SFA 4/28/08 A GCI restored/major improvements needed

Associated parks:
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Monday, April 28, 2008 8:56 PM
It always seems to be a really long day when Six Flags America opens. It’s usually my day where I’m up at a quarter of six in the morning and get off at 12:30 p.m. You’d think the last place I’d want to be is at SFA and you’d probably be right, but hey it’s been since October at King’s Dominion since I’ve ridden a coaster, so why not get out and ride something?

There’s only one problem when I get home from work; where did I put my season pass? I received it months ago, and I’m trying to scratch my head about where I would’ve put it. I remember it coming in a skinny little padded envelope, and that’s about it. So, I brainstormed and thought “What if I put it in my amusement park folder inside of one of my storage boxes? “ Luckily, there it was.)

I was meeting my friends Matt and Bryan down at the park, and the meeting time was 3:30 p.m. in front of the main theatre. I handed my pass over to the one parking attendant and he scanned the pass, which I believe is new for this year. The new parking signs are very nice and give you a clear indication of where you parked denoted by letters and a cartoon character. I remembered I was parked in section E, and that’s all that was important.

It’s a dreary and cold day, and I don’t regret wearing a long-sleeve shirt and lightweight winter jacket, as it’s only about 55-degrees out at best. I was about five minutes late for the meeting time (or so I thought), so I kept on going and first rode Roar. Last year, it was in pretty bad condition, so I’m curious to see what it’s like this year.

First off I thought I have to get on a train. The dispatches are taking fairly long. I’m all for safety, but things are going way too slow. I rode either in the front, or towards the front and was rewarded with the best Roar ride I’ve had in years. It felt as though the coaster had been fully restored. Every transition worked, and there was nothing jarring ever, not even the last turn before the brakes.

I walked over to The Southwest Territory and rode Wild One and saw the lockers. What a waste of resources. While I understand that the rider with extra stuff causes part of the slowdown in the loading procedure, it’s also up to the people loading and checking restraints to be quick (but safe), or it’s just a money grab in which the rider is receiving no benefit except to lose a dollar.

Sadly Two-Face the Flip Side was closed. Sure, I was a little bit apprehensive after it got stuck last year, but I would’ve enjoyed riding it nonetheless. Tower of Doom on the other hand just downright spooked me as it was open with the usual two sides out of three. I’m sure it’ll go away with time.

I headed down into Gotham City and passed the old Batman & Robin Stunt Show Theatre, which was being used for a cheerleading competition. One thing I found strange is that the amphitheatre now has large cutouts with screens instead of windows. I bypassed Joker’s Jinx and saw BatwingFanSFA passing the other direction. At least I think it was he.

I got into the queue for S:ROS and could see that there were quite a few people in the station, which is nothing abnormal. But, there were a lot of little cheerleaders ducking under the back gate. Grrrr.

So, I’m waiting for the second to last row, and about five-minutes goes by. A young woman tells me that her and her boyfriend were waiting there and that my place in line was about three couples back. I’m feeling a little bit testy since I’m tired, so after exchanging some mellow words, I tell her that’ll I’ll move somewhere else, and she says that it would probably be a good thing.

Part of my feeling testy was due to their only being one train on the track—the blue train, and that the people loading and checking the restraints are taking forever. The blue train comes back into the station and sure enough, Matt and Bryan are onboard. They decide to wait for me, and probably a good five-minutes goes by before I’m seated, checked, and dispatched. The good news is that I moved several people up due to kids trying to be on the same train?

Again, I thought it ran great today and the wheels looked new. We next headed down to Batwing; oops sorry that would be B twing, since the A fell over. Walking closer to the ride, they still haven’t corrected the blotchy color on the supports, which has badly faded. Come on Mark, its only paint—embrace it.

Batwing’s load time wasn’t too great either, but there weren’t many people waiting for it. Letting the employees do their jobs, I only buckled the vest. A young man comes by and pushes the vest down to its utmost position and closes the hip and leg restraint. Both Bryan and I are complaining about not being able to breathe very well. I don’t think I’ve ever been strapped in so tightly.

The young man says we’ll appreciate it, and that would be a solid NO. I have to admit that when we reclined in the station, I still was like “What are we doing?” As we ascended the lift, all the Ultra Twister junk was still sitting there. As they say, “If you haven’t used it in years, get rid of it.” Batwing was pretty cool, with nothing too offensive, but the tightness of the vest took some of the focus away from really being able to enjoy it.

We passed Avalanche, and I see a sign that makes me shake my head. It says “Open from 12-7 p.m.” Why would you close a carnival flat ride at night when it look its best, and why the staggered opening in the morning? You’ve really got to wonder what is going on inside of minds of the people running this company.

We went to Joker’s Jinx next, and I see another thing that totally confused me. There was some mechanical difficulty, and one of the loading operators puts on a safety vest and dons some kind of climbing apparatus that she’s having trouble putting on. Another ride operator helps her with it. She walks out to the other train, and it just strikes me as being really bizarre. I had seen the same thing two years ago on El Toro when it was having issues connecting to the elevator cable, but that lift is fairly steep. This is a flat platform.

So again, once that problem got resolved another excellent ride was received. Even though it’s more effective in the dark on the Flight of Fear coasters, the corkscrew supports still looked a little bit close for comfort and provided some disorientation.

Matt and Bryan mentioned that they hadn’t yet ridden Wild One yet. Apparently, they missed our initial meeting time because season processing took so long. So we went back again to The Southwest Territory. They enjoyed it equally as much as I did earlier on. It was very smooth—almost too smooth—even through the helix.

Lastly, Bryan wanted to head into Looney Tunes Movie Town to check on height limits since his kid is getting taller. I passed a missing flat in the upper portion, and it took me a while to remember what it was. I even worked in that section for a little bit. Finally, it dawned on me that the tiny carousel with the non-moving horses has been removed.

Matt and Bryan went to check on The Great Chase, and I was overjoyed to see the mini-bumper cars have been turned into a show. That ride was such a pain to operate, because the kids were constantly getting stuck. It’s wasn’t their fault, because some of them just didn’t have the mental ability to drive yet?

On our way out, I went to Guest Relations and picked up my two coupons books. I also see my first cell phone charger. It looks like it has all your bases covered and I find my Motorola mini-USB jack quickly amongst the multitude of coiled cables. I didn’t bother to check on pricing and I don’t want to know (later on looking at the map, they’re supposed to be all over the park).

So, it started to rain as we left around six and it was a typical end to a typical first day back at Six Flags America. It’s that feeling that you’re helpless to make the park what you think it could be, that nothing will ever change, and we’ll continue to get skipped over for any new rides in the dry park. Let’s hope that 2009 proves me wrong.

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Monday, April 28, 2008 11:24 PM
I'd rather spend $1 for every ride I stop by to ensure the security of my personal belongings than leave it out in the station at risk of having it taken my mistake or theft by another guest (which happens a lot more than you think).

It's another way parks can eliminate having to deal with all these guest relation complaints of guests having their personal stuff stolen and they demand the park to do something about it.

You say it's up to the employees that load and unload guests on rides to be quick. You're right, but it's impossible if they have to check restraints and also deal with releasing restraints when they find a guest is carrying a lose article on them. They want to shave dispatch times by eliminating the time ride hosts spend taking riders' personal belongings to the station cubby or shelf, and re-checking the entire row or car again.

You're paying for the security of your property with those lockers, I don't think $1 for 2 hours of locker use is anything to complain about, especially if you're already dropping $15 for parking, $9 for a slice of pizza and $35+ for admission if you aren't a season pass holder. The value in that $1 is in that it's a place to store belongings safely.

Magic Mountain's President Jay Thomas responded to complaints about the locker policy from the west coaster enthusiast community and explained that charging for ride lockers wasn't done to nickel-and-dime guests. He explained that if they were to charge for lockers strictly on the basis of making money, they could have made it $3 or $5.

I quote Jay D Thomas where he posted at TPR.com:


The video is the very first cycle of new X2 train. We did not have a ton of time to prepare for the video, or to contact Robb to come and film it for us. I had thought you might appreciate seeing the very first cycle of the train. We are already working with Robb to come and shoot both our 1st and 2nd train that has already taken a few test cycles to date.

Several weeks ago we contracted a professional to come shoot the commercial footage, which we will use in future commercials. We have scheduled that shoot to take place as we are nearing the end of the project.

As for the lockers…, come on guys, if I wanted to make money, I would charge you five dollars to store your belongings. We are not forcing anyone to use the lockers. We are doing our very best to make sure you do not enter the queue line with loose articles. My only intent here is to train riders to not bring anything into a line or onto a ride. My suggestion, don’t bring anything with you that you can’t secure in your pocket! It is that simple. If it was feasible, we would have these lockers at all of the rides. The sole purpose is to increase capacity! Sole purpose! Remember, Tatsu last summer consistently had 6 minute and 30 second dispatch times… Unacceptable! We have made vast strides to reduce this number and have been very successful to date.

You may ask about gifts and souvenirs, we have a “free” package pickup you can use to store the items you purchase. We have lockers you can access all day long for 17, 13, or 9 dollars depending on the size you want.

I am not looking to nickel and dime the guests. How much do you pay to access the internet at Cyber Café? How much does it cost to go to the Magic of the Mountain Museum at the Sky Tower? How much is Package Pickup again? That's right... all FREE!

I have no problem defending the value proposition here at our park. We are a phenomenal value and working hard each day to make it that much more enticing! I am just blown away that this continues to be a sore subject with many of you… especially after we have continued to deliver on so many improvements at the park this season.

Guys, I CARE so much about this park! Just as each of you do! If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be coming to this thread. But please, be patient! I can’t share many of our plans, but certainly… or hopefully, you can all see that we are heading in the right direction. We never claimed to be perfect! We did say we were working towards it!

Keep the Faith,

Jay

Jay Thomas
Park President
Six Flags Magic Mountain &
Hurricane Harbor


*** Edited 4/29/2008 3:29:07 AM UTC by kRaXLeRidAh***

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:16 AM
Listen, I understand the value in not having loose articles on you. My jacket yesterday has multiple zippers where I don't have to worry about things falling out. And in the summertime, I wear cargo shorts all the time. But, what about baseball caps? If you're having to check your cap at every ride with lockers, that becomes a real drag.

On the other hand, $1 spent would've spared a girl some grief yesterday who lost her cell on S:ROS. She thought the two gentlemen who sat down after her might have been sitting on it, so they had to get up and the restraints were released.

Needless to say, a lot of time was wasted. So in that aspect, I totally agree with you. But Six Flags is encouraging people to bring in the most lost item with these new cellphone chargers all over the park.

Sure, BGE and CP have some mandatory lockers as well with BGE being much worse, but I don't recall having any time constraints.

I still don't buy Jay Thomas's defensiveness at all though, especially when he mentions that he'd like to have these lockers at every ride. So Tatsu had an average 6min30sec dispatch time? That to me sounds a heck of a lot more like a slow and/or lack of personnel problem than a rider loading issue. The B&M's are much easier to load and dispatch than the Vekomas.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:12 PM
You have to be kidding me about Tatsu. That had to do with the workers. It absolutely had to be the workers that didn't care if that train left, or not. Batman the Ride with bins is around 1.5 - 2 minutes at Six Flags Great America.

You also have the dual loading station being a problem as in broken down quite a bit. Superman Ultimate Flight likes to break down in two places. Mostly, it's in the station. That ride (Tatsu) has two stations which is double the problems, and the other place is the lifthill.

I find it funny that he mentions the ride that is brand spanking new, and what happens with brand new rides more than older rides that have been there awhile. They have a lot of problems. I would love to hear about Goliath's load capacity time as it's been there awhile, Scream, or Riddler. The problem with your standup coasters is that people don't want to stand up. I like SFOG's approach of letting the people do what the heck they want to do.

I'm really surprised that they dumped the Tilt-A-Whirl out of that park, but not the Tower of Doom. Why is that? Is it because it's a taller ride. That's not really fair. The Tower of Doom with 2 sides working, and people always seem to say that not all the sides are working, has only 12 people riding at one time. That's only 12 people!!! On the Tilt-A-Whirl, you can get more than 12 with some people riding 3's.

I don't understand Avalanche at all. That's like one of the flat thrill rides they have besides the Tower of Doom. That park to me doesn't have a lot of rides, so why cut the budget on them. They dumped how many flats. Is the Octopus still there because I know how much trouble they have on that?

I think the rides they should cut early on in the day because it's a little cold are the water rides. People don't care about going on them at 10:00 am in the morning, and thus open them an hour later, and close them 2 hours earlier depending what time the park closes. Put a sign in front of them like they did with Avalanche. That makes perfect sense to me. Avalanche doesn't make diddly squat to me.

The people are right in that area also probably going to Superman, Joker's Jinx, and Batwing. So, after those which are probably empty during the beginning of the day, they can go to Avalanche. Oh, it's not open.

To people that don't know what Avalanche is, it is a Flying Bobs ride though it's a Chance Alpine Bobs.

Wasn't that the problem people had before the Six Flags chain? That rides weren't open, and running to capacity along with slower ride ops. Nothing has changed at SFA, it seems. For such a small park, that park has some of the best rides in my opinion. I really like Wild One, Avalanche, Superman, Batwing, and Joker's Jinx. I don't know about Two Face, but it would probably be awesome. It's just disappointing in that park on how things are run, or not run.

I would say to sell that park, but couldn't Six Flags keep Joker's Jinx, Batwing, Superman, Avalanche, and maybe Two-Face? Obviously, it would be hard to keep Wild One even though I think it was moved before. This park could be in my opinion the best Six Flags if they just expanded it more, and had things running.

They probably don't care to expand, and they feel it's a such a small park that they can't be the next Magic Mountain, and thus so why try to. It's a disappointing park. I also think the ride ops need to be aware of there surroundings better. When they see people fighting with one another, they need to do something about it. They can't sit there, and do nothing. It's just sad. Six Flags America: The Park that is Full of Disappointments

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008 3:47 PM
They aren't stopping you from taking hats and glasses, cell phones and things you can stuff in your shirt or pockets. They are stopping you from taking back packs, toys etc. Things you would normally leave in the station.
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