A Few Hours At SF Great Adventure on a Beautiful Spring Saturday 5/4

Sunday, May 5, 2013 9:19 AM

Earlier this week I found out that the surviving Monkees would be playing in Red Bank, NJ. No Davy Jones :(, but WITH Mike Nesmith, with whom I've never seen them play. Mike was my favorite for most of the time I was a fan. I was gonna drive down to pick up a ticket, hit a coupla stores, and have lunch, before heading to a show at night at the theater at which I'm employed.

Thursday, I decided to scrap that plan and hit GAdv for a few hours in the a.m., have a bite in the park, and then head north, picking up the ticket on the way.

I arrived at about 10:05. I managed not to take off my belt this time, simply handed my pouch to the guard and walked in. The roll-up gates at the far right after the security check and ticket booths are reserved for Premium Passholders, and they open them before 10:30. So I was on the platform at El Toro by 10:35, waiting for the first train of the day in the lane for my customarily hoped-for back seat. The only people in the station were a fellow waiting for the front, and what appeared to be a maintenance guy in the second row. The ride ops were gathered around the control area. Next thing, one of them is walking toward the back of the platform. I figure they're about to open the ride. I say Good Morning as he's about to walk past me, but he stops.

"Sir, could you please move to the front of the train?'

"No, I prefer the back."

"Well, we'd really rather you rode in the front car of the train"

"Well, I'd really rather ride in the back, if it's all the same to you"

We volleyed back and forth for a few moments, with me saying "I'm happy to wait until you have more people for weight on the train, but I'm not moving up." After a bit he gave up, turned to his crew-mates and shrugged, and walked back up front. the train ended up dispatching with 4 people, including me. It was the Kia Soul train, on which I got most of my 10 rides. There were often people waiting for my seat, so I did some shifting, and had to walk around after my 6th ride. Toro usually doesn't run that well in the morning, but now that the weather is a bit warmer (GORGEOUS day in Jersey!) it was flying. I got tiny pops of air in places I never knew existed. My only quibble was the rides I had to take in the front seat of a car (but not near the front of the train.) I don't really love those seats, but if the choice is taking that or walking around again, I'll take the former. There's a strange vibration under that seat at parts of the ride. At one point I got in a seat and moved to the right. Attendant comes by and says, "You might wanna move back one," and points to the seat to my left..which was vomit-covered. I hadn't even noticed, but I'm glad I didn't plop my fat A** down there. After some clean-up, we were off.

I walked over and hit Bizarro for two very good rides. Coulda got way more, but I wasn't feeling that this was gonna be an upside-down day so much. Caught one ride on the Runaway Train, and discovered...by sitting on the left..it is actually possible to keep my hands up the entire ride. Not sure I've been able to do that before. Also, I thought it odd that the attendant collecting loose items from already-seated passengers didn't take the items himself. Rather, he lifted the very large, heavy looking wooden bins and held them out for people to drop.

On the walk over to RT, I discovered that another piece of classic GAdv architecture has been removed. The giant Conestoga Wagon (I don't know if it was the original one from when the park opened) is gone. It last housed a food stand, but has been removed to make way for the entry/loading area/station for Safari Off-Road Adventures. Two of the trucks were on display, oddly, they did not have the exact same seat configuration. They appear to hold 32-36 people, so if they have enough trucks, capacity MIGHT not be an issue.

The Sky Ride took me to The other end of the park, where Nitro was waiting for me. I got in the lane for the back, and there were two boys ahead of me. I asked if I could go first so I could rack my souvenir cup,and they were fine with that. So I move through the row, drop my cup, and turn around to see a Latino fella in the row, holding his hand protectively over the last seat. As I moved to sit there, he said "That seat's taken" I said, "Yeah, by me." "No, it's my girlfriend's. She's right there" (cup rack) Now these are NOT the people that were behind me a minute ago, and the left two seats were filled (ALSO by people I hadn't seen behind me.) So this guy sits down in third seat, I take fourth, girlfriend is in next row forward. Obviously they were poaching, and that's okay with me. I don't fault someone for doing that..that'd be a classic example of the pot (belly) calling the kettle black. But I only do it when there's no one in a seat AFTER seating is done, and would never steal a seat from under someone's nose as this &%$#head was attempting to do. He was saying something in Spanish to me (probably cursing me out) during the ride, but sometimes being somewhat deaf is a good thing.

GAdv's getting/has gotten new wood...on the loading platforms of Congo Rapids, that is :(

I had five good rides on Nitro, but realized it was after 1pm, the Red Bank Box Office was to close at 3, and I hadn't eaten yet. So I walked over to the Boardwalk, stopping at the Coke Freestyle for a Minute Maid Light Orange Lemonade.

My friend/client Fran e-mailed me this week and mentioned she'd gotten a Nathan's hot dog on the meal plan. I told her she was either yanking my chain or someone made a mistake, because Nathans was not on the meal plan, something I ascertained by checking the site. However, a quick note to my friend and sometime park companion Jennifer.. and her reply... confirmed that Nathans had been added to the roster after we purchased the plan Opening Weekend. The wait for my hot dog was the longest I encountered all day, but it was worth it. I ate walking to the exit, and it was a darn good dog, better than the last ones I had at Coney. I got in my car at 1:45.

So, a good day. Three hours in the park, didn't get first ride until 10:45, and still got in 18 coaster rides and the Sky Ride.

I got my Monkees ticket, arriving at the theater at 2:50. Since I had time to kill before the nighttime show, I backtracked down to Belmar to see if the shore road had been reopened (It was closed in March, way Post-Sandy) I ended up on the beach for a bit. It's in good shape and the boardwalk re-construction is coming along. I haven't read any recent updates on the communities further south, like Seaside.

Thanks as always for reading.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:04 PM

Mike Gallagher said:

So I was on the platform at El Toro by 10:35, waiting for the first train of the day in the lane for my customarily hoped-for back seat. The only people in the station were a fellow waiting for the front, and what appeared to be a maintenance guy in the second row. The ride ops were gathered around the control area. Next thing, one of them is walking toward the back of the platform. I figure they're about to open the ride. I say Good Morning as he's about to walk past me, but he stops.

"Sir, could you please move to the front of the train?'

"No, I prefer the back."

"Well, we'd really rather you rode in the front car of the train"

"Well, I'd really rather ride in the back, if it's all the same to you"

We volleyed back and forth for a few moments, with me saying "I'm happy to wait until you have more people for weight on the train, but I'm not moving up." After a bit he gave up, turned to his crew-mates and shrugged, and walked back up front. the train ended up dispatching with 4 people, including me.

What am I missing here? This seems like a total dick move. Why were you being a jerk?

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:20 PM

Agreed on the dicketry. I didn't even read anything after that.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:34 PM

Unless he was being impolite, I don't see an issue.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 12:45 PM

Jeff said:

Unless he was being impolite, I don't see an issue.

I don't know if you mean him or me, but both of us were polite and civil. Simply put, I've rode the back seat on empty trains many times, and it was never an issue before. And if that's how one defines being a dick, then maybe I am.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:10 PM

Mike Gallagher said:

And if that's how one defines being a dick, then maybe I am.

In this case (at least as you've told it), you certainly were.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:30 PM

You offered to wait until the trains had more people on them before riding in the back seat. The seats were not roped off (I'm gathering), and they were admitting people onto the ride with no apparent restricted areas. What's wrong with nicely stating that you'd like to wait for your preferred seat?

On seat poaching: I've had my seat poached while placing my stuff in bins at Talon, Hydra, Voodoo, AND Steel Force. This is quite the annoyance. I see no problem with grabbing an extra ride if the gates are closed and empty seats are gonna go out on the train (after all, if you fill a seat, you're moving the line faster), but to actually be sneaky and take someone else's seat, it's just rude. Then to harass someone for calling you out on your rudeness? Blech.

The train with the advertisements on Toro seems to be the roughest riding train, and I don't know why.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:49 PM

For what it's worth, I've always felt like poaching seats is a dick move too.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 4:41 PM

All the same Mike, your first mistake was thinking that the back row on El Toro is the best row on the ride. ;)

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 5:16 PM

I don't think. I know. That's why I was unwilling to give it up.

And to bunky's point: nothing was roped off or otherwise restricted. And she's right about the Soul Train..the "wood" train runs better, IMO.

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Sunday, May 5, 2013 10:51 PM

Good report, Mike. Sounds like Great Adventure is continuing their "good/awesome" streak. Mike Nesmith is my favorite Monkee too :)

I take it seat poaching is taking an empty seat (that would otherwise go out empty) after you have already ridden? At SF Great America, ride ops often encourage it - even announce it - if it's not busy.

Last edited by GayCoasterGuy, Sunday, May 5, 2013 10:54 PM
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Monday, May 6, 2013 12:53 AM

If I were running the ride, Mine, I might have just told you that we were going to go ahead and dispatch the first train of the day without you. The maintenance guy in the second row may have had a job to do, and the rider in the front row was ready to go. The crew might have had a plan for the morning, and you might have messed it up. :p

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Monday, May 6, 2013 7:35 AM

I'm considered the "biggest goody two shoes" at my school, and I have seat poached before. It was on Afterburn and to be honest, I asked the ride attendant if it was ok. He said that if their was no one waiting for my seat I could just stay on, and if there was people in line for my seat I could just move to a different seat.

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Monday, May 6, 2013 8:23 AM

Tyler, usually I ask too. Dorsey's always a no, but sometimes SF allows it. Do I always ask? No, but then again, I don't always poach either. It's situational for me. I've even been in a seat, the ride comes to the station, there's no one in line for that seat, and ride ops ask ME if I want to stay. So I do! :)

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Monday, May 6, 2013 8:50 AM

I was marathon-ing Afterburn. There was no wait and they were only running one train. I just stayed on. One ride attendant saw me ride it so many times. Then we had this conversation (bold is my words):

"Dude, what are you doing riding this so many times in a row, you'll get sick."

"I rode this 6 times in under 30 minutes yesterday"

"Well you should sit out this ride."

"Do you want me to just run around the ride and get back in line?"

"I guess."

(I get out of the ride.)

"And then I can continue to ride this as many times as I want?"

"No. Ride it three times and take a break."

"All right. I'm going to Intimidator."

"Why? The ride attendants over there are idiots. We are so much cooler here."

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Monday, May 6, 2013 8:56 AM

Tyler Boes said:

"Do you want me to just SPRINT around the ride and get back in line?"

Fixed that for ya, Tyler.

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Monday, May 6, 2013 10:05 AM

I didn't know you were a repair man.

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Monday, May 6, 2013 11:45 AM

I'm surprised the Afterburn crew made you take a break. I got twenty-one in a row and they didn't seem to mind at all.

Also, I think that there's a difference between grabbing extra seats when the trains are going out half-empty because nobody's there and snagging them when there's a half-hour wait. That said, if it's gonna go out empty, I'm not sure I see the issue with it when the Ride Ops are cool with it also. If they don't have a crowd-control person grouping people together to minimize the empty seats, why not take advantage of the situation when the Ops allow you to do so? The only reason I'd see it as an issue is that if anyone else catches on, you risk a mass of people trying to do the same thing, and then you have complete chaos on the loading platform.

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Monday, May 6, 2013 12:04 PM

In a situation where there are safety gates in the queue area, I can't see anything wrong with requesting to wait as long as it takes to get to ride in your preferred seat. I understand for the coasters that don't have those gates where it's a safety concern to allow a guest to wait on the platform and they have some kind of need to get you in a specific seat.

But in this case, I agree that as long as the exchange was respectful and Mike wasn't demanding to go out on that first train, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with deferring to ride until they are ok with you riding in the seat of your choice.

As far as poaching goes, I'm not a fan. I think when the park is empty and clearly the walk around is unnecessary, then it's fine as long as the ops are ok with it. But when it's crowded enough for there to be confusion about what seats are actually empty because folks are putting things in the bins and such, then I think it's bad practice.

And I'm curious if the folks who are most concerned about equity in waiting also have an issue with poaching. I know many think because the seat was going to be empty that it's no loss to anyone, but what happens when others on the returning train don't know they have the ability to poach or aren't quick enough to snag the empty seat? Is it fair that they have to walk around and wait again while others don't? Just curious about the perspective.

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Monday, May 6, 2013 12:10 PM

Well, that leads to my point about what happens if they figure it out. Then it's just chaos.

As for if it's fair or not, I admit I don't have a good answer for that.

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