Great Adventure - 9/3/2006 - No Rides - No Legs - No Florida - But Great Entertainemt!

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, September 3, 2006 6:32 PM
Good afternoon / evening / morning everyone.

For the record, I am typing this in pain. Please forgive spelling, typos and angst.

After what was left of hurricane, tropical strom, tropical depression, wsah and rinse (whatever you want to call it) from yesterday...I headed out solo for a final day of non-kiddie-land fun. I remembered my TR from earlier in the season, knowing how much promise this park had and what Mr. Shapiro said he was trying to deliver. This is my story...

Cloudy skies on Long Island, a hint of drizzle in the air and a 6 AM wakeup. TIME TO GO! The streets and roads had a few trees and brnaches on the side, but everything was clear according to the all - news radio station (WINS 1010 AM) so it meant for a good day. There was even a promise of afternoon sun. ALL SYSTEMS LOOK GOOD.

Got my spot near the main superman logo on the station directly in front of sign #2 - adjacent to the guy in front of me who would pay 5 bucks more for the same spot later in the day. (Of coure I made the obligatory stop at WAWA for a tuna sandwich. When I entered the lot and was given two (2) free poster maps and a copy of the Sunday Daily News (Jersey edition). Of course it's now 8:15, so I had a lot of time to sit, read, eat and enjoy.

Despite the storm from yesterday, the grounds were immaculate. Only puddles.

From the size of the crowd...I knew I wasn't going to need a bot.

The gates opened at 9:30 and there was the 2006 - rope off with a guy called Party Patrol. He was a little better this time, but he had people in the crowd pulled out for push ups, a YMCA dance, Chicken Dance. Then came Sylvester, and Foghorn. Finally, the bus came out with Buggs and the rest of the crew. There were 3 dancers with them.

The dancers really bummed me out. One was chewing gum in the middle of the number. The other two were talking to each other during the bit. Very unprofessional! No wonder Fiesta Texas wins for shows.

A family was selected to pull the pllunger...then Bull Run to the security guards waiting to take everyone to the end of the restaurants on the Boardwalk.

After that, most dashed to KA...I went to Toro...where I couldn't run very far and I jogged...sauntered...gave up and walked in order to score the first train out. I was third in line and infront of me were two enthusiasts.

They were knee deep in conversation. One was wearing a shirt from about an air-launched coster and the other was wearing a shirt from Hollywood Nights at Holiday World. I never in my life saw a Holiday World anything at Great Adventure. He also had hoop ear rings that had the diameter of the bottom of a Campbell's Soup can and several body piercings. His ears went wound the earing. (Unique, Youth, but just not me.) It must have hurt when he had them done. Almost like a walking skee ball target.

I didn't really talk to them them, but they mentioned ACE and Paula from our boards, and actually climbing the lift hill on Legend as part of an off-season tour. I didn't think a guy like that was Holiday World's target audience, but live and let live and ride and let ride.

The other guy was a very clean-cut dude, who sounded a lot like Jeff from the Pod Cast. From their conversation, it was clear they were well-traveld and knew more about coasters than I ever will.

We were watching the line build and extend and not move. Finally a test cycle. No line movement. Fifteen minutes later...another test cycle...no line movement.

From our vantage point...Ka wasn't launching...Medussa wasn't launching...Runaway Train wasn't launching and I heard Superman was down.

A ride-op type...was sitting on a poorly themed stool was answering some questions.

"Is the ride going to open?"

"I think so."

"When?"

"I don't know."

Some peeps began leaving the line in spurts. A mechanic type left hte station and began walking the tracks. He came back 5 minutes later.

"Are you going to open the ride?"

(SONG - No Reply At All)

"What's holding up the ride?

(SONG - The Sound of Silence)

Five minutes later another test run. Then one more.

Another ride op, garbed with I-Pod buds and no official uniform revealed that they didn't know when the ride would open, but it would be a while.

"A while ten minutes...a while next week."

(SONG - Only Time Will Tell)

I had it. I left. By the way, a while back there was a thread running here about the sky ride. One side was up and going.

I decided to vent at Guest Relations. Forget the characters...forget the dolphins...the real entertainment is the guest Services line. Man oh man were people angry. Brotherhood in action (Black, White, Spanish, Asian...all united for a common cause...ANGER!) Yelling, cursing, mild mannered complaints...it was everything that Disney's Guest Realations wasn't.

As people were presenting thier case...the blinds would go down on anther window. Finally, there was only one yong woman left to face the onslaught. She was perky and explaining that they had a thunderstarom yeasterday and that things would be up and running soon. It wasn't good enough...

People on line had valid arguments:

1) 15 bucks for parking

2) No list of down rides

3) "What IS running?"

4) I drove X hours.

Adding to the drama were people on line sreaming their displeasure to incite the ohters. Security was called in. I kept thinking that One FIsh Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is looking pretty good by now.

A family of five in front of me got to speak with a manager and joined them. When she found out after dealing with them that I wasn't with them, she directed me to the end of the line. I explained that I was next and that I had been waiting 15 minutes to speak to a supervisor.

I ended up getting 2 exit passes (for 2) that were good for any rides other than Ka and Toro. I aslo got a coupon for either 2006 or 2007 to come back again for only ten bucks. (This wasn't bad since I didn't have my receipt). I thanked her for her professionalism and for understanding and I mentioned that I appreciated her efforts to make things right.

Then the real conversation started.

Keep in mind...Never did I mention any enthusiast group, websites, or knowledge of such organizations...

"Do you realize that this park always opens at ten but many of the rides don't open until later."

(She mentioned saftey)

"Why aren't there enough employees?"

(College just started and a lot of kids moved back already)

"Look at that line. Most of these people are angry, unhappy and feel de-valued. Why do you do this job."

(She's been with the company a few years and actually likes her job, though she has two others)

I thanked her again and made my way to NITRO.

There was a young couple in my station cue who reminded me where I was. The girl was cursing a mile a minute..."I told that *&*&#$ that I wasn't cutting the line, I was meeting my *&#$@# family at the station." Her intellectully challenged suitor said, "If he said that to you he can *&(&*^*( my *&*%." Ahh... the Great Adventure clientele....

NITRO...(2 Trains) There I saw a much slower crew from July. The main operator had his foot hanging out of his booth. Nice Ride, but shakier than last time. Maybe some new wheels are needed.

Congo Rapids and The Boat Flume were closed.

Batman: I think one of the reasons there are so many clones of this ride is that it's good. I scored a ride in the front after cueing for row two.

Two of the three guys I was with were kicked out for size. (I feel for you my brothers) I was able to do the one-cheak-sneak and score a re-ride in row four.

Walked around Movie land...No Free Fall, No Chiller, no stunt show. I wandered over to the swings...

I noticed the cue was moving and I would be able to make it this cycle if I hurried...big mistake...

***CRACK***

OW! instant pain. My leg caved in from under me. I had to hang on to the chain of the swing in order to not fall down. Instant Cold Sweats and feelings of nausea. I had a hernia operation several years ago which was a pain level of 10. THis was coming from my right calf and it was an 8.

I was slumping on my swing. I don't know how I mangaed to clip the belt. I don't remember much about the ride...except that the breeze felt good. When the ride ended...the pain was intense. It took all I had to get to a bench to sit...it also took ten minutes.

A nice family who was watching me wince in agony was watching me. The father said that it was probably a leg pull in my calf and that it probably hurt like hell. He also suggested a lot of water and the optimism that injuries like these hurt a lot but heal relatively quickly.

It took me an hour and change to make it from the bench to the water fountain and finally to my car. The drive back was a solid three hours due to traffic. (Driving didn't hurt, but getting in and out of my car [Nissan Sentra] was another story. As I type this, my leg is elevated. It only hurts when I apply pressure.

I can't and won't blame my injury on the park. I do remember that the year it opened, my mom fell and bled from her leg in front of the Big Wheel. This was the swings. Maybe there's a "Bermuda Triangle thing happening here. Perhaps not.

Looking back, I should have asked for help, but from who or how. I forgot where first aid was. What would you have done?

As I left the parking lot, I noticed that Ka, Toro and Superman were up.

To sum up my experience in an opinionated way:

1) As others have said before, tHis park has so much potential. If the park opens at ten, test the rides at nine. No excuses. None! Zero!

2) Take everyone who was in that morning show and train them on rides. That's what people paid for and came for when the gates opened. Let party-man-guy-dude work the crowd.

3) "Fun Fun Fun" should not have been playing anywhere near the Guest Relations booth.

4) While I was waiting for the manager at Guest Relations, Robin and Flash were making thier way out. THey each had a security guard. If these folks are really super heroes...oh never mind.

5) The park is gorgeous. THe bathrooms were clean, but many of the people in the park had potty mouths.

6) Once the rope dropped, I only saw security at the gates (checking bags) protecting characters and surrounding the complaint brigade. the security booths were unmanned (womaned) and had maps for the taking in a case.

7) I saw an older woman in a Jimmy Sturr shirt. Jimmy Sturr is a Polka artist (who won quite a few grammy awards and who was performing today for 'Octoberfest'). You Go Granny!

Will I return? Perhaps. Perhaps not. (I'm not a Halloween Person).

Next year I hpe to score some more teacher tickets, but I still want to invite Mr. Shapiro to spend the day with me (as a regular guy - not the boss). I want him to see what a "typical day of Great Adventure has become." The only way to really see it...is to do it.

Thank you for reading this. Now I've got to stretch my leg. OUCH!

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Sunday, September 3, 2006 11:18 PM
Ironically, Hersheypark didn't do a whole lot better several weeks ago when it came to opening some rides on time. Storm Runner wasn't up for the public until 11am or later, and it was quite clear that Wildcat wasn't going anywhere for a while either while we sat out in the parking lot putting on sunscreen. For all we know, there could've been more rides closed in Midway America that we couldn't see.

As far as where to ask for help for your leg, you could've probably asked anyone in a uniform shirt, any ride op not responsible for the operation of the ride (who could've relayed the information to the control op), anyone at a food stand etc. Anyone at a ride, for example, has a phone that can call the base in the case of an emergency.

This is unfortunately a bad time of the year to visit some parks, because as the person told you, a lot of college kids have either gone back to school, or will be. Many of the exchange students (if there were any) have left as well.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:53 AM
I got out to Great Adventure on the monring of 9/1, and it wasn't a bad experience. We got on El Toro, Rolling Thunder, Houdini, Batman, and Nitro with minimal waits. The only snag was waiting for Ka, which we ditched the line for. No sense waiting.

The thing about Great Adventure is that you can't really fault them for the clientele. That just comes with the territory. Frankly, they have handeled them well in my past experiences at the park. That said, I like to think of Great Adventure like an old TV show... SNL or 60 Minutes, something that has started to get less relevant, and could use some major tweaking. I'm very interested to see what the next several years hold for the park (maybe they'll get rid of that damn Chiller... I still don't have the Batman side, but at this point, if they want to rip it out and put in a spinning coaster, by all means, do it... just don't leave it standing, mocking me every time I see it).

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Monday, September 4, 2006 2:02 AM
I had a bad experience at SFGAdv the one time I went. Some of the folks I went with had an awful experience several years later (where they literally closed the park gates in their faces and said "sorry, park's closed.").

I don't care what they add out there, I doubt I'll be making a trip to Great Adventure anytime soon because it sounds like nothing has changed at all. It's 8 hours to either PKD, SFGAdv, or to visit my girl. Guess which one I'll be picking from now on.

Glad I have a Paramount pass. ;)

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Monday, September 4, 2006 2:28 AM
The way you described the employees of the park make it seems like there are only about 10-20 people running the entire park. Which sounds kind of morbid, lol.
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Monday, September 4, 2006 10:07 AM
Well...there were more than 20...it's just that it seemed as if they started showing up later in the day.

Bottom line...the park opens at 10 the rides should be waiting for the peeps.

Instead of the park opening at 10 and the rides opening up 11 - 12. That's just unacceptable.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 12:02 PM
Maybe they should just change the park opening to 12, then the rides will open with the park. :)
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Monday, September 4, 2006 12:28 PM
I don't understand how parks can get away with rides opening late after the park officially opens. The rides should be ready and waiting. SFA does the same thing...opens, but some of the rides aren't.

At Cedar Point, we have to be in an hour before the park opens and we are to have our rides up at least 10 minutes prior to opening, and we must keep cycling until guest come on the platform. For a long time, TTD crew had to be in at 7:30 to have the ride up by 9.

Wish other parks could follow this example.
I think their problem is that they need maintenance to do all the test, as with Cedar Point, the Team Leaders and Assistants can do all the tests and resets.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 12:32 PM
When I went in July, Kingda Ka didn't open til 4PM. I read somewhere on a post here that KK routinely opened at 4PM all summer long. Why?? Only 6 hours a day of operating time??

From what you are saying, all one needs to do to get exit passes and/or discount coupons is to ***** a little at client services??

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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:04 PM
Sorry you had a bad experience at the GA this weekend, Richie. I agree with all your criticisms about bad operation of the park. There is no excuse for not starting to test rides before the park opens. Kingda Ka frequently runs no more than half a day if it runs at all. I also enjoyed your description of the irate people in the customer service line. I wish I could have seen a video of that. On bad days the park is an atrocity. However, I disagree with you on one point. GA is not a horrible experience every day. Here's the bottom line. Don't go there on a holiday weekend. It's always going to be a bad experience. If you go during any other summer weekend, you have to buy a q-bot, otherwise you are going to have a bad experience. If you don't want to buy a q-bot, you have to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday when the crowds are lightest. If you go during October, don't go the last weekend, and Friday nights have the lightest crowds. There are 8 million people in NYC and around another 2 million in Philadelphia within an hours drive of the park, the crowds are always going to be a problem. I think you are giving people the impression that GA is always a bad experience, but that is not always the case, especially if you follow the above guidelines. I briefly met you there one Saturday on June 24th, you had a q-bot and seemed to be having a good time.

I thought about going to GA yesterday, but thought better of it and went to Dorney Park instead. Got there around 6 PM and paid discounted sunset admission. On the plus side, the park is well run, I didn't have to wait more than twenty minutes for any ride. On the down side, they don't have that many rides and you can do the entire park in four hours. I guess I've been jaded by Kingda Ka becaues Steel Force now looks like the Kiddy Coaster at Rye Playland by comparison.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:11 PM
Scoaster -> These are the differences between Cedar Point and Great Adventure. Customer service, a sense of responsibility, better management, better clientele and for the consumer...a better time. I LOVE Cedar Point, but for now it's too far away. I went once a few years ago with the family, stayed at Breakers and had a blast. I will NOT go back there until my son gets taller. Same for Holiday World. That's a personal thing that I have to deal with - but again the information that I need to make this decision is clearly posted on their web sites.

If you lived directly between Great Adventure and Cedar Point...which park would you support? That's a no-brainer.

Heck I would MUCH rather go to Kennywood, Knoebles, Hershey, Morey's or Dorney than to go to Great Adventure...but distance always dictates your time limitations.

My only complaint about Cedar Point is that they cut thier summer hours during the last full week of August, which is the only time I can really take Summer Vacation.

But do you know what? It wasn't a surprise. It also was cleraly posted on the web site. I chose to go and we did.

Look, most of us are reasonable people. We understand that amusement park devices are susceptable to break downs, temporary fixups, etc. But to have so many things down before the day starts is unforgiveable.

By the way...from what I understand, when Millenium Force went down for a while, it was clearly posted on Cedar Point's web site. At least they let you know. There are also a ton of great things to do there besides MF.

Palwine -> I know that Ka can't operate under high winds, lightening and when aggresive pigeons land on it. Fine. To me that isn't unreasonable, considering the height involved. But to open it up at 4 PM in the middle of the summer...again forgive my repetativenesss...is IN-EXCUSABLE!

THe exit pass that they gave me was NOT good for Ka or Toro. Even with the other coupon, I have to admit it a fair attempt of the park to try to make good.

As I was limping away from the park...I did see the said rides going, but I couldn't see the lines or stations from my vantage point in the parking lot. I had to get home. Fast.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:22 PM
I went to Gadv on the 26th of August and I really enjoyed it. 45 minute wait for Ka, which opened right at 10. Rides that would be closed were announced at the gates, employees were awesome, park was clean for the most part. I really don't see how this negative attitude is always portrayed at Gadv, 'cause I had lots of fun. *** Edited 9/4/2006 5:24:04 PM UTC by jeepguy1718***
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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:37 PM
Great TR. It's reports like this that convince me that I should think twice before attempting to go to distant Six Flags parks.

*** Edited 9/4/2006 5:38:22 PM UTC by Pagoda Gift Shop***

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Monday, September 4, 2006 1:48 PM
Jeepguy -> I'm glad you had a good time, but no such announcements were to be found anywhere yesterday.

Actually, in early July, there were announcements that Ka was down for the day, and it ended up running late afternoon.

PagodaGiftShop -> There were some people walking away from Toro que saying, "This would never have happened at Six Flags New England."

I have never been there, or to any other 6Flags Parks so I can't comment either way. *** Edited 9/4/2006 9:22:20 PM UTC by Richie Reflux***

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Monday, September 4, 2006 5:21 PM
Yikes! Sounds like quite an adventure. I went in June and had fun (and although I had to wait forever to buy tickets, Ka had been launching rides from at least 9:45 am, so it actually opened early that day).

Honestly I think some of the park's problems are due to the fact they waste money on new attractions (I AM glad they built Toro) instead of fixing other problems. This year, instead of a new "land" they should fix other problems and worry about hiring more staff for the summer months.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 6:00 PM
Terminator -> Thanks for your response. I don't mean to be rude, but I don't remember getting a Q-bot at all on my first visit to Ga this year in late June. I wanted to make sure, so I checked my TR for that day, and at the bottom, I reminded myself that I didn't need one that day. I truly don't remember meeting you. Are you sure it was me? Due to time limitations and work responsibilites, I can't make to special coaster events and such, so meeting another buzzer would have stuck out in my mind. If we did in fact meet, I hope I wasn't obnoxous.

Anyway, you are right about when to go. I figured that after the heavy rains and winds from the storm and the lingering clouds in the air, I would stand a good chance. It wasn't too crowded in the park...except for Ka, Toro and Guest Relations. When I go solo, I also know and prepare to buy a Golt Bot IF NEEDED. I didn't need one yesterday. Actually, as I was limping out...I saw quite a few folks coming in...but the lot was only about 1/4 full. My solo trip report from late June showed a good experience...despite the weather.

I also posted in early July as a "Family Trip" and I did have some issues there. I treat family trips and solo shots as two completely different experiences. (I can't wait for Pre-flux to crack the 48" mark...and then the 54" barrier)

I loved my trip to Dorney (also earlier in the summer), but didn't care for Steel Force. I like how the park is run and that the Waterpark is included. I wonder why they don't directly attack Great Adventure with that fact in their ads. (Dorney is a longer drive for me - so I didn't consider it this time around). One day, I hope to make it Compounce. Perhaps in 2007.

WillH51 -> The Buggs Bunny National Park area (new this year) is a good idea...especially with the new advertising towards families...but you're right. They need more reliable staff. I did see a ride op by a kiddie ride at Looney Tunes Seaport without a customer. She was waiting for at least one kid to start the ride. I wish she was running Congo Rapids or something else.

How does Disney do it? They grow..add theme parks...resorts...etc, but they seem to have staff. The staff looks relatively happy, acts professional (in all areas) and they stay around for a while. Knoebles is adding a new ride (Flying Turns) - but they didn't announce that they are getting rid of anything. That's steady growth.

Is it that people can't or won't commit to full season commitments...or is the pay just too low.

When I went to Wawa, I saw quite a few Six Flags employees getting coffee, etc. Are the folks in WaWa paid that much better? THey also looked happy.

Here is another thought / question ---> It looks as if, even with the family advertising (that hasn't been running of late) that Frieght Fest is a go. There's lots of signage for it in the park. How will they do it and still cater to families?

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Monday, September 4, 2006 6:14 PM
Great report. I can't wait to share my day in Georgia when I get time tonight. I'll say this for now, they definitely have their act together more so than their Jersey cousin, but things could/should be better.
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Monday, September 4, 2006 10:17 PM
Well, to be honest Richie, Knoebels did get rid of Whirlwind to clear the spot where the Turns are going, which some might say is getting rid of nothing. :)

Then again, they also put the Looper in the same place. So they did replace one ride that never seemed to have much of a line with one that constantly has a decently long line and a second that is attracting much attention while under construction.

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Monday, September 4, 2006 10:34 PM
You make much sense. (Though on a personal note, it doesn't count [for me] because I never knew about the park when it was already gone).

How could I miss something that wasn't there?

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006 1:36 AM
It's very easy to figure out how Disney has staff. It's not a seasonal park.
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