Weather - Sunny, Picture Perfect
It was time to see if what I've been reading lately here and from press releases about Six Flags has been true...This is no way intended to splash on Crashmando's recent post. I just like to expand my writing and to provide more details than anyone cares to read.
The Jorney Begins...
I got a later start than I wanted due to the fact that I was sick the night before and I lost 3 hours of sleep. I left Long Island at 7 and opted for the scenic route instead of the turnpike. (Rt. 9 south to 537 West). You know...I've noticed over the years that the scenic route is more and more becoming less so as shopping and strip malls in Freehold are making thier way more and more westbound from the raceway.
I paid the $15 bucks for parking and was given a poster map and a comlimentary copy of the Jersey Edition of the Daily News. I park by the big "S" in front of the Superman station so I can find my car - besides, it's tradition.
Pre-Opening - - -> On my way to the main gate, there were three firm but friendly security guards offering code of conduct cards and verbally warning about line cutting, smoking and offensive clothing. Many of these warnings were on every emploee's shirt who were ride ops and grounds crew. ANYBODY who claimed they "didn't know the rules" is a lying weasel. I was fortunate to have a "teacher's ticket" so I handed it to the gatekeepare and I went inside.
There are big differences between this year and seasons past regarding pre-opening.The Rope Drop areas are much firther back so people can buy a bot or various other things before entering the park. Those with seasons passes and 1 guest each were able to get on BTR and Nitro, which were the bonus rides of the day. Everybody who had a pass was checked. Everyone else was waiting. I tried to measure the crowd to see if I needed a bot. I decided "no" and that if I wanted one later in the morning, I would get it. There were price differences between all tiers of weekday and weekend bots.
I started to feel upset because I was on a bench and cigarette smoke was pouring over in my direction. The guard in front of me didn't say a thing. THen I realized I was in a designated smoking area. I moved away.
All of a sudden there was a preshow as some of the justice league characters came out and posed for photos and just high fived everyone. (Green Lantern scracted me with his ring, but I'm sure it was an accident). Then it was time for bugs and his friends to do thier thing at the front of the fountain. We were so far away from the fountain I could barely hear the National Anthem or the festiviteis. I did hear 5 - 4- 3- 2- 1.....BULL RUN! I ran for about 30 feet and then remembered who I was and what I looked like, so I laughed, enjoyed the moment and walked over to Nitro. (THe Bull-run IS what summer is all about!)
QUESTION - - - > If Superman is the biggest star DC has, and a ride at Great Adventure is named after him, why isn't he one of the walkaround characters? Also, since 6 Flags doesn't have a deal with Marvel, I found it odd that Spiderman stuff was in some of the stores and there were at least 2 movie advertisements as billboards for Fantastic 4 and the Silver Surfer. (Also if the Justice League is here...do we really need security or is that overkill?)
1) Nitro - Why not get started off on the ride that never failed to disappoint in the past. I love Nitro. The comfort, the legroom, the rusty sign...hey what's not to love. I opted for a front row seat and had one in five miutes. The guy at the control was a beffy guy with a high voice. He tried to excite those gathered, but it was too early in the day for the regular peeps to get involved. I did. The crew was moving fast and they were using two trains.
Great ride - very smooth: more so than last year - lots of floater air. When we got back to the station, I did the one cheak sneak...I did the fake out and laded mid train...As long as new peeps weren't in my row and as long as I was helping squeaky entertain a sparse crowd, I thought I would be in for serious re-rides. (The mid train seat was a little more shakey than the front). The third time around, I was alone in the row in front of the back row. A bit more force, but a bit more shake. I got good views of hte stoarage yard or the repair depot and lots of trees. AFter the third time, the ques were filled, so I bowed and left. One idiot though two seats in front of me tried to spit on those passing by. Ah...who says you can't buy class.
2) Congo Rapids - What the heck...I'm taking it easy. Nice ride, NO WAIT, but would hav been more fun if there were two boats to bump into along the way. THe waterfall was down too. This ride would be so much better with a few more inexpensive elements to splash you. Special thanks to the family who allwed me to join them on their boat.
3) Batman The Ride - You know, everyone seems to like this one, as it has been cloned so many times, but if something works well, why not? My favorite part is the spin-around after the third inversion. Very fast and fun. (I even took the waterpark shoes off for this one because there is nothing like wind between your toes). Overall a nice ride, but a tad short, and quite a bit of headbanging. It leaves you wanting more. I still get a chuckle when the ride comes back to the stations and you have to wait for the next train to go. Batman, you just saved the day, what are you going to do now? "I'm gonna wait in traffic."
Someone posted not too long ago about doing these rides in the back. I did another sneak and got back on the second to last row. The ride was about the same, though the view was much worse, though the banging decreased quite a bit. Very professional crew.
4) Water Effect - I like water rides. Even the "load 'em, soak 'em and get 'em off types." This ride was another no wait..well almost. I was about to get my own boat, but a family who must have recently come off a boat of thier own, had trouble understanding the rules requiring shoes to be worn. The exchange took about 5 minutes. While one ride op was in deep dialog, the other one was being probed for information by me. It seems as if (according to him) Chiller is going to be closed for quite a while...it may be taken down next year...due to high part costs and a bad performance record.) Finally we were off, up down and wet. An exiting visit to the bridge finished the job.
5) Johnny Rockets - I had very high remarks for this place, as I've been to the one at Cedar Point and really liked it. It's a bit deceptive. First of all, the only tables are outside. Second, no pickles. The price was high, but it was ok, not great. The staff there was very nice and hard-working.
OBSERVATION: After the pre-show in the morning, the main mall area near the fountain offered the parade, and a few photo ops with Bugs and his pals. While I was eating, I heard an announcer play-by-play style, telling people to "say hello to sylvester and tweety right now and have your photo taken...oh look there's (name not important) from Johnny Rockets...look at those dancing feet...and...yada yada yada... The idea was to bring out some energy, but after about ten minutes it was getting a bit repetative and annoying. The guys who were playing the drums on recycled lids and cans were entertaining and a bit under-appreciated.
6) Scream Machine - By this time of the day, the lines were starting to build a little. Nothing insane yet, but noticably building. There was a big sign on a banner saying that "This was the crew of the month for the month of April." When I got to the platform for my front train ride, I congratulated the op and asked what they were given for the honor. The response..."Nothing."
OBSERVATION: They were a good crew, but for 20 extra bucks a head for these 3 people, Great ADventure would get optimal performance from these people all summer. By acknowledgeing them and not ponying up a bit is a bad practice. It makes the other crews say "so what?" and regard it a BS award.
OBSERVATION #2: If anyone knows anyone over at Great Adventure...PLEASE change the que a bit. THe photos that are displayed behind the glass are so faded that they aren't readable. I think one of the parks mentioned is for the Astroworld in Houston.
The Ride: Scream Machine was smoother than expected in the front row, but there is still that almost complete stop 2/3 into the ride. It truly takes away from the run. Nice view of Ka and Toro.
7) KA - I didn't expect to be on this ride in less than an hour. There were no switchbacks in the area near the DJ station and half of the que that views Rollig Thunder was roped off. There is still a ticket that you are given and have to give to a guard before the station house. After 20 minutes I was at the station and 20 minutes later I was on the ride.
Here's the tip. If you are looking at the hill, there are two platforms. Call them left and right and divide each platform into front and back. ALL OF THE Q-BOT PEOPLE MERGE TO ONE AREA...THE RIGHT BACK LOADING AREA. Had I known that, I would have opted for the left side - which would have saved me about 15 minutes.
There is also another banner here for a crew reward for the month of June. I congratulated the op and asked..."What did they give you?" his response: "Nothing."
Bythe way...they say on the repeated announcemnts that you can't wear glasses. You can, but only if you have a strap.
I have never seen all 4 stations opened at once. It was unheard of at all of my visits last year. I was waiting for the front car and the crew asked for another single rider...which moved me up about trains.
I love watching the trains ahead launch. The coolest part is seeing the little "catch" skitter down from the end of the track and picking us up. Get ready...hold on... and then there is that pause that doesn't tell you how long or when to time your last swallow.
BOOM! INstant force. I wanted to ride withour holding on, but I just needed to grab the handle. What a view, nice air time on both hills, the view straight down from the front seat and the spiral is the stuff that drives this hobby. WOW!
Sidenote: If I had a gold bot, I could see people getting on every 15 minutes. 25 for a front seat. 20 if you are a solo rider.
El Toro - Reality Sets In.
I passed Tango. It was closed. I have never gotten a ride on that thing yet. Here is my yearly rant...bring back the bulls.
I knew that I needed to test the test seat before entering El Toro. Last year, I barly made it due to my size. This year, sadly, I'm slightly bigger. It was a no-go. I know I need to do something about this and this may have been the ultimate alarm clock.
Without a doubt I think it would have been a 20 minute wait.
HEY! THE BRIDGE IS BACK! The most peacful part of Great ADventure to me was the bridge between where el toro is and the western area. It's now open and still somewhat scenic. Wether you ride it or not, El Toro is a beautiful structure.
8) Skyride - 7 minute wait - private car - beautiful, breezy, peaceful, perfect. (1 side running)
9) Swing Ride - Poor guy! He is by himself and he had to measure, laod & check, start the ride, assist the passengers off, and repeat until the end of summer. He was a little lazy, but he was alone and he must have heard about the big rewards from the Ka and scream Machine Crews. He wouldn't let us leave our shoes, flip-flops, sneakers or sandals on the floor. He must have thought it was safer to have these on the ride with us so we could drop them as free souvineers on passers-by. He didn't object at all to the bare feet. He just didn't want the shoes on the floor.
By now it was about 3 and I was feeling the effects of last night's lack of sleep and the need to drive back to long island in heavy traffic. I did want to make a stop to my favorite place st six flags...guest relations.
Usually guest relations didn't have to give out entertainment schedules because it WAS the entertainment. Complaints, anger, subtitles...etc. This time, I was pleased to see there was almost no line. The guy in front of me wanted to upgrade to a seasons pass and the girl in front of me was getting a pass for her broken leg. I wanted to make sure I got the discounted tickets I was promised from last year. The clerk went to the computer, found my name, and gave me 2 passes to enter EITHER Great ADventure or hurricane harbor for $10. She was very pleasant and professional.
Here is the fianal scorecard in comparison to last year:
Rides: (Better) Almost all of them that I saw were opened at 10:30. I know Crashmando had trouble with Ka in the morning, but I was on the other side of the park where we were rocking.
Ride Ops (Much Better) Other than the one guy on the Wave Swinger, I couldn't rate a crew less than good...most were very good.
Food (Even) Maybe I had a bad johnny Rockets experience, but losing Chippy's was a tough one for me. The food prices were still too high, by a lot.
Cleanliness (Better) - The park was spotless. ALmost disneyland clean.
Bathrooms (Better) - Stocked, Clean, well-lit.
Security (Much Better) - They were everywhere. I DID NOT SEE ONE LINE CUTTER ALL DAY. (There was one guy who was walking backwards, not ahead). The warnings befor the gate were perfect.
People: (Better) - They were happy, there were families having fun and there were teens having fun. So was I. Noone was angry or looking for trouble.
Atmosphere (Better) - It did feel more friendlier and "up."
Parking (Worse) there were pot-holes galore in the $15 a space parking lot.
Safari (Do Not Go)
Waterpark (Did Not Go)
Rides Down: Chiller (Both Sides), Tango, Freefall.
Additions: Wiggles World - It looks like they rethemed part of Bugs Bunny Seaport. It looks new, but too many things to ride wiggle-related. I did hear "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy" playing in the area. Very clean. The Looney Tunes fountain is now a Henry the Octopus fountain.
Crowds: Not too bad. Very few camps (since most of them come after July 4th and most Schools are closed)
All in all they are well on the right track. Had I felt better, I would have stayed and done more.
Let's all have a fun and safe summer riding season.
Thanks for reading this.
As for the Freefall you mentioned in 'Rides Down' I believe they got rid of Stuntman's Freefall altogether, or am I imagining things?
They were a good crew, but for 20 extra bucks a head for these 3 people, Great ADventure would get optimal performance from these people all summer. By acknowledgeing them and not ponying up a bit is a bad practice. It makes the other crews say "so what?" and regard it a BS award.
I understand what you're saying and even agree somewhat, but is simple pride in your work really that foreign of a concept anymore? :(
On the plus side, SF isn't letting me down this year! :)
Gonch - - - > In most cases, I would say you are right...but we are dealing with a company that has younger people with a previous reputation of mostly lousy service. At least give the crew some private ride time, a T shirt, a few extra passes for the family, SOMETHING!
I think it would be a small gesture that would have long reaching effects to other crews throughout the park.
In a day camp that I used to work for there was always an award ceremony for the kidss at the end of the summer. The last two awards went to a male and female counselor of the year. [Usually it went to counselors who had been with the camp for a few years with excellent service.] They got a certificate with a $50 dollar bill. It actually made the staff work a little harder towards the end of the summer.
If they were going to get a sign, at least put the names of the crew members on it. Again, the extra cost for this is minimal.
Thank you for reading and responding!
When we got back to the station, I did the one cheak sneak
What does that mean, exactly?
I guess my question is, is that legit with the ride op?? I mean, I understand that particular row may be empty, but I would think if multiple people starting doing it, it would start to get chaotic.
My other question is, do ride op's notice when this happens?? And if so, do they just not care to regulate, or realize the row was empty anyway, so again, who cares?! (Because I've always thought, and wanted, to do this myself!)
Also, my question to Gonch about El Toro (since I believe he rode it last year), since it seems the body proportions are really strict on ET, would someone who's 190 lbs. and 5'11.5" fit ok on ET??
If you let people get back on without waiting in the queue, the station is bound to become complete chaos. Once that trend catches on with more people, you'd have like ten people or more standing there looking for empty rows, then fighting over them. This is another reason why I don't like allowing people through the coaster train to deposit loose articles on the exit platform.
(The term refers to well...passing gas...You want to, you have to, but you don't want to draw unnecessary attention to yourself...so you lean over and hope for a silent 'One cheak' escape.)
If I am EVER told "No," by any member of the crew, I just go.
I also help to close down the seats near to me to help the rest of the crew. They seem to appreciate that gesture too.
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