A Very Short Visit to Six Flags Great America, 7/18/2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015 4:42 PM

ACE members got a free Six Flags ticket coupon that would expire on 19th July; Metra Rail offers an unlimited ride weekend pass for $8; I had the weekend off.

I decided to head to SFGA. Not without trepidation. Saturday 18th July was going to be one of the hottest and most humid days of Chicago's summer so far; this was going to be a solo trip and my ASD doesn't always play well with large crowds of people. But… free ticket. Free is hard to resist.

I took the Metra train to Waukegan and rode my bike over to the park, arriving around 10.30 am. FYI, the park has a bike rack steps away from the entrance.

Once in the park, I went over to Goliath. There was a sign indicating a single rider line (which shared The Flash Pass line; single riders got a lanyard to turn in once in the station).

I asked the attendant, Joe, about the single rider line and he told me to use the regular line as it wasn’t “that long”, “maybe 30 minutes.” Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t. Why wait for 30 minutes when there’s a single rider line? Half an hour in the heat and humidity surrounded by strangers seemed like an iffy proposition.

So I moved on to X-Flight, which was a walk-on.

I was underwhelmed. Similar to Cinderella’s Prince in Into The Woods, it’s a very nice ride … and it’s tall

One of the ways I rate a coaster is by how much it makes me laugh. X-Flight made me chuckle a few times; by comparison Raging Bull, after all these years, had me laughing like crazy. It just seemed to be lumbering between elements. Even though it was a walk-on, I could muster no enthusiasm to ride it again.

I feel so sorry for the ride ops, having to listen to that inane, overdone recording over and over again.

From there I went to Little Dipper. Kudos to SFGA for preserving this piece of Chicagoland history, and as always, this Schmeck coaster delivers.

Moving along, I went round to Southwest Territory via Orleans Place and Hometown Square. I always try to get as much Great American wood as I can, so Viper was the next stop. Hurricane Harbor was about to open, and the line of guests waiting to get wet was almost to HH’s entrance next to Viper’s entrance.

Who doesn’t like a good Cyclone clone, and Viper is pretty darn good. I sat in the last row and laughed through pretty much the whole ride.

Raging Bull is one of my very favorite coasters. The line was surprisingly slow, but the Bull is worth the wait. Second row here, outside seat. Blue sky, clear day, great ride.

Demon was next. I vaguely remember riding Turn of the Century, the Arrow Corkscrew that opened in 1976 with the park and was incorporated into Demon.

It’s an oldie and a goodie. I’ve always liked those “arch” supports Arrow used for its corkscrew elements (and early loops). Demon, with its cement slab station, is a good ride each and every time. Though I miss the waterfall of blood. I’ve read the ride’s original storyline was that the park missed payments on Turn of the Century and a demon repossessed it.

Storms were predicted in the afternoon, and by this point it was closing in on 1pm; to make the 2.10 train back to the city I’d need to be leaving in half an hour or so.

Passing through County Fair I thought a cold beer would be nice. Apparently there are plenty of people willing to pay $9.99 for a glass of MGD. I’m not one of them. Do you know how many six-packs of Walgreen’s private label beer you can get for ten bucks? :-)

I went back to Goliath to see if Joe was willing to let single riders use the single rider line yet.

“Single rider line?” I asked Joe. “Don’t have any lanyards. Wait a few minutes maybe I’ll go get some.” Maybe? Maybe I’ll just come back next year; Goliath will still be there.

I made my way to the front of the park and exited. There were a lot of people waiting to get into the park....

A brief visit, but an enjoyable one.

Got off the train in Chicago just as it started to sprinkle, and closed the door behind me going into the house just as it started to rain torrentially.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015 11:57 PM

Regarding X-Flight - Is that all? Did you dance? Was it charming? They say that it's charming.

Regarding Joe - Did you abuse him or show him disdain?

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Monday, July 20, 2015 10:05 AM

It has charm for a wing coaster, I guess. I don't meet a wide range.

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Monday, July 20, 2015 6:47 PM

The whole queue setup for Goliath is pretty strange. For one, the queue wasn’t long enough (I guess Iron Wolf wasn't very popular), requiring them to create a temporary overflow queue in front of the train station. The single rider line creates a mess because it shares the station steps with the FlashPass line. I believe the lanyards are intended to reduce crowding in the FlashPass line by regulating the number of single riders. When I was there last year, it was necessary to first wait in the overflow queue before single riders could ask for a lanyard to enter the FlashPass/single rider line.

Last edited by Mr. Six, Monday, July 20, 2015 7:02 PM
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Monday, July 20, 2015 7:29 PM

GDdashROM said:

Regarding Joe - Did you abuse him or show him disdain?

It was agony, beyond power of speech. The one thing I wanted [a single rider lanyard] was the only thing out of my reach.

Before I checked in with Joe the second time, he disappeared as I walked up. Came back a while later with three lanyards. While I was checking the time on my phone, a mother and her two kids hit the single rider line and got the three lanyards, so apparently they only have three single rider lanyards.

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Monday, July 20, 2015 8:30 PM

The single rider line can be a real mess at times and yes they do have more than three lanyards. Often pairs or groups will use the single rider line and then disregard instructions or try to outsmart the ride grouper so they ultimately end up riding together. The object of course is not to pair singles that appear to be together.

The other problem is that there is often confusion about whether Flash Pass riders can jump ahead of single riders in the line. Some "groupers" say yes others have said it's one line no matter whether you're FP or single rider.

As I'm often a single rider I appreciate the line but it seems like a new "adventure" every time I use it.

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Monday, July 20, 2015 10:11 PM

There should be no question. If they're going to put those two groups in the same line, then it should be one line. Little clusters like that are enough to piss me off.

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Monday, July 20, 2015 11:16 PM

Just curious, what's the point of the lanyards for single riders? They want to identify them as separate from the Flash Pass people? That seems weirdly complicated rather than just feeding the line into empty seats.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015 2:26 PM

I think one thing that would help, is to do what they often did at the batman ride at Great America. (before flash pass) Give people that are entering the single rider lane tickets. And, have the people who have tickets in the right order, ride together. that way a single rider who has not paid for flash pass will have to wait until the next single rider with a ticket, so that people who paid for the pass wont get held back by the cheaters.

When they did tickets at the batman ride, people who did not have the right order ticket were either booted from the line, or removed, and made to wait until the Queue op at the ticket entry point allowed them back in. We saw several people get booted, and at least 20 held back for attempting to cut the line. There was a group of kids who got their tickets, and then left the line, thinking they could get back in where they got their ticket. The Queue op made them get new ones. HA!!!

Also, this ticket point was located away from the station, so that once riders turned in their ticket, they still had 15 to 20 minutes of waiting, before they reached the station. So, the single riders could be just fed into the main line.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015 10:13 PM

That sounds like a chore.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 12:12 AM

Basically, he described what Great America is doing at Goliath. Riders in the standby line have to take a ticket at the entrance and present their ticket in the station. If their ticket is out of order, they don't get to ride. Meanwhile (as long as Joe is willing to do his his job and fetch them) single riders get lanyards to turn in once in the station.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 7:25 AM

They don't have a clue how to run a single rider line at that park. Your better off waiting in the regular que which will be faster.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:18 AM

The single rider line for Goliath is hit or miss. They have about ten lanyards and if it is busy you often have to wait in a separate line up front just to get a lanyard. Then, when you get up to the station you have to wait in another line with all of the other single riders to get assigned to a row. If you have used single rider lines at other parks, say Disney, you will probably be very disappointed as they often will try NOT to use people from the single rider queue to fill the trains. Instead they will make every effort to group the extras from odd-numbered groups instead before grabbing someone from the single rider queue. This means that once every four trains or so they will pick someone from the single rider queue.

That said, there are times when it has gone quite well for me. I have walked on when there was a forty-five minute wait for the ride several times. I got the lanyard right away, walked up to the station and the grouper immediately took my lanyard and stuck me in a row. Other times, when there was about an hour wait for the ride I also waited an hour to ride in the single rider line. As in anything, YRMV.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:24 AM

On a separate topic, I find your views regarding X-Flight and Raging Bull interesting. Everything you said about X-Flight is how I feel about Raging Bull. I love X-Flight. It's a very interesting ride that has some interesting elements. I don't feel like it lumbers between elements as you say and that it is action from start to finish. Raging Bull, on the other hand, feels like it lumbers through most of the ride. Maybe I am jaded after having ridden it so many times. Maybe I am jaded after riding Nitro and feeling that it was twice the hyper coaster that Raging Bull was. I would probably jaded if I had ridden some of the newer B&M hypers out there. I have nicknamed Raging Bull, Lazy-Boy: The Ride because it is like riding on a Barco-lounger (comfortable seats) with a smooth ride that puts you to sleep).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:14 AM

slithernoggin said: While I was checking the time on my phone, a mother and her two kids hit the single rider line and got the three lanyards....

As noted, they likely tried to outwit the attendant so they could ride together.

Love single-rider lines, HATE the ways in which they are so frequently (ab)used....I see it ALL the time at USF...

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, July 22, 2015 10:14 AM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 11:07 AM

I'm confused as to why single rider lines have to be complicated. In my mind, the whole point should be to send out full trains, not to present it as a "perk" (which thus leads to complex policies to avoid "abuse").

If there are single seats open, fill them with single riders. If two friends happen to get on the same train but in different rows, what's the harm? If they're willing to sit apart from each other, fine. It's no different than two strangers filling those seats.

And if 500 people in the general queue all happen to be in pairs, then the single riders will just have to wait for those 500 people to go first; that's the risk you take, and that's the trade-off for potentially having a shorter wait.

As for the specific setup at Goliath, it seems the lanyards should be unnecessary: Anyone who has a Flash Pass will either have a Q-bot or be with someone who does. Anyone else is a single rider. Again, just fill the stupid trains.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 4:16 PM

I was surprised to even see a single rider line at SFGA, since it's not something I've seen on my (admittedly infrequent) visits to Six Flags parks.

Both times I was checking out the single rider line, there was no one waiting.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 7:24 PM

The most bizarre single rider line ever has to be on Impulse at Knoebel's. There's a sign instructing you to inform the attendant if you are a single rider. I inform the ticket-taker at the entrance, who tells me that the single rider line is on the other side of the railing, and that the way to enter it is to duck under the railing. I do as she tells me and make my way to the station steps. I'm expecting to have a little bit of a wait, as there are about 15 people in front of me. The car arrives in the loading area, and they fill the entire back row with singer riders. At this point, I’m thinking, okay, maybe they are doing this once just to get the single rider line down to a normal length. Nope! They proceed to load 4 single riders in every car, even though the regular line had an hour wait!

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