SFA 6/9/07 Supercrowded park still needs a lot of work

Associated parks:

Since I was going down towards my friends place twenty-minutes away from SFA to plan our midwest trip in two weeks, I thought it'd be a perfect day to go to the park and not have to make a separate trip the following day. When I found out that fellow trip-mate Brian was also free to go, we headed down to the park and finally arrived around 6 p.m. Traffic on Rt. 3 was absolutely miserable and slow, and I don't why.

Forgetting it was a Saturday (usually I can only go on Sundays after work), I think we were both shocked by how crowded the parking lot was. I finally got a shaded spot across from the permanent fence which replaced the line of trashcans that was there back in April.

The first site we came upon walking up to the entrance was a little bit off-putting, and I've been coming to the park for years. A young male was being arrested by two of P.G. County's finest. We were told to move over a row so the cops could do their work. If I could make a suggestion, may SFA find an out-of-the-way place to do these arrests, instead of in Premium Parking? I don't think it's good for the public image.

Getting into the park, it was absolutely mobbed with people. Wow, I can definitely see why SFA pulled the numbers it did a few weeks ago, and today Hurricane Harbor was open as well. So the first thing we see has both of our eyes lighting up with glee—a rather large sign that says something to the effect of "The only thing that rolls here is our coasters." This is in reference to the skater shoes which are now banned, as well as bunch of other rolling devices. These signs were posted in multiple places in the park. This is definitely good news, as the last thing Six Flags needs is some little kid wiping out and cracking his head wide-open.

We first headed to Joker's Jinx and passed a non-functioning Octopus, and a non-functioning Shipwreck Falls. We get to the queue of JJ and the line is down the stairs and to the entrance. Wow, is there something in the water today? Where did all these people come from? It was truly pleasurable to get back onboard Jinx, as I missed it in April when not even one train was put together. Today, at least both trains are on the track.

[side note]: While waiting in the queue, we saw multiple boats go up the lift of Skull Mountain (formerly Typhoon Seacoaster). It seemed to be doing very well and then testing stopped later. Summer is getting closer everyday, so I hope they can make their late spring target date.

We decided on the front of the last car, and boy is this ride still a blast. We were on in twenty-five minutes, which considering operations, wasn't too bad. And it still blows its indoor counterparts out of the water in the smoothness department. I'm always amazed (and a little bit scared) by how close the supports seem in proximity to your head every year for the first ride.

Moving down to S:ROS, I was happy again to see both trains running. It's a shame though that they were taking so long to load each one. I hope that once school is out, they can put more hands on deck, as they should be able to pump out more trains than they were. And they really need to reinforce the no-extra-objects rule.

Unfortunately, the Ride of Steel was also a line-jumpers paradise. I could tell that Brian was starting to get a little hot under the collar, but I decided to take the more relaxed approach. When I saw that they had one security guard watching the whole queue, I could see how futile this was. Granted he was doing his best when he would catch transgressors and would send them back to the entrance to the station, but some of these people worked their way up from the lower level.

We headed for the last row, and two girls ducked under the railing behind us. I pointed to the security guard, and he made them go back under the railing. I'm thinking a better punishment would've been to have thrown them out, but that's just me. Both Brian and I are still completely annoyed by the overdriven P.A. system in the station. This has been going on for two years, and it's really hard to talk to someone when the P.A. is completely distorting, and you're in a reverberant metal box.

The guy in front of us was pointing out to his girlfriend that the blue train had a different set of wheels then the red. The front road wheels at least (I couldn't see the others) had a shiny chrome finish. I guess you could say it looked like Pimp My Rolling Stock:) So anyway, we got a ride in the red train and it was very good. Lots of airtime and the train was booking around the course.

Next up was Wild One and our way to there I see that the expanded Snack Shack is now open with more windows. But we see a very weird site passing out of Gotham City. A guy is in a moving bathtub complete with non-functioning shower head. Okay then. And to the right, I still have no clue what the setup with the old-school looking gasoline dispensers is about.

Walking over to the Southwest Territory, it was clear that Tower of Doom has got to go. It's still only running two sides out of three. We were tempted by Two-Face, as I missed that as well back in April, but continued on to Wild One first. Yet another strange site was an employee clicking off how many people were entering the ramp up unto the station. I guess someone broke the arm to the counter as that part was missing. Don't they have any spares? It seemed like kind of a waste of an employee.

What can I say? We picked out 1-3, and were very pleased with our selection, as we got some great airtime. Wild One just never seems to be a letdown. You can tell that someone puts a lot of love and care into this ride on a daily basis. The main op announces on our way out that we have 1/2-hour and we should head for S:ROS. We had a better idea and decided to see if we could get into the queue for Two-Face before they cut it off. Okay, it seemed like a better idea.

There weren't really a whole lot of people waiting for T.F., but it is a shuttle coaster and you are at SFA. Once we made it to the platform, we kept hearing a lot of harness rechecks being announced by the main op. Their were also two breakdowns that required people to get back behind the fences. The first breakdown was minor (I think), and is seemed to be fixed quickly, but the second breakdown was longer and required the maintenance guy to grab some wire-ties. And you know what that means—someone won't be riding where they wanted to.

This 'somewhere' turns out to be the front seats as the first train with people on it was loaded. We were told that everyone would get to ride, even though it was pretty far past closing time. Finally getting our turn, we took seats in the wicked back-seats. The return trip didn't seem quite as brutal as normal (and I like the g's to be extreme!), but as usual the Invertigo still delivered the goods. One thing I could see from the initial lift was the new shuttle or tram for the third parking lot. At least, that's what it looked like to me.

In summary:
Operations: The pace has got to be picked up, and more security is needed at all major rides. There were way too many people advancing in line or ducking under queue railings
Cleanliness: So-so. We caught the park at the end of the day, so maybe things were better earlier on. No soap in the men's bathroom across from the wave swinger is not good when you're trying to properly wash your hands. Granted, it was late, but there were still a lot of people exiting the park who were also riding way past closing time.
Traffic Management: Non-existant. It shouldn't be up to the driver to make all the choices about who is supposed to merge and when. That's why I waited it out in my car until things died down, and someone finally let me out. There were way too many close-calls, and people just want to go home.
Outlook: I was shocked by the amount of people there today, and nothing new has been added to the park-proper since 2003. And four rides have been taken out in the meantime. If they can keep the numbers up throughout the summer, I think there's a good chance we'll be taken care of next year. One can hope. *** Edited 6/10/2007 7:37:21 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

Sounds awful.
Doesn't sound awful to me, sounds like he had a good time.

The park did have a very good day yesterday. The Hezekiah Walker concert in the waterpark really drew a big crowd. Next Sunday's Fiesta Latino Day should bring them in as well, not to mention the big name acts they have coming on Thursday night.

Did you notice/get a chance to ride the trams?

Skull Mountain did open and ran pretty well most of the day. They still have some work they will be doing on it. I would consider it more "soft open" for now.

A guy is in a moving bathtub complete with non-functioning shower head. Okay then.

Part of streetmosphere. The kids love that thing and want to know where they can buy one.

I still have no clue what the setup with the old-school looking gasoline dispensers is about.

Time Shares sales...

Yet another strange site was an employee clicking off how many people were entering the ramp up unto the station.

Not sure either but the ride has a ride attendant at the entrance anyway to stop people from bringing bags into the station so there really isn't any extra labor involved. *** Edited 6/10/2007 3:43:13 PM UTC by coasterguts***

A day at the park is what you make it!

Boy was it packed yesterday,traffic was back up on central avenue about half a block or so from the west entrance all the way up to the main entrance.

Things were going great for us until we got to two face where for some reason the ops allowed about a half train of flashpassers on board but didn't allow anybody from the regular queue on board...they didn't even bother to open the gates at all & just sent the train out half empty.The same thing kept occuring on Mind eraser & Superman in the late afternoon as well.

The good news was that at least Batwing had both sides & two trains going though by the end of the day.

I figured the bathtub guy was streetsmophere. No, it wasn't awful. We did have a good time in spite of some of the issues. I just wish we had gotten there a little bit earlier, but like I said traffic was simply awful and sluggish before the exit for rt. 214. I

I forgot to mention that it looks like Penguin's Blizzard River went down for the count too later on in the evening. We didn't see a tram, but it looks like I saw one of them in the boneyard.

*** Edited 6/10/2007 7:37:35 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***

I-Fan -

I saw the same back up you did yesterday.

here is a tip if you hit backup like that coming from Baltimore. You can get off route 50 at 197, instead of 301. Take Mitchellville Rd around to 301. You should come out about 1/2 mile from the shopping center with Pizza Hut and Giant Food or about 1/2 mile from 214.

Also, I just noticed on google maps that Mitchellville Rd. intersects with Mount Oak Rd. You can make right off of Mitchellville Rd on to Mount Oak which will dump you at Church Rd. Make a left on Church Rd and follow that to 214. Make a right turn on 214.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Mitchellville+Rd+Bowie,+MD&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=31.150864,82.265625&num=10 *** Edited 6/10/2007 8:50:50 PM UTC by coasterguts***

A day at the park is what you make it!

We stopped taking I-97 towards Annapolis a while ago because even though it is like a bypass for rt.3, the two-lane traffic up to the split with 50 towards Annapolis drives us crazy. Things can be equally as sluggish, and there's usually no place to pass people. Once you're out of that section, at least the road widens to four lanes (if memory serves me correctly).

That's a good tip though you gave, and I'll have to remember it for future reference.

Another thing that delayed my arriving at my friends house in Millersville was I-97 was closed due to an accident (again!). Now the electronic billboard said that going south all lanes were closed before rt. 100 and I'm thinking "Great." But a quick call to my friend's father reminded me of the back way taking Rt. 10 off of 695 to Mountain Rd. to East-West Highway.

WTOP News (traffic and weather on the 8's 24 hours a day 103.5 FM) said that by the time I would have gotten to the accident scene that there were two lanes getting by in one direction, and one in the other direction. So that was a good decision.

^Well things were no better for us coming up from Va, yesterday as we got caught up in a slow spot somewhere around Benning road just prior to hitting 50 east.

The ongoing construction in that area forced the closure of the two left lanes and,as usual everyone waited til the last minute to get over.Once we got past that it was smooth sailing until we hit 214 & got caught up in the traffic jam to get into the lot.

I totally forgot to mention in my TR on Coastergut's site this morning that another reason for us arriving a little later than usual was that we had to stop for gas in Reston,then had to stop at pentagon city to pick up another friend who now goes with us regularly.

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