Instead of a formal trip report, I thought I’d get right to what is important. In this status report I’ll skip all the details of a lengthy trip report (how you rate each ride, how much time spent in line, how traffic was, etc.) and get right to the basics. For some background, this day was the first day of SFA’s bonus add-on weekend. The weather was warm all day and the crowds were light to moderate (lines from 5 minutes to 30 minutes on average). I was at the park from 10:30 am through 5pm. Also, while I’ve been to SFA dozens of times in years past, this was my first trip in 2004, so all of my comparisons of what is new or what has changed will all be in reference to the 2003 season. That being said…
In years past, I had noticed that the end seats on Batwing had been getting shakier and shakier, so when we decided to sit in the last row and I was pushed to an end seat, I was preparing for a bumpy ride. I was pleasantly surprised to get a ride as smooth as many B&Ms! Very smooth in comparison to years past! Batwing was running one train for most of the morning, then bumped up to two trains by mid-afternoon, then moved back to one train in the evening using one side of the station at a time all day (it switched to the right side for a portion of the morning while they were fixing the train in the left side). I’m glad to see they finally removed the third train from the transfer track instead of leaving it there in its cannibalized state. Looks much better. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear a new station overhead message. They used to have a general message that played over the PA system when the train was loading/unloading, but now they have a nicely themed message that tells guest things like “crime fighters, please exit towards the center of the hanger,” “your flight crew will be around to check your restraints,” and “rest assured that Gotham City is a safer place because of you.” VERY nice touch that we’ll hopefully see expanded to other rides by the 2005 season. I’d like to see the magnetically lifted catch dogs in use to make the ride up the lift a little quieter, but that’s no big deal. I’d also like to see a canopy installed over the final brake run (as also seen on BORG at PC). When running two trains and one station, the second train often waits in the reclined position for several minutes with the sun blaring in your eyes. It’s quite uncomfortable. The only ways I could see resolving this would be a) always run two stations (requires more staff) b) have the trains incline on the final brake run (probably requires a lot of work to change the sensors/software c) put a canopy over the final brake run. The canopy seems the best bet.
You know, I really didn’t mind the new restraints. I don’t think they take away from the ride at all (btw, I’m 6’2” and had no problems with my legs being uncomfortable). I really love how they removed the last row of the in station queue. It really opens up the station to allow people to get to all seats. They may want to work the front row queue now though as there seems to be a little congestion getting there now by people waiting for the second row. Hopefully we’ll see a similar modification to Wild One’s Station and Joker’s Jinx’s station in the near future as those two rides have similar problems to the problems Superman used to have in the station. The ride seemed a little smoother than last year as well for most of my rides. I did have a bit bumpy of a ride towards the back of the blue train. Otherwise, it’s still one of the greatest coasters in the area.
Joker’s Jinx/ROAR/Mind Eraser/Wild One:
Nothing new to say. All four of these rides are pretty much exactly the same as they have been in the past few years. The mirrors in front of Joker’s Jinx are getting a little beaten up, but that’s a pretty easy fix.
Are ALL Huss break dance rides made that all of the restraints need to be released manually? It seems kind of silly that after the ride the ride op needs to go around and release every lap bar manually, just seems like something that should be automatic. I thought I also remembered the ride going forward, then reversing at the end of the ride for a short time. Seems it only goes forward now then stops.
When I passed this ride in the morning, it didn’t look like it was going to open. There was a ladder underneath it and the plastic domes that cover the valves and such on the two ends of the ride car and the one large one in the center column were all missing. However, sure enough when I walked past the ride later in the day it was running, and had a reasonably long line. Guess my bad luck followed me though because at the end of the ride, the ride platform didn’t line up with the loading platform and they spent about eight minutes trying to fix it. Never did get it lined up, so they let us off a row at a time with about an eight-inch gap between the ride and the loading platform. I don’t think it reopened. They do have a pretty crazy ride program running though. Several points during the ride they swing you around at full speed with your head facing the ground. The centrifugal force really pulls the blood to your head. Still glad it opened, a little bummed it closed so soon.
Never opened. There were pieces missing off the last two cars. We asked a supervisor walking around the park what the status of the ride was and he told us that the ride would be closed the rest of the season and that they were waiting for a piece to come in. He went on to say that because there were so few of that model of ride in the world, replacement parts are in short supply and often need longer time to be specifically made.
Tower of Doom:
I didn’t ride it, but they did have two sides open by mid-afternoon. It looked like they either replaced or painted a lot of the parts because the ride vehicles looked brand new, as did the test dummies they were using to test the ride.
Penguin’s Blizzard River:
I didn’t ride this one either (I did last year), mostly because of the long line. I was surprised to see they were only running three rafts, but then again there was no stacking before the station. Seems like there should be a way to decrease load times while keeping safety up to run at least 5 or 6 boats at a time.
Typhoon Sea Coaster:
Tested from about 1pm until about 5pm but never opened. Maybe they were more working on the ride then testing it, but it was quite a tease for me. Would really have liked to get one more ride or so.
In general, the staff was good. Not excellent, but not by any means bad. They weren’t fooling around, they were keeping their conversations work related, and they were moving at a reasonable speed. There was one point of unprofessionalism when Superman broke down and the four crewmembers just sat on the train talking while the mechanic fixed the ride, but other than that, I was pleased with the staff in general.
Looked fine. All the grass was recently mowed, no overflowing trashcans, all the paths were reasonably clean. The plants in front of the “Oak Grove” sign and in front of the signs going back to Batwing are getting a little tall and blocking much of the signs. They could use a good trim but that’s about it.
What’s New/Things Noticed:
LOTS of new signage EVERYWHERE. New signs in the parking lot pointing to the exit and towards more parking, new signs in front of the water cannons at RR and TSC, a few new signs down through Nantucket, new signs on the sides of the bathrooms, just to name a few. And they’re all really nice 3D, themed signs, they really look nice. They also had a nice sign in front of TF:TFS advising guests how it was closed, but they should try the close by TOD or WW. A very nice touch. They’ve also replaced the rafts on RR. It’s a little odd the first time you see them. Instead of the usual black tubes, they are more of a cream color. There’s also a TON of new fencing all around the park. A tall black fence has replaced the short fence around much of Batwing; the fences in the queue and exit of Superman have been heightened, as well as new fences around all of the low areas on Superman, PBR and TSC. Another thing I noticed this year are the magnetic locks on the flat ride exits. I specifically saw them on Rodeo and IE, but I’m sure they could be in other places. They work by engaging when the ride is in motion, and disengaging when the ride is over preventing people from entering through the exit if the ride is in motion. Seems like a great idea!
Diamond in the Rough (Stunt Show):
SFA has stunt shows down to a science anymore. Their stunt show continually gets better and better and this year was no exception. They did have a few microphone problems, but I’m sure that was just a flub in the one show I saw. I’m not sure how I feel about them using songs and names from “Blazing Saddles.” But otherwise it was a great show with some good surprises and really funny moments.
Some of the new shirts are REALLY nice, though their lack of uniqueness to the park is a little lacking. In the Daily Planet store they have shirts for Batwing and Superman that are reminiscent to old comic book covers. Not really happy about them using “Batman: the Ride” and Superman: Ultimate Flight on the Batwing and Superman shirts respectively, but it’s still all-good. They also had general t-shirts for the park that looked vintage, though again all the pictures were from SFMM, still looked pretty good though. I was really happy to see that ALL of the pictures in the park map were of SFA specifically.
Finally, I noticed something odd. If anybody has any pictures to confirm if this was here or not before tell me. When coming off of Joker’s Jinx, I was at first humored by a sign on a fence that said “Stroller Parking here” in an area that is well out of the general park area. The fence I’m talking about is the one across the railroad tracks that is behind TSC and Wild One. When I looked more, I noticed there was a fenced in path that leads under the mountain of TSC. At first I thought it was just a maintenance path with an unused “Stroller Parking” sign just leaning up against the fence, but the stroller parking sign was attached to the fence, and the path back into the TSC mountain next to the “Stroller Parking” sign was a nice wooden with mulch on the ground. While I really don’t expect to EVER see a ride here, could this be where they are doing something new for Fright Fest? Like a new maze or something? Or has this path always been here and it’s just a nice maintenance path?
I had a field day going through the park and picking out what was new. I even spotted that they had painted the colums on the Batman show a light blue. As for Iron Eagle--TEAR IT DOWN! Why would you keep a ride around that continually gets stuck, is a maintenance headache, and really not that fun? Knott's finally got smart and removed theirs, when will SFA?
Yes, all of Huss Breakdances have manual restraints, but the employee shouldn't have to go unlock all the restraints- the dial that unlocks it is easily reachable, and easy to use- just twist and push up.
Thanks for clearing that up Intamin Fan. I thought I had remembered seeing that "Stroller Parking" sign there before...
Then again they can also put a top spin on that spot as well.
The "Flying Espanas" were featured in the new hometown version of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and sadly Dessi Espana, while she was working without a net died Saturday May 22nd 2004, after falling about 35 feet during a performance.
http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2004/US/Midwest/05/23/circus.accident/story.espana.ap.jpg *** Edited 9/27/2004 12:45:00 PM UTC by Sam A. Marks***
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