Great Adventure - April 6 - Start Happy & Leave Crappy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 2:13 AM

Ok, I guess that someone had to post the first Great Adventure Trip Report of the season and I proudly or not-so-proudly stake the claim. It’s going to be another long one…so here goes….

This time it was me and Preflux. The weather was slated for sunny and a high in the low 60s and not a chance of rain. My earlier attempt to go on Good Friday (Opening Day) was thwarted, so this was the maiden voyage of the year.

Skip down if you only want the rides…stay if you want the rest of the nonsense….

Left Long Island at 7 AM. Traffic was very light due to schools in our area being closed. Even the gridlock across the Staten Island Expressway was gone and I knew we would make good time.

Took Route 9 South instead of the parkway or turnpike. Along 537, we stopped in JBs Diner. http://www.yelp.com/biz/jbs-diner-freehold The food was good, the atmosphere was great and the service was very good. Not too long ago Slithernoggin posted info about a cool restaurant on the way to a park and this one is worthy of attention too.

We got to the park by 9:30 and it didn’t look like it would be a massive crowd. I paid $25 greenback dollars to park my truck in my usual spot – right in line with the “S” in the Superman ride. Walking into the main gate I kept telling myself…”Winter is over…put the salt back in the shed…return the shovel to the workroom…stop thinking about winter…”

Not knowing if I was going solo or with Preflux, I was really unprepared. I know I will have a few Great Adventure feebees on the way from “Read to Succeed” in June, but those tickets are only available from July to mid-August and they don’t include the water park…which we both like. I opted for the gold seasons pass and if you had then activated by April 26, you also got free parking on both of them. More on that later.

The official clock said 10:29 and off we were allowed to go. And so we did.

Nitro

Got there in time….to wait on line…they weren’t ready. It would take another ten minutes for an op to let us into the station and into the stalls. We went for the first row line. I have waited many years for my son to be tall enough and his willingness to be brave enough to do this one. Today, I just led him and we went. He was getting nervous up the lift hill and after a while (Tree-top height) he just didn’t want to talk. When we were 2/3 up…he looked frightened. (Not in a fun way). I told him that on this ride…breathe in as you are going up and out as you are going down. This was to give him something to think about while we would be running through the course. I also told him that spring can only really be spring after I ride Nitro. I wasn’t kidding about that.

Nitro did its thing…and it was everything I expected. A little shaky…some bounce…some air…comfortable leg room…and I could fit on it with no problem. But I wasn’t worried about me. There were parts that he liked and some that he didn’t. One of his complaints on the ride that I did not prepare him for was “Why is the cold air hurting my eyes?” “Because you are moving at a fast speed and you aren’t in a regular car.”

At the end…he said it was good. He was ok. I told him I was proud of him for doing it and that facing your fears is a grown up and mature thing to do. “I only did it because you wanted me to.” “That’s fine…I’m just glad we did it together.”

Skull Mountain

We had been on this before and we nick-named it “Boney.” No effects at all. No sound. Just some of the sensors glowing on the track. A non-issue. Nothing that wasn't expected.

Dejah-Vu (Scrambler)

The cycle for this ride was very short. The same as last year. But the speed and intensity were about twice as fast. This ride had a lot more kick to it this time around. We both liked it. It’s kind of hard not to like a scrambler. It is what it is and this time it was very good.

Jolly Roger

“The cars on the Jolly Roger work for Boney.” I don’t know what it is…but I like this little ride. Whatever. It’s really a transition ride – from kiddie to adult, but it’s kind of fun. The inside of it looks like a Swiss Bob. I with that was still here.

Fender Bender

Traditionally, the Bumper Cars are Great Adventure were a disaster. Too short, too many cars, limited control, just pass. This time – for some reason – they were very responsive and had a little zip. Not Knoebels quality…but this was one of the best attractions of the day for Pre-flux and we rode it twice – while waiting 1 cycle for it. The strap was tight…but so is everything on me. By the way, Preflux handled his cars very well. Again I was proud.

Bat Man – The Dark Knight

The pre-show is getting a bit dated. The joker-faced mirror image was not tracking correctly and the ending effect with the train wasn’t on. The best part was that Preflux thought it was just “meh.” Dang…one ride on Nitro and now something else is “Meh!” Perhaps it will soon be time to get him his own Coasterbuzz account.

Sky Screamer

This was another test. Preflux had been on the standard swing ride at Kennywood and Adventureland many times…but this one sends you high up and turning at a higher rate. He was nervous going up…but he enjoyed it.

Granny’s Kitchen – Lunch

Two thumbs down. He thought his strips were too spicy and I just didn’t enjoy my chicken.

Sky Ride

This is when the day changed. The line for this ride was over 40 minutes and every switchback was filled. There were also many private gondolas sent up for people who showed up with a blue sheet of paper and didn’t have to wait on line. I suppose some of these people were handicapped in some way. This added to the line. There are no flash-passers on this one.

I also started to notice a huge influx of people and they had arrived later than most enthusiast types and they had arrived in droves. Apparently, there was a huge group of Orthodox Jewish folks who didn’t do a complete buy-out of the day, but who had purchased and sold their own set of tickets for those in their fold. There were signs alerting everyone that there was Kosher for food selections in the picnic area. (It’s still Passover!) There was even an entertainer of Jewish Music in the arena today. Moses may have led his people to Israel, but someone else led another contingency to Jackson, New Jersey. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but they did bring a lot of strollers. I hope they enjoyed themselves and had a great time. And their children were VERY well-behaved.

We meandered over to the Safari Ride…but it had a wait of over 2 hours. The security guard did not have a lot of credibility with a litter grabber in her hand.

We then went over to the lakefront area where Preflux flung a French fry to an appreciative goose. He / she / it honked for more…but was denied. Then we saw the fish in the lake. I showed Preflux the most disgusting thing I could think of. “These are so stupid; they will even eat your spit.” “No they won’t” “Pssst…..fllllpttt.” (Within seconds all of the spit bubbles were gone.) “You’re right dad…those fish are stupid.” Normally the bench under the Best of the West Restaurant would be the perfect spot for a nap. Not when I’m not solo.

Then came the worst part of the day. I knew we would not be back in April, so I had to process our passes to get the parking benefit. And this is where things got ugly…fast...or slow if you refer to the line.

Twisting and turning in the back area near the Green Lantern and Superman Ride were the steerage passengers arriving at Ellis Island. These were the tired, the sick, the angry…the people who all spent about 20 backs more than the gate price to get seasons passes with parking privileges. Here they would wait….for 3.5 hours….for processing. I knew it would be bad when there were 4 security guards at the end of the line answering the same battery of questions from the unsuspecting public….

“What happens if I don’t do this today?”

“You can do it up until April 26.”

“What if I can’t stay now?”

“You will lose the parking privileges.”

“Who can I talk to?”

“The people inside.”

“What about Guest Services.”

“They will send you here.”

“What happens if I don’t do this today?”

I had to make a decision and I explained that it would be a long wait. I figured two hours, but it was more like 3.5. Not good. No water. No bathroom. No hope. The switchbacks disappeared into a corridor with wooden fences on both sides.

Inside the building was chaos. People trying to enter information. People wanting to add the meal plan to their passes but nobody to take that order. I have lots of pictures of this nightmare and even a supervisor who saw that I was recording some of this commotion on my almost dead cell phone, but who would not face me. She was a human yak…double my size and endlessly repeating…”I’m sorry for your inconvenience. I’m sorry for your wait.”

“Why are there so few employees in here?”

“I’m sorry sir; we are doing the best we can.”

If I ran a company like this, I wouldn’t last too long.

I swear if I knew how to post photos within a report you would see the ineptitude…some of you might find it comical – but there were a lot of angry people on that line who wasted 3.5 hours of their lives to process something that took a minute to purchase at the gate. (That’s even longer than it takes me to write one of my trip reports.)

The staff for this was ad-hoc. They were people from different departments all trying to smile through this muck.

I’m still not done. Then it was back to the car. Get the receipt for the parking that I purchased when I first got there. And then back to guest relations. At least they gave me back my $25.

Come on Six Flags. If you sell people something, don’t make them wait on an endless line just to process it. And yes, this was required if you got your stuff on line or at the gate.

And the lot is still riddled with pot holes. Dam it when people come to visit me, I don’t charge them $25 to park.

By the way…the park was very clean today but there was a series of ad banners and signs for many things, Twix Bars, M&Ms, Jersey Boys, Coke (I found the Coke ad “Falling” to be very well done. We saw it on the line for the Sky Screamer) but the one that cracked us both up was for Snickers. A leftover campaign from Charmland:

“If you’ve been waiting in line to ride a lamppost, you’re probably hungry.”

I guess even “Lampy” gets lucky!

We had dinner at the Golden Corral on the way home. It was what I expected, but I don’t want to start another thread right now about chain restaurants.

Very little traffic home until the Verrazano Bridge. Home by 11.

Thank you, as always for reading this. I really appreciate it.

Last edited by Richie Reflux, Tuesday, April 7, 2015 2:14 AM
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 11:35 AM

That's nuts. People should be fired. How do you not anticipate this?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 11:42 AM

I'd love to see some of those pictures. Sounds like it was chaos.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 12:03 PM

i'm going for the first time this year. Luckily, I won't have to deal with any Season Pass nonsense. Hopefully they have everything figured out by then!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 2:44 PM

Nice report. What a nightmare! I had a similar experience - although not as long a wait - in trying to get my season pass processed for the 2014 season. Fortunately, for the 2015 season I bought my season pass with parking for $66 on Labor Day and was told that I had to have it processed before the end of the 2014 season so that's what I did, without hassle. All in all, however, I would have to say that park operations were less than optimal on opening weekend this year. My primary purpose in going to GAD is to ride El Toro and for once I didn't get to ride it b/c it was down for the first several hours we were there and by the time they got it up and running there was a 90-minute wait so we skipped it. Most of the rides on that side of the park were either not operating or experiencing intermittent technical difficulties so we went to the other side, waited 40 minutes to get on Nitro and after the 1st ride were able to poach 2 more. There has been a welcome change to Nitro in that the restraints release automatically at the end of the ride. (In previous seasons it was necessary to push down on the lap bar and then pull up to extricate yourself from them.) I was somewhat surprised to see that Nitro still doesn't have seat belts, as it was reported on another website that all of the B&M hypers and gigas would be getting them. It's my understanding that Leviathan will have them this year and that's one coaster on which they seem totally unnecessary.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 1:01 AM

You didn't mention the new "coaster." I assume that's because it's not ready yet? Did you see any progress on the new ride's construction?

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 2:49 AM

Thank you for your replies.

Lost - - - > We never made it to that section of the park. I can't tell you anything. There were some signs mentioning that it was "Coming this spring." When in the spring?...I do not know.

Seriously, I want to post some of these photos. Can anybody tell me if there is a way for a non techie to lift them from his cell phone and imbed them into a post?

Thanks!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 6:56 AM

Travis, according to some GrAdv FB posts I've seen, The ride structure rose over the last several days and is nearly complete. I saw no activity in that area when I was there Opening Day, but there could have been workers behind the fence that I couldn't see. Nothing of the loop was visible at that time.

Richie, I've never eaten in JB's, but it always has a crowd, and I would consider it one day. I've always wanted to. What did you guys have? And which Golden Corral did you hit? the fairly new one on Rt. 9 in Freehold?

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 9:36 AM

Have to admit, I almst started a new thread about these "new for '15" Larson Giant Loops. Seems like they easily could have been ready for opening day, given the lack of land prep and infrastructure needed...I don't think any of them are up and ready.

“That’s fine…I’m just glad we did it together.” - awesome. That's what it's really all about...:)

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 10:35 AM

Reflux, http://www.imgur.com is an easy site to upload photos, it does not require an account. I too would love to see the madness in getting your passes made.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 11:26 AM

Yea. I use Photbucket. It's really easy. I just upload a photo, click it, click the right address and it automatically copies. Then I come over here, click the "Insert/edit image" button at the top of the reply box, and there it is. It's not as simple as if Jeff hosting the photos (and I totally understand why he does it this way), but it's not that difficult once you get the hang of it.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 4:15 PM

Elitch's was a while going in too. Then there was trouble so it was down for a while. When I was there this past summer it was just that day opening again, but I didn't bother.

These SF rides are the park models and I don't know how many of those Larson has made to date (I'm inclined to believe Denver's was the first and only), but I'd be willing to bet this is their largest order yet. Now, the portable one we get at the fair each year goes up in half a day and runs just fine. So there ya go.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 5:46 PM

I too am baffled by the organization (or lack thereof) for processing and actually to get in the park itself. Last year, I ordered my membership online and printed out the voucher. The park was supposed to open at a certain time, and they had to know people would line up to get parked and to get to the gate early, yet they had no parking attendants prepared for the huge influx of people. The parking attendants didn't show up until about 20 minutes after the line started forming, and then they had computer problems that further slowed down the parking line. I don't run a multi-million dollar theme park, but if I did, I'd want everyone to be at their posts before one car came through my gate.

Then, they had everyone lining up to get into the park. Ok, fine. However, they had everyone lining up and then only opened up one or two of the gates. People who were standing in front of a manned gate that was not yet opened were probably pretty pissed off that they got boxed out and pushed aside while everyone else bottlenecked into one gate. A normal person would think, "this gate has an employee at it, so I should stand in line here", right?

Then the season pass processing...all I can say is I'm glad we decided to do that first. Most people wanted to have some fun first, so the line was not nearly as long as we saw it later in the day. However, it took at least 20 minutes to get into the building, and this made no sense to me once I saw how long a pass takes to process. There are at least 8 computers in that room, and the pass takes about 2 minutes to process. Maybe. So...8 people every two minutes equals about 240 people an hour. So why did it take 20-30 minutes to process about 20 people? maybe the add-ons because they didn't seem to grasp how to do the add-ons for some people. But shouldn't they be trained on this stuff before opening day? I'd be pissed too!

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 1:55 AM

This is the waffle that Preflux had at JBs Diner:

Preflux by the lake.

Lampy Gets Lucky!

Proof that we went on Nitro. Left side.

Now things take a turn for the worst...

The Confused and Angry Mob At Season Pass Processing:

Even the line was messed up. Here the rope had no support.

This was an inept security guard. He offered no help other than to suggest that you get on line or forfeit the benefits that you already paid for.

When you finally get into the building you will notice that there are several unused computers.

This was the supervisor. She would not even look at me to answer my questions. She was not helpful at all or even apologetic.

By the way...more empty computers...

Remember...this is not the line for food, a roller coaster or even a concert. This was the line to process season passes.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 8:51 AM

A visual shaming was definitely in order. :)

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 9:45 AM

Re: Shaming. You should have gotten a pic of the supervisor holding a sign that reads: "I don't help guests." ;~P

Last edited by rollergator, Thursday, April 9, 2015 9:46 AM
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Thursday, April 9, 2015 11:53 AM

I'm a little confused about why you have to stand in that massive line to process a pass. When I purchased my family's passes for SFOT, we had until a certain date to process in order to get the free parking and the upgrades. I printed the vouchers at home, the parking attendant scanned one for the free parking at the booth, we swapped our vouchers for the id cards at the turnstiles, they scanned our finger prints for each card, and we were in the gate ready to go. Less than 10 minutes on a day when the park was pretty busy. I think I can also go to my account online and upgrade to the dining plan if I want. What's different in NJ that requires the cattle call processing?

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 2:05 PM

What I believe I saw on Sunday was the components of the ride in the lot outside Zumanjaro's loading station. That's where this stuff usually gets deposited. So according to Mike, some progress has been made in setting it up. I too was surprised not to see any new structures or activity in the area where it will operate.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 8:12 PM

Wow that's awful. Sorry you had to deal with that.

There is no excuse for them not being prepared for that. Even more frustrating waiting all that time and seeing unused and unstaffed terminals.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015 10:22 PM

Make Gallagher - - - > Yes, the one in Freehold. It was good for what it was. The salad(s) were very good. The meats...not great. Some of the kids in that place were almost hypnotized by that chocolate fountain thing. I guess it's good that we didn't stay too long. IT's also good that I had a little salad. (Sigh....)

Lost Kause and Fun - - - > Thank you for your help with the photos. It took a while to get it done, but it was worth it - at least in this case.

Bigboy - - - > I am just as confused as you were. I have no idea why this had to happen and happen the way it did.

I also appreciate the support. I'm all for giving the parks some leeway when it is reasonable. I get it. Every regular poster here gets it. Rides break down, sometimes they run out of what you want to eat. Sometimes it even rains.But this was a perfect example of very poor planning and horrible execution.

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