SFGAdv sunday 5/28... or, how not to run a park

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I first visited Great Adventure back in 1999, and greatly enjoyed the park. When I had a chance to visit again this past weekend, I jumped on it, considering there were 6 new coasters there I hadn't been on. We took the bus from Penn Station in NYC (the bus system actually works really well and I highly recommend it to people who need a way to get to the park form NYC). Unfortunately, park operations managed to put a severe damper on our day. Many rides were closed, with El Toro not yet open, Kingda Ka down for the vast majority of the day, both sides of the Chiller closed on and off for up an hour at a time and it was launching trains literally once every ten minutes (I timed it) as well as filling entire trains with flash pass users, Runaway Minetrain was closed all day, even the usually reliable Batman:tr closed a few times throughout the day and I saw it stuck on the lifthill twice. Medusa was running three trains but it didn't matter because the third train consistantly made it to the brake run before the first train had pulled out of the station, with the second train stuck inbetween waiting to unload.

On the good side, Nitro was an excellent ride, probably in my top 5 steel or at least very close to it. The airtime was amazing, and it tops the other B&M hypers I've been on (Apollo and Raging Bull). Kingda Ka was excellent when we finally got on it, and an equal experience to Dragster in my book. Also, some of the staff was very friendly and trying as hard as they could, but some were lazy and talking on their cell phones while operating rides. I also barely managed to ride 5 of the 6 rides (all except the yet to open El Toro), so that was good for my credit count. I'm surprised they let me on both the lost treasure train and roadrunner railway without a child.

My non-enthusiast friend wrote a rather long and amusing blog entry about it, I thought you all might be interested in what a non-coaster person thought about the day. She exagerates a bit, but really hit the nail on the head about some things:

So I have to write about the most horrendous theme park in the whole world, Six Flags Great Adventure . I mean, I should have known it woulda been slightly shady because it's Jersey, but I actually like Jersey.

We got to the park actually before it opened, thanks to the Port Authority bus. We got there around 9:30 for the park to open at 10, so we applied sunscreen and stood in the main area which was roped off after a certain point because clearly we had to wait til the fun began.


So anyway, at 10 AM Sylvester the Cat comes out with an American Flag and everyone is asked to sing the National Anthem. Then, all the adults were asked to say a pledge (which was oh-so-Laser Edge-back-in-the-day) before Bugs and his *****es (many high school girls in little dance costumes) came out on a bus that also carried foghorn leghorn, tweety (who was most definitely anorexic), tasmanian devil (who was smaller than tweety, which makes no sense), and i'm sure daffy duck was there too.

So they dance and they mouth words to some horrible celebration song because SF is celebrating 45 years of "greatness." Afterwards, they have 2 little kids push down this dynamite box and some confetti comes out and they open the park. Security guards make sure you don't make any shortcuts to anything, which was pretty much ridiculous.

So P wants to go on "Kingda Ka" which is the equiv. to Cedar Point's Dragster ride, and he says we should go there first because it tends to break down the most. We do and as predicted, the ride breaks down, but is quickly fixed. After 3 more rides go off, they tell us it will be at least another 30 minute wait (no less!), so Adam and I decide to leave P there (he volunteered) and we would try another ride. Then we would meet up and go on with the park.

So Adam and I get in line for "Superman," which is supposed to have a 30 minute wait. It definitely took almost 2 hours . I was starting to feel horrible because we were supposed to have met P about a 1/2 hour before, but luckily it all worked in our favor...since Kingda Crap wouldn't work again, they gave P a free front line exit pass so he went to Superman and got on the same ride as us (amazing). I was also glad because P wanted to ride it and after that line, I did not want to walk through it again.

Afterwards we had lunch which cost about 30 dollars...oh theme parks. They totally know how to rip you off.

The best part of the day was probably when P and I went on this kiddy rollercoaster called "Blackbeard's Treasure" or something.

1st, P almost tripped walking in,
2nd, we were the only ones on the train over the age of 9, and
3rd, we had to scream "Yeah!" multiple times and "Choo Choo!" <- P & I were the only one's who choo choo'ed. Damn kids.

Then we rode on Medusa, the only ride w/ a 5 minute wait. From there we went to Nitro, which also had an hour wait, but was worth it. Adam and P got some dippin dots, and a girl knocked adam's over within 2 minutes of getting them and barely apologizing. Lame. Luckily, the guy gave him a new one (Thank goodness - it was 6 dollars for that damn thing!)

After Nitro we got in line for Batman & Robin: The Chiller - the ride kept breaking down and they kept letting these flash pass people fill up all the cars instead of like, one, so it took about 45 minutes to get ON the ride (another hour wait that took 2). On top of this, my left foot got smashed because there was no room for it, and for 15 seconds of fun, I was left disoriented and also unable to walk without pain.

From here we decided it was time to complain. Those were ALL THE RIDES WE WENT ON! I mean really! 10 bucks a ride! Sad. Not to mention a lot of rides were not even functioning, including the new coaster that was supposed to open that weekend, "El Toro" (who bets it never opens?!). It was really quite pathetic how poorly operated and disorganized the park was.

We went to Guest Services and asked for a comment form, because as P pointed out, most people never actually complain. So we filled out everything that went wrong (including most of what was listed above) and then handed it to the lady. She wanted first aid to check out my foot, so we had to go sit on a bench. I thought it was okay but it's true that you have to be cautious with this nonsense - if something was really wrong, I could have been in a lot of trouble. Not to mention insurance may not have covered it without well-documented evidence.

So we were instructed to sit on a bench in the back where employees were only allowed. We made a joke as we were kept waiting that the estimated time for examination was 10 minutes and we were going to wait for 20. We also saw a lot of employees just goofing around which was really embarrassing, but then, the most amazing thing happened.

As P, Adam and I sat on the bench, who sat down next to me?

Petunia Pig.

P & I start laughing hysterically, although mostly the 4 of us are sitting on a bench and I'm thinking, why is this our life? It also made me think of Kanye West and how he likes to have those album covers with the bear - this would so be a reject version. Petunia w/ the 3 of us on a bench with our heads down? Awesome.

Of course, Porky had to show up, as did Marvin the Martian, who thought it would be funny to repeatedly step on my hurt foot. I yelled at him and he proceeded to SWITCH FEET. Adam told Petunia he felt her pain because he used to dress up as Cookie Monster at Sesame Place (I learn something new about him everyday, it's amazing). Also, when the First Aid guy finally came and pretty much just talked at me (he believed i had a heel spur; it was just strained), Bugs & Daffy also made an appearance.

It was king random.

Speaking of kings, the woman gave us frontline passes to Kingda Ka (which was now operating), but we had to hustle. Jess*ca + hurt foot + running to other side of the park = not genius. The ride was all right, I was scared and had to sing to myself to get through it, and then we had to run back so we wouldn't miss the bus. Of course we made it, hopped on the bus and went home.

All in all I had a very entertaining time because of the company, not the park. We were given 3 $10 admission tickets if we ever wanna go back (would YOU wanna go back after that?!) and then I fell fast asleep.

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