns. I think he stopped asking me questions after that.
Roar - a one-train operation with a moderate wait, but a fun ride nonetheless. A bit rougher than I remember, but we were sitting towards the rear of the train, and I'm used to the front. I realized after exiting the ride that my stomach still hadn't quite recovered from Pabst Blue Ribbon: the Ride.

Next we briefly stopped off at Shipwreck Falls' observation deck to get absolutely drenched. Well worth it, even if we did smell like stagnant, algae-infested pondwater.

We took a quick, wet stroll over to the western frontier-themed Coyote Creek section of the park, where the Mind Eraser SLC perfectly fits, since erasing minds was a common practice in the Wild West. There was hardly a line for this ride (in spite of the ops' enthusiastic participation in National Stacking Day), but I think that had to do with several line-jumers and Very Cool Guys Without Shirts™ getting pissed off at the security guard who was sending them either to the queue entrance or out of the queue entirely--one of the best things I'd seen all day. While waiting for the front, I chuckled to myself as I overheard the security guard and switchboard op argue with a young female guest over which was the tallest coaster on the east coast--their own Superman or Steel Force at Dorney, a park which Security Guard and Ride Op hadn't even heard of. I discreetly mentioned to the guard that they were both the exact same height, but I left it at that because I really didn't want to get into a discussion about the fact that not only were both other S:RoS's taller, but Nitro had them all beat. I generally try my best not to be Mr. Enthusiass. After a ride in the front seat with Chuck (and Chris right behind us), I gladly waited while they took a second ride, again in the front.
Mind Eraser - I like SLCs, but it was not a good ingredient with the sun, heat, and slight nausea I was experiencing yesterday. However, thanks to my shining optimism (read: gluttony for punishment), at least I now had a slight headache to counter-balance the nausea. Don't tell me the general public doesn't eat these rides up: aside from the fact that my friends took two consecutive spins on it, Chuck was comparing the thing to Alpengeist. Except you don't normally sit on the final brake run for 5 minutes on Alpengeist.

Following a quick bathroom break and another dousing by Shipwreck Falls' massive surge, we sloshed over to Two-Face and found a relatively short queue. I waited with my friends, but opted to cross under the train and sit out while they rode. This ride is not one of my favorites, as it more often than naught makes me feel slightly ill even on good days. They soon understood my reasoning.
Two-Face: The Flip Side - Uhh...it was orange. With teal supports.

We then skipped (not really, I'm just running out of verbs) over to Wild One, my second favorite coaster at SFA. We witnessed some banter from an obnoxious woman behind us who was making her 7½ kids cut in front of people in several different rows so they could all ride at the same time. The lady behind me begrudginly let one of the ungrateful kids in front of her, and I guess the aforementioned Trash, upon seeing lady#2 roll her eyes, began to spout her mouth off. When a guy two lanes down starting yelling at Trash for her behavior, Trash began piercing everyone's ears in the vicinity claiming that 'Ah wusn't tawkin' to you, mister, ah's tawkin' to THAT LADY, and I've already spoken mah peace!' to which the gentleman replied quite angrily, ''THAT LADY' is my WIFE.' The best part about the whole situation was that we were on the coaster before it could escalate to Jerry Springer status.
Wild One - A very fun coaster. Good air, although not as good as I remember, but that final helix never disappoints. Laterals galore!

My friends had to leave around 6:30 or 7pm, and it was close to 6 at the time, so we headed for Batwing, which we were told had about an hour-and-a-half wait. God bless Six Flags for its eternal one-station, one-train operation on Batwing. We decided to skip it and ride Superman, which was almost a walk-on at the time.
Batwing - It looked pretty.

On S:RoS, we waited an extra 10 minutes for the front (well, I let Chuck and Chris have the front, and I opted for second row), and it was a better ride than earlier. The airtime is relentless in the front.

The highlight of the day for me was, after many, many visits to SFA, finally adding another notch to my track record on the Great Chase, a Zamperla kiddie coaster. I've never bothered getting in line for it before, because the sign says only adults can ride if they're accompanied by a child. Well, I decided to give it a go, since most of the ride ops at the park don't give a crap about their jobs anyway, so why would they care if an adult rode by himself? I had to twist Chuck's arm to ride it with me, but he finally gave in.
The Great Chase - Most painful ride experience of the day. The jolt we received when the ride first started was brutal--my back felt like it snapped in half. Then they proceed to give you 4 consecutive laps on it, which would normally be nice if the coaster didn't have a dip in it that provided a plentiful dose of whiplash to top off my fractured vertibrae.

After that, it was right around 7pm, and we left the park and parted ways.

I keep hearing about the park operations at Six Flags America improving each year. I'm sorry, maybe I'm jaded, but I just don't see it. Aside from the security guard in Mind Eraser's queue, and the somewhat improved cleanliness of the park, the ops are still as far from enthused as possible, and I've never seen slower loading--and that was on literally every coaster at the park. I still say there's no excuse for this. A season passholder every year since 1999, I honestly wonder if one will be worth buying next year. I think a Paramount pass may be in order instead, since I haven't owned one since '96.

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk
*** This post was edited by Vater 7/1/2003 1:57:22 PM ***

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 11:12 AM
Excellent report; very amusing. Who says people can't write anymore?

Too bad about the park, tho' ...

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Age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 3:17 PM
Yeah, SFA has its bad days. I've been there with broken rides and one train ops, but I've also been there on days with fully operating coasters with two trains (yes, even Batwing on a few occasions last year, though I have yet to see it run two this year). sorry you got the short end.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 4:09 PM
The two times I went this season were great compared to times before. Two train ops on every ride (except two face of course)..all rides open (except seacoaster)! Batwing was even using both stations with 2 trains the first time i went, the second time it was 2 train 1 station. But yeah, SFA does have its bad days, but when it has good ones, they are pretty decent.

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So...you can't handle a rollercoaster huh? Well...you ARE the Weakest Link! Goodbye!
Number 1 Batwing Fan!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 4:11 PM
Is that why my buddy in DC calls It Six Flags Ghettoland?

Wood - there is no substitute for a real coaster

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Tuesday, July 1, 2003 4:19 PM
After I've said "the parks better this year", I take it all back this year. I've never witnessed so much one-train operation, and the ride-ops are slow and unenthusiastic about their jobs. Good example: The guys running Roar weren't making any announcements at all, including telling us that there was a technical difficulty resulting in us being stranded in the brakerun for some period.

A positive note: I reported an exit door at guest relations that blew open while I was riding The Rodeo and I have to say the young lady was very nice and immediately called it in to maintenance.

I actually applied at the park the other day for ride operations and they said they'd put my application on hold, I guess due to background checks. The loss prevention guy actually asked me if I had ever been suspended from high school! I had, but I graduated in 1988! Who the hell knows what I was suspended for. I couldn't remember. You would think they'd be glad to have another warm body. I guess I'll find out (or not).
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If you have a problem with clones, the solution is real simple—Stop traveling.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2003 5:53 AM
Intamin Fan, if you could, please keep me updated as to whether or not you get hired. I was actually thinking of getting a part time job there as well, but I tell ya, the general attitude of most of the employees would probably piss me off before long. Hell, it pisses me off right now.

By the way, I can possibly understand if the loss prevention guy asked an applicant who was still in high school or just recently graduated if he/she had been suspended, but someone in their 30s? Shouldn't they be asking about felonies or something?

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk

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Wednesday, July 2, 2003 8:01 AM

Vater said:


Chuck was comparing the thing to Alpengeist. Except you don't normally sit on the final brake run for 5 minutes on Alpengeist.


Umm, actually, one of the worst rags I've heard about Alpie is that the ops run the ride like shat, hitting interval almost never...

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My current favorite home video game!

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Thursday, July 3, 2003 9:45 AM
I've waited on Alpie's brake run before, but the statement I made was more for the sake of humor than fact. Still, I've never seen Alpie load as slowly as any of SFA's coasters did on Monday.

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk
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Sunday, July 6, 2003 6:26 PM
I just moved out to Annapolis and will be going to SFA sometime soon. I hope it isn't as bad as everyone here has been saying it is.

At least I'm going back to BGW this weekend. I used to love that place.

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Sunday, July 6, 2003 6:47 PM
NoAngel3161,SFA has it's good days & it's bad days just like any other park,but some of the rides like S:ROS,PBR & Batwing can make up for it if it's a bad day.

The main problem the park has is they can't seem to get some of the rides (cough Batwiing cough cough) up to multi train operation which makes for an agonizingly slow wait time in line.

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Sunday, July 6, 2003 6:52 PM
At least it's a good coaster park from what I've heard. That should be a change from SFEG.
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Monday, July 7, 2003 3:59 AM
Did Joker's Jinx get the update to lapbars?

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I play in a really awful garage band, but it's still fun.

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Monday, July 7, 2003 7:37 AM
Yes, it's had lapbars since the beginning of 2002's operating season.

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk
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Monday, July 7, 2003 8:28 AM
I went to Six Flags Great Adventure a week ago, and having never been before, and my entire Six Flags knowledge being of Six Flags America, I couldn't believe how wonderful an experience I had. NoAngel3161, why not just add in a few more bucks and a few more miles and go to a different Six Flags heh. B&M versus Vekoma, plus so much more.

Now, I shouldn't get flamed, right? I just compared Six Flags within itself. And Nitro is now my favorite coaster.

Vater - awesome trip report. It had me snickering the whole time in my cubicle.

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"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." e.e.cummings
*** This post was edited by ErinGoBraugh 7/7/2003 12:29:15 PM ***

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Monday, July 7, 2003 11:22 AM
Thanks, Erin. Six Flags America was also my first Six Flags park. My first trip was in '99 when it first opened under its new ownership, but I'd been there twice before (once in '86 as Wild World, and once in '95 as Adventure World) so I had more or less experienced the park before, just on a smaller scale. However, since '99 I've visited SFoG, SFGAdv (twice), SFoT, and SFKK. All of the parks are head and shoulders above SFA, with the exception of SFKK, which is on about the same level in my opinion. The coasters at SFA are good, but as I've said before, the overall park experience flat-out sucks.

In a way it's nice though, because other, even not-so-stellar parks seems incredible in comparison.

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk
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Monday, July 7, 2003 5:44 PM
Darth Vater, this was an awesome Trip report. I was coughing up Panda Express Chinese food. Anyhoot, it seems all the smaller six flags parks hire sloths to run their parks. Marine World celebrates National Stacking day quite regularly.

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Bid my blood to run, before I come undone...

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Monday, July 7, 2003 6:04 PM
I have to agree with some of what Vater is saying. After going to SFFT and SFOT last week, the park really needs to improve on the load time of the coasters. Their timing on opening of the air gates is off quite a bit. Example, today the loading of Joker's Jinx was extremely slow. By the time I left the station and returned, people were just leaving the Joker's Jinx station and exiting the ride. Then they opened the air gates and let the next group in. I waited a good 2-3 minutes before my train pulled into the station. However, some of the is the publics fault as well. On S:ROS today, I watched as someone sat on the lapbelt and pulled the lap bar over their lap. They had to release the lap bars and recheck everything they just got finished checking. It was a shame because prior to that, the ride ops were really doing a good job of getting the train out of the station and on to the track before the next one arrived.

NoAngel3161, SFA is not that bad of a park, they have some training issues they really need to work out. However, if you live only 30 minutes from the park and enjoy riding coasters then the park is worth a visit and a season pass. For $60 you get alot including a water park. Go twice and you have saved yourself some money. Plus the park has two great wooden coasters, a top 20 Intamin Hyper, a Vekoma Flying Dutchman, A Vekoma Boomerang, and a Premier Launch coaster that is sure to put smiles on any enthusiast face. If you go during the week and are there at opening, you can ride four coasters in 1 1/2 hours (like I did today). If you go on a weekend, the whole park can be done in four hours or so. Just go with an open mind and you will have fun.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2003 4:31 AM

Vater said:
The coasters at SFA are good, but as I've said before, the overall park experience flat-out sucks.

In a way it's nice though, because other, even not-so-stellar parks seems incredible in comparison.

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-Mike B.
Son of Hulk
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Yes, the coasters at SFA are good. Jokers Jinx is now good because it's now an experience distinguishable from Mind Eraser, and Roar is very good as well. Wild One is a nice coaster, too. I wouldn't know about Batwing. In the five times that I've gone to the park in two years, it hasn't been open. Maybe it's just me... it surely can't be Vekoma. I agree with you about the overall park experience.

Good point, too, about the comparisons with other parks lol.


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"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." e.e.cummings
*** This post was edited by ErinGoBraugh 7/8/2003 8:32:09 AM ***

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