I had been up since 5:50 a.m. in the morning from work, but I was determined to get down to SFA for the first amusement park rides of the year. After all, it's about seventy-five degrees, and I finally got my season pass from sister and brother-in-law last week. Did I mention it was a Christmas present? And it was awfully nice of them to get me the Premium Pass. I've never had one of those before.
I called up my friend Matt, and surprise he was home and was also heading off to the park with his friend John. We arranged to meet up at the Gotham City bathroom at 2:30 p.m., which I knew would be cutting it close since I hadn't eaten a thing since breakfast at 6 a.m. and was determined to get something to eat. I work near the I-83 North split with I-695, so it's quite a haul.
I knew I wouldn't be getting out of work until 1:15 p.m. or so, and I still had to change into more suitable park clothes. I was going to stop at my local Burger King, but decided to hit the road and hit the one in Waugh Chapel (near Bowie) instead off of Rt. 3--big mistake. They were horribly understaffed, although the young woman running around at the front counter was doing her best and still keeping a smile on her face. I'm guessing I probably lost about twenty-minutes here and it was to go.
Since it was one of the first nice days of the year, I knew it was going to be super-crowded. Since my pass was already processed, I just showed the pass with the parking listed at the bottom and drove around for a while trying to find parking. Usually, it's not hard later in the day to find parking, but with the limited hours--only open until 6 p.m.--I guess no one was leaving. I finally settled on a place behind the waterpark. I took a walk along the trashcan-lined walkway. Hopefully, it's just a temporary solution, but it did give me multiple choices of places to dispose of my BK bag.
I was going to try to pick up my season pass booklets, but the lines were really long at Customer Service, so I kept on moving. Season Pass processing wasn't open at all. I went left at the theatre, and continued right past Roar, which had a line. I'll come back later. I next passed High Seas, which only looks half-complete in the paint department. They got the supports repainted, but what about the rest of the ride? And as someone pointed out, the lights are still on the wrong side of the ride. They should be facing the midway, not facing the employee break-area.
It looked like no work had been done (I could be wrong) on the formerly-named Typhoon Sea Coaster [now Skull Mountain] , so I took a look at the now split-up gift shop which also contains the Wii Stations. It was more impressive than I expected. I counted ten stations (only seven were working). Moving on, I walked past the new beach show, which I never saw. I do miss the pirate ship already, but I guess this is a more productive use of the space--although a big flat ride would've been cool there.
So then I walked into Gotham City and took a look at the former Batman Stunt Show. It's now a dark red with white/blue accents (I don't know how to describe them--they were diamond-shaped). There was a cheerleading competition going in there today. I stopped off at the G.C. bathroom and just ten minutes into the park I hear an employee yell a four-letter expletive. He was having some disagreement with his supervisor about sweeping, and I guess after I took care of business he was still displeased.
Passing the games, I hear something that says that screams not family-oriented--I'm hearing the Nelly Fortado/Timberland collaboration "Promiscuous Girl" playing. For those unfamiliar with the song the words go something like this in the chorus "Promiscuous Girl, I got what you need." If this what we want the young girls of the park to know---especially the cheerleaders?
The next song is Chamillionare's "Ridin' Dirty." The song is about the police trying to catch the rapper, or any African-American being pulled over and being searched for contraband, driving a stolen car, not having registration etc. Granted, the song is about racial-profiling, but, is SFA the right place for this song to be played? I'm not so naive, but to a lot of other folks, this sounds like a typical gangster rap song.
And please, please, for the love of my hearing and my profession, could you please get your amplifier and speakers setup correctly? The correct procedure is to turn up the amplifier to its loudest position (unless it's hissing really badly), then you turn up the music slowly until it's at a nice pleasing (not hitting red lights the whole time) volume--and this is critical--where the musical tones are being reproduced as instruments and not as loud musical farts. That way, I can talk to my friends as we pass your games, instead of having to wait and cover our ears. Thank you for your consideration.
The next site almost makes me want to yell out "What the hell happened?" No, it's not that Joker's Jinx is closed (although that sucked--wearing the t-shirt is a surefire way to make sure the ride will be closed). I look at the roof covering the launch tunnel, and the dark yellow color which had been restored back one or two years ago is just a badly faded memory. If I were SFA, I'd be checking my warranty (if there is one) carefully. The rest of the ride though still looked freshly painted. (Later on, I took notice of a disassembled purple-train. I have no idea if there was a yellow train in the station or not).
I took another look around, and noticed that S:ROS was [temporarily] closed, but hey, check out those new lockers (like the ones at SFGAM)! There's just one problem. The lockers are missing the electronic panels that they should have to get access to your locker. I walk back to the Gotham City restroom and meet with Matt and John, and I tell Matt that S:ROS is currently closed. I will not repeat what he said.
We did however walk down towards Batwing--which was running one train--and decided to forget it because of the line. We only had roughly two-hours left which would've been surely spent in line for Batwing. They did work on the path down to Batwing and there are some new trees, which will hopefully get nice and tall one day. Some of the taller trees down by Batwing did not fair so well in the recent storms and rain, as they fell over.
So it was back to S:ROS to see if they were going to open. We heard the attendants at the entrance saying it was going to open, so we promptly got in line. She said that you needed to put loose articles in the lockers, but how would you do that without the electronic panels that allow you to put in your pass code and information?
We got front-row seats, and it was kicking butt today. I came back with tears steaming down my face--which is always a good sign. I've got to admit that it was really nice getting out of the virtual-reality land of No Limits that I've been in and experience the real thing again. I thought of an immediate improvement for version 1.7 (whenever that happens). You somehow get a big fan to blow in your face that speeds up and slows down according to your track position:)
We then rode Riddle Me This (Round Up). It's a relaxing ride, but again, someone please repaint the ride. It shows you care. We picked up Roar next, and it ran pretty well. We rode in the front with two-train operation. They were loading both trains to full capacity, and we didn't wait on the brake-run at the end.
We ventured into Coyote Creek, but there really wasn't much to see. The Tilt is gone (but with a fence around it--perhaps there's a chance of a new one?), Mind Eraser had a long line, we didn't have an even number to ride no-single-rider Rodeo (Breakdance), and we didn't feel like getting wet on Renegade Rapids, plus it had a huge line. The new R.R. sign was nice however.
So, after some arcade games were played by John and Matt across from the saloon, we kept on going towards the other side of the park. Matt and John picked-up some Chinese while I waited outside. I missed the Looney-Tunes character statutes which used to be on the Warner Brothers Theatre. There's a new show in there, so I guess they didn't want to confuse anyone. I believe it's called "Pop Revolution."
Two-Face had a fairly long line, so we skipped it, but Wild One was practically a walk-on. As out-of-control as ever and not rough, I felt a lot of pride that we have this great woodie so close to home. They had more of the new lockers nearby as well.
Exiting the ride, I noticed the new ramp boards have all been replaced. But again, they still haven't painted any of the rest of the ride like the railings or anything. Details people. They matter. I looked at the go-karts next to it and couldn't determine if they had gotten new shells, or were repainted, but they looked sharp. I'm not sure if this was done this year or last.
Quickly running out of time, we headed back for one more S:ROS ride. It was nice to see S:ROS, Wild One, and Batwing still running around 6:30 p.m., even the park was officially closed.
I stopped at Customer Relations and picked up my two season pass booklets. The Premium Pass book comes with a lot of coupons for local attractions, but you only get one free ticket. Will I use them? I don't know. Like I said I wasn't expecting a Premium Pass.
At some point, Matt and John stopped at the Wii Station and Matt was getting frustrated because he couldn't figure out how to launch Zelda, and it took a while for an employee to show him what to do (or was that just a patron? The guy with the Wii shirt on didn't do anything).
John figured out how to launch a snowboard game pretty quickly, but it still took some menu-hunting. Neither one seemed to like the controllers which they found aren't so easy to use. I'll have to give it a chance another time. They both prefer the Playstation 2-syle controllers.
In praise of the employees, I didn't see anyone today on a cellphone or i-Pod, and that's already a huge improvement. There's nothing better than feeling like you're being ignored because someone is having a conversation on a cellphone who should be working.
As has been mentioned by others, the employees have shirts talking about keeping the park clean because my family comes here too. Slogans are great, but the park still didn't feel especially clean. Part of it might have been paint-issues. I think psychologically when you see faded/missing paint, things already don't feel so fresh. The other part was seeing things like a cup which no one removed in the ten-minutes I was chilling out at a bench in Gotham City.
There was some weird promotion going on in front of Pirate's Flight. There were three old-style (but looked new) gasoline pumps with the number $39 on them underneath a portable tent. There were people walking around with boards in their hands walking up to random customers. The promotion and employees were wearing shirts with a white/green/orange color scheme. Even though I passed it twice or so, I have absolutely no idea what it was about. I'm guessing it was a corporate sponsored promotion.
After leaving, we went to Jerry's Subs and Pizza (down the road about a 1/2-mile from the park), and I noticed a lot more housing has gone up across the street. I saw a sign that says that it's the last section of the development. I have to wonder how this will impact the park in future years. Obviously, we haven't gotten anything new in years anyway besides the Hurricane Harbor upgrade, but should we get something new and big, I don't want it to become a problem because of the new neighbors.
AND, for those who are wondering, yes, the Ultra Twister cars are still in site sitting next to Wild One. If it's not going to be used, move it out of site. *** Edited 4/24/2007 12:24:00 AM UTC by Intamin Fan*** *** Edited 4/24/2007 2:27:45 AM UTC by Intamin Fan***
As for the Tilt, if they're not going to put it up elswhere, they will probably remove it, if they haven't already. The area where it was doesn't look very great.
We seem to be taking after SFGAdv and dropping flats left and right--so far, we've lost Iron Eagle, Sky Escaper, Krypton Vomit (er, Comet), and The Tilt.
And yes, they need to "get" what family atmosphere music is. If Shapiro is trying to go for that image, then this definitely needs attention and correction.
IMO, they should do a LOT more work on TSC before they "convert" it to Skull Mountain.
It's nice that the woodies were running well, but they need to get their steel in order. Having 1 train running on your 2 newest coasters isn't good. Whatever happened to running Batwing better? Also, did you notice how bad those Batman and Superman logos on the fences looked? Talk about bad! And I have pictures to prove it.
It's a shame that Premier messed this park up so much. It was a small local park that wasn't "grown" well: when making their expansions, they didn't seem to do enough long-term planning and just seemed to focus on the short-term. What a terrible layout this place has ended up with!
After only being there for around 3.5 hours, I was ready to leave--and I hadn't even ridden anything. I'm tired of the same old, same old with minor improvements--this place could use some SERIOUS attention.
You know, I didn't look at the water for Shipwreck Falls, because it always looks bad. I think I've ridden it twice and regretted it both times due to the stench. They should look at how clear the water is at Busch Gardens on Escape From Pompei and figure out how to replicate it. I forgot to mention that as usual, that brokedown at some point as well.
Yeah, I agree that the logos looked bad on the fences. They looked like they were done with the wrong kind of paint. It looked oil-based when it shouldn't have been.
I don't know, in many ways Six Flags America just seems like the weirdest place to me more and more. The way the paths force you to walk, the great open spaces that keep going year after year "Fill me with something," and the call keeps going unheeded.
There's still no restaurant in Gotham City, nor second bathroom in lower Gotham City. And yes, the flats just keep getting removed which calls more attention to the open spaces. I wasn't the biggest fan of Iron Eagle (but rode it a few times a season), but when Mr. Shapiro called it an eyesore and it had the Six Flags chasing logo at the top, it had me concerned.
Taking the ride out was a smart move financially, I'm sure. It was always breaking down or getting stuck. It needed seventeen people before they'd start it, and on slow days people would give up waiting to make that number. But something should've been put in its place as equally spectactular this year.
I think you and I would both agree that this is a huge mess that might take years to get worked out. I know that I'm starting to get very impatient with the situation, but unless I start playing and winning Powerball, there's nothing I can do about it.
Yea, I'm with you on the huge mess part (and of course, I agree with most of the rest of what you said). The park is like a shining display of what "thinking in the short term" can do to a park. At least with some of the other SF parks, the "build it and they will come" mentality didn't screw up the layout as bad as SFA is. They built themselves into multiple dead ends, the worst being "Gotham City", which doesn't really even resemble Gotham City, or any other city for that matter. Something like "Superhero Adventures" would have fit better. The question is, how best can you fix the park's current layout, since it's not really a good idea to start moving around major rides and coasters :)
Where to start with that park? Well, I'll make a list of things that they ought to give some thought and attention to:
Honestly, this park needs plenty of work. I just don't know if/when they're gonna invest the money to try and fix the place. At least they didn't sell it with the batch of parks that just left.
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