SFGAdv 6/17/08 (Day 4)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:31 AM
I have a ton to cover here. My random thoughts might go from little one-liners to full paragraphs.

And just because it's Gonch talking Six Flags I know there's some sort of expectation, so let me just get it out of the way:

Six Flags f'n delivered.

This is so far from the Six Flags of 2002 that it's not even fair to compare. The park was even so far beyond where it was on my last visit in 2006 that I was surprised. My wife, who absolutely hates SFGAdv, was won over this time. There was nothing to complain about.

On to the thoughts:

- Disappointed that they're not handing out the sweet souvenir maps anymore when you pay for parking. But being able to pay for parking with a credit card swipe was cool. Just for clarity's sake, the sign detailing the parking prices lists regular parking as $14.02 + .98 tax. :)

- We went for the Flash Pass. (boo now because you need to shut up while I swoon over the system)

- Gold Flash Pass = The Shiznit! I can never go back. I'm now stuck buying Gold everytime. It was $110 to put two people on a Gold pass. This works for us because specific riders aren't tied to the pass. The four of us could ride in any combination of two that worked and with different ages, likes, dislikes, tolerance and such the ability to 'play the system' and mix & match really came in handy. The longest wait of the day was 9 minutes. We rode every coaster in the park at least once...a few twice and a couple thrice. Seriously, they need to be charging even more because based on my experience and the line buying into the system - people would still pay it.

- Speaking of Flash Pass, the actual implementation on the rides ranged from horrible to seamless. As you can probably guess the oldest rides are the worst and new ones (like Dark Knight) that were built with Flash Pass in mind handle it with no issues at all.

- Still speaking of Flash pass, the new device they use is light years beyond the old ones. You can reserve for any ride from anywhere in the park. The device lists the wait for rides by showing what your ride time would be in real time. It also shows when a ride goes down (which can be useful in deciding a path around the park) and adjusts your ride time if a ride does go down. You can also get info about the rides on the device. It's pretty awesome.

- My wife took a picture of me kissing the Flash Pass goodbye before we returned it...

...I miss my Flash Pass.

- Free drinks. Read it again. Free drinks. Well, free in the sense of paying a certain price at the start and never paying for another drink all day. It works like this - buy a souvenir cup and get a wristband for free refills good for the entire day of purchase. After that bring the cup back and refills are only 99 cents. More importantly, buy the cup and get FREE refills all day. For the record, the souvenir cup is $12.99. Did I mention that you get free drink refills all day? Could be testing the waters, could be nothing more than what it is, could be dumb luck. Either way it was all the drink my family could drink for $12.99.

- As far as I could tell, people didn't give two craps about the lockers. They were using them and no one was throwing a hissy. For the record, on rides where the lockers exists, the rule is no loose articles. "In your pockets" doesn't equal loose and if you have loose shoes that you might need to remove you must sit on them - not leave them in the station. So in the end, there is nothing loose in the station on those rides and no one is doing anything but boarding the ride. Not sure if it adds to the efficiency, but it certainly decreases the confusion. No harm, no foul. Either keep it to what fits in your pockets or put it in a locker.

- Ride operations appeared to be average. Nothing particularly outstanding, but no plodding, uncaring employees. They were moving trains and doing their jobs. If they felt like busting ass, it could've been better. If they felt like dicking around it would've been worse.

- Employee attitudes have done a complete 180. We didn't meet one miserable prick the entire day. In fact (and this is the area that really went a long way in winning my wife over) they were friendly, smiling, helpful, cheerful and seemed like they...dare I say it...cared.

- Prices are still Six Flags prices and the food is average (a step above CF's 'bad'). In general, a sandwich (burger, hot dog, sausage, etc) and fries weighed in a $9 or $10. Pretty much exactly what we paid for the same sandwich and fries from TGI Friday's after we left the park. It's steep, but not entirely unreasonable. Drinks were still at $4 for a large, I think. I'm not sure we had the free refills for the day.

- The park probably has less rides than ever. They really have removed a lot. On the flip side, the park probably looks better than ever.

- I was disappointed that we weren't there on a day they were running the Glow In The Park parade (or whatever they call it) - it looked like it would've been cool and I've read nothing but good things about it.

- The Dark Knight is exactly what I expected. I like it. My daughter really dug it. We rode twice. I swear the preshow room erupted in hoots and holler and cheering and mild applause after the preshow ended on our first ride. People really seemed into it.

I can understand why there seems to be so much negativity surrounding it. First of all, it is just a wild mouse ride. It's a practically unbraked, seriously badass wild mouse ride, but it's just a wild mouse.

With that in mind, put it in a box so no one knows what's in there, add a seperate preshow that's pretty damn cool, throw in a small queue that sticks with the theme, sit in a car that resembles a broken subway car and take off. There's some seriously hype leading up to the ride itself. You expect more than a wild mouse in a box.

Then the mouse itself is themed...quite nicely even. Some wonderful effects along the way, but there's no resolution to the whole story side of things. The wait outside, the preshow, the queue area, the themed ride and then...it's just over.

It all adds up to the average guest going "WTF!?" on several levels. However, knowing what to expect, I was much less let down and I appreciated the trimless top half of the mouse and thought that overall it was pretty well done. Light years beyond what you'd expect from SF.

- Finally got that Kingda Ka credit. Let's just say Kingda Ka wishes it was Dragster. If you're going to be a one trick pony, be good at it. The ride launches, goes straight up, straight down and ends with an oversized airtime hill and still manages to come off as rough.

- El Toro FTW!

- Rolling Thunder still sucks and feels like metal scraping wood when you ride it.

- I finally 'get' B:TR, I think. I've been on the Batman clones just about everywhere but never really thought much of them - solid ride, but not my favorite. Today we got some seriously crazy rides that made me go, "Now I get it!" I suspect that the Batman clones will move up a few spots in my ballot for Mitch's poll this year.

- We kept crossing paths with a VIP group. There appeared to be six in the group and they looked like they were having a good time.

- On the subject of VIP tours, I saw on one of the SFTV montors (sweet, new, large, flatscreens) that the VIP really is all-inclusive now. (including all the free food and drink you want & all the games you care to play for free - those things alone might make the vlaue suddenly higher)

- The Golden Kingdom and Plaza Del Carnaval are really well done. Like top-level theme.

- Everybody giggles at the bull statue in front of El Toro. You're not funny or witty if you take a picture. Even less so if you explicitly reference "it" in the photo. (unless you put it in your mouth or something, then you're cool...but no one ever does that, so giggle and move on please)

- Speaking of El Toro, did I mention El Toro FTW! (I know I did, I wanted to say it again)

- Security (and other employees who 'roam') are now armed with 'grabbers' for picking up garbage and we saw more than a few making use of the tool.

- On the subject of security, we even had a security dude offer to take our picture as a family outside the park when he spotted me snapping a pic of the wife and kids. We accepted his offer.

- Six Flags has some of the best merchandise of all the parks. Like items you might actually not be embarassed to wear in real life.

- Tickets, the Flash Pass, Parking and the free drink refills cost a total of $260 for four. That's $65 a head. Sixty-five dollars for admission, all the drinks you care to drink and wait times under 10 minutes for the entire day seems like a steal to me. And we could've knocked another $20 off of that ($5 per person) if we had taken advantage of the BOGO offer at Wawa instead of the COLDSTONE code we were so kindly turned on to a here at CB. (thanks, tigellinus)

I think that's all I got for now. I'm sure I left something out. Tomorrow we drive down the shore hitting whatever we come across along the way until we get to our hotel in Atlantic City. No idea what I'll have to share tomorrow night.

Keep cool, my babies.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 7:17 AM
We were at SF GrAdv yesterday too. Great day at the park. The longest wait we had all day was 30 minutes for Nitro and the line was held up because of some line jumpers arguing with security about getting tossed from the line. The rest of the coasters were about a twenty minute wait. I absolutely love this park when the crowds are light.

Hope you get a chance to take a trip to Clementon Park. I live in Brigantine, five minutes outside of Atlantic City. So welcome and enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 7:55 AM
SFOG had the 12.99 free drink refill offer as well last week.

I am curious - what do you think the wait times would have been without the flashpass?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 9:55 AM
$65 a head is actually a steal for no waiting. Well played with the discounting.

I had a similar experience at the park recently that I posted a trip report for. We didn't buy a Flash Pass but still managed to have a great time which says a lot about the park and its employees. The park HAS improved from when I have visited in the past. Well done.

The park does seem empty in a lot of places with very few rides, it almost feels like they just reopened after being shut down for a few years.

Sounds like you guys are having a fun trip!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 10:12 AM

Shades said:
SFOG had the 12.99 free drink refill offer as well last week.

I am curious - what do you think the wait times would have been without the flashpass?


We were at the park yesterday from opening til closing. We went right to Toro and rode four times with a five to ten minute wait each time. Then to Ka, fifteen minutes. Medusa was about fifteen to twenty. Same with B:TR. Our longest was Nitro at thirty but that was with a hold up. Later in the afternoon Toro was about thirty to forty but we went and got some dinner. When we came back the wait was about fifteen minutes so we did a couple of rerides. We didn't feel like riding Superman or TDK so I don't know about those.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:02 AM
With the flash pass and tickets, not counting the kids or sharing it, you spent more than you would have on a single-day, single-park Disney ticket that no one buys. That's value to you? Meh, I suppose. I don't think I'd pay it.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:20 AM
But he did share it all and he didn't have to fly four people to Orlando to have fun.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:20 PM
How much was your parking? You forgot to add that to your price.

"The buy-one-get-one free promotion gets the price cut too. If you bring a Coke can to the main ticket booth each person in your pair will end up paying $24.99 a person instead of $29.99."

You are saying how cheap it is, but it's cheap because of how much the company is struggling for people. The Flash Pass is the thing that made the price skyrocket to $260. A souvenir bottle in which you have to put in a locker, or put in your car is annoying to carry around for a lot of money (That is what you think is a steal of $12.99.)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:25 PM
Thanks dragonlady. To me those wait times aren't worth the money.

I am so glad I didn't get a flashpash at SFOG. That was the first time I had the opportunity and I thought about it but I decided to roll the dice and tough it out. Turns out the park was dead and it would have been money wasted. If the place would have been busy and the ridiculously long ques were full then I can see it as money well spent.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:41 PM
A great day at $65/head is totally worth it in my book.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 12:46 PM
Did you see any line cutting or rudeness in line? If so, did Security get involved, or how was it handled?

On Six Flags improvements: Yeah, it is way better, much better than in 2003 when me and my parents got stuck in the top of the Big Wheel during an electrical storm.

On Maps - So where do you get them these days?

On Employee Attitudes - Do you think that Six Flags America might take an inservice day and ship their entire staff to Great Adventure to do on-the-job training in how to be nice?

On Prices and Food - my favorite food is the Mexican kitchen by El Toro.

On Rolling Thunder: Why oh why is it still standing? It is a total wreck and no endless series of patches can make it decent. It is expired.

On Merchandise: I know what you mean. I was in the park last summer and found an Aquaman tee shirt. That was the coolest tee I have ever seen in any amusement park store ever. I got it for my husband.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:19 PM
To me Flash Pass value is so dependant on crowds. The decision happens once I've been there and looked around for a about an hour, not before (unless it's a saturday or "band day" or "Bring a friend free" day).

I've seen way too many people with flash passes on days when the major rides were all walk-ons.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 4:31 PM

Lord Gonchar said:


- On the subject of VIP tours, I saw on one of the SFTV montors (sweet, new, large, flatscreens) that the VIP really is all-inclusive now. (including all the free food and drink you want & all the games you care to play for free - those things alone might make the vlaue suddenly higher)


Just when you had us trained to think that "free isn't really free" you spring this on us. :)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you saying that an average person could buy a souvenir cup for $12.99, get free refills all day, but pay $1.00 a pop (no pun intended) to keep storing it in a locker all day long? Six Flags would make more in storage than they spend on the sugar water they'd put in the cup all day.

Gonch, if you're telling me that a family of four drank all day long from one souvenir cup with unlimited free refills, why that about brings a tear to my eye. You sure we're not fourth cousins twice removed?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 5:48 PM
I too was impressed by Dark Knight (FAST...and good theming)...and we definitely share the same opinion on Toro. Was there Sunday and the only waits worth mentioning were for Toro and Parachute Jump. Since AV Matt hadn't ridden GAdv's, it was kind of important....closed on too many visits.

Staff was really good...a WAY pleasant change from the Thursday SFA situation.

You really did miss something cool though, with Glow in the Park. Certainly not going to be confused with the Main Street Parade at Disney, but pretty impressive nonethless. If only my nighttime picture-taking skills and equipment were more advanced... ;)

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 7:22 PM
It's nice to see the park is still improving, I visited last year and was blown away. It wasn't half as bad as everyone said it was. Yes there was a case of line jumping and one rude employee but that was it.

This park has a bright future ahead of it.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 8:03 PM
We saw two line jumping incidents, one on Rolling Thunder and one on Nitro. Both times security removed the jumpers from the line. They were not removed from the park, as we saw both groups later.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 8:18 PM
Anyone caught jumping on Rolling Thunder should be forced to ride it twice!
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 10:06 PM

dragonlady said:
Hope you get a chance to take a trip to Clementon Park.

That's a distinct possibility.


eightdotthree said:
Sounds like you guys are having a fun trip!

So far. Today was the first 'meh' day. I'll post today's thoughts later tonight.


Jeff said:
With the flash pass and tickets, not counting the kids or sharing it, you spent more than you would have on a single-day, single-park Disney ticket that no one buys. That's value to you? Meh, I suppose. I don't think I'd pay it.

What? $30 a ticket. $110 on a Flash Pass. $15 for parking. $13 for drinks.

That's where I'm getting $65 a head for admission, never more than a 9 minute wait, parking and unlimited drinks.

Call me when Disney (or any other park) can give me the same offer.


ErinGoBraugh said:
Did you see any line cutting or rudeness in line? If so, did Security get involved, or how was it handled?

Actually, (and this is going to seem like too perfect an answer considering my general stance on things) the only park I've seen any line cutting yet was Hersheypark...several times.

Hershey was also the only park where I spotted an employee unattentively playing with her cell phone.

In all fairness, there's not much chance to see any line cutting when your not standing in line. :)


Spinout said:
How much was your parking? You forgot to add that to your price.

A whole 'thought' is dedicated to parking and it is indeed included in that price.


Spinout:
You are saying how cheap it is, but it's cheap because of how much the company is struggling for people.

So something no longer qualifies as cheap because of the the motivation for doing it? A deal isn't a deal if the seller needs your money? Whatever.


Spinout:
The Flash Pass is the thing that made the price skyrocket to $260.

And the freedom to do pretty much whatever I wanted all day long and hop on rides at will made it worth twice as much to me. In my book, that's a bargain.


Spinout:
A souvenir bottle in which you have to put in a locker, or put in your car is annoying to carry around for a lot of money (That is what you think is a steal of $12.99.)

Not sure what else to call unlimited drinks for four for $13. Can't think of a single other park able to make that kind of offer.


RatherGoodBear said:
Gonch, if you're telling me that a family of four drank all day long from one souvenir cup with unlimited free refills, why that about brings a tear to my eye. You sure we're not fourth cousins twice removed?

:)

Sometimes I think that when it comes to Gonch, people fill in the spaces between the lines in entirely incorrect ways.


rollergator said:
I too was impressed by Dark Knight (FAST...and good theming)...and we definitely share the same opinion on Toro.

Then I must be right about both rides, huh? :)


rollergator said:
You really did miss something cool though, with Glow in the Park. Certainly not going to be confused with the Main Street Parade at Disney, but pretty impressive nonethless.

Could you rub it in a little more?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 10:17 PM
If it were me and Diana paying the same stuff, and not diluting your calculation by spreading a flash pass for two four ways, the cost per person is closer to a hundred bucks. That's not a deal.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:16 PM
Oh, I see what you were getting at.

$60 + $110 + $15 +$13 = $198

Hmmmm.

This goes back to the single visitor vs the family visitor angle that comes up in the endless 'value' debates.

For example, $15 parking doesn't bug me too much because in the big scheme of covering the costs of four people, it's not much. But a single visitor paying $30 for a ticket is essentially being assessed a 50% surcharge to park their vehicle.

The pricing is essentially the same, but I can spread the costs across four people and not feel the hit. More people = more value.

I'm following you now.

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