Free admission promo causes chaos at Six Flags Over Georgia

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The promise of free admission to Six Flags Park created a massive traffic jam during the morning rush hour Thursday on I-20 and surrounding roads. Carloads of people hoping to get into the park for free began lining up at the Six Flags parking lot before 5:00 a.m. The "Ditch Work" promotion offered free admission to the amusement park between 6 and 9 a.m. Pedestrians made the problem worse and there were reports of fights at the gate.

Read more from WSB/Atlanta.

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Woooooh... the article is scary. It says people were letting their passengers (including kids) get out of their cars ON THE INTERSTATE to walk to the park gate, at which point they were turned away and sent back to wander the interstate looking for their cars. Any first hand accounts? How many people are we talking about that were walking around on the interstate? I can imagine as soon as one person did it there were other people sitting in their cars saying 'well, THEY'RE doing it so we can too..."
All this for three stinkin free hours.
I think must of us could have seen this was coming. I know American Adventures exists north of the ATL, but has the city grown to the size where it could support another player of equal scope as SF in the area?
It wasn't just three hours for free. It was the entire day for free. Plus, you could get a Six Flags season pass for something like $30. So, the draw was HUGE! They were showing it all morning on the news (we get 11 Alive NBC via satellite) and it was not a pretty site. I can't believe parents were letting their kids out on the highway and just leaving. Talk about bad parenting.
HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

This never happens to me on RCT2 when I run my "Free Entry to Park" campaign. And I'll set it up for 4 weeks in a row!

This just goes to show that Six Flags just can't do anything right, while I, armed with my PC and RCT2 can build a successful park.

Oh yeah and a ;)

~Rob Willi

This was somebody's well intended "good idea" gone wrong. I can only imagine the backlash of parents actually dropping children off on the parkway or fighting the traffic in the car as a family, only to be turned away at the gate.

All in all - a public relations nightmare.

I said this before in another thread, but it bears repeating...and we haven't even gotten inside the park yet.

^ - remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I can smell the lawsuits from here, even though I doubt there would be grounds for one. And those parents are just freakin' ridiculous, letting the kids out and leaving. I bet they'll be the ones suing. "You left my kids out on the street." Uh-uh, moron, YOU did. And the peds were supposedly turned away because they could only get in if they were in vehicles, I read somewhere. I agree, a PR nightmare. Would have worked better had it been a call-in contest. The station bought the park out for three hours, and would use the list of winners as the ones who could then get in for free. How hard would that be to figure out? "OK, Ms. wildone, we need your name and those of who you're bringing." I read that people were coming in from Alabama and Mississippi for this.*** This post was edited by ilovethewildone 4/5/2007 1:11:53 PM ***
Ha! Zoo Atlanta is laughing all the way to the bank!

As I posted in the forum thread, the article from the AJC contains some first-hand accounts and a dozen or so photos showing the mess on the Interstate and outside the gate:

I knew that this would happen. Heck, it's funny though, that within 25 minutes after opening the parking lot they shut down the promo. What a joke.
Let's remember, there is two sides to every story.
It's the same old Six Flags guests.

Magic Mountain, Great Adventure, America, and to a lesser extent Kentucky Kingdom and New England. By far the rudest, most beligerent group of park-goers that I've experienced in all my visits to those parks.

Granted, there are SOME people who are nice and act human. But Six Flags seems to attract the undesirable element far more than any other park/chain out there.

Now mix in something where they don't have to pay? It just brings the worst out in people.

I agree - it should have been handled as a call-in contest. Perhaps even staggering the allowed "in time" to ease traffic concerns -- for example, 1/3 of the people are allowed in at 6, 1/3 at 7, and the other 1/3 at 8 (and all get to stay the whole rest of the day). It wouldn't be random, either, it would be on the ticket you won.

Jeff's avatar
Simply put, it's a bad idea to appeal to cheap people. But that's a discussion for a different thread. ;)
From the article provided by astrosgp:

""It seems like a hoax, instead of a free day at Six Flags," she said."

HAHAHAHAHA!!! Has she been reading my posts here on CoasterBuzz or what?

What's Six Flags' problem? I am so sick of them. They need to learn how to not piss off their so called "guests". It's well known in any business that making sure your customers are taken care of is first priority. Why doesn't SF get this? ...I mean they've been this way for at least the past 5 or 10 years.

I wish they'd wise up. I miss the way they used to be.

Let's seee..

Radio Station...

April Ratings Sweeps....

In a stunt to attract publicity and to increase their ratings so they could attract more adversting money in the fall, a local Atlanta radio station says everyone should ditch work and show up at Six Flags and they're going to let you in for free? Do you really think Six Flags said sure... Bring as many people as you want? Post about it on blog after blog, get the word out we're gong to let everyone in for free without a cap on the numbers.

Certainly the radio station should take at least some of the blame.

Lord Gonchar's avatar
Well, I don't know why we're blaming SF in the first place. I was under the assumption that this was a Q100 promotion that just happened to be at SFOG. Not a Six Flags promotion.

Am I mistaken?

Because if I'm not, there's absolutely no reason at all to put even an ounce of blame on SF.

If you ask to throw a party at my house and tell me 20 people are showing up and I agree to it - your guests can't get pissed when 200 show up and I can't accomodate them.

However, if this was a SF promotion then they f'd it up pretty good. But i don't think it was.

Why is everybody blaming Six Flags? Q-100 bought the park out for the day. I'm sure Six Flags Over Georgia has never participated in a free-admission day sponsored by a radio-station (they most likely will never again) -- and neither the park nor radio station management expected such a response to the promotion.

But it's true that when you announce something "free" to thousands and perhaps millions of people over the internet, radio, etc., the results aren't going to be pretty. People will run over, kick, punch, and tear at others to get at something for free. I can't imagine what kind of chaos would ensue if Disneyland Resort were to do something similar with both California Adventure and Disneyland -- and free food from Downtown Disney. Talk about a miniature warzone in Southern California.

Now im not really familiar with the area around the park, but it seems that it is fairly close to atlanta. The problem with a promotion with a radio station and an amusement park, seems to be the lack of info the radio station provides. How well does word get around and the significance of easter break starting today for probably many kids. This leads to the problems of a major city descending on an area that was obviously not ready to take on such massive crowds.

Staff alone would not be able to control the people, and neither would security/area police. It seems like it had the appeal of the original woodstock, but the results of this and this are not free or you are not allowed to do this like woodstock 99. Thus problems that were associated with the escalading situations we saw at the woodstock 99 and the problems today at six flags.

I've learned from event planning and corporate promotions that you always plan for the worst. I don't think that was done here and some things clearly weren't thought out very well.

In this case I would have set up a web link on the radio stations website or even the SFoG site for the free tickets and only allow a certain number to be "claimed" or printed. It's fairly easy to track numbers on that and just like concert tickets, they can be scanned and only be used once.

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