CoasterCon Sidetrip 1 -- Six Flags America, 6/19

Associated parks:

Tuesday, June 26, 2001 9:05 AM
Or, "the day we should've skipped the sidetrip and stayed at Hershey"

A group of us knew that after 3 days at Hershey, we'd be ready for something more exciting. We planned several sidetrips during the con -- Six Flags America on Tuesday after the morning Hershey ERT, getting back to Hershey in time for the evening ERT, and then Six Flags Great Adventure on Friday after the morning ERT at Dorney.

So Tuesday morning after the ERT, we headed out for SFA. The drive down was fairly quick (~2 hours) and uneventful.

We arrived at the park around 11:30am, and noticed that it seemed fairly uncrowded. Encouraged, we went in with our season passes (2 from SFWoA, 1 from SFGAdv, and 1 from SFKK :) ), picked up FastLane tickets for S:ROS at 12:50pm and Two Face at 5:15pm. Then we headed back to S:ROS for our first ride of the day.

We were off to a good start. Then the trip went to hell.

Based on last year's experiences at SFA, I knew to bring a glasses strap, as they do NOT allow glasses on S:ROS or Two Face without them. I wasn't sure if we'd get on Batwing (which was closed when we got there), but I knew from X-Flight at SFWoA to not bring a fanny pack, and I figured the glasses strap would be required there as well.

What we DIDN'T expect was to be told "no fanny packs" on S:ROS!

Superman: Ride of Steel (1 lap) -- This is where the problems began. 15 minute wait for Superman, and we were ON the ride, buckled in, before a ride op thought to tell Adam that he couldn't wear his fanny pack and he'd have to remove it. No ops warning people ahead of time, no signs, and no lockers anywhere near the ride. And this is a policy switch from last time we'd been there, when fanny packs were no problem.

Yet the ops weren't warning people about loose items in pockets. This is plain STUPID. A fanny pack doesn't interfere with the restraints ("for your safety..."), nor is it going to fly out and hit others mid-ride ("for the safety of others..."), yet they're not allowed. They told Adam he'd HAVE to leave it at the station. Now, he has a small DV video camera in there. He was NOT about to leave it during 2 train operation. The pack was small enough that the ops could have stapled him if they wanted to, yet they wouldn't let him ride with it.

So he chose to get off, and go to Guest Relations. He commented to them that the policy wasn't posted anywhere, and isn't printed in the map/guide you get. They told him "That's policy, but we can't print every policy we have in the guide or it'd be a book..." No acknowledgement that the policy was new and not posted ANYWHERE, nor an acknowledgement that being told BEFORE we were on the ride would have been good. The fanny pack Adam was wearing was even a Six Flags pack, ironically enough.

And to add insult to injury, as the train Adam would have been on was dispatched, we spotted a rider wearing sunglasses without a strap. At least be consistent...

This set the tone for the day. We were all very annoyed. I can understand a park wanting to be safe, but policies like this don't make sense. "No glasses without a strap" is bad enough, because I find that frequently straps make it MORE likely you'll lose your glasses (properly fitting glasses don't move, but the strap can HINDER "proper fit"), but "no fanny packs" on a ride like S:ROS was just totally pointless. Guess they'd rather have keys flying around than being securely stowed...

After our one lap on S:ROS (which continues to be a good ride, in spite of asinine policy), we grabbed a quick lunch while Adam went to Guest Relations. We ended up missing our 12:50 FastLane timeslot, but we didn't care. To be fair, the food area we ate at (a sitdown indoor place vaguely by Two Face is all I remember) was clean and uncrowded. An older stafflady was even wiping down tables, and warned me that the one I was going to might still be wet. If only all the employees at this park were that friendly and attentive...

Wild One (2 laps) -- After the Superman debacle, we decided to hit the woodies. Wild One was a short line, but the ops were slow as anything. Still, it's a good little woodie, and we got two laps.

Typhoon (1 lap) -- On the way to Roar we decided to hit this, as Adam (at least) hadn't ridden it and it was pretty warm out. The line was short, but again slow operations made for a wait, in this case about 45 minutes. I like this flume, and I'm surprised they haven't sprung up anywhere else.

Roar (1 lap) -- The line was short, and there wasn't much of a wait. This was my first GCI (last year), and now having ridden Lightning Racer and Wildcat, I think Roar compares pretty well.

We probably should have stuck with this for multiple rides, but while getting off we noticed that...

Batwing (1 lap) -- This ride had actually opened. We booked over to that queue. Which was already full. Since we were in a completist mood, we decided to get in line. 2 hours and 15 minutes, and 2 breakdowns later, Tim Melago and I had stuck it out through the line ("we've waited this long, we're GETTING this credit!") and got on Batwing in the 2nd to last row. Batwing seems more intense and smoother than X-Flight (which I rode 8 times during the commercial shoot), and gave a good ride, but it wasn't worth that wait (which was admittedly our choice -- I tend to something dumb like that once a year or so ;) ) Single train operation and breakdowns on that train are not a good combo... Still, add special bonus credit #2 of the Con Week to my track record ;)

After Tim and I got off Batwing, we met up with Adam and Lee, who had headed off to Superman. Only to discover that they'd only gotten 2 laps on Superman the entire time we were in the Batwing line! This with no obvious visible line for Superman! The crew was working at a snails' pace. Ugh.

By now it was time for our FastLane ride on

Two Face (1 lap) -- We got over there to find an empty line, so we ditched the FastLane tickets and hopped on. I'd forgotten to put my glasses strap back on, and the op tried to tell me to take my glasses off. I looked at him and said in a slow deliberate voice "They'" Amazingly enough, he backed down. I actually felt a bit bad in retrospect, as he was just trying to enforce a park policy (even if one I don't agree with), but we'd had enough. Two Face is a standard Invertigo -- not nearly as bad as some of Vekoma's other abominations, but not the ultimate thrill ride either.

Souviners: None. I wasn't giving this park any more of my money than was absolutely necessary.

By this point we were tired, hot, and still feeling a bit frustrated, and we wanted to be back at Hershey in time for evening ERT, so we called it a day. We stopped for dinner at a nearby Chili's, which was a much more enjoyable experience than the park itself had been, then headed back to Hershey for a Hershey Park Happy (tm) time. The contrast between Hershey and SFA was AMAZING, to say the least.

*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 6/26/2001. ***
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 9:47 AM
It is quite a shock when you go from years of getting used to Kennywood ride ops and Kennywood service, and then you go to SFA and experience their service, isn't it GregLeg.

SFA has some serious management issues that need to be taken care of. Being a ride op myself for several years, I am shocked each time I go to SFA.

I really don't know if things will change with that place.
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 10:03 AM
Good TR. Myself and some friends will be making the trek to SFA. Did you go to Dorney Park?

Dayuum, Your HOT!
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 10:06 AM
I have not heard the hip pack story before as I quite frequently ride with mine on. Maybe they didnt notice it on me, but after 20 or so rides this season I would have thought *someone* would have noticed it (thought I did ride X-Flight with it on too...)

And the strap thing is a GOOD policy. I have seen MANY sunglasses pop off on coasters (S:ROS included) where people didnt pay attention to the warnings. Sure, YOU may know that your glasses arent coming off, but I'm sure there were others who thought the same thing. And I'm not sure why you believe that straps would make glasses *more* likely to come off. That is counter-intuitive.

And shame on you for snapping on the dude on Two-Face. The guys that work that ride are really nice. You're lucky you didnt catch one of the all female crews. Not only would they have held up the line until you aqueised or gave up and got off, if you had stayed on, they would have stapled you by leaning all their weight onto the harness (I'm talking they would be on their tippy-toes to get full leverage!)

Additionally, I find it hard to believe that in 2hours with 2-train operation someone could only get in two rides. Even if they waited for the front, it shouldnt have taken that long. I've been there when the line was out to the midway (overflow queue closed) with one train op and I've gotten on in less than 40min. Something doesnt sound right about that story. SFA ops are not CP admittedly, but damn, c'mon!

Of course, this is what you get when you come all the way to my home park and dont even bother to tell me (j/k) ;)

Seriously though, too bad about the day...
J No
DJ play my mutha(bleepin) song!
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 11:07 AM
I find that many glasses straps interfere with the way the earpieces hold on, and provide something that can get caught and PULL the glasses off by. I DO have a strap that I CAN wear, and I wear it when required, but in general prefer to NOT wear it.

(And yes, I DO have a spare pair in my car at all times, just in case ;) )

As for the guy on Two Face, yes, I do feel bad about that. The ops there were actually very nice, and they were just doing their job.

*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 6/26/2001. ***
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 2:23 PM
Thanks for keeping us updated about your CoasterCon adventure and continuing to have some of the best TRs on the Buzz. Sorry you didn't have more fun. No rides on Jokers Jinx? ;)

And about SROS and glasses straps, when I went on the much wilder version at SFNE, they either had no policy about this or didn't enforce it. Same with the fanny packs(which I do understand on certain coasters).

Tuesday, June 26, 2001 3:30 PM
It's amazing that you say your day went to hell because of a fanny pack. Enthusiast aren't pushy, spoiled brats now are we? How many parks actually post no smoking in line, but people do it anyway. So what they don't post it? Are they supposed to list everything you can't take on the ride? If they don't want you to have a fanny pack than that's there perogative. They'll feel it's for your safety so the lapbar closes properly. They do frequently announce items that you can't take on the ride over the intercom. Why would you let that spoil your day?
As for Superman, the amazing thing I noticed about riders on S:ROS last Tuesday was that in the morning when it was only season pass holders who knew how to ride, the trains were dispatching very quickly. In fact at times they were releasing one train while the other was out at the other helix. The rest of the park gets into line when the park opens and dispatches went to hell. One kid didn't have shoes on, another one didn't put the seatbelt on. Multiple lapbar rechecks, you get the picture. I know some of the ride ops aren't the fastest (you try working in that heat all day long) but I think the public is as much to blame for slow dispatches, as is the fact that none of the rides have midcourse brakes. The one things that no one ever addresses is that with the cost of living in the DC area, are you ever going to get the most qualified employees? I'm not talking about everyone of course, but I'm sure most of the employees are kids with little work experience trying to earn a buck for the summer. *** This post was edited by Intamin Fan on 6/26/2001. ***
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 5:08 PM
If we'd been given ANY warning about the *inconsistent change in policy* before we were ON the ride, I wouldn't have cared. But read Jeremy's comment -- even earlier this year packs were allowed! Fanny packs are a heck of a lot safer and more secure than keys, wallets, and change in pockets, yet ops weren't asking people to empty their pockets (which would be ridiculous, but that's my point). I can see a "no pack" policy on Batwing, since it CAN interfere with those restraints, but with the design on Superman, it's perfectly possible to rotate the pack out of the way.

Remember, we were already strapped in and ready to ride before they told us Adam had to remove his pack. To wait until then to inform riders they can't have them is just stupid and lazy. If they'd announced it even once while we were waiting in line, we'd have been prepared. But they didn't, and thus our complaint.

And if you read my report, you'll see that this was NOT my only complaint about the park. It merely set the tone for the day, and it wasn't a good way to start, especially after the pleasant time we were having at Hershey.

And I didn't even MENTION the lack of running water in the bathroom near Joker's Junk...

*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 6/26/2001. ***
Tuesday, June 26, 2001 9:05 PM
I did fully read your report and I understand you're upset with their "policies". I don't know what to say other than I don't wear a fanny pack and instead wear cargo shorts or cargo pants where I can stuff things into them without them falling out of my pockets while riding. According to Jeff of this site, no one should have any loose items anyway, and you should leave your crap out in the car. As for other parks "stupid" policies, I was a little annoyed that they wouldn't let me take a disposable camera into the MF queue at CP. Did I throw a fit over it and question their policies? No. The guy told me as long as I could put into my pocket it would be ok, but not to take out in line or I'd be thrown out. Pretty stupid, eh? As for Batwing after the two break downs it ran for the rest of the night without any problems. You knew it was a brand new ride, and you knew that X-Flight was having some of the same problems. As for the bathroom comment, yes I too was annoyed at the lack of running water in the one bathroom, but things other than rides can break down. But, I could've taken time and told someone the water wasn't working and so could've you. Who knows when the problem actually happened. Maybe it was a problem with the sensors you put your hands under. I don't know. I can assure you that this isn't an everyday thing. I'm at the park once a week and the water has run every other day at this bathroom.
Wednesday, June 27, 2001 7:14 AM
Here's the funny thing about this incident. I was also at SFA that morning, but I was there early for the season pass ERT on S:ROS. My group and I rode several times with our fanny packs with no problems. My theory is that the Batwing and S:ROS crews rotate and Adam got a ride op that was confused about which ride he/she was working at the moment. I was told that I couldn't wear my pack on Batwing which makes sense but had no hassle on S:ROS. For the record, I too have worn my pack on X-Flight and I too am for the glasses strap policy. It really doesn't bother me since I'm gonna wear mine anyway.

Scott W. Short
Wednesday, June 27, 2001 7:52 AM
Perhaps an op WAS confused, but in that case Adam shouldn't have been told "That's policy" at Guest Relations...

Thursday, June 28, 2001 5:22 AM
We were off to a good start. Then the trip went to hell.

If a fanny pack rule is all that it took to ruin your day, you need to look inside yourself and ask weather you've gone off the deep end of what is supposed to be a fun hobby.

Thursday, June 28, 2001 5:58 AM
If fanny packs are such a hassle, why wear them even? There's no one that doesn't look like a total dork with a fanny pack on. At least pull your shirt over it when you get in line so the ops don't bug you, sheesh.

The main problem we had at Six Flags America last week was poor implementation of the Fast Lane program. The park has designated rows on the trains for Fast Lane riders, so they can accomodate two at a time. If the rides are running both trains and guests are dispatched at the correct intervals, then it works ok. However, last Friday we arrived at Superman: ROS with our fast passes to discover not only was only a single train running (which would cause the Fast Lane to start backing up on its own), but the ride operator was not enforcing the time's stamped on the passes. He was allowing guests who arrived earlier than their time slot to board before guests who arrived at the correct time. If you've got someone with a 5:20 time who got in line at 4:55 just before several people with a 5:00 time and you can only dispatch two at a time, you're going to cause some guests to be late. In this case there were four guests who arrived early and the ride attendant allowed them to go before a long line of guests who had arrived at the proper times. We arrived at 5:10 for our 5:15 time slot and were not allowed to board until 5:45. Defeats the whole purpose of using the passes, we probably would have gotten on faster if we'd just got in the regular line. I like how the park has a designated row so generally guests in the regular line do not feel like Fast Lane users are cutting in front of them, but if the Fast Lane is getting that backed up they need to just dispatch a whole train of them to eliminate the crowding on the exit ramp.

Since we'd flown into the DC airport for CoasterCon, we were close to SFA for many portions of our trip, and I visited the park 4 times. The first two visits we were unsuccessful getting on Batwing because it kept breaking down. Also as mentioned, they've still only got one of three trains certified to carry passengers. Last Friday we arrived around 2:00pm, just as they were getting ready to open it for the day and got on in half an hour. Saturday I returned to the park and waited an hour and a half (full queue) to ride Batwing. It really is worth an hour's wait though, especially since we don't have anything like it back home (yet!). If you haven't been on Batwing or X-Flight yet, you really need to experience this great Vekoma ride. I'm normally not very impressed with many of their coasters, but this was done right and it's good: smooth, intense, painless, and fun.
Thursday, June 28, 2001 6:56 AM
As a diabetic, I pretty much HAVE to wear a fanny pack. It's plain DANGEROUS for me to try to go all day without a glucose meter and candy. I'll occasionally stick those in pockets of cargo shorts instead, but they're generally safer in the pack.

As for "the fanny pack policy ruining our day", I probably overstated things. The fanny pack policy in itself didn't spoil the whole day. However, it DID get things off to a bad start (especially since they're so inconsistent about it), and things just didn't connect for us all day after that.

Oh, ok, in that light maybe it DID spoil the whole day ;)

Seriously, though, the issue was that the park isn't consistent in its policy, on a policy that STILL doesn't really make sense, and then lots of other stupid nits came up during the day. All those added up, and especially compared to how PLEASANT Hershey had been just a few hours earlier, made for a bad day. We still enjoyed the rides we got on, and I certainly WILL go back to SFA in the future. But the park DOES need to work on some key problems in terms of policy enforement and staff motivation.

Thursday, June 28, 2001 7:12 AM
I will have to agree with Greg on this. I can see how the fanny pack incident could ruin his day. I don't see what is so wrong with that. I mean what is all this crap about finding how much of an enthusiast you are just because of a fanny pack? I mean I don't wear a fanny pack but I could see how it could make one very mad. Especially in Greg's situation.

"Yuri needs a lot of sleep" MXPX
Thursday, June 28, 2001 9:31 AM
I will agree with Greg about some of his comments and they're things I don't even think about because I'm a frequent visitor:
a) It would be good to be consistent about policies. Especially when you're young, some people tend to enforce policies in a black & white fashion. It would've helped had somebody explained why they wouldn't let you ride with the fannypack (called a hip pack at SFA). Another thing to keep in mind is that parks are having to be very vigilent about safety because of incidents like the women getting hit in the head with a cell phone on Villian last year. Better safe than sorry.
b) More of the coasters need storage bins like on Joker's Jinx. Once Batwing is open on a consistent basis, at least while in Gotham City, you will be able to store stuff in the lockers by Batwing for 50 cents.

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