SFGadv FrightFest 10/15....things have to change

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This is going to be a little different TR, as i really dont have much to talk about. despite what seemed like a mediocre crowd, i spent about 7 hours in line for just 3 different coasters...so not much to talk about there....but there is something else...

tonite im sitting here wondering if/when i will ever visit SFGadv again. now, those of you that know me, i dont bash parks. i just dont. im a pretty upbeat, positive guy. i like to find the good in anything. however today, i ran out of good to find. ive spent years defending Gadv, now its time to do some ranting....

first off, the park is in a shambles. there's garbage everywhere, i saw no one cleaning. the bathrooms, wow. i know times are busy, but come on....

virtually EVERY flat ride was down. yea this is normal i know, but with the amount of people and the low capacity on caosters, they could have opened some up. i saw three running, the wave swinger, roundup, and bumpercars....

and capacity. i have usually been pleased with Gadv's ability to run their rides to capacity, with Nitro often matching up with Maggie and Raptor in previous years. tonite was not the case. there was an op, and two platform attendants. i know someone well connected with the park, and he said the # was over 40,000 today. the qbot thing was OUT OF CONTROL. they were filling entire trains on Nitro, and i saw SEVERAL people getting on the ride, with no qbot being checked. not to mention the attitude of ops, to the point where one was using foul language over his mic to insult guests. i dont care who insinuated what, thats just a little much.

having spoken tonite with a close friend who has worked there for years, they tell me that it comes down to staffing. the management at the park is running the staff into the ground, and corporate lets it happen because amazingly, Gadv is bringing in numbers, according to colourful reports. this is not amazing, however..i mean lets look around...they sit in the most densly populated county in the United States (Monmouth County NJ, look it up if u dont believe me), and are easily within a 3 hour drive of about 30 million people.

things have got to change. eventually, enough people will quit working at this park, at which point the park will run itself into the ground. after i post this thread, i am going to write a letter to Six Flags management, asking that someone please look into the workplace environment there at Gadv.

i honestly love this park you guys. it may have its problems, but its got an incredible collections of rides, has a wonderful layout, and its just a lot of fun. and i am very sad at the direction the park is headed. things do not look good, especially not after what i heard from my friend tonite (and yes, they are very trustworthy, as am i), and regardless of the plans for next year, things HAVE GOT to change, and quickly.

for those planning on going to the park at some point this October, i certainly hope your experience was more enjoyable than mine was today.

Well unfortunately this is how it is every year for Fright Fest. The problem really is staffing, though that's not an excuse.

They rarely have flats running during FF becuase they simply don't have enough staff. This leads to longer than normal lines for the coasters, which can be understaffed as well.

Gadv's employees are almost all college or high school students. As soon as September rolls around they are screwed. It happens every year, but they just don't pay enough to make it a logical job for someone who is not a student.

Honestly, the only thing that is ever going to break this cycle is for them to start paying their employees higher wages. (which probably won't happen)

I'm sorry you had a bad day, but I have learned to stay away from the park during Fright Fest, or go expecting the worst. Don't let this affect your view of the park as a whole, because during the year you know it is much better than this. Granted they do have their bad days, but as you said in your post, they are usually pretty good w/ capacity and park cleanliness.

Theres no reason to be screwed on weekends even if people are in school. Fridays yes, saturdays no. Make it a mandatory work day. Try this. Either you work Friday and Sunday (with the option to work saturday also), or you work a double on saturday.

Everyone at my ride with the exception of mayyybe one person (same with all other rides at SFOT) knows they will be scheduled on Saturday and if they need a saturday off, they need to find a replacement. Its that easy..don't let your employees control you.

Oh and maybe, just maybe, they should think about giving their employees more than 30 minute breaks. I was shocked to find out that SFOT is one of, if not the only SF, to regularly give their employees more than 30 minute breaks.

Mamoosh's avatar
Y'all have to understand that a lot of people only visit the park once a year, and its to experience the Halloween event. Because this is their one and only visit of course they're going to want to try some coasters, too...so naturally lines will be much longer than during other times of the year.

The Fright Fest attractions are only availble a few weeks a year; the coasters are there the whole season. If you're going to visit a park during their Halloween event doesn't it make sense to enjoy the attractions that are special for that time of year [i.e. the haunted mazes] and leave the coaster rides for another day when the lines are much shorter?

eightdotthree's avatar
Not to me it doesn't. The park is open, so the rides should be staffed and run to capacity, especially when their attendance is known to be huge during this time of the year. Swearing over the pa system and other rudeness is ridiculous as well. If you can't staff properly, you should limit your operations, similar to what Cedar Point does. I personally dislike the park and had an awfull experience there two days in a row. I have to prepare myself for a lousy experience and hope for the best in order to enjoy their great rides from now on.

Xander - What if these people quit their jobs when they go back to school? They certainly aren't available on Sat/Sun then. ;)

eightdotthree said: If you can't staff properly, you should limit your operations

That is what they do. And that is one of the things vacoasterfreak was complaining about. Plus this also leads to super long lines on the coasters regardless of how well the capacity is that particular day. It's a lose/lose situation unless SF can figure out how to keep a certain amount of employees for the ENTIRE season. Maybe by increasing pay, benefits and possibly even off-season unemployment benefits.

MrX said:
Well unfortunately this is how it is every year for Fright Fest. The problem really is staffing, though that's not an excuse.

They rarely have flats running during FF becuase they simply don't have enough staff. This leads to longer than normal lines for the coasters, which can be understaffed as well.

And this is a park that corporate keeps giving rides to when they can't even hire enough operators to run what they've already got?

Honestly it'd reduce the staffing problem greatly if they didn't keep adding more attractions that only have to be shutdown because there's not enough staff on hand to run them.

When most folks go out to a park they expect more than just a handful of rides to be running,that's all the more reason why most families now have such a low opinion of SF in general.

eightdotthree's avatar
I think I was mis-understood and I am not sure how to re-stateit, so...

But you know what Batwing, that still doesnt change the fact that Magic Mountain and Great Adventure are getting brand new coasters next year, and SFA is getting? what? I cant' hear you! What was that? NOTHING!!! ;)

(Because we all know coasters is all that matters...ghah!)

On another note, its 50 degrees in Jersey, operations are limited and most people are going for the Halloween attractions. Why are people complaining and damning Six flags to hell because they have limited operations. . . .especially when other chains do the same blasted thing. If this were summer, I wouldn't have **** to say.

Fate is the path of least resistance.

Did I even mention that? no I did not.

I was talking about rides in general & the fact that they may not be a wise idea when the park seems to be having such a hard time with staffing....SFA has been having similar staffing issues as well.

coasterfreak, I too was there yesterday, with my college. I was only there for about 6 hours (3-9:30pm) and only got in 4 coasters: Nitro, S:UF, Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train, and Runaway Train. But I did get a Qbot for the first time, and I can describe it in 2 words: Worth. It.

I had wanted to ride Medusa but it broke down most of the time that I was there, but I saw that it reopened as I was leaving. Besides reserving Nitro & Superman, I also had Kingda Ka reserved for 9:12 intially, but it had two 10 minute delays and I couldn't make it.

This was my first Fright Fest at the park, and my 2nd time ever there (my first time was on May 26 of this year) and both times I encountered longer-than-I-could-stand lines, and I've decided that I should really go during a weekday when the lines aren't as bad (but seriously, does that happen?!). The Fright Fest stuff wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, because I really wanted to ride the rides and I don't really care about that.

I do agree that that the staffing situation should be MUCH better than it should, for all of the various reasons that everyone stated above. It really does suck when you want to go for the full park experience, and half of the rides are closed for whatever reason.

This is a nice park and all that, with great landscaping and ride assortments, but through my experiences and the posts I've been seeing here, it seems that most of the rides are only for show. This may be my first post here, but I've been lurking here for about a year or so.

twitter me @Galileo908

Do what I do and skip SFGAdv. Enjoy all of the other really wonderful parks nearby whose very classy and professional opperations put SFGAdv to shame. I visit this park every 5 years or so just to get the new credits.

SFGAdv really could be a great park. It has such..."Potential".

I don't want to be the guy who compares a SF park to CP, but it is necessary for me to make a point...

CP does something really interesting to keep employees there all season. They get you to sign a contract stating how long you will work for the season. If you fulfil the agreement, you are rewarded a bonus check at the end of the season of $1 for every hour you worked. They plan ahead by asking you to work as far into the season as possible when making the contract. It really does keep the employees there.

What's the reasons SFGAdv doesn't do something like their buddy, CP, to keep the park opperating properly throughout the year?

I don't see why the employees at SFGAdv can't work on the weekends and Friday evenings during the end of the season. There's no classes...Where's the problem?

As of now, the next time I plan to visit SFGAdv will be in 2010, and the park is just 4 hours away.

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar
Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't parks open only until the first maybe even the second weekend of September back before Halloween events were thought of?

It looks to me that if parks out there have a staffing problem in doing a Halloween event with the park open that maybe they shouldn't be doing one at all. There are quite a few parks out there that <i>don't</i> do Halloween events because of this problem.

It's a lot of fun to go to a park during the Halloween season as the parks go through this amazing transformation to the ultimate frieght zones. But if a park is having problems with staffing and isn't all that enjoyable... maybe they shouldn't do it.

Just my two cents. As a friend of Tim's (vacoasterfreak) I find this tough to read as he's always been a hardcore fan of Great Adventure.

~Rob Willi

Mamoosh's avatar
8.3 said Not to me it doesn't. The park is open, so the rides should be staffed and run to capacity, especially when their attendance is known to be huge during this time of the year.

All the staffing in the world won't help if the crowds is extrememly large. Knotts had upwards of 6 ops working each coaster and all available trains running during Haunt and lines were still 3+ hours.

Regardless of staffing my point is still valid: if you want to enjoy coasters DO NOT visit during Halloween events.

rollergator's avatar
For us it's hard to get "coveted night rides" at other times of the season due to short operating hours in the winter...

I gotta go with 8.3 here though, if the park is PACKED, then operate to capacity...if the lines are STILL long too bad, but short-staffing a park that is *full to the brim*, thats just substandard customer service. It's not like we're unaware at this point that parks open for Halloween events draw big crowds...the events have proven HUGELY successful, and *profitable*, and this industry requires that you spend a large portion of gate receipts making your park capable of handling large crowds...

As always, IMO, YMMV, etc.

I was also at GAdv that day til about 9ish and I will say something. The park was busier than I have seen it all season (like 7 visits before that night all on saturdays). Also through out the day Nitro, Batman, Medusa and Kingda Ka all broke down at times. When one broke down the lines for the other three became over 2 hours.

The limited staff did make it a rough go. But I still went about the day as I planned which was to ride coasters during the day and experience the Halloween stuff at night.

We would have been there later if not for a bee or wasp deciding to land on my neck and then sting me as I brushed it gently away. :( I was walking into the Hypnosteria show at about 3 pm when I got stung and the benedryl they recommended I take zapped my energy by 9.

Watch the tram car please....
coasterqueenTRN's avatar
Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, Tim. It sort of reminds me of how Great Adventure *used* to be years ago on any operating day. However, my most recent visit (early June) really impressed me. I had the best time of my life despite the crowds. Then again all the rides and attractions were fully staffed and everything was running to it's best capacity. I am not a fussy person when it comes to customer service but I DO expect NOT to be stuck in a situation where I wish I never showed up to begin with.

I really don't see any excuse for what you went through to be honest. If the park anticipates a lack of staff during the fall months then they should do whatever it takes (hiring, higher wages, incentives, etc.) to make sure all the rides are staffed accordingly and that the park is taken care of.

Kennywood, PKI, and CP's Halloween activities have always run top-notch. Even though there are lines (especially at PKI and some at Kennywood) the staff will do what they can to keep everything going.

I think it still boils down to management. If a park wants to piss off customers in order to save some bucks by not hiring more employees for the fall seasons then they have noboby to blame but themselves. I love Great Adventure as well and I am sad to hear about this.

Like I said there is no excuse for it. All parks have "bad" days but that is just ridiculous.


*** Edited 10/17/2005 3:51:12 PM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

ApolloAndy's avatar

Antuan said:

Why are people complaining and damning Six flags to hell because they have limited operations. . . .especially when other chains do the same blasted thing. If this were summer, I wouldn't have **** to say.

I've never been to CP for Halloween, but my understanding is that it's dead. Like, walk-ons for TTD level dead (if it's running). At GAdv. I've parked in the overflow for Hurricane Harbor lot (not the theme park's overflow, not HH's lot, but HH's overflow lot...on the grass in a big mud puddle) for Fright Fest. Coasters were simply not realistic line-wise (2+ hr lines for everything. Even skull mountain was over an hr.) and there was a 45 minute line to play DDR!

That's why limited operation makes sense at CP and not at GAdv.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

OK Andy, fine, I take it back. Always thought most parks were busy around Halloween time.

Fate is the path of least resistance.

More staff members are dedicated to the halloween aspects itself, the characters, the mazes, the festivals, than the coasters. Think about it...the halloween hayrides, characters, aren't there during the regular operating season, so they're at the coasters...but they have to move some people around, dont they?

Haha no I'm not giving Patrick the finger

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