SF Great Adventure (8/17/2004)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, August 23, 2004 1:16 PM
WARNING: The following material may be considered offensive by Great Adventure fans in particular and Six Flags “Fan Boys” in general. Reader discretion is advised.

Okay, from that opening, I suppose you can guess the type of experience I had. I had a day off work so I decided visit Six Flags Great Adventure for the first time in 26 years. My wife had to work that day, but since she had not real desire to visit this park, she was glad that I headed out on my own.

The drive down the PA and NJ turnpikes were as “pleasant” as any drives on those two highways could be and I at the front gate of the park in around 3 hours. The only traffic delay I encountered that day came when trying to get in to the parking lot. I didn’t count how may “booths” they have… I will guess 10… but only around 6 of them were open… so it was slow going. However, I eventually got through and found a fairly close parking space.

The visit started off good when a family of 5, who had 3 “one Free Admission with one Regular Admission” coupons noticed that I was walking in alone and asked if I wanted to enter with them and use one of their coupons. No problem there…. Half price entry into the park. I can handle that. Especially after seeing the sign at the ticket window listing closed rides… including Nitro. Oh well… at least I am not paying full price.

Once inside the park I grabbed a map and headed off to the left. There were some things that I immediately noticed. There was sort of a surreal look to things. Most of the shops were open, but a few were closed, and the walk ways seemed rather empty. Turning the corner, I headed toward Great American Scream Machine and Superman Ultimate Escape. Walking through the midway to these two coasters, I noticed that many of the “stands” (of games I assume) that were lining the midway were closed… their steel doors rolled down and closed. It gave the impression of walking through deserted boardwalk someplace.

It was only around 10:45am and already the line for Superman UE was backed up to the end of its queue, so I decided to hop a ride on GASM first. This looked to be a short wait. Last seat, 3rd train out. I eventually climbed aboard and closed the restraints down, but it did take a while. The trains were not being dispatched all that quickly. Anyway… Good coaster… very disorienting but not as rough as some say. The appearance of the station and coaster is a different story. The blue and red trains are faded to a light blue and nearly pink. While waiting for the train to dispatch, I felt water on the seat and restraint… and then I felt a drop. I looked up to see a large, dripping rust spot in the ceiling of the station. The fact that it appears that it was built over a parking lot doesn’t help its appearance any.

Rolling Thunder was next. The odd thing was this… the station looked abandoned. I actually had to stop and listen to see if I could hear voices coming from the station. Sure enough, one side was open, so I continued and got in line. I only had few train wait, but it took a while. First, the ops were very slow… It looked like they were moving on inertia than any sort of actual muscle control. Second, for what ever reason, while they were running two trains, they decided to run the one through empty on a few of its cycles. Third, even though the line was relatively short, I lost track of the number of line jumpers. As for the coaster itself… Not as bad as many say. Sure, it could use some TLC, but it’s not a bad coaster. Not sure about the trains. I don’t ever recall wood coaster trains with quite this tight of a fit. Add to the fact that several of the seats were “belted” off as out of order.

Viper sat next door, looking abandoned and rather “defunct”. Needless to say, it was not running. I continued to Medusa. A walk on, though it still took 2 minutes to dispatch (I was timing by this time). A good B&M floorless and a fun ride. The train however was stacked on the break run for a little while as the other train was loading and dispatching. After exited, I walked around again to try a second ride… but by this time the station was filled with the line ending at the bottom of the steps. I decided that one ride was enough for now.

A sad sight next… the old Conestoga wagon was sitting there… its “cover” off of it, and looking very neglected. Another memory form my childhood visit tarnished. I decided to try the Runaway Mine Train, one of the few rides that is still there that I remember from my early visits. No such luck. It was stopped on the lift hill, fully loaded with people. Okay, no problem… the Log Flume is near by… but its line was wrapped around all of its queue and was nearly over flowing. I decided not to wait and to continue on.

Walking toward the Carrousel, I noticed that a fence blocked my way, but then I noticed that you could take a left and walk down by the lake. What a depressing area this was. The lake looked very forbidding, and the walk way looked abandoned. Somewhere on line at a defunct parks site, there is a picture of the Black Witch coaster at Myrtle Beach’s Magic Harbor after that park had closed. The area around the lake reminded me of this picture. Quite depressing indeed.

My destination was the next coaster on the map… Skull Mountain. No line for this, so I went in. No line until you came to the actual station inside of the mountain. Then all bets are off… no order what so ever, just then entire line emptying out at the station and a mob trying to get to the air gates. Well, after a 20 minute wait I hopped aboard the back seat for the very short and very uneventful ride. I did notice one thing though… As slow as the ops were running on this coaster, the first thing they did was make sure that the Q-bot (or what ever they call it) users were taken care of, seating them first. A light bulb went off in my head.

Once outside, the line for Ploand Springs Plunge (known as the Moon Flume in my earlier visits) was over flowing as was that for Batman The Ride.... out onto the midway. I kept on walking. Batman and Robin the Chiller was of course only running one side. Its queue was also over flowing and spilling into the midway. I kept on walking.

Finding where you get your Q-bot, I saw the line stretched several hundred feet. I thought, what the heck… so I stepped into line. 15 minutes later, after moving no more than 10 feet, I began to wonder if it is worth it. I soon figured that out. A man was waiting in line behind me and his friend / girlfriend / wife what ever came walking back toward him and I overheard her explain… $20 will get you basically virtual queuing… of the wait is 2hrs, you wait 2hrs, but you are free to go where ever else you wish. $60 will get you “express”…. Your wait will be 15 to 30 minutes. I am not sure if that was correct, I am not sure if htat is really how their Q-bot system works, but that is what I overheard her telling him. Regardless, I had enough by that time and decided to cut my losses. I stepped out of line and headed toward the exit.

Why did I have such a crappy day? I don’t know. I had high hopes from SFGrAdv… but they were really not met. In 1977 my family visited Busch Gardens Williamsburg (or the Olde Country as it was called back then). In 2002 my wife and I went there… my first time back there in 25 years. It was as charming, and clean and well run as I remembered… so it wasn’t my memory of Great Adventure that failed me. In 1978 the park of course was new… and I realize that time does take a toll… but BGW did not show the same signs of age. Some of the older rides and buildings that remained from 1978 looks like they have seen very little maintenance and paint over the past 26 years. Also, age is no excuse for the walk ways to be so dirty. Saddest thing was seeing the towers of the sky ride with its empty cables… and to see the one sky ride station (not the one in the fort), sitting there looking abandoned with its cars all stacked up. There was a frame work for some sort of cover over the station, but I don’t recall any roof or covering (though I could be wrong). Viper looks not only closed down, but out right abandoned. The Big Wheel (or what ever the Ferris Wheel is called now) looked very forbidding too… It did not age well.

Also… closed were Viper, one side of Batman and Robin, one side of Rolling Thunder, and Nitro. Was it maintenance issues or staffing? Either excuse is unacceptable. If it is maintenance… then get ‘em fixed, or if they can't be be fixed then tear ‘em down. If it was staffing. Still unacceptable because while some of the shops were closed, most were open.

The ops that I ran into were slow at best, and border line negligent at worst (the kids running Rolling Thunder seemed more concerned about horsing around and carrying on with each other than keeping a close eye on their coaster). The best employee that I ran into was the woman taking my money at the parking lot. She at least smiled and said “Enjoy your day.”

What I think got me the most was the whole Q-bot thing. I can see the need for this system if you have long lines because of the crowd. However, when you have long lines because either all of your big attractions are not open (or would be opening later as I understand Nitro is known to do) or are being run in the slowest manner known to man, then Q-bot starts to take on not so much the appearance of a “convenience” but rather a money making ploy to make your guests wallets even lighter.

Driving out of the parking lot, I called my wife on my cell phone. She was surprised to hear that it was only 12:30p and I was already leaving. In so many words I told her that I had seen enough and I had had enough. I told her that I wished she would have had off too that day so we could have spent the day together, but yet I was glad that she wasn’t along… the whole Great Adventure experience was so depressing that I am glad she did not have to suffer through it.

Oh well, it was still early… and I was only a little over an hour away, so I decided to heard south to Ocean City NJ for a quick “credit stop” at Gillians and Playland (in another TR).

Will I EVER go back to Six Flags Great Adventure? Probably… but only if certain circumstances exist. We still want to do Six Flags over Georgia and Six Flags New England. We will probably do them in the same summer (next summer?) so I will visit Six Flags America (only a 2 hr drive for me) and pick up a cheap SF season pass (and of course get a ride of Wild One and S:RoS while I am there). ONLY if I have that SF Season Pass would I even consider visiting Great Adventure again. Since I would be getting in on a Pass, I may even consider doing the Q-bot thing just to get the chance to ride the coasters that I missed. Other than that… nothing is really drawing me back to this park.

Part of me wishes that I would not have gone and just kept the great child hood memories of my 1975 and 1978 visits. *** Edited 8/23/2004 5:20:16 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Monday, August 23, 2004 4:42 PM
Sorry you had a bad time. I've had some of those days also at Great Adventure, but somehow I always went back due to having a season pass. I've also had to make return trips to get rides that I previously didn't get. It's really sad, but Q-bot is about the only way to get anything of substance done when it's crowded. Out of the many rides they added in 1999 to alleviate lines, many are gone (Double Inverter, Jump, Evolution, Octopus, Frisbee), which just makes it worse. Of course, there's always the storeroom theory which says that you will add more stuff even though you've expanded the room. I think you'll like SFNE much better, as it's a much better looking park, with a kick-butt FREE Hurricane Harbor.

While I can't say that I agree with you about the Lake, I have a picture of the Galaxy from Magic Harbour and it is soooo depressing. *** Edited 8/23/2004 8:45:30 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

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Monday, August 23, 2004 4:54 PM
My wife and I were talking about this last night...

IF we get season passes at SFA (our closest SF park... 2 hrs away) to get us in there, and SFoG or SFNE, I might return to SFGrAdv and spring for a Q-bot.

Question is.... just how exactly does the Q-bot work. I was going on only second hand info while standing in line.

Version 1: $20: If the line is 2 hrs long, you get a spot in two hours... you don't have to stand in line, you go "to the front of the line" in 2 hours. More like Virtual Queing

Version 2: $60: If the line is 2 hours your wait is 15 to 30 minutes and you go "to the front of the line". Almost like a "fast pass".

Is this understanding correct? How exactly do they work?

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Monday, August 23, 2004 7:08 PM
I think you let the Q-bot beep in front of a sign and then it reserves your ride. Not sure though.

That stupid piece of equipment is the most unfair thing out there. WHY should SF get money to let you cut in line? Just shows how they don't care about guests.

Disney World and CP's system are better because its open to everyone and its free.

I can't blame anyone who says, I think $20 is decent to cut all the lines, I don't blame you but it isn't fair and wrong of SF when you think about it.

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Monday, August 23, 2004 7:32 PM
Don't feel bad I had the same crappy day on 8/20 except I got stuck on NJT for 2 hrs because of an accident and SUF kept breaking down all day. Not to mention Nitro was closed. I had my kids with me when I relised they have no good flats for my kids to ride so we left at 3:30 pm and went thru the Safari which we always enjoy. I'm sopposed to go back there on 9/12 but I'm thinking of cancelling that trip.
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Monday, August 23, 2004 9:14 PM
I was going to give SFGAdv a try this year, but from all of the bad stuff I keep hearing about it, I am starting to reconsider.


They have all of these problems and instead of trying to fix them, they are building a new coaster. That is VERY bad decision making. This new coaster will attract a lot of people to clog up the park and it will, in the long run, lower attendance by subtracting repeat business from "upset guests".

If they would just keep their rides open and get their staff excited about the park and it's guests, that would get repeat business and good word of mouth. More lines to stand in will make all lines shorter and give a better value and also make Q-Bot less nessessary.

Where is the value? To get your $50 worth, you have to spend an extra $20-$60 for the magical Q-Bot. That makes the park admission really $70-$110 for the same amount of rides you would have got from a trip there 10 years ago.

It's been said over and over here though, so I am just reiterating the obvious. Maybe I'll go next year.

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Monday, August 23, 2004 10:14 PM

All valid points made by SLFAKE. Nitro being closed is a REAL bad thing, considering the rate at which that ride moves people and how fun it is. The slow ride operators REALLY annoyed me last time I went there. It took 4 minutes between train launches on S:UF !! The line that SHOULD have been about 45 minutes ended up being about 1 and 1/2 hours. As you mentioned, running only 1 side of The Chiller is unacceptable, especially with Nitro being closed and with the pathetic capacity of a single side on The Chiller (20 people per launch, about 2-3 minutes between launches). Unfortunately, it seems like the best way to visit SFGadv is to live fairly close and get a season pass. I did this for 2 years and would visit the park on Thursday and Sunday nights when the crowds would die down. Otherwise, you're taking your chances for sure.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:34 AM
The standard Qbot is $20 for the 1st person, and $10 for an additional person. If the posted wait at a coaster is 1 hour you have to wait that time to ride, but you don't have to wait in the quene.

The gold Qbot is I believe $40 for the 1st person, and $20 for the additional. When my son and I used it a few months ago it was $60 for both of us. If the posted wait for a coaster is 1 hour it will cut the wait to 15 minutes.

Most coasters where you enter is in the loading so you can pick where you sit in the train. The 5 coasters that you have enter through the exit is Batman, Mine Ride, Scream Machine, Chiller, and Skull Mountain. They actually have a row of each train(usually middle) for Qbot riders.

When it is really crowded on a weekend it well worth it to save the waiting in lines.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 8:33 AM
The $40 first person + $20 for additional people is probably where i got the $60 from... the woman speaking to the man was probably quoting the price for the two of them.

How do they determine wait times? I noticed on most (all?) coasters a sign that said "Your wait time is ________" with no times posted.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:05 AM
The way they figure out wait times goes like this.The park will give a random person a ticket when they enter the queue line. This ticket has the current time on it. The person is asked to give it to a ride-op when they are about to board the train.Than that ride-op will call the supervisor with the difference.Than someone will slide the wait time in the sign. This is how they get correct wait times. I bet half the time they can tell by looking where the line ends in a certain part of the queue.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:21 AM
So, for example.... you are handed a ticket at the beginning of the queue for Rolling Thunder... You have a 4 train wait... you had the ticket to the op as you board... the op calls the supervisor... the calculations are done to get the time it took you (for your 4 train wait)... and that "25 minute" time is placed in the sign?
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:22 AM
I was wondering how you made out at Great Adventure!

I'm really sorry to hear that you had such a crappy day. Honestly, I have never had a day like that at the park but I can see how a number of issues, working in conjuction with each other, could set the scene for such a miserable experience.

The Superman line is always long. I have no idea why, it just is. Viper is always down. Not that I enjoy the ride, but it should be open. Both sides of Chiller should also be open. There should not be operational problems in its eighth season. All of those things are things that I find inexcusable.

Nitro being down... that's a bummer. That is the best ride in the park and now that I have experienced the park with Nitro, I can't ever imagine it not being there. Considering all you've heard about the ride, I'm sure that it was something you were looking forward to. I hope that you eventually go back, if not for any other reason then just to experience Nitro.

Unlike you, I find the lakeside area to be quaint. I think its peaceful and scenic, although I don't remember how it looked back in the park's early years so I have nothing to compare it to. I know that the Big Wheel was refurbished a few years back so I have no idea why it looks like crap. I think the entire thing was dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

Like I said, I'm really sorry that you had a bad day. Hopefully your next visit (whenever that may be) shows you what I am used to at the park!

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:38 AM
Q-bot is a reservation system. You put your Q-bot in front of the sign and it gives you a time to come back, which could be an hour, or five hours. You can't do the next ride, until the current ride on the screen has been ridden (you can however cancel the existing ride). If you miss the current ride, it's no big deal, it just moves onto the next reservation. I think we could all argue until were blue in the face as to whether or not it's fair. But ask anyone who's used a Q-bot if they regretted it, and I'll bet you 90% of the people would say no (I know I've enjoyed it).
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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:41 AM
The Big Wheel may look like it does because it is a 1974 model. Seeing other gondola style wheels the standard size ones at many parks and the really big ones like Darien Lake and Moreys, Big Wheel may just look bad because of a) the color scheme (that pale yellow or what ever you want to call it) and b) the older design.

The lake front may not have been all that bad... but a) I was comparing it to my memories from 1975 & 1978, b) it was the one are of the park that seemed to be nearly deserted (most of the crowds were around Superman and in the Nitro / Batman / Batman Robin areas as well as the main enterance areas) and c) I was pretty disgusted by that point with what I had seen and experienced around GASM, Rolling Thunder and the old "Best of the West" area (what ever that is called now).

I believe the crushing blow came when I saw the sky ride station (on the Nitro side of the park) looking in particularly abandoned. The towers with the cables hanging form them were bad enough... but something about this station just screamed of a pic from a defunct park. I understand they run the sky ride only periodically and then only usually one side. Any reason? Maintenance? low ridership? What? I think it would be best to take it out (as most parks have done) than to leave it there unused for the most part... it just looks bad. On the bright side... when I walked by I saw that my memory was not totally shot... I saw that their sky ride gondolas have a pole running down the center of them. I can remember being scared to death on this ride back in 1975 and getting on the floor and wrapping my arms around this center pole to hold on.

As for Q-bot being fair: No, I don''t think it is. However, if it is at a park that I do not frequent often (SFGrAdv, SFNE, etc) I would definately use it to make the most of my day. What really bugs me about the Q-bot system... It wouldn't be that bad IF the rides were running at full capacity and with good queues. If the queues are long because of lots of riders, fine... I wouldn't mind using it. But I would mind having to pay to use it to maximize my ride time because of slow and ineffective ride operations. *** Edited 8/24/2004 2:43:34 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 11:44 AM
I recently had the chance to go back after a one year hiatus and was rather unhappily surprised by how the park is managing their rides right now. I was familiar with the long lines, and I was there the first season of the Q-Bot, so I thought I knew what to expect. I knew that a Saturday in August was a bad time to go, btu I had an 11 year old whoo hadn't been there to get on any coasters before, so we decided to go and do the regular lines. Little did I know what I was in for.

Sadly, the park's ride operations have fallen way down, and I cannot understand why. Nitro and Medusa pushed their lines fairly fast in comparison to other rides, but I felt insulted that trains would not even be checked until the last train hit the brakes! When the ride has midcourse brakes, it makes it feel even more insulting since the whole point is to have a safety zone in case of an emergency so that ou could have an extra train on the course and get more people through. When lines reached 2 hours and they still waited until then to check the train before dispatch, it feels wrong.

The Scream MAchine line made me very upset because the overselling of Q-Bots made them decide to let them get on every other train, but those users could take up any seats they wanted to. This led to a wait 4x longer than necessary when they used to have rows set aside. Watching a whole train of Q-Botters go out with mad customers at the station who thought they were next is pretty insulting.

They have done some good work in trying to improve the experience (much cleaner than it used to be, and the return of line guards who actually enforced the long neglected rules), but I feel that the ride operations took all of that away at once. At least if the rides were run to safe capacity, and not nearly single train operations, I would have felt better. You would hope a crowded park like that would want to give people a more positive experience.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 12:52 PM

Rob Ascough said:


The Superman line is always long. I have no idea why, it just is. Viper is always down. Not that I enjoy the ride, but it should be open. Both sides of Chiller should also be open. There should not be operational problems in its eighth season. All of those things are things that I find inexcusable.


From what I understand, the S:UF is SFoG has a dual station design. The one at SFGadv only has 1 station. In addition, the ride ops are pathetically slow. I timed the launches and on average, it took nearly 4 minutes to launch a train. That's ridiculous for a ride that should take no longer than about 1 minute to launch. When the trains spend most of their time loading and launching, that's an indication that they really should have gone with 2 stations. Storm Runner's line moves very fast because of the 2 stations.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:07 PM
And also because there is no need to slow down operations of Storm Runner, since there is no Q-Bot or similar system in place at Hershey that can generate some extra revenue.

Sorry... I just can't seem to get off the "Slow Operations = More of a need for Q-Bot = More ca$h being handed over"

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:41 PM
*warning rant beginning*

Qbot at SFGAdv does not affect the operations of S:UF since the qbot line merges at the station and you have to choose a line to get in for a row... all it does is moves some of the traffic from the queue line... there is no special row that is removed from use to normal public... so if the ops or the public is trying to maximize capactiy ... the line should still move if the ride ops are moving and doing their job efficiently... here's a hint look and see how many rows only have 2 people in them on S:UF I notice almost 1 row every train when i am there....wonders where the old Single rider lines went... they would surely help if they were brought back to help maximize capacity and only used to fill a row where 2 or three people were sitting. I hate hearing the complaints that qbot only makes queue lines longer... no it don't. If you bought regular Qbot you are waiting the same time as a person who got in line at the same time you scanned the Qbot. How is this affecting the queue line when you walk back and ride at your scheduled time? All you did was not stand there for 2 hours that you would have. Where it is affecting is the other rides since you can ride any ride that you don't scan qbot for while you wait for your reserved time for the ride you did scan.

*end rant*


SLFAKE said

Sorry... I just can't seem to get off the "Slow Operations = More of a need for Q-Bot = More ca$h being handed over"


Bad news SFGAdv had bad ride ops before qbot... qbot didn't make bad ride ops it is only an option to avoid the bad ride ops. So sad are the state of SFGAdv ride ops that they need to have it or else everyone would be saying how crappy a park this really is. *** Edited 8/24/2004 5:45:01 PM UTC by dragonoffrost***

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:10 PM
I am not saying that Q-bot affects the wait time of individuals... I am saying that with Q-bot there is one less incentive to increase the effectiveness of operations. The slower the rides operate, the longer the lines, the more reason to use Q-bot.


qbot didn't make bad ride ops it is only an option to avoid the bad ride ops. So sad are the state of SFGAdv ride ops that they need to have it or else everyone would be saying how crappy a park this really is.


A very good point. And in a way it points out just how bad things are. I said it before (in this thread and in others), I wouldn't mind paying for Q-bot if the ops are doing their jobs effectively and efficiently and the lines are still long because of the sheer number of people in line. However, if lines are long beacause of in effective operations and closed rides that funnel people into the open lines, I do have a problem little of paying for Q-bot.

Improve operations and leave Q-bot as an option for busy times... don't use it as a crutch and as the only way to really enjoy the park on a moderately croweded days because your operations stink.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004 1:41 AM
SLFAKE -

I also took the 3 hour trip up to SFGADV a week before you and had a similar experience. Opting not to head to SFNE this year due to unsatisfactory trips the year before, I gave SFGADV another shot. Upon arriving Batman: The Ride, Chaos, Batman: The Chiller, Great Escape, Mine Train, one side of Rolling Thunder, and the giant raft rapids ride were all closed. BTR had maintenance workers crawling all over the ride marking it with orange tape, and then it eventually opened around 2:00pm, and the mine trane also opened later in the day. Overall the park was crowded for a Tuesday (wait times all said 2 hrs, but we waited roughly an hour for each coaster) and it just didn't have any appeal with so much being closed. I did however, get the chance to ride Viper, and loved every minute of it. Viper slams you around like no other, very disorienting.

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