SFA 4/9 The day without the miserable weather

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Monday, April 10, 2006 12:01 AM
Another year and another opening weekend at Six Flags America. I had been up since 6am for work and was quite tired, but somehow I convinced myself to make the trip down to Largo from Timonium (basically where I-695 and I-83 N. meet). After passing the 45th anniversary sign I rounded the bend where I braced myself for the $15 parking charge. I think I was so into just going to any amusement park after the hibernation that I didn’t care, and the nice big poster size cartoon map was a nice plus too (although Batwing is in the wrong area of the park). I was happy to see three parking attendants, although they just pointed me in a general direction and I took care of the rest. This will be well needed when it gets busy, which for some odd reason it wasn’t today.

I took care of two things first and that was to get my season pass processed and buy my parking pass. This is about where the only thing that kind of bothered me happened. I handed the card to the lady at the front gate and she just kept talking to her friend about shopping the whole time and didn’t acknowledge me at all. I would expect this from someone who was 16-18yrs. of age, but two 50-year old woman?

So then I made my way to season pass processing where I noticed the the new antique cars that Coasterguts took pictures of. I’m guessing they are the Chance antique cars with the accident avoidance system, because it looks like the cars were sometimes stopping all on there own. So I filled out the the card and the young lady told me to stand at no.6. I stood there and waited and waited, until finally I had to speak up to remind the guy on my side that there was a human being that needed his pass processed. He did apologize for the wait though. Lastly, I had to go to Guest Relations to get my parking pass since the cashier was on break at season pass processing. It’s right around the corner, so no big deal.

After dumping everything back out into the car, I met up with my friend Matt and his friend Brian by the theatre. It wasn’t exactly a very warm April afternoon, but with a long-sleeve t-shirt it was alright. We first went into Coyote Creek and rode Mind Eraser first. Why? Well, who knows but it was something to do until the illusion show that was coming up at 5:15 (We passed the very end of the western show which is supposed to be good according to Sam Marks).

Afterwards we watched two ‘cheaters’ playing DDR (holding onto the bar the whole time) in the arcade. Since Matt and Brian realized they wouldn’t be able to get a game in, they played air hockey instead. While they were playing, a young woman in western costume came over and was chatting with me about who was winning and who I thought I was going to win. That was different. In front of the Crazy Horse Saloon, we saw lots of WB characters hanging out, which wouldn’t be the last time of the day. I also watched as the illusionist was rounding up people for his show called Magic Quest (thanks for the recommendation Coasterguts!). There was a sherrif as well that kind of reminded me of Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show, in that he was very small in stature, African American and had a costume on.

So we then grabbed seats fairly close to the stage and watched Magic Quest. We all really enjoyed it, even if Matt thinks he knew how all the stuff was done, it was still great to watch. You can tell there was a lot of money put into the set and the magic props, as each illusion seemed to involve one complicated contraption after another. I was quite shocked at how young the illusionist was. I don’t think he’d legally be able to get a beer in the saloon. Of course, he was assisted by two leggy assistants and a tech guy for certain illusions. My only complaint involves my profession--the audio. They need to splurge and get a better wireless lavilier system as it was a little bit dull when he talking.

While I think this will pass over the heads of most people, the last song chosen--Fluke “Absurd”, has been used in countless trailers, a Volkswagen ad etc. Since I own this album and it has lyrics, I can tell you this song is not-so-family-friendly. There are lots of drug references involving various pop culture figures (mainly cartoon), including the section that was played during the illusion. By the way, I highly recommend this CD Risotto[Astralwerks ASW 6224]! It’s about ten years old, but man what a great driving disc if you like the Crystal Method/Prodigy/Chemical Brothers etc.

Ok, so I digressed just a bit. We rode Roar which just had the teal train on. It just needs a good washing as there was lots of dirt/dust all over the front of the cars. I thought it tracked really well today. It looked like there was lots of new wood and word has it that the top two layers of track were replaced. We passed Typhoon Seacoaster which wasn’t running, but there were plenty of employees in there probably getting trained. The absence of Iron Eagle on the way to Southwest Territory didn’t seem as strange as I thought it would and I really don’t miss it a bit.

We knocked out Two-Face, and then I spotted something I don’t remember from last season--an old car for Wild One to the left of the entrance ramp. It must have been a late addition, since Matt said it was there last year. Going up the lift of W.O. we could see them getting the parade ready by the Batman show. After Tower of Doom we headed back towards the restroom where I did something Matt did as well--the entrance to the men’s bathroom is where the janitor’s closet is now. The new door is around the corner. I think they added another urinal. While washing my hands, I witnessed one of the bathroom attendants mopping the floor. Nice. So we then watched the parade which is pretty cool. In addition to the WB characters, you had the DC comics people and the Batmobile too plus musicians and flag-wavers.

As it was getting late, we headed to Gotham City to round off the night. The people at S:ROS were a little bit slow, and Matt complained about his thighs getting hurt so they had to unlock the train again. He relocated next to me in the lower row. This actually allowed me to have a better ride as they didn’t come back to check my lapbar again after the train was locked. I had a little bit of breathing room. I thought Ride of Steel was running really well today and didn’t seem to suffer from too much vibration as in the past. On the way back I spotted some of the black cars for Roar out in the field.

I really had no intentions of riding Batwing today, but I walked down there anyway with Matt and Brian and with so few people in the station, I gave in and we rode--twice in a row. Matt pointed out all the track for Ultra Twister to our left as we went up the lift. The back wasn’t too bad and man was it fun. I watched as they rode in the front row which they said was smoother. The last piece of business was Joker’s Jinx. Wow! The launch seemed much more powerful and felt on course with Poltergeist at SFFT.

So overall I had a good time and I’m interested to see what develops during the season.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 8:15 AM
I think all of us are going to be curious as to what develops over the season. Personally, I don't think this park has been this ready for an opening weekend in the last five years I've had a season pass. I hope they keep it up.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 9:32 AM
It's good to hear SFA is on the right track, but also makes since because their being watched since day one by Corp.

I should be there Wed. to do a report.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 9:57 AM
Great trip report.

I was actually there with my two year old yesterday. I really did notice a difference in the staff. And I couldn't believe the number of costume characters rolling around.

The real test will be if the changes are able to continue for the course of the season, or it they will just fall back into the norm.

I'm really hoping that it stays the way that it was this weekend. The park has such a great collection of coasters and the service was really the thing that I always complained about.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 11:02 AM
I was there on Sunday as well. The worst crew was on the their best ride, Superman. I don't know if it is their new loading prcedure or what, but they waited until everyone was off the platform before opening the gates to load the new train, then slowly checked each restraint. It took about ten minutes for our two train wait.

Superman's trains looked like crap too. Dented, terrible paint job. It was kind of sad. It looked like a 12 year old worked on them. The logo at the front of the queue was peeling and all the superman signs leading up to the ride were all painted really sloppily.

Everything else at the park looked and rode great though. Wild One, Roar and Jinx were running really well and the staff, outside the Superman crew were really great. Almost too great, we were asked how our day was while walking by everyone, sometimes within ten feet of each other. That gets a bit annoying after while.

I said hello to someone wearing a PPP sweatshirt coming off of Superman. Was that one of you?

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Monday, April 10, 2006 11:27 AM
The coasters were running well too, I was also there on Sunday. Batwing seemed to be running MUCH faster than it was last season. There was still a little bit of vibration, but it wasn't too bad. Superman was running a little slow because of the cold, but I think the slowness could also be partially attributed to the new wheels. I'm almost certain that Superman received some brand new running wheels as the ride was much smoother, but they just need some time to break in. When it starts to get warmer, Superman should be running REALLY well. I did notice a bit of retracking on ROAR, not sure how much it helped, but it did seem at least a little bit smoother. I was told that the helix on Wild One was also retracked, but I had never thought that was that bad, so I really didn't notice a change. I'm guessing the retracking was more for structural reasons as the train probably puts a LOT of stress on the track going around that helix. Two Face was running really well, and, if this makes any sense, it seemed like it was pulling the train MUCH further up the lift than it had before. Maybe it's just been too long since I last saw the ride run. Wild One and Joker's Jinx ran just as they did last year, which was just fine, and I didn't ride Mind Eraser.

For all those tracking Astroworld rides, Ultra Twister is completly at SFA (if you haven't heard already). All of the track (and there is a LOT of it) is back behind Batwing where Python used to be stored. All of the trains are in that lot behind Joker's Jinx next to Wild One. There are some boxes, some with "UT" written on them and some with the word "Ultra" followed by a picture of a tornado, if there was any doubt to what the ride was. Also, there were at least a dozen railroad passenger cars from Astroworld. They were all mostly cream colored and most (if not all) were off their axles. (One even still had a "Six Flags Astroworld" sign on the back of the car). It could be that they plan to retrofit the cars to be parking lot trams (hence why they are off their axles), or maybe they just did that for shipping. Either way, they are there at SFA for some reason so who knows what the old SFI wanted to do with them or what the new SFI will end up doing with them. Hopefully if they decide to not use them, they'll at least move the cars to the back of the park where they will be out of sight.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 1:14 PM
Man, Superman rattled all over the track Sunday. I am sure it will run smoother when it is warmer, but they need to tighten the stuff that is rattling on the train. It sounded like every nut was loose.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 1:50 PM
I noticed the Superman logo was peeling already too. Perhaps they used a latex based paint that didn't ahear to the old paint? It reminds me of how bad the paint job was on Laser at Dorney Park when they changed it from red/blue to puke yellow/purple. I think we were there the year after the paintjob (Talon's opening season), and most of the new paint had already started to peel off. The ironic part was that the firm who painted the coaster was featured in a Sherwin Williams magazine.

I'm in absolute agreement that the crew on Superman has got to get with it, or get new people in to take their place. This week should give them plenty of time to get their stuff in gear. When you've only got one train on the track and you've got a two-minute ride, people start to get ancy when that train doesn't move out of the station in a reasonable amount of time.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 2:07 PM
Well Superman is a great way to learn you need to shed a few extra pounds. Is it my imagination or did those belts get shorter, again. :)
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Monday, April 10, 2006 4:13 PM
You guys are making me jealous, I wanna go... :)

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Monday, April 10, 2006 4:49 PM
The one thing that I noticed that nobody mentioned did any body listen to Two Face was how quiet the train is. That train is the sounding better than i have ever heard it. About Wild one if you look close on the helix they replaced one or two of the top layers in differnt sections on the helix.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 5:51 PM
You know, I used to think that "bar-raping" on DDR was cheating as well, but the more I played, the more I realized that everyone who is really good does it.

I refuse to do it, but then again, I'm not really good. I also used to refuse to use speed mods, until I realized that I'd hit a wall. My scores instantly improved when I did.

Since then, I've decided that it's your own damn quarter, and you can play however you want with it. But you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a dozen people who can pass 10-footers (or anything above 10-footers on ITG) without bar-raping.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 6:01 PM
Wow. People seem more impressed than I was with SFA. A friend of mine and myself went for a couple of hours or so toward the end of opening night. Here are some observations:

--Joker's Jinx crew was pretty poor. At one point, the coaster went down somehow. There were 2-3 people looking at the ride console like they didn't know exactly what to do. They opened the airgates, but didn't say anything to the patrons. There were people who even got into the train (which already had people on it). They FINALLY told the people in the train to step back into the station, and the one guy said that it wasn't broke. There were 5 employees on the platform.

--Superman ops were somewhat better, but not top-notch. We got into the station, and were informed that the ride was open, but they weren't letting us board yet. Superman ran REALLY slow over the last bunny hills. It didn't even hit the first kicker tire right away (because it had been slowed so much), and after it did, it wasn't coming into the station right away--we had to wait for a mechanic.

--Mind Eraser looked fairly good, but still ran on the crappy side.

--Two Face wasn't anything special, and it looks like it could use a good cleaning.

--Wild One was running good, though it was squealing around the helix.

--Roar seemed to be running somewhat better than last season.

--The Chik-fil-a served in Skull Island was good.

--There were a decent amount of characters, even on a nasty day, which was nice. Also, some of the employees did a decent job of being friendly.

--The bobsled ride had been moved but not fully reassembled. I didn't like how they put it up originally (not very permanent-looking), and they probably will do something similar here (put it up on blocks, etc.).

--Iron Eagle's spot is open and very visible. The old enterprise is STILL there, though with the cars not being there. I'm not sure why they cease to run this ride, as it had a good location and it was fun. Since we no longer have the Chaos, it would be nice if we got a few flats in to replace these 3 rides.

--Tower of Doom may have been back to 2-car operation. Please, if you can't keep it fixed, take it down and build something better, like an S&S tower set.

--The Gotham City bathroom (men) seemed to be halfway decent.

--They seemed to have a good amount of rides open that day.

--"Flags" seemed to have somewhat of a random variety of souveniers, which was somewhat cool, but also odd.

--Superman's train and Batwing's train looked somewhat gross. Please, fix the dents on Supes, give it some nice paint, and wash the backsides of the Batwing trains.

--Joker's queue has been modified for the better, as they have taken out some of the bar in the station house. The ride was going pretty quick, too.

--I wish the park would invest in improving the POOR layout of the place. Need I say more? It's also ugly in places, like the area behind Joker and Wild One, along with the area near Roar where the black train is.

--Watch the bars on Wild One--the springs are weak this year, at least on one of the trains.

--Improvements have been made, but there is definitely room for more. The season pass coupon book seems decent this year.

I don't really like this park much, so it's a good thing that I can get a cheap pass here and then use it at other SF parks. I'll hopefully get to use it at SFGAdv, SFGAm, and SFMM this year.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 6:13 PM
Wow, sounds like you didn't enjoy yourself too much. I don't think its the best park in the world, but its still fun.

Superman should be running a lot better in the summer. When its colder, it doesn't run as fast and sometimes valleys (sp). I want to be on a train that does that! :)

Now, is the Play Pass deal good all summer, or just until the end of May? Like if I go after the end of May, could I still get in all summer for that one price? Just wondering, because I heard originally that you couldn't. Thanks!

--Ashlee, who desperatly wants to ride a coaster right now. ;)

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Monday, April 10, 2006 7:30 PM
rablat5 -

When I arrived at the park on Saturday morning, the temperature was 56, when I left (around 4), it was 48. I'm sure it dropped a couple of more degrees as the day went on. In talking with a park manager, he was concerned about the temperature and that if it continued to drop they wouldn't be able to run Superman because it would be to cold. In fact, it took it a while to warm up to the point they could run it on Sunday. So, I'm sure some of the problems with Joker's Jinx and Superman were due to the cold weather. I guess in the end, if they continue to get complaints about problems with the rides early in the season their only option will be to open later. I'd rather them open earlier, I can deal with the problems with them not consistently running the coasters in the cold weather.

Coasterniece - I don't know about the season pass. My inclination will say the closer we get to Hurricane Harbor opening, the season pass will go up. I don't know how much. You can always buy the pass now and process it later. DISCLAIMER: Read the fine print and make sure there isn't an expiration date for having the pass procesed.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 7:54 PM
Section 1 of Tower did not pass MD state inspection that is why it is not running it's being worked on when the park is closed.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 9:46 PM
I know that Superman does run better in the warm than the cold. As for Joker's Jinx, I think that they may run it faster because of the cold. I've been going to SFA since 1997 (when it was still Adventure World), and I just don't like it a whole lot. Part of that is because I'm tired of it, but some of it is the operations and the park layout and such. The park has such potential, but the old regime did not make all the best decisions. The park could have been better. I wish they would have at least done the layout better. They went ridiculous with the layout with Superman and Batwing.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 9:55 PM
See, when Six Flags came in, and started building behind Wild One, thats when they screwed it all up.

What they should have done...

is... Complete the loop, you could tell that Wild World, was trying to make a loop (if they stayed in buisiness long enough that is...:-p), start over in Coyote creek and loop around to Wild One, but Six Flags just had to branch right out in the middle of Wild One. Not a good idea.

*** Edited 4/11/2006 1:56:11 AM UTC by Colin Fisher***

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Monday, April 10, 2006 11:28 PM
Just a small correction Colin, when I worked at the park in 1986, Wild World was a loop. Coyote Creek was built by Burke, The Lucky Albatross was there (rarely, if ever open, but there)and went in a curve pattern back to along Wild One and where Looney Tunes Movie Towne now sits. The front of the park started just outside the main street service center.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006 1:10 AM
I'm going to address just a few things, so as not to quote the entire thing, which is wasteful.


rablat5 said:
Wow. People seem more impressed than I was with SFA. A friend of mine and myself went for a couple of hours or so toward the end of opening night. Here are some observations:

>Impressed? I'm not there yet, and I don't think most other people are either. Did I have a good time? Yes, but I was only there for a few hours.

--Joker's Jinx crew was pretty poor. At one point, the coaster went down somehow. There were 2-3 people looking at the ride console like they didn't know exactly what to do.

>Probably because they didn't. That's when you call maintenance. Ride Operators aren't trained on how to fix computer or mechanical problems. I'm sure there was an error code or something similar though.

Superman ran REALLY slow over the last bunny hills. It didn't even hit the first kicker tire right away (because it had been slowed so much), and after it did, it wasn't coming into the station right away--we had to wait for a mechanic.

>Like someone else said, it's very common when it gets really cold for the train to creep over the bunny hills. That definitely wasn't a problem on Sunday.

--Mind Eraser looked fairly good, but still ran on the crappy side.

>Dude, it's Mind Eraser, a 1995 off-the-shelf SLC. It is what it is.

--Two Face wasn't anything special, and it looks like it could use a good cleaning.

>Is that based on prior rides on Two-Face, or are you saying that didn't like the ride? Since I don't where you live, I don't know if you've ridden an Invertigo before. Key seats are the very front of the train, and the very back facing the operator.

--The bobsled ride had been moved but not fully reassembled. I didn't like how they put it up originally (not very permanent-looking), and they probably will do something similar here (put it up on blocks, etc.).

>What befuddles me as this point is why two people have posted trip reports, but yet you feel the need to tell everyone about the bobsled ride (Avalanche) which is adequately described and there are pictures on Coasterguts site. There was a rather large maintenance pit beneath Krypton Comet. I'm guessing that had to be filled in.

--Iron Eagle's spot is open and very visible. The old enterprise is STILL there, though with the cars not being there. I'm not sure why they cease to run this ride, as it had a good location and it was fun. Since we no longer have the Chaos, it would be nice if we got a few flats in to replace these 3 rides.

>I've been though this time and time and time again, but for the sake of the ignorant (and I don't mean that in a nasty way), SFA/Adventure World never had an Enterprise. There were only two companies who made those--Huss and Schwarzkopf. The company who made the Enterprise-knockoff is most likely long, long out of business and therefore I'm assuming parts aren't available to get it back up and running. Sure Iron Eagle's spot is still visible--they just removed the damn thing to the tune of $80,000! There was a 'Please pardon our progress sign,' so I would expect to see something new pop up in its place. Will it be a ride? I don't think so.

--Tower of Doom may have been back to 2-car operation. Please, if you can't keep it fixed, take it down and build something better, like an S&S tower set.

>S&S Towers are fairly boring, unless a) they have a Space Shot, or b) they have a combo program. I would hate to see that happen. I would like to see a new drop tower added at some point, like a smaller version of Drop Zone.

--I wish the park would invest in improving the POOR layout of the place. Need I say more? It's also ugly in places, like the area behind Joker and Wild One, along with the area near Roar where the black train is.

>The layout of the park was predetermined a long time ago by the owners of Wild World. You say how is that possible? Well, they decided to place this old wooden roller coaster in the way that constrained everything else to its' border. Tell me how you would improve the layout without moving multiple rides and the train station?

>I agree that there are certain sections of the park that should be better looking that you mentioned, but that should've been the responsibility of the last management team. They should've built more rides to fill in those areas. Putting up construction fences wouldn't make any sense as the area can be seen from Roar, S:ROS, Joker's Jinx, and Wild One.

I don't really like this park much, so it's a good thing that I can get a cheap pass here and then use it at other SF parks. I'll hopefully get to use it at SFGAdv, SFGAm, and SFMM this year.


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