A not-bad day at SFWoA

Associated parks:
None

Monday, July 2, 2001 10:08 PM
So one of the nice things about being between jobs (*) is that I've found myself with a free week. Granted, it's a holiday week that I'd have some free time on ANYWAY, but still...

Not only was I free, but a friend of mine, our own loriu, was able to get a sitter for her daughter today. With that in mind and our season passes in hand, it was off to Six Flags Worlds of Adventure for a little daytrip. One of my goals was to observe firsthand how the pay-to-use FastPass worked out. Note that Lori and I opted to NOT pay the extra for it...

It was a pretty CROWDED day. At times it was hard to move around on the midways. Holiday week in early July, plus a local union picnic, will do that, especially at a park that originally wasn't DESIGNED to handle crowds like that. On top of that, some of the rides and stands weren't coping well with the crowds, either -- getting a pizza at the Pizza Hut Express would've involved an additional 20 minute wait (we opted to just munch on some breadsticks and move on)


But Lori and I still managed to have a decent time. We went in on fairly short notice, and hadn't been marathoning all week on other stuff, which I think helped my outlook at lot :)

At one point we even got on the ferry and went over to the Wildlife side for dinner. The ferry was pleasant, spacious, and even good for some amusement -- originally the pilot misjudged the approach to the dock on the other side, and had to *reverse the boat back out into the lake and bring it into the dock again*, only to hit it fairly hard, with a resounding THUD). Oh, and it was a GREAT spot for some pictures of the coasters :)

Dinner was at the Lakeside Cafe, where we were served *HUGE* portions of decent food (let's just say the ducks near there are getting rather large) by an employee who was actually busting her butt trying to get everyone served quickly.


A quick rundown of the coasters, comments as deemed necessary, then I'll get into the FastPass commentary:


Batman Knight Flight (3 laps total; 1 in front, 1 in back) -- Lori hadn't ridden in the back before. It's certainly MY favorite row, I think she knows why now :)

Big Dipper (2 laps)

Double Loop (1 lap)

Mind Eraser (1 lap) -- Lori hadn't ridden this particular boomerang yet. Ding.

Raging Wolf Bobs (1 lap) -- She hadn't been on this yet either. She commented while riding to the effect of "Dinn built this, huh?" :)

Serial Thriller (1 lap)

Superman: Ultimate Escape (4 laps; 1 back)

Villain (4 laps; 1 back)

X-Flight (1 lap; back) -- This ride opened sometime between 12:30 and 1:00, and at some point switched to two train operation! I repeat, two train operation! Very nice to see. The switching track is pretty cool. Yes, they were using both sides, which meant no real stacking, ever.

Kudos to the crew, which was actually trying pretty hard. We even saw both trains out of the station at the same time on some cycles -- 1 on the lift, 1 on the return leg of the course. Small victories perhaps, but still pretty impressive.

It'll be interesting to see if they ever bother with 3-train operation on this -- I can't see that it'd gain them much capacity, and it introduces some new headaches as each train would return in the opposite station side as it departed.

In my SFA report, I commented that even though they're clones, I seemed to like Batwing better. I'll echo that thought here. X-Flight is cool, but I like the location of Batwing better, and found it to be a more enjoyable ride overall.


Now on to FastPass. The word that comes to mind is inconsistent.

Some rides had specific rows roped off. FastPass people would come up and board in those rows, while nonprivileged riders boarded the rest of the train. Things worked quickly, smoothly, and with no problems or complaints. If this is the system SF chose to implement everywhere, I wouldn't have many complaints about it (other than the $10 surcharge, which I wouldn't pay but is within the park's right to attempt.) SFGAdv and SFA's systems seemed to work on this principle of "specific rows" when I was at those parks, and I had no problems with it there either...

Rides using this system were Villain (one middle car, just in front of the exit gates) and X-Flight (back half of one train during the two-train ops, the other train was completely "normal", another nice benefit of the split platform)


Other rides, especially S:UE, there was no such system in place. FastPass patrons were simply boarded first, then the gates were opened. At least once this resulting in an entire train filling up, which caused a round of boo's from the patrons on the platform.

The WORST, though, was Big Dipper, of all rides. FastPass people were directed to specific rows. Well and good, except those rows were NOT roped off in the loading area. We heard a girl complain "That's the 6th time in a row!" Now, you'd think she would get a clue and move, BUT those rows should have been roped off...

So overall impressions? I HOPE SFWoA is using different systems on different rides to see what works, and I HOPE they realize that roping off specific rows is the ONLY way to make this system work even remotely fairly for all involved.



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--Greg

http://www.pobox.com/~gregleg/


(*) -- I was one of 42 people let go on Wednesday by my former employer due to "economic considerations". I signed a letter with another company, that I'd been considering ANYWAY, before the day was out, but that job doesn't start until next week :) *** This post was edited by GregLeg on 7/3/2001. ***
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Monday, July 2, 2001 10:20 PM
How many people seem to be using Fast Pass? How do you buy them, meaning, are there Fast Pass stands around the park or do you buy it at the front gate or what?

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Matt Lynch
Co-Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com
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Monday, July 2, 2001 10:26 PM
At one point the X-Flight FastPass line was down out of the station and wrapped around to where we were standing for the commercial shoot. That was the one ride, and there were still other FastPass'ers all over the place. They probably sold a couple hundred passes if I had to guess. The scary thing was the number of teens walking around flashing them -- how can these kids afford them? I suspect I know, but won't get into THAT commentary here ;)


I'm honestly not sure where you were supposed to get them. I suppose I could have asked someone ;)



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--Greg

http://www.pobox.com/~gregleg/
*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 7/3/2001. ***
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Monday, July 2, 2001 11:05 PM
A couple hundred of them, eh? $10 * 200 every day of the year, more on weekends...

Also, I haven't really read up on them, but one $10 pass gets you one ride on each of the five attractions, correct?

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Matt Lynch
Co-Webmaster, Kennywood Boulevard
http://kennywood.coasterbuzz.com
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Tuesday, July 3, 2001 6:58 AM
Not quite. $10 gets you a pass with 5 punches on it, that you're free to use on the coasters. So you COULD theoretically use it to get on X-Flight 5 times, forinstance.


What surprised me were the people (not many, but a few) using it on Mind Eraser and Serial Thriller. Heh.

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--Greg

http://www.pobox.com/~gregleg/
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Tuesday, July 3, 2001 11:45 AM
The park sells about 750 everyday. But for some reason they decided to sell 1000 yesterday. Making it a bigger headache. But hey Fastpass works for some, I saw these 2 girls get about 5 laps each on X-Flight in about 30mins. By the way who was it that rode X-Flight yesterday in the back row of green wearing a Coasterbuzz Tee? The guy she was w/ was wearing a Kennywood Tee I think. They used the fastpass line if that helps. Oh and it was a women too.
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Don't mess with the X in 01
X-Flight team member 2001! *** This post was edited by XFlight on 7/3/2001. ***
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Tuesday, July 3, 2001 12:16 PM
That woman in the coasterbuzz shirt (yes Jeff, your shirt is getting around) would have been me and the guy in the Kennywood shirt was Greg.

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Christ how do you kids do it
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