SFGAdv 7/26/06 -- Holy hell.

Associated parks:

So it's really been ages since I've written a trip report, largely because it's been ages since I've been to an amusement park. I spent five days at Disneyland Resort in May and had a ball, but there wasn't anything exceptionally amazing about the trip that warranted mentioning it to a bunch of people who've probably forgotten who I am :)

Anyway, because I'm back East, the family went to Great Adventure today at my urging. I'm usually not here in the summer, so I wanted to get a chance to see some new rides that've opened in the three years since I last visited the park.

Things have gone downhill, which quite surprised me given how much I read about how they're trying to turn these places around. I'm-a be a negative Nellie first, then I'll cover the highlight. Yes, one.

A)What the Hell happened to all the flat rides? In 1999, the park installed an impressive array of interesting flats that really could appeal to all ages. There was a Chaos, a Jump, an Inverter, a Breakdance, and a Frisbee, among others. All of those are now gone, in addition to the Enterprise, and nothing's taken their place. Oh, right -- there're tigers now. How many people per hour can they feed to the tigers?

B)Batman & Robin: The Chiller looked "we gave up and went home" closed. This ride is nearly ten years old and they still haven't gotten it right? Why doesn't someone from one of the other parks that have these rides working well come visit and kick someone in the pants. Also, "Batman" looks stupid painted black and it makes the already awkward "Batman & Robin"-esque theming elements look worse. Imagine that.

C)Batman: The Ride//Rolling Thunder were averaging five minutes per dispatch. It takes a concerted effort to do a job that poorly, I think, and I was livid standing there watching the ops talk with one another as they check restraints with a laziness that would make sloths jealous. Isn't there management somewhere to uphold some notion of standards? I'd gone to this park year after year for a period approaching ten years and it was never as bad as what I saw today.

D)I stood at an Italian Ice food cart for ten minutes without ever being acknowledged. Present were six employees and a manager. Nobody even bothered to make eye contact with me. I walked away. It was a bajillion degrees outside today and I was prepared to spend some $25 on flavored ice, but screw it.

E)The clientele sucks. How necessary is it to spit everywhere? I mean, we get it -- Superman is like flying, but I don't recall the scene where Christopher Reeve hocked a big one at the ground. Was that in the director's cut?

F)Q-Bot/Fastlane stuff sucks, too. I grabbed the regular sort for my brother and I for $45 and off we went for a worry-free day of efficient riding. Oh, wait -- not. The system in place take entirely too long to assign your next ride time after you've checked in for something. Further, it doesn't buffer messages, so while your Q-bot is out of range of the system, you miss all the messages it send you -- like the ever-important time you get to go ride Kingda Ka. Few things suck more than exiting El Toro, as the things get no reception in the station, to see "You've missed your time for Kingda Ka, sucka." The piece of garbage never even showed me my time 'cause I was stuck in El No Reception-o Station-o for an hour while they fished someone's ass-nasty t-shirt off the track.

G)One 'team member' to another during El Toro Laundry Time 2006 -- "You should talk to them. If I have to talk to them, you should have to talk to them, too." She was no more than 2' from me at the time.


H)Kinga Ka. It opened, finally, sometime around 4. The exact moment is a mystery to me since I was trapped in Rolling Thunder's station, but by the time we got off the ride and over to KK, the wait was two hours. That's when we queued it up on our trust Fastlane thing. See above. We returned after the signal loss debacle and a nice girl, "Hope," called Q-Bot Tactical Command to verify that I was the only person in the park today that wasn't completely full of crap. She said we'd missed our 20 minute window or some such thing, but let us ride anyhow. I am so glad that I didn't wait more than 15 minutes for this POS. The launch sure looks impressive, but I found that it 'pumped,' if you will. It really felt like the motor was struggling hard to get us going and it didn't feel a bit like 128 MPH to me. Pull-coast-pull-coast-pull-clunk-clunk-coast does not an exciting launch make. Free of the catapult, we climb up this tower which looks reasonable until you see it with a train on top. It's big. The thing is, the ride was really, really rough; Vekoma-style, even. I couldn't see straight through all the bumpiness, so I imagine that a lot of the impact of being strapped to an engineering intern's summer project was lost upon me. The view down was scary for a brief moment -- until the shakiness returned and lasted the whole way through until the brakes. When the train before us launched, there was a very, very visible rocking motion. Is this common of these rides?

Okay, now on to the highlight.


I thought it'd be a gimmick ride, but holy crap is this coaster fan-freakin'-tastic. It's been years since I've ridden SFNE's S:ROS, but El Toro is at worst it's competitive sibling and, at best, Mom and Dad's favorite kid. We had two rides in the back very quickly in the morning and I was surprised by the forcefulness of the airtime. It really kicks you up out of the seat on the downhill side. The infield run is fun in the back, but a bit lacking of forces, I thought, and that's why I think I prefered S:ROS a bit more. Later on in the day, we grabbed a front seat ride and it was absolutely the best thing I've ridden since Phoenix. It's not quite as unrelenting as Phoenix, but it offers airtime that's every bit as forceful as in the back and then some.

More than anything else, though, the single thing that separates this coaster from all comers is the dive into the infield. This thing looks and rides as if Jesus himself came down and declared, "From here, thou shall enter Heaven." -- I mean, if he were a coaster enthusiast. I'm sure roller coasters violate some law in Leviticus.

The short version: Park sucks, El Toro is amazing for the time being, so catch it while it's hot. I'm sure it'll be no time at all until the rocket scientists running the show at Batman: The Ride are promoted to El Toro.


rollergator's avatar
Thanks for the TR, Maddie...and yes, you are remembered... :)

I'm looking forward to Toro alot, to get a Ka-redit lap on the big Piece of Steel, and seeing if I can find ANY improvements in the park...tyhe rest of the chain has picked it up, why not the flagship?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't been seeing the so-called "changes" in Six Flags at this particular park. While I'm sure I did it to myself by going on the Sunday before Memorial Day, my friends and I had such a miserable time that day that I haven't gone back since.

Contrast that with SFOG and SFKK, both of which I attended for the first time last week, and both of which I thought were very well-run and clean parks, even with a, well, unique clientele. But SFGAdv just seems to have missed the boat, even though I would've sworn at the start of the season that they were headed in the right direction.

I have a parking pass and a season pass -- a trip there costs gas and about $2.00 in tolls -- and it's still not worth it to me, even with El Toro (which, by the way, I still haven't successfully ridden...#200, maybe?). I owe my road-trip sidekick a visit in October, but it's gonna take quite a bit to get me back there before September rolls around again.

[Nitro Dave -- Track Record: 231 coasters] [url="http://rapturousverbatim.blogspot.com"]A Rapturous Verbatim[/url] & [url="http://atournamentoflies.blogspot.com"]A Tournament of Lies[/url] -- my blogs...they're blogtastic.
I just went to the park on the 25th and... ya it was a little dissipointing.

kingda ka, batman and robin, and great american scream machine were closed

batman, superman, el toro, and the mine ride all only had one train going. That really bugs me that they have 1-3 hour waits and they cant even run more than one train.

it also makes me kindof mad that they charge soo much for there flash passes. On a day when they only have 1-2 trains working for their most popular rides and with a wait getting up to 3 hours, the only way to ride them all is to pay an extra 45 bucks for the pass plus park admission.

the highlight of the day...el toro was amazing

basiclly the SFGAdv has pretty good coasters, but unfortunitly they are located in a bad operated park. maybe it was just an unlucky day..but yet...it's six flags :)

I had a day there in May about like yours, except El Toro wasn't open yet.

yeah. *** Edited 7/27/2006 4:26:07 AM UTC by Shivtim***

I agree with everything said, except for 2 things:

1) Chiller is down due to an accident (cracked wheel axle supposedly, which caused a valley and major damage to trains and track). Before that it was running BOTH sides.

2) Most of the flats were taken out due to them never running. I guess they thought that guests won't complain about things that they don't think were ther ein the 1st place rather than seeing rides closed.

Otherwise, agree completely. KK shakes pretty badly, operations have been much worse than last year, and higher pricing.

Top 5: S:RoS at SFNE, El Toro, MF, Boulder Dash, Kingda Ka
this park sucks

Nitro Dave said:
Contrast that with SFOG and SFKK, both of which I attended for the first time last week, and both of which I thought were very well-run and clean parks, even with a, well, unique clientele. But SFGAdv just seems to have missed the boat, even though I would've sworn at the start of the season that they were headed in the right direction.

What day of the week did you go to SFKK? I might have been working Road Runner that day...and what is unique supposed to mean? :) Since I'm always on the forums and such I see what people talk about so I try to make sure that doesn't happen wherever I'm at. It's kinda hard to when you have team leaders that are more concerned about talking to people half-way across the park. That's why I usually suggest they operate panel and let me load/unload. More on-topic though, I thought SFGAdv was pulling it around...I guess some park GM's need a personal meeting with Shapiro's pimp hand... *** Edited 7/27/2006 5:27:36 AM UTC by mudinthevayne***

Ride count on the Voyage: 40 Most consecutive rides on the Voyage: 36 Day after thigh bruises from airtime: Priceless
April and May at this park were fine for me. I didn't even use Q-Bot on those visits. Summer hit and I went back only to ride Toro, quick stop in ride it and go. Am I ever glad I haven't spent a full day in the park if things have deteriorated this bad. Maybe Sunday I should make a return to see how bad they have become. Like I said to people Hershey is becoming my favorite big park in the Philly region. So I guess I will be changing season passes next season if my next GAdv visit is bad.

Watch the tram car please....
I have to admit, I read this trip report solely for the title.

Sounds like you nailed it though....that's a shame. I haven't been there in 12 years, nor does it look like I will be going anytime soon.

BTW, the director's cut line was classic!

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.
I'm fortunate enough to live much closer to CP. I have a niece from Massachusetts that just went crazy over KW's Phantoms Revenge and I'd like to get her to that park if she gets down this way again so that she can ride MF, TTD, Wicked Twister, and Maggie. I believe that she will have a lot more fun there than at SFGAdv.

It will probably be a long time until I go to SFGAdv. If I go to some eastern parks, Knoebels, Hershey, and LC are at the top of my list right now.

Arthur Bahl

rollergator's avatar

mudinthevayne said: ...I thought SFGAdv was pulling it around...I guess some park GM's need a personal meeting with Shapiro's pimp hand...

Keep the pimp hand strong...LOL!

Seriously, if Shapiro and Snyder want GAdv to be "family-friendly", the park has ALMOST as far to go as SFMM would have had...it may not be "Gangsta's paradise", but it IS line-jumpers' paradise...you need a gold-bot just to keep up with the people who skip the lines entirely...

THAT may be a lot of things....hospitality ain't one of 'em...you get caught line-jumping in MY park, be prepared to see the park in your rear-view mirror....oh, and that season pass you bought? Mine now... ;)

Jeff's avatar
It's pretty staggering that in one of the most populated regions of the entire nation that they can't find good people to run that dump. I haven't been there since 2001, and I wasn't impressed then either. I just don't understand how that park could belong to the same company as SFGAm.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Sounds like I made the right decision by canceling my trip that was scheduled for tomorrow.

It's going to be interesting hearing Shapiro's conference call next week. If he really says he's going to be as transparent with investors as he says he wil be, then I hope an explanation on the down turn of operations in the past couple of months is forthcoming. It's like they're two different companies.

A day at the park is what you make it!

Dang, and I was planning to go there next Wednesday. On my 1 trip there earlier this season, they were doing somewhat decent, but not great. 2 trains on all the B&Ms except maybe Supes, but maybe they had 2 trains going, also. KK had 3. RT had 1 on 1 side, the other side being closed. RMT was closed. Chiller had both running still. Freefall was closed. All 3 flumes were closed.

I sent an e-mail to them, and I got 4 half-price admissions, which I haven't used yet, and probably won't use.

It's just pitiful how this park is doing this year. I want to get back up and ride El Toro, but I don't want to spend an entire day there and have it be a lousy time.

I may change the destination and go back to Hershey, where I know they know how to run a park.

Interestingly enough, I think SFGAm's GM was sent to SFGAdv for this year. Perhaps it's too much to change in such a short period of time? SFGAdv is looking a decent amount like the Mountain now. I hope Shapiro really straightens them out!

coastin' since 1985

Actaully, I heard Ron Severt (sp?) resigned....

A day at the park is what you make it!

Strangely I had a day there back in 2001 that wasn't that busy, Most everything I wanted to ride I got too, some more than once and even seen a amazing stunt show on the lake.

Still nothing about the park said come back and visit soon. The ops however on my visit then were spectacular IMHO.

Sad to hear this, Very sad.


SFGAdv used to have decent ops that would push people through rides better. It seems that, while they have some rides that SHOULD push people through pretty good, they don't because of one reason or another.

For instance:

Rolling Thunder: 4 trains (2 on each side)
GASM: 3 trains
Medusa: 3 trains
Nitro: 3 trains
Kingda Ka: 4 trains
Runaway Mine Train: 3 trains

I'm tired of SF parks being run like crap. And I really don't like the Flash Pass/Fast Lane. If I go to a park, I don't want to be affected by Flash Pass. I don't want the capacity to suffer because of it, and I don't want to be line-jumped by them. Add this on top of already crappy operations, less than full capacity rides, and other rides that are closed, and I'm not going to have an experience that is worthy of bragging about.

coastin' since 1985

Acoustic Viscosity's avatar
Until they get the operations running at full capacity, the Gold FlashPass is the only way to remotely enjoy that place. We made the mistake of going back on Tuesday insead of Dorney...it sucked!

AV Matt
Long live the Big Bad Wolf

I'm going to throw a wrench into the theme of this discussion thread ...

I went to SFGAdv on June 11th and had a grand time with my fiance. There were still ignorant teenagers there, but hopefully the higher priced tickets will weed them out. Definitely, there were more ignorant teenagers there in 2003 when I went previously.

But if you're going to compare the clientelle of CP to the clientelle of SFGAdv, for one, consider the surrounding areas, the nearby urban centers, and the accessibility. Great Adventure is not out in breadbasket-wonderful mid-west or anything.

The park looks more beautiful with promise of becoming even better. Uh it's the first year of the new management, give them some time to get more of their directions going, why doncha.

In fact, I had SUCH a great time on 6/11, that I'm taking my out-of-state cousin there on Friday August 4th.

THEN, I'm going with two of my girlfriends for a day in the park on August 24th.

The thing I'll be sad about is if Scream Machine is still down for repair. But you know what - I'd rather it be repaired and maintained. Again, don't shoot down the new management immediately.

Let's see how they handle the Scream Machine repairs, how they handle The Chiller, and how the employee service improves over the next two to three years. Give it some time.

And furthermore, the park WOULD improve if people with these observations actually wrote to the park and told them what was wrong. Who knows, maybe you'll get a couple free passes or something. You'll also be able to make a difference. A mature, well-written letter is all it takes. Probably repeatedly using the word 'sucks' will impinge on the credibility of your opinions.

No one can go from couch potato to marathon runner overnight.

- J *** Edited 7/27/2006 8:53:57 PM UTC by ErinGoBraugh***

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