A Random Spring Break Trip To New Jersey - Great Adventure - Pinball Museum - Am I Right In My Argument - Other Random Stuff - April 3, 2018

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 1:19 AM

Greetings Buzzers!

It's been a while since I posted a trip report and today was...let's say a bit unusual...here goes...

The weather was not going to be good. Periods of rain in the morning, drizzle on and off, temps low 40s, not a great way to do this. Unfortunately, due to my limited time, I figured I would head out, see what's happening and plan to react to whatever was going to happen - knowing that it could be a sad day or perhaps the clouds could pass over and provide a few hours of springtime. (More on that later)

I left western Long Island with one goal...try to beat some morning traffic and head to a New Jersey location of the gym I go to. As I was heading to the Verazano Bridge, a car a few lengths in front of me pulled over to the shoulder. A lady opened her door and proceeded to empty her guts on the side of the road. I hope she is ok, but at least she cleared leather. I hope that wasn't going to be an omen of things to come. Once on the bridge, my journey into Jersey was fine.

My GPS found the gym without any problems and the place was new, clean, and my cell phone ID card beeped me in and I was off to take on some machines. By the time I left, it was still raining at a decent clip. I decided to head over to 6 Flags, avoid what I thought would be a horrific line to process a pass on a sunny day and hit a few rides. My ride to the park was effortless and thanks to my GPS and a few tunes from Willie's Roadhouse I was parking in my usual spot in line with Superman's "S"...6 inches away from a premium parking spot. The lot was dead at 12:30. A few buses from Munsey and a 30th full. No crowds today. Good choice to process the pass.

By the way, spring break has turned into a very good deal for Six Flags with not one but several days of Orthodox Jewish Folks dominating the park by 95 percent. They had their own ticket window and were allowed to bring in their own food that was Kosher for Passover. Here is the link to what I think is the organization that runs this:

https://newjersey.ncsy.org/files/Six-Flags-2018-01.jpg

I am certain that the folks who ran this were not counting on 5 inches of snow on Monday and a lousy day on Tuesday. Had the weather been nicer, the park would have been filled. I am including this to be informational, I have no argument with ANY group buying a ton of tickets...as long as they let the general public in too.

By the way several rides were closed: Ka, Toro, Tango, Bizzaro, Water Rides,

Here is the argument. I purchased a pass with food and parking. I then realized that I already paid for parking when I entered the park. The lady at the ticket window said that there was nothing she could do. On to Guest Services...

Clerk: Yes sir, may I help you?

Me: Hello, I want to purchase a pass, the food deal and the parking permit.

Clerk: Ok Sir, you can do that at any ticket window.

Me: I know, but I already purchased a parking pass for the day in order to come in. Can I get a credit on that?

Clerk: Oh no sir, company policy says that you were not a pass holder when you entered so you can not be refunded the parking charge.

Me: But I couldn't be here without parking.

Clerk: I'm sorry sir, but the policy is that there are no refunds of parking.

Me: May I speak to a manager or supervisor.

(Haley appears 2 minutes later...she is most likely a college student and her badge said she is a some sort of manager)

Haley: Yes sir, can I help you?

Me: Hi, I would like to buy a season pass, a meal plan and the parking permit, but I already paid for parking today.

Haley: Right...so what is the problem

Me: Well since I already paid for parking today, can I get some sort of credit for that.

Haley: Oh no!

Me: Why not?

Haley: When you entered the park, you were not a pass holder so you are not entitled to free parking.

Me: But how can I be here if I don't drive here.

Haley: I'm sorry sir, but that's the company policy.

Me: Every year the parking is deducted from the season's pass purchase.

Haley: They are not doing that anymore. It's a company policy.

Me: Look. Think of this from a business point of view. I am here today to drop a lot of cash in your register. I have traveled about two hours in the rain to be here. Is that how corporate would want you to treat it's clients. In a sense you are charging me twice for the same thing.

Haley: It's the company policy.

Me: Is there anyone else I can talk to?

Haley: No.

Me: Is there ANYTHING you can do for me?

Haley: No.

Me: So that's it? You have no authority to help a customer? How do you think it would look if I put this story on Yelp, or Google and your bosses saw it. That's not going to look good for Great Adventure.

Haley: I'm sorry it's a company policy.

Me: Well I have a policy too. My policy is not to pay for things twice.

Haley: I can give you a form to fill out so the executives can review your complaint.

Me: Oh really...are they even going to see it?

Haley: Oh yes...they will read it.

Me: Does the form enter the shredder over the garbage can?

Haley: No sir, they will read it.

Me: (Fills out form including name, phone, address and complaint.) I'm very angry about this. It really is a lousy way to treat your guests. (Starting to walk away..)

Clerk: Can I have my pen back?

Me: (Thinking to myself: I wish that woman on the Belt Parkway could drop a present inside their window!)

This experience left a bad taste in my mouth all day. (Excuse the pun) They are probably putting complaints like this on a bulletin board and laughing at them during staff meetings. Then I remembered...this is Six Flags. It's what they do...it's who they are.

I went on a few rides... Nitro was running 2 trains and there was a 2 cycle wait for a front seat. Very smooth ride mechanically...but very painful due to the weather. I forgot that there was a hood on my jacket and the wind from the ride was causing my flaps to slap me repeatedly in the ear. (I can't blame that on Haley, but I'd like to). The sky ride was open and I took some cell phone photos with it. I sat down to get warm from the rain and wind and a little bird hopped on my table. It was kind of a cool moment.

After not being able to warm up for any length of time, I headed out, drove to Asbury Park, played pinball for a few hours and headed home.

While there wasn't a long line at all to process the pass, I was still angry at what I thought was a poor company policy.

What do you think?

Thank you for reading this.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018 3:31 AM

I think it's bad to not reimburse parking. There's no way to avoid it unless you buy a pass online and then you have to pay the online processing fee that is close to $10, better than paying more to park but still an extra cost.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018 9:46 PM

I had a similar experience this past fall at Great Adventure. I purchased a season dining pass(my pass is through SFNE.) I was told it was active. I get in line, and wait 30 minutes to get a cheeseburger and fries. Get to the register, and my season pass deal didn't work. They took my food. I googled SFNE phone #, and call there. I explained just what happened and was told, "Sir I see your dining plan is active on your account. You should have a problem." Go back and wait in line again. Get to the cashier, and once again my pass didn't scan. I ended up going to a restaurant(that doesn't accept the dining plan with a much shorter line,) over the new Justice League dark ride is, and paid for a sub for lunch because I was hungry.

I then called SFNE again. They say, "I'm not sure why it's working. Take your pass to guest services, and they can scan it there, and will give you vouchers for meals." I go to guest services, and I was the only one in line. I get to the window, and explain what happened to the CSR working the window. She just looked at me like I'm crazy, and made no apologies. She then disappeared for what seemed like 15-20 minutes, and finally came back with meal vouchers. By the time I got them I couldn't use the one because it was already past lunch time.

I went to the first place, and I swear the line for food was longer than some of the coasters at that point. I said to my wife, "Let's get out of here," and we ate at the Mexican Joint down the street on our way out. We went to SF America I think two weeks after, and I had no problems at all using my dining plan. It was strange.

We are getting ready to switch our passes back over to SF America, and I can only imagine what kind of headache that will create. I like some of the options with the new memberships, but don't know if I want to give them that kind of money when they piss me off everytime I step foot in their parks. Six Flags are the only park chain I go to and know that the only way I am going to have a good time is to have at least a gold flash pass. It's a racket, and they got it down to a science. They are smart to not discriminate against poor people like Disney does. :)

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018 10:09 PM

Double charging parking on new season passes as a new revenue stream. I wonder if that will be discussed as an individual line item on their next shareholders call.

To stay on topic, its a bum deal. I think your right in being angry about it.

Last edited by ldiesman, Wednesday, April 4, 2018 10:09 PM
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Thursday, April 5, 2018 1:53 PM

I'm not familiar with the membership program but have been a season pass holder for years. Whereas the season pass gets me into any Six Flags park - and allows me to park at no additional charge - my dining pass can be used only at Great Adventure. I was told this at both SFNE and SFOT. It is what it is; I accept it - just as I accept the fact that different Six Flags parks use different photo companies so that a pass purchased at SFGADV cannot be used at, for instance, SFFT. (A nice team member at SFFT cut me a break and gave me the photo pass used at that park so I lucked out but this isn't going to happen at every park.)

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Thursday, April 5, 2018 3:08 PM

If it's company policy, then there's not much to be done, but it's an absurd policy. I would be flabbergasted if that ever happened to me, not necessarily because of the money but just because it makes no sense at all.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018 4:11 PM

Looks like Six Flags has found a way to recoup the $35M for the gang beating that happened off SFoG property...

But seriously that’s BS. So is getting double charged for parking.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018 5:23 PM

^^^ Bobbie1951 you have the basic dining plan for one park. I bought the premium dining plan that's good at all Six Flags.

https://www.sixflags.com/newengland/store/season-dining-passes

They wouldn't even give me my all season souvenir cup. Was told you have to get it at the park the pass is bought at. Which I get their policy on that even though I think it's stupid like the not refunding parking.

I went to guest relations at SF America before we went in the park the next week to make sure that my dining pass was going to work there. They explained it to me. This weekend we are going to go there buy our season passes and dining plans from SFA, and once I buy them there they'll refund the cost paid for the passes at SFNE. It's quite a racket they have going on.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018 8:47 PM

The more I read about Six Flags in general, (The above exchange, the gangs, etc) the less likely it becomes that I ever want to visit another of their parks.

That being said, I just bought a Season pass a few weeks ago when a friend and I visited SFMM. (He already had a pass, so parking wasn't an issue.)

I remember years ago, whatever year I-305 opened, having this problem at Kings D. I eventually got someone to see it my way and got a refund on the mornings parking, however it took a lot of convincing.

We were also going to visit SFGrAdv, and other (non-coaster) parks in NJ this week for Spring Break, but decided not to because of the weather. The difference of course is that it was an 8 hour drive for us, and we decided that given the weather, it wasn't going to be worth it.

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Friday, April 6, 2018 4:46 PM

Six Flags is really good at locking you in once you accept the monthly payment plan. You have a 2 month window (before the pass renews,) to cancel and they make it really hard. They want you to do it on the season pass website and if you try to call it's hard to get someone live.

That's the other reason I am changing my passes over to SFA, so we can go back to paying for the passes at the time we buy them in case we don't want to renew.

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Friday, April 6, 2018 7:07 PM

Ah yes, Six Flags Great Adventure. In a bit I shall edit this post and re-tell the tale of our real-world Wally World Adventure.

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Friday, April 6, 2018 10:47 PM

I kinda feel like I got "confused" into signing up for the monthly plan at SFMM over the standard Season Pass. The website on the computers in the office where you make your purchase was kind of muddy on what you get with the Season Pass. I didn't see Parking, for one.

I ended up going with the monthly plan under the logic that I'm forced to be a member for 12 months, so it expires in March of 2019. Therefore, if I choose, I can keep paying through the fall of 2019 and then cancel. I will have had 2 "Coaster Seasons" for less than the cost of 2 years worth of Season Passes. (I live in OH, not CA, where I'd want a SFMM pass off season.)

Still not entirely sure how much I'm even going to use the thing, but it seemed like a waste of money to buy a full price 1-day admission at the gate.

Last edited by Tommytheduck, Friday, April 6, 2018 10:48 PM
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Saturday, April 7, 2018 8:11 PM

Apparently by “edit this post” I really meant wait a day and then write it out. Consider this a trip report 12 years in the making.

The year was 2006. George Clooney was the sexiest man alive, and Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana. As for my wife and I, we were nearing our 2 year anniversary and were shiny happy new Cedar Fair Platinum Passers, ready to break out of Ohio and conquer the chain. For our celebration of unity, we planned a trip across Pennsylvania to visit Dorney Park, hitting the winery trails nearby, and on one of the days we wanted to trek into Jersey and explore Six Flags Great Adventure. Neither of us had ever been to a Six Flags park before, and with El Toro opening and Kingda Ka having recently dethroned Top Thrill Dragster it seemed like a good plan. Our home-base would be a quaint little hotel in Allentown. Before continuing, let’s just take a moment to enjoy Allentown together.

Feeling better? Then let’s continue. Truth be told, Great Adventure was sort of like a Wally World in my own head. All my guests loved Nitro in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2, and I was hooked. While I was moderately excited to visit Dorney, Great Adventure was really the highlight for both of us. Could. Not. Wait. It was a Wednesday that we had targeted for our big day. We only had a 2 days left on our trip, and we had been patient to, in the words of Vanessa Williams, “save the best for last”. After a few days visiting Dorney and drinking Pennsylvania wine, it was time.

I remember seeing the signs for the park as we drew closer on our drive. We felt like little kids again. We held hands and I know for one shining moment we both had the same vision in our heads. We had made it. In the near future, this would be us…

And then we saw it. As we pulled closer to the entrance to the parking lot, there in big bold letters was the writing on the sign to greet us. “The park will be closing at noon today for El Toro’s media day”.

WTF. Seriously, W. T. F. What kind of ass-hattery park management shuts down a park after a few hours of operation for a media day? After successfully avoiding a cardiac event, we pulled up to the booth and asked the person what was going on and if we would have to pay full price for parking since we would apparently be leaving after a few hours. To be brief, the answer was 1) yes you will have to pay full price (which was around $25 if I remember…holy s$#t), and 2) yes you will have to leave.

Now, I had checked and double-checked the park website before we left. There was no mention of this (more on that in a moment). We continued to speak to the attendant and then a “managerial-type-looking-person”, asking if there was anything the park could do, seeing as how we were from Ohio, parked in Allentown (replay the Billy Joel clip if you need to calm down after reading this), and most likely not going to be in the neighborhood anytime soon. I’m being gracious in estimating that we probably spoke to these folks for a good 15 minutes (we had, by then, pulled over, as we were wary about plunking down $25 to enjoy a couple hours in the park). Sadly, we chose to turn around and head back to our hotel, choosing to return on our final day of vacation. We ended up going back to Dorney and enjoying some wine. This is when we triple-checked the park website. Nope…nothing about a “media day” on the site, just business as usual with park hours clearly posted. Screenshot taken. Screenshot printed off. Just in case….

The sun came up, and so did we, and with a renewed enthusiasm we retraced our steps and headed back to the park. No media days. 25 frickin’ dollars for parking, but at least I got to park by Superman. Heck, suddenly all the angst and frustration melted as we walked to the gates. The park was run by idiots, but we are bigger people than that. We move on. We make the best of every day. We….wait….what did those people walking next to us have in their hand? A conversation on the way to the park entrance ensues…

Apparently, we were not the only ones a bit remiss to find El Toro’s media day unannounced, as the couple we spoke to said that upon entering the park yesterday, Six Flags was giving away free tickets to visit any other day in the year, plus reimbursing parking for those that chose to come in. What? This is great, right? Because, after I tell a customer service person that we in fact did drive (and spoke to their folks at length) to the park, they will reimburse us, right? After all, if someone simply would have told us that if we would have paid the 25 bucks in parking for 2 hours of fun that we would have received free return tickets, we certainly would have come inside, right? What a great park. Sure, they drop the ball and don’t tell anyone about their stupid media-day-closing-the-park thing, but at least we will get a comped day for our trouble, right?

Long story short, even after proving our visit to the park (my wife had taken pics of the sign on the gate on our camera), the park refused to do anything to help us out. We, along with countless other folks, waited in line and spoke to customer service until we were blue in the face, and the park refused to do anything for those of us (we were not alone, trust me) who saw the surprise and decided to simply return the next day. We were, essentially, told that the moose (or ass) out front should have told us what the dilly was, but even though their not telling us was the park’s fault, the park would not do anything to help us out.

But hey, El Toro was amazing.

Last edited by OhioStater, Sunday, April 8, 2018 1:09 AM
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Saturday, April 7, 2018 11:42 PM

^BEST. TR. EVER...

*Slow clap for OhioStater*

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 12:41 AM

OhioStater - - - > As I was reading your post, I sort of anticipated where it was going and I noticed that my fist was clenching tighter and tighter as you went along. At the end I slammed it on my desk. Sadly, I could in my mind hear the people who are really in charge laughing at the dolts who are complaining about the customer service. How dare we!

Thank you for posting this and actually to most of those who posted for your support.

I received an auto-generated survey from the park to comment about my last visit. I told my story again, but I doubt I will hear anything.

Yes, there are some great rides at Great Adventure...and quite an impressive coaster lineup. It's just getting harder and harder to enjoy, appreciate or support them financially. There are clearly better ways to do this.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 10:23 AM

I haven’t been to a Six Flags Park since they sold off Darien Lake, and TRs like these are a big reason why I’ve never paid to get into a Six Flags Park (DL Pass got us into SFMM & SFWoA). I want to have a worry free day when I get away to a park, not have to keep my head on a swivel so I’m not getting hosed from every direction.

I understand Cedar Fair, Universal, Sea World, and Disney are in business to separate me from my money but I feel they at least aren’t trying to pull one over on me to do so.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 11:45 AM

I haven't been to a Six Flags other than oT and DK in a while, but I've heard a couple of pretty terrible reports from other parks. Meanwhile, all my experiences at those two parks have been good to great.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 1:47 PM

My favorite Six Flags parks so far have been the original three- Texas, Georgia, and St Louis, even after having tried the holy grail parks of NJ and Valencia. They just seem a little nicer, a little prettier, and maybe over all the rides don’t stack up, but I still had a better time.
And I got out of Georgia alive.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 4:37 PM

Six Flags is a cheap experience and this is reflected in their level of customer service. I'd rather pay more and get good customer service (and park operations) with it, but this just isn't their business model right now.

How was the security theater line for your visit, Richie? Is it safe to assume it's less of a disaster on a lightly-crowded day? It took me roughly 45 minutes to get through security on March 31, a day on which the park was decently busy but not to the level of crowds seen during peak summer or Fright Fest. The TSA-style bag x-ray scanners are new this year, but even the "guests without bags" lines were absolutely crawling. They were being very thorough in checking for prohibited items, such as inspecting glasses to make sure they weren't prohibited Google Glasses.

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Sunday, April 8, 2018 9:26 PM

Mr Six - - -> Security was not an issue at all. I didn't have a bag with me and the constant rain kept all of the lines out front VERY short. I was scanned and sent though in almost zero time.

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