I'm looking for some helpful feedback here. I'm a 34 year old Michigander and am equal distance from both parks. I have been visiting CP for the last 3 decades. Although it has always interested me, I have never ever been to Six Flags Great America. My wife and I were thinking of taking our boys to CP this weekend, but decided to look into SFGAm. After looking at the Six Flags site, it appears we can purchase Gold level Season's Passes good for this year and next at $65.99 per person, which is 74% off the regular price. That's about the same as it's going to cost us for admission to CP just for this weekend. The deal almost sounds to good to be true. Now, needless to say, I'm really contemplating pulling the trigger on a SFGAm trip versus heading to CP. I'm just wondering from those of you who have visited both parks, if you could compare them as far as Coaster line up, Halloweekends vs Fright Fest, things for the kids, and overall park busyness. This Six Flags offer just seems too good to pass up. Thanks for any input everyone is willing to provide!
I don't know why you wouldn't go.
You've been going to the same place for thirty years and you wonder if you should give somewhere else a try?
There's no points for loyalty here, and advice will vary. Go to the website and see if there are rides that would interest you. SFGrAm is an extremely busy and popular park, open since 1976. There's got to be a reason or two.
What he said...
However, be prepared for a bit of "culture shock." And what I mean by that is that the crowd is made up of much more unsupervised teens, line jumpers and "thugs." (Yeah, I know, it's the new word we're not allowed to say.) Completely different crowd experience than you will get at CP.
If I was visiting for the first time ever on what is most likely to be a crowded time, I'd probably budget for the FastPass. This way you can do everything in the visit this year. If you decided to go back next year with your incredibly cheap season pass, just plan it on a less crowded day.
Oh, and I'm sure you already know this, but traffic around Lake Michigan and Chicago on the way to SFGrAm is *a lot* worse than traffic around Toledo. Plan accordingly.
It's not so much wether or not to give someplace else a try, I've pretty much decided that this is too sweet of a deal to pass up. I guess I've continually gone to CP for a few reasons. One reason is, and not saying it's the best reason, but it's where I've always gone, therefore I'm comfortable there. I know the park, I know the drive, the best places to eat, the best times to visit. As a child, that's where my dad chose, so that's where we went. Another reason is, now that I'm an adult with a family, I don't have as much expendable cash, therefore we are lucky to visit once per year, and for that reason, we go there because it's always worth the money.
I'm more or less just looking for comparisons from people who have visited both to get a better feel for what to expect. Sure, any visit can have its variables, every park has its fan boys, and they do have websites, I just wanted to hear some experiences and comparisons from the coaster enthusiasts community.
10-4 on the traffic! 3 of my best friends from high school have moved in and around the metro Chicago area... It's a mess for sure!
Cedar Point certainly has it over SFGAM in terms of ride selection and ambience but as was suggested, why indeed not try something different? I had a blast at SFGAM and thought that the ride selection was pretty good, especially Goliath, X-Flight and Viper. As you say, it's a sweet deal. I paid slightly more b/c each year I buy only 1 season pass (cheaper the more you buy) but last year I paid about $88 and recently bought a 2017 Six Flags season pass for $77. Considering that this gets me into any Six Flags park and includes parking - which at my home park is up to $25 - I think it's a fabulous deal! This year I visited Great Adventure about 10 times, Six Flags Over Texas once and Six Flags Fiesta Texas once so I certainly got my money's worth. From what I can see on Cedar Fair's website, it isn't even possible to buy a season pass to all Cedar Fair parks.
Immediately when I read "Great America" I thought of the unique Whizzer coaster and the great Log Flume. Whizzer is a Schwarzkopf Speedracer, the last in existence. Few were made, but it's a fun ride. Single row seating with ground-hugging curves. A coaster I could ride all day, pure fun. The log ride is also unique; a double down on the finale. I've never seen this another ride. Rare to see on any theme park ride honestly. Here's a brief clip;
I had to review SFGM's coaster lineuep on rcdb and I was quite impressed. If you never ridden a RMC, ride Goliath at Six Flags. This style is a game-changer.
Astroworld.....Gone But Not Forgotten
^^ It is possible to buy a pass for all Cedar Fair parks, the platinum pass. Just renewed mine for $180 for next year so new purchase may be slightly higher.
I am close to SFGAM and I buy a season pass every year and also go to CP twice every year once in the summer and once for the Halloween stuff. As for rides there is really no comparison. Goliath is the only exception. It truly is a great and fun coaster. The other rides are just decent in my opinion.
The park is much smaller as well. The water park is great and has many fun slides but they do not have any swim up bar which may not matter to you.
Fright fest is decent but you have to pay extra to do the houses.
If you want more info ask away. I would be glad answer and try to help you.
Thanks! I appreciate the feedback! I do have a couple more questions if your willing. Can you provide any input as far as the Flash passes? With CP Fast Lane or Fast Lane Plus, it's pretty cut and dry. If you have the pass, you can enter the Fast Lane line which bypasses the majority of the general public line. If you have the Plus version, you get to use it on the 4 newest coasters. With the Flash pass, I see they have 3 levels. I pretty much understand how the basic level and 2nd level works, you go to a ride, reserve a spot equal to the wait time and when that time passes, you may ride. The 2nd level, the gold level says it cuts this time in half, so I am assuming if it's an hour wait, my wait is 30 minutes. My question is, what about the 3rd level, the Platinum level, It says it cuts the time down 90%… is this the equivalent of a CP Fast Lane, where you enter a separate line that bypasses and eventually merges in with the general public line? Last year when I went to CP it was off season and I didn't buy FL. Even though it was off season it was on a weekend and I regretted not buying one. I know you can't predict the future and how busy the park will be, but is buying any level of Flash passes a must for Fright Fest?
Also, in reading some trip reports, I read something about having to wait to go through security. Not that this is a bad thing, but it's not something you have to deal with at CP or MIA. Just wondering if this process is something that takes a while?... I seen on the website that they have designated smoking areas so they obviously allow cigarettes, any idea if they allow Vape pens? And/or what other items are you not allowed to bring in? Backpacks, Purses, Cameras, stuff like that allowed? Thanks again for the input! I appreciate it!
I did answer one of my questions and did finally see in the parks FAQ that they allow e-cigs, so I'm guessing that means they allow Vape pens. The park policy page addressed only smoking specifically when I was looking earlier.
SFGAm is my home park, and I have been to CP and Halloweekends a few times.
The biggest difference between Fright Fest and Halloweekends is the Haunted Houses. They were included at CP, but at SFGAm you will need to pay $30 each to get in all 6 houses.
Most of the Fright Fest stuff at SFGAm doesn't begin until around 6pm.
I am not sure how old your kids are but SFGAm has a good selection of rides for kids, however during Fright Fest a majority of the kids attractions close early or are closed the whole day.
I will warn you SFGAm will likely be jam packed. Expect long waits for rides and food. If the weather is decent the park will probably be near capacity, as Fright Fest weekends are usually the most popular of the year.
It's just hard for me to get behind Great America -- and I'm the guy that buys clearance meat at the grocery store, I love a deal.
For me, Great America is smaller, usually packed, and all those people seem to be always standing where I'm going and I think Cedar Point has a better and broader selection of rides and attractions.
And traffic around Chicago can be hellish. Two hints: bookmark the ABC7 Chicago travel page for real time traffic info, and once on 94 north of Chicago, take the exit for 41 instead of the toll road. Do a Google Maps search to Great America from Chicago and choose the no tolls option.
Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
Simply comparing rides I'll just put some up for comparison in my opinion
American Eagle > Blue Streak
Batman The Ride < Raptor
Dark Knight < Iron Dragon
Demon = Corkscrew
Goliath = Maverick
Little Dipper > Wilderness Run
Raging Bull > Magnum
Sprocket Rockets = Woodstock Express
Superman Ultimate Flight = Valravn
Vertical Velocity < Wicked Twiser
Viper > Gemini
Whizzer > Cedar Creek Mine Ride
X Flight < GateKeeper
Plus Cedar Point has Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, Rougarou and Pipe Scream
Cedar Point also has much better flats, Great America has a Huss condor that's cool and an Intamin drop tower that's really short. Other than that they're lacking.
Hey, let's ride (random Intamin coaster). What? It's broken down? I totally didn't expect that.
I prefer the coasters at Great America. They are less extreme and more re-rideable. IMO Great American has the most of my favorite coasters in one place.
They also have a decent collection. Condor, Troika, Scrambler, Frisbee, Calypso, Swing Around, Pirate, Teacups, Top Spin, Wave Swinger. There site list the Schwarzkopf Monster & Enterprise as closed for the season. Have they been removed?
For thrill rides, its one of the best parks.
The park itself is typical Six Flags though. Not really that well maintained, weeds growing instead of landscaping, and the lines will be long unless you get Flash Pass.
If you're thinking about Flash Pass at Six Flags, don't forget that it's semi-transferable. If you have four people, you can buy a 2 person pass and use it twice in a row instead of springing for 4.
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
I only go to SFGAM because it is my home park. If I lived between CP and SFGAM I would visit it one time and that would be it. Cedar Point is better in almost every way in my opinion.
With regards to the flash pass it depends on the money you are willing to spend. I have never bought a flash pass as SFGAM but that is because I visit it many times and dont really care how many rides I get on. I get Fast lane plus every visit to CP. Another reason for this is the rides. I do not feel it is a value to buy the Flash Pass because the rides are not that good with the exception of Goliath.
Regarding security if you get to the park close to opening be ready to wait. You have to go through the metal detectors then wait to scan tickets and enter the park. It could take 30-45 min even longer depending on the day.
There are plenty of smoking areas around the park and you can bring in a vape pen. One major issue I have with the park is drinking alcohol. This year for some reason you are not able to walk around with a beer. They make you drink it at the place of purchase. For some reason though we were able to walk around with our drinks during Fright Fest. Not sure that is even important to you but it is to my wife and I as we like having a couple of drinks at parks while walking around.
The inside joke with my friends about Great America is the old "is the park open?" line. See, as you pull up to SF Great America, you see this incredible skyline of coasters and rides; the lot is full, but nothing in the park is moving! Did the power go out? Is the park even open? Sure, it's open. But the lack of movement is due to the sad-poor Six Flags operations.
Pulling up to Cedar Point, you have a similar yet very different situation. The skyline is full of amazing rides and coasters, the lot is (or isn't!) full... and the place has ride vehicles and coaster trains flying everywhere! I would bet Cedar Point gets about twice the throughput on similar rides at any Six Flags park.
After that, it's all opinion. Cedar Point is a better park to hang out at; you have plenty of places to sit, the food lines aren't an hour long, and you don't have as many loud, acting-out teenagers doing what they do.
I love my home park Great America, and I would even say we have some better coasters (American Eagle, Viper, Whizzer, Raging Bull, all more fun and more interesting than most coasters at Cedar Point). We also have 2 original log flumes from the 70s, good stuff!
Six Flags is more of a "every man, woman and mutant for themselves." You have to compete to not get line jumped and employees generally don't know what's going on. Cedar Point is much more user friendly.
One thing Six Flags has over Cedar Point is control of smokers. They're pretty strict on the smoke-only-in-smoke-zones at Six Flags, but people are smoking everywhere at Cedar Point. I mean, do you really think your hiding it? I guess if they don't enforce it...
I've been a CF Platinum Passholder for nine of the past ten years and also live in MI near Lansing. CP is closer to me than SFGAm (by a whole hour) but I went to Six Flags for the first time since 2008 this summer. SFGAm left me with an impression of 'meh' after my visit although the 95 degree weather could be skewing my opinion as well. I wouldn't say that I regretted my decision to go as it was nice to try a different park than what you're usually accustomed to but I'm in no rush to go back either.
The coasters generally seem to be mediocre-sized versions of similar coasters built bigger and better at CP with a few exceptions. Goliath is a can't-miss attraction and something that CP doesn't have anything similar to (as of yet). The ride itself is a little on the short side but I like to think it ends with a bang instead of fading out on it's way back to the station. It's not a very efficient loading ride as only ride attendants are allowed to lower the lapbars. They seriously popped open the restraints for the whole train if any guest pulled down the lapbar themselves; I'm assuming SF is still nervous about the incident with New Texas Giant and wants to make sure that you're snuggly held in which is prudent considering the coaster's super strong airtime.
The Whizzer is something a little different from anything at CP as well and very fun. Viper was also an underrated gem regarding how smooth it was and being full of airtime; Blue Streak at CP is similar in this regard. X-Flight is a very fun wingrider coaster but I'd hesitate to say it's better than Gatekeeper. Raging Bull is also a fun ride even if it isn't the airtime machine that Magnum or MF is.
IMO Superman:UF is a big dud as it is very plodding with its layout except for the pretzel loop. It suffers from very poor operations (like 6-7 minutes per train to load/unload). It is very popular, however, as it is at the very front of the park and many people are still suckers for the whole flying gimmick. I'm telling you, you will be disappointed by the tame ride combined with how long you waited for said experience. CP made the right call by passing on this coaster type.
If you're making a one-time visit with your family, it's worth springing for the gold level Flash Pass (FP) using the 2 person tactic described a few posts above. In my experience on a Friday in July, you will never have to wait for your next ride if you reserve it immediately after the FP device is scanned for the ride you just accessed. When factoring in waiting to load, riding, unloading, and time to walk to the next coaster, the pass will be buzzing that your reservation is ready before you even arrive. The Gold FP does allow you one-time access to Goliath which is relegated to the Platinum tier otherwise.
One final note, be prepared for the prices for concessions and merch in the park. The heavy discounts on the front gate admission are made up by buying snacks and drinks unless you pack a cooler in the car. If you're one of the first to arrive in the morning, the security checkpoint isn't that bad and isn't a big deal if re-entering the park later in the day.
I'd still say go for it if you've never been to SFGAm just to see how a different company operates an amusement park. I came out of the experience realizing how fortunate it was to have CP as your home park which was an eye-opening experience if all you've ever known is CP.
The alcohol policy has been that way since they started serving it. It is a Gurnee rule. If you walked around with it during FF, they either didn't notice it or didn't care to enforce it. They have signs near the places that serve it notifying people of the rule.
You said you had it during FF which is new to me. In the past they didn't sell it during FF.
As far as the initial post? Go to SFGAm if you have never been. It is one of better SF parks as far as variety and efficiency.
My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.
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