Great Adventure - June 8th - Did they hire Magic Mountain's Maintenance Staff?

Associated parks:

Let me start off by saying I’ve been going to Great Adventure for about six or seven years, and this was by far the worst experience I’ve ever had at the park. Luckily I was with a group of really cool friends who made the trip fun even after everything that happened.

We started off driving from near NYC and arrived at the park minutes after the gates opened. I used the credit card line in the parking lot and it worked great. No line and we were out of there in mere seconds. If people can’t figure these things out, they really shouldn’t be driving a car.

Since Kingda Ka is notorious for having issues, we decided to go there first. The queue wasn’t too bad since the park just opened (maybe 30-40 minutes), but it was already sweltering outside. We could tell we were in for a long day since we were already sweating like pigs. Anyways, the ride was running and all was good. However, we were so engrossed in conversation, we didn’t notice it stopped running for several minutes. Then we saw the dreaded maintenance guys walking up the launch track. Uh oh. Then the announcement, “We’re sorry, Kingda Ka is down, blah blah blah.” Since three of the guys with us hadn’t ridden an accelerator coaster before, much less the tallest/fastest in the world, we stuck it out in the queue for a little bit. However, they then announce Kingda Ka is closed and the queue must be vacated. We’re all like “WTF, what a bad way to start the day.”

Anyways, we head off to Medusa since we normally start back there anyways and we figured everyone else in the Kingda Ka queue would head to El Toro. Score! No queue. There were six of us, so we had to take two trains. We waited for the back row (since it’s the best) and two of us got on and away they went. The other four of us are waiting for the train to come forward from the brakes. Hmmmm, why’d the drive wheels stop moving? Click , click, click…….silence. Click, click, click……silence. “We’re sorry, Medusa is down, blah blah blah.” Oh yippie. Second ride of the day, second broken ride. Since our friends were still on the ride, we waited. Maintenance showed up, some guys in ties showed up, the ride ops donned their orange safety vests, and they finally got the ride moving again. After what seemed like an eternity, the ride completed all its test cycles and we were finally on. Since the station was empty now, we decided to ride a couple of times. Medusa is still one of my favorite floorless coasters. It’s very smooth and delivers a great ride that doesn’t give you a headache. It’s one of the only coasters with inversions I can ride over and over again and still feel fine. Granted it’s not the most forceful coaster, but that’s ok with me. It’s fun and that’s all that matters.

While waiting for Medusa to come back up, the ride op said Kingda Ka, Runaway Mine Train and Superman were all down. So, we decided to head to El Toro and see if the queue was manageable or not. Thanks to Six Flag’s queue signs, we saw the wait was 120 minutes. I looked at the queue and was like, “there’s no way that queue is 120 minutes….let’s wait.” So, we all pile into the queue (thankfully it was shaded) and start waiting. First of all, El Toro sounds truly amazing. When the trains fly over each hill, you can hear only what I can assume to be the up-stop wheels doing their job. It is soooooooo fast too. We were all very pumped to ride. Low and behold, after only 30 minutes, we’re in the station.

I have to say, Six Flags has the WORST station layouts of any park I’ve been to. I’m surprised they haven’t realized loading a station in the center of each train is the most efficient. But, regardless, it helps us because we just weed our way through the crowds at the front and head right for the back car. No wait. These trains are very comfortable, have the awesome Intamin double latching seatbelts and hydraulic lap bars. I must note here, El Toro was run better than ANY other attraction at Great Adventure today. The crew was enthusiastic, relatively quick, and the line never stopped moving. Granted, it has REALLY long trains, but still, the crew did a great job. So on to the ride. WOW! That’s all I can really say about it. The coaster never let’s up from the moment you leave the station. The lift is lightning fast, the drop is unlike any I’ve been on, and the rest of the ride is spent either out of your seat or whipping side to side. But, all in a very smooth and practically silent ride. I’ve read some reviews about the twisty part of the ride being “slow”. I have no idea what ride that person was on, but the twisties seemed even faster and more intense than the rest of the ride – if that’s even possible. All of us were blown away by the coaster. Way to go Great Adventure for being the first US park to put in an Intamin plug and play. That is hands down the best coaster in that park. I was bummed to hear Kinzel say they would not consider an Intamin woodie because Cedar Point could REALLY use one of these.

After catching our breaths, half the group decided to do Rolling Thunder. I’ve been on Rolling Thunder before and had no desire to ever ride it again. There was no visible queue, so three of us hung out on the midway and waited…and waited…and waited. We actually thought the coaster had swallowed them up or something it took so long. They ended up waiting over an hour to ride probably one of the worst woodies. But, it gave us time to purchase $4.00 lemonades from a rather attractive staff. Throughout our day, ALL of the lemonade vendors at the park were hot. We just found it to be quite amusing, so I thought I’d note that here. Anyways, the other half of our group finally showed up, said Rolling Thunder sucked (except one guy who LOVES rough coasters) and then we were off to the other side of the park.

We decided to hit up Skull Mountain since it’s an ok ride. Nothing really to report here except the queue is dreadful and I absolutely can’t stand when they rope off rows of the train for Flash Pass. The ride would be a LOT better if it was actually pitch black inside and maybe had at least one effect. LOL!! But, it’s still fun.

On to Nitro. According to Six Flags, the queue was 60 minutes. Good thing we really only waited 20 at most. I have to say, I’m disappointed that Six Flags intentionally exaggerates wait times and puts a Flash Pass ad on the same sign. Talk about false advertising. Thankfully Nitro didn’t break while we were in line. This is one of my favorite B&M coasters. It has TONS of airtime, is very smooth, and just a really enjoyable ride back into the woods. I can’t remember if it was this ride or one of our rides later in the day, but one of us got pelted with bottle caps on the first drop. Of course we ride in the back of this coaster too, so anything that flies off the train hits us. LOL!! One person thought they saw a plastic spoon fly past us too. Luckily it wasn’t a cell phone like last year.

By this point we were hungry. But, to our dismay, practically NOTHING was open. Almost all the food stands had little pieces of paper in the window that said they were closed and to visit another food location. We finally found one stand open over by The Chiller, so we had hot dogs, salad and chili cheese fries. I actually thought the hot dog was great for a park. I didn’t really pay attention to the cost of the food since it seems free to me compared to how much I have to pay for food where I live.

We then decided to try out the neutered Chiller. They were only running the red side (not sure if that’s Batman or Robin). There wasn’t much of a queue, maybe 10-15 minutes and we headed to the back which had the shortest line. So, we’re next to get on the ride but the train is still sitting there with passengers. Apparently the train didn’t go back far enough to hit the “home position”, so the restraints wouldn’t release. “We’re sorry, The Chiller is down, blah blah blah.” Man, I’m getting REALLY tired of hearing those announcements. Anyways, we waited. Maintenance shows up, the guys in ties show up again, and they’re just sorta standing around doing nothing. The platform ride ops tried pushing the train, but of course it went nowhere. LOL!! After maybe 10 minutes or so, they got the ride to shut down (you could hear the fans go off) and then they were able to push the train backwards. So, they start the ride back up. Oh wait; they pushed the train TOO FAR. So, they had to go through the whole shut down process again and push the train forward this time. Finally they got the restraints open and the people off. I can’t remember if they ran a test train or not (I think they did), but we were on next. I didn’t remember the launch being as forceful as it was on my rides previous years, but it was definitely a good ride. I miss the heartline because the humps just seem pointless to me. But, I’m really glad it only has lap bars now. Otherwise, it would be a head banger and not fun at all.

Next we hit up Batman: The Ride. Again, no real queue to speak of. I always ride in the front row of inverts, so two of us waited for the front, and four of us took another row. Our friends’ train leaves and we then get on. After we were buckled in, I commented to my friend that it was odd the drive tires in front of us had just stopped. Then our restraints opened and we were asked to get off the ride. “We’re sorry, Batman is down, blah blah blah.” At this point it had become ridiculous. I’ve never had downtime at a park like this before. Even when we went to Magic Mountain a month ago, every ride was open. Anyways, after another 10-15 minutes of them cycling the trains, we get back on and have the typical Batman ride. I like it, but it’s definitely no Raptor or Nemesis.

On the lift, I noticed the queue for Nitro was completely empty, so we headed over there next and rode two more times. Luckily no flying bottle caps this time. We decided to see if Superman ever opened so we started heading over there. On the way, we stopped to ride Houdini because some of our group hadn’t ridden it. It was last summer we rode this for the first time, not knowing anything about it. After the laughable “pre-show”, we actually thought the ride was cool – being our first time and all. However, this year the pre-show was even worse and the ride just sucked. The audio wasn’t working, so the room just did its little spinning thing and was done. It’s really unfortunate too because Alton Towers has one of these rides – called Hex – and it really is brilliantly done.

Superman was running, so we got in the queue. For Superman, the queue was pretty short and was actually moving. I was impressed. Usually waiting for that ride is pure hell. They were also only running one train. So, we get on and buckle in. I noticed my “vest” wasn’t locked, so I called over a ride op. I was like, “my vest isn’t locked, can you check it please.” His response was, “it’s not supposed to lock, you’re fine” and walked away. Granted, I’m sure lots of people complain about restraints not being locked, but he could have at least checked it. Anyways, about a minute later he comes back and pushes on the ankle restraint for my friend. The seat makes a loud clicking sound and my vest is miraculously locked. Imagine that. The ride was good. Definitely no Air or Tatsu, but still a good flyer. The loop is my favorite part.

I need to interject here that Six Flags needs to do a better job with their on-ride photos. If they want people to buy them, at least make it so you can SEE your picture in the booth. If you have to ask to have it blown up and wait, most people are just going to keep walking. They also need to upgrade all their screens. They were blurry and did nothing to entice me to buy anything. We experienced the same thing at Magic Mountain. Plus, what’s up with Photoshopping an image of the “front of the train” onto each image? It just looks pathetic and retracts from the actual picture. If I didn’t ride in the front, why make it look like I did?

So, Kingda Ka was testing, but we were told it wouldn’t open again. So, it was basically down for the entire day. That totally sucked because I wanted the guys in our group that had never ridden one to actually experience it. But, I guess they’ll have to wait for our Cedar Point trip or next summer.

We then hit up El Toro for three more rides at night. WOW. Wikipedia isn’t good for too much, but their mention of El Toro speeding up over the course of the day is dead on. Wow. That thing is so much more intense at night. Aside from the few line jumpers, we had a good several remaining rides of the night. The entire station even got to cheer on a rider that decided at the last minute not to ride. Everyone was screaming so much, she finally got back in and rode. I’m not sure who was running the ride, but he was really good. He did a lot to get the crowd into it and then made amusing remarks halfway up the lift. If it hadn’t been for El Toro, Nitro and the cool group of people I was this, this day would have been pure crap.

So, in closing, the park really needs to work on their maintenance and operations. It’s not opening day anymore, so rides shouldn’t be breaking as much as they did. We talked to other people in line over the course of the day and they were all experiencing the same downtime on rides. Plus, they should have all of the food and retail stands open. There’s really no excuse for having a park that size only have a handful of places open in June. Plus, the park just reeked of corporate sponsorship which really turned me off. They were even selling vacation packages, signing people up for credit cards and a bunch of other random ****. It reminded me of the vendors all over college campuses that are just pure rubbish. Regardless, we still managed to have a lot of fun.

It was then off to Hershey for the next day.

Sounds like everything went wrong that day. I have heard for the wait time signs, it's based on if 1 train is running but even then the wait times seem higher than they should be. But if operations are always poor, then maybe it is somewhat accurate if a single train is on the track.
Wow, sounds like a rough day. I guess we've been very lucky. I've been to Great Adventure five times so far this year and the rides, with the exception of Ka, have always been up and running. I have seen some improvements in the customer service side of things at the park this year. I was hoping they'd keep it up through the summer. I guess we'll have to wait see...
It sounds like you had a bad "luck day". Kingda Ka is going to be Kingda Ka. The signs are wrong on purpose. Duh? They want you to see the enormous wait, and buy it. It's not that the rides weren't open for the day, but it's rather they were broke. Rides brake down.

At SFOG, I went to that park and 4-5 rides were broke at the same time. They all opened later, but it was just bad luck. I guess the point is, that at least the rides are opening. At SFA, they had about 5-6 flats down in one day, and one coaster not open. This park has less rides to begin with. Some of the flats opened later also as I said before.

At SFGAm, they have about 3 rides not open as we speak (I'm not just talking about the coasters). On June 11, they had about 5 rides down (flats). This was due to low staffing.

And you are saying at SFGAdv, they have one roller coaster closed, and food not open which is still bad. It's just a bad design type of ride (Kingda Ka). One roller coaster being down is not bad when they have 13. It's like X at SFMM. Where any flats closed at SFGAdv? Knock off two coasters, and you have 11 because of kids coasters. Knock off your Kingda Ka because it's down, and you have 10 left. I would personally knock off GASM, and you have 9 left.

Go to SFA, and they have 8 coasters. Knock off 1 because it's a kids coaster, and you have 7 left. Knock off one because it's down, and you have 6 left. Knock off the coaster that's a head banger, and you have 5 left. The point is that 9 is better than 5 left.

At SFOT, they had one ride not open. It was either you could go on Flashback (boomerang) coaster, or the Parachute ride. On Wednesday, Flashback was open, and on Thursday, the Parachute was open. Of course, this was in May.

Is SFOT the best in the chain as in rides being open?? I guess Shapiro is trying this "new" thing out only at SFOT. It's called having all the rides open. He's going to start there, and if it works out good, he's going to expand it to the rest of the parks. This will be an additional charge at the parks with all the rides being open. If you don't want all the rides open at the park, than don't go that day. You will have to go on these specially selected days to get on all the rides at the park. It will also cost you an additional $5 for every ride that you see never open, open. Just kidding around.

Talk is cheap. Shapiro can talk the talk, but have the parks really gotten so much better this year than when the other dude was in charge? There should be no Six Flags park you go to that has tons of rides down anymore with Shapiro as the leader. I'm still seeing it happen. He shoudn't be saying all these things that never happen. The low-staffing moms to the rescue never came about.

I didn't really have a problem with Kingda Ka going down. Sure, some of my friends missed out on it, but I much prefer TTD anyways. Half of us are going to Cedar Point in August, so we'll just ride it 30 times there to make up for KK being down.

The biggest problems I had with the park that day were closed retail and food outlets, the other coasters breaking as soon as we were about to get on (or off) and the over commercialization of the park. I'm not saying Great Adventure had all that much charm to begin with (at least since I've been going there), but it just felt like a big shopping mall with rides. I'm all about the parks making money, but they don't have to be so blatantly obvious about it.

I'll continue to go to Great Adventure as long as they have fun coasters. That's all we really do at that park.

I am totally there with you on the inverted coaster thing and the front row. In my opinion, if you're not in the front row of an invert, you've just wasted your time waiting in line. I never used to see the point of inverts because sitting anywhere other than the front, all I would see is the unimpressive massive back of the chair/structure in front of me. Woohoo - what fun? Then I started and have always sat in the front, and now there's no other place for me to sit.

It sounds like your day was really rough with the constant downtimes. Doesn't SFGAdv have periodic checks on the rides throughout the day by trained mechanics, or am I only reminiscing about amusement parks in my childhood years IE the 1980's? You know, before the massive cost-cutting and depletion of pride in one's amusement park job.

I'm heading to SFGAdv for a big kids day in the park with my friend on July 12th. I hope they've got their **** together by then. It will be my first time on Kingda Ka.

- E

rollergator's avatar
I'm happy so many people insist on the front row of inverts - makes the wait times less for the back row...where the POWER is... ;)
I've ridden in the back of a couple inverts, and I just wasn't impressed. On coasters with inversions, I like/need to see where we're going. All other coasters I ride in the back - unless it's a rough woodie - then it's nearer the front.

^^ Good luck at Great Adventure. We normally don't have problems with downtime there. Just happened to be a poor day for the park I guess. I'm just glad we still had a great day despite all the delays.

delan's avatar
I must say halltd, that you took it in pretty good spirits. I would be rampaging breaking stuff if it were me :). I think these Six Flags parks (namely Magic Mtn, Great Adventure) are just bigger that what the staff can manage. I wonder though, how Great America is able to pull it off. Does Six Flags corporate outsource the staff there?? lol
Wait times posted were exaggerated on purpose to sell more Q-Bots? That sounds dishonest to me. We all know SF is not going to be dishonest, especially when it comes to Q-Bot. ;)

Credit card sign-up have no place at an amusement park. It's hard enough to have to deal with them when your NOT on vacation. That really turns me off. Do they heckle you to come over and sign up? ANNOYING!

You know, you were very lucky to have been to the park on a day when the lines were tolerable. I've never been seen SFGAdv with short lines.

ET sound like a lot of fun. Maybe It'll be open if/when I ever decide to put myself through the agony of visiting GAdv again, maybe in 5 or 6 years.

This sounds like a lot of complaining over "acts of God" (ie stuff the park probably couldn't help). Am I just misreading this, or are we complaining just because it's a Six Flags park?


Spinout said:


At SFGAm, they have about 3 rides not open as we speak (I'm not just talking about the coasters). On June 11, they had about 5 rides down (flats). This was due to low staffing.

Must be a weekday thing. I've been to the park the last three weekends and everything has been up and running on those days.

"Heavily medicated for your safety!"

^^ Can you clue me in on how a ride going down for a maintenance issue is an "act of God"? I would classify an "act of God" as rain, thunder, lightning, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, etc...

I said multiple times we still had a great time despite all the rides going down. But, if you're at a park in 98 degree weather with full sun and 80% humidity and it seems like every time you go to get on a ride it breaks down, you're going to be annoyed - Six Flags or not.

I think it has to do with how much the park cuts from the staffing budget. They need to be profitable somehow, and when they aren't making enough, they decide to cut budgets and raise prices until no one cares to go anymore.

"Give them less and charge them more" is not a very honorable way to make a profit, but apparently it's the Six Flags way.


Spinout said:

And you are saying at SFGAdv, they have one roller coaster closed, and food not open which is still bad. It's just a bad design type of ride (Kingda Ka). One roller coaster being down is not bad when they have 13. It's like X at SFMM. Where any flats closed at SFGAdv? Knock off two coasters, and you have 11 because of kids coasters. Knock off your Kingda Ka because it's down, and you have 10 left. I would personally knock off GASM, and you have 9 left.

Go to SFA, and they have 8 coasters. Knock off 1 because it's a kids coaster, and you have 7 left. Knock off one because it's down, and you have 6 left. Knock off the coaster that's a head banger, and you have 5 left. The point is that 9 is better than 5 left.

It's more complicated than that. It has to do with expectations. If there is a ride like KK that you expect to ride when you go to a park, but its closed it is really annoying b/c that is where your expectations where. It also is annoying if you are waiting in line for a coaster and then it brakes down. That happened to me waiting for KK once. I wasted 2.5 hours in the park b/c someone had their hat get caught in the launch!

Incidently I thought that this would be a good place for me to add that I had quite the opposite experience at SFNE today. It seemed today that atleast sfne is turning into a much better park. Every single ride and almost every waterslide even was open in the park. I also saw the park enforceing the no loose article policy which i haven't seen in the past. My only complaint was slow ride operators.

-Eric: Major Parks: SFNE(homepark), SFA,SFGADV,CP,BGE,BGA,Kennywood,and Sea World: Track record 65 different coasters ridden #1 is Millennium Force #2 is El Toro and than there are all the others

I went a few weeks ago, and really had thought that park had turned things around. The only coaster not running was the Chiller. I thought their operations had improved dramatically.

It was nice to see all the Looney Tunes characters around the park. Even got our picture taken with marvin the martian. Turned out really well.

My only complaint was the cost of the Flashpass from visit 2 seasons ago.

This just solidifies to me how great CP is.

On a May wednesday...

-Every Coaster was open.
-Every Coaster had it's actual wait listed within ten minutes.
-Every Flat ride was open.
-Maverick and Snake River Falls were the only two rides closed at any point, Maverick being a 4 day old Intamin (I.E. Understandable) and Snake River opening at noon.
-Every Food stand was open.
-Top Thrill, Gemini, Mean Streak, and Corkscrew crews were noticably excited and fun.
-Every Coaster had two or more trains operating (sans Magnum, understandably running with one), with Top Thrill and Maverick running with 5 and 6, respectively.

I hope every Cedar Fair and Six Flags park can hit that kind of service within the next few years. *** Edited 6/21/2007 7:39:21 PM UTC by thepinkdoomofmonkeys***

Chattanooga needs a [B][I]ITG2[/I][/B] Machine!

thepinkdoomofmonkeys said:

-Every Coaster had two or more trains operating

I heard there was 4 train operation on Wicked Twister, can you verify this?

- Bryce

Now that I think about it, there were five trains on Twister too. ;)

C'mon, it's hard to care about things like that when the ride's a walk on anyway. :) *** Edited 6/21/2007 9:15:39 PM UTC by thepinkdoomofmonkeys***

Chattanooga needs a [B][I]ITG2[/I][/B] Machine!

halltd said:
^^ Can you clue me in on how a ride going down for a maintenance issue is an "act of God"? I would classify an "act of God" as rain, thunder, lightning, hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, etc...

Crap happens. Rides break down. It's not as though SFGAdv had a handful of attractions closed for the entire day. And to assume that it's the fault of the maintenance department and not just unavoidable ride breakdowns (ie the "acts of god" to which I originally referred) is annoyingly presumptuous.

From your report, it seemed as though Six Flags did a fairly good job of taking care of their breakdowns and getting their rides operational again. You just happened to hit them all at the wrong time. That's a bummer, yes, but I wouldn't fault the park for it.

Certainly you have some valid complaints here (lack of food vendors open, incorrectly posted wait times, lines roped off for Q-Bot, etc), even though some of these things worked in your favor. It just seemed to me that there was a lot of complaining over things the park probably couldn't help.


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