OK, so I knew it would be crowded. I knew we couldn't possibly get to the park before noon. BUT, I had NO IDEA, NO CLUE, that today would be-by far-the busiest day I've ever known in 8 years worth of dozens and dozens of visits I've made to SFGAM. Did we still have a fairly good time? Yes. But not without a hefty price.
I absolutely HAD to visit the dentist today at 9am--couldn't re-schedule again AND knew that this would be my last chance for a SF visit this year and my ONLY FF visit of '08. So, nothing (including a drooly, numb face) was going to stop me from going, even though I knew it would be at least noon before we got there. I never visit on a Saturday unless I just have to, and today was a have-to case. PLUS, I wanted the 3 hours of night rides that you can really only get at GA anymore on these few FF Saturdays. I love the park at night, and this was my one and only chance to get it this year.
We arrived at the park about 12:10. Took about 15 minutes to get into the parking lot. Both lots were already very full, lots of busses too. No surprise really, the weather was just about perfect today.
Today I took a friend, who has a pass too but is a far more casual park-goer than I and just flat-out refuses to wait in lines upwards of 20 minutes or so, so we had planned on getting the hated "Flash Pass" even before we arrived and saw how ridiculously busy it was. We headed right for HTSquare to get the FPass and wound up waiting about an hour to get the QBot. Thankfully, they still had some available. People in the line were getting very restless and grumbling. Especially the people who had bought them online for $15 dollars off and had their print-outs. They were all upset that they had to wait in line with the rest of us who hadn't bought them in advance online, yet were paying more. A few squabbles broke out with the online buyers trying to cut ahead of everyone else because it was after 12pm and they realized that even though they had purchased online that it was possible they would still run out (and simply refund them the online purchase price if they did indeed run out). One group ahead of me was very upset by this possibility, and a supervisor had to be called to calm them down. They kept insisting on being taken to the front of the line, etc. Ultimately, they were made to wait in line with all the rest of us, but would not shut up about how "discriminatory" the whole procedure was toward them. After all they had "already paid". I had considered doing this too, as it is cheaper, but saw online that they only hold them until noon. I knew that I would be there at noon or later, so I decided to wait, even though I knew that If I had pre-paid for one and if it weren't available for me after noon, that I would have gotten a refund. It's all made pretty clear on the website. Provided you are the type of person who bothers to read the stuff you should read before just randomly giving out your credit card number on a website. After all this, and almost an hour of waiting at the FPass center and seeing just how incredibly busy the park already was, I decided to spring for the "Gold" pass for the two of us. I hated to, especially since I left my $10 off coupon at home like an idiot, but I knew it was our only hope of riding anything really.
Finally, got the $92 thing (that's for 2, yes only 2 people) in my hand and reserved Bull. 25 minute wait. Met my bud, who had been waiting patiently for me to get through that crazy line. We wondered around SWTerritory for a bit until our time to ride.
The "real" line for bull at this time (around 2pm, I think) was in full switchbacks and down the midway to the entrance of the saloon by the smoking area. It was NUTS.
Had a nice ride. Sunglasses fell out of hoodie pocket:( My fault. Hope they didn't hit anybody below.
After getting into Bull's line, we started fooling with the QBot and found that it was 15-30 minutes for the next ride, depending on what you selected. Except that S:UF was always "full" and you simply could not reserve it, even with the "GoldBot". That was majorly annoying. At NO TIME during the day would the thing ever let us reserve Superman. I mean, we would have been glad to wait a few hours for a reserved time and ride flats and stroll around and such while waiting, but even after the 2 of us dropped almost a C note on this confounded thing, we weren't even given the option to do that. Since S:UF is not our favorite ride anyway, we got over it, but what a crock. At least give the OPTION of having SOME TIME to ride it. I mean this thing wasn't cheap! When you pay that much, you expect to be able to use it to ride the park's most popular ride, even if the wait is a few hours.
We got our first ride on Bull, rode GDrop, Batman, and DK, then decided to leave the park for an early dinner at Chili's. BTW, they say you can't take the QBot out of the park. We "forgot" this and took it to Chili's with us, and the thing kept working the entire time (except for allowing us to reserve Superman, that is). We reserved Whizzer at the restaurant, ate, went to Best Buy, got gas and came back to the park an hour after our Whiz time was up and had a lap on "the 32 year old Whizzer" as the ride-op kept reminding us.
However, when we were coming back into the park, I realized that I had left my season pass w/parking at the Flashpass place. So I had to pay to park on re-entry. I was kicking myself for this stupid move (although after returning the QBot and getting my pass back at closing time, I went to Guest Relations, gave them the parking receipt, showed them my pass w/parking, and explained what I had done, they refunded the $ to me without any hassle). I was happy about this, as I know they could have said no, since there was no way for me to prove that the parking receipt was actually mine. I guess they were just tired of all the screaming and yelling people were giving them in there. There were some VERY unhappy people in Guest Relations around 9:30. There was yelling, there were some tears. It wasn't pretty.
All in all, we managed 3 rides on Bull, 2 on GDrop, 2 on Batman, 3 on Whizzer, 1 on DK, and avoided the HUGE queue for Necropolis that-without Flashpass-ran all through Logger's Run's line queue before you could even get in, though it didn't seem all that crowded once inside Necro.
Necro sucked hard BTW. The deco's were OK, but we counted (at most) 8-10 "scaractors" in the whole thing. Fog was barely there too even with NO wind. Same with Tinseltown Terror too. There were maybe 4-5 scaractors there and each and every one of them were just standing around chit-chatting and yucking it up with friends totally out of character. Nice job. At least the few in Necro were making a half-hearted attempt to scare a few people-mostly giggly/screamy gangs of high-school girls.
We didn't bother with paying extra for any of the Haunts. Knew better by this time. The QBot became pretty much useless by 8:15ish. Everything was either "Full" or "Closed" by then. Whizzer was the only option at all by 8:45. That's when we decided to cut our losses and head home.
I have to say though, that the few "$100 rides" that we did manage to get in were awesome. Especially, the night rides on Bull and Whizzer.
I'm taking a break from a SF season pass next year. I MAY come up once to ride the Bull and hit Skull Island; but I'm spending my cash (provided I have any to spend next year) on a '09 Cedar Fair pass for two trips to CP (once for Halloweekends) and one to King's Island to ride the new B&M Hyper. I may not get as many park days in, but I'll have an all-around better season. Even if gas is $6/gallon and the motels are $100/night, it'll be a better value than Six Flags and 3-hour waits to be squirted with dirty water for a few minutes on the new Pirate Battle ride. That is, if it actually opens on time and works when, and if, it does.
Bye, bye Bull. I will miss you.
Glad you could say you had a fairly good time. If that were my day, I wouldn't be saying the same thing.
Also glad you didn't feel any need to try to retrieve the sunglasses you lost.
I think Six Flags needs to create a "cut to pass system" for the "line for the cut to pass system." :)
Gold cuts the wait by 75%. So if the line is an hour, your return time the the flashpass entrance is an hour and with a gold it would be 15 minutes.
I really wanted to go there today on this, the last day of the season. With the weather ending up like it was, I guess I'm glad I didn't go. Being spoiled by years past, I couldn't take hour+ waits on rides I've regularly walked on to in the past. It feels weird to have visited just once this year, but Great America has seen better days, and in my opinion, they came just before the waterpark and rat contamination.
Looking forward to riding again when Manta debuts. I hope its nothing like Superman and everything like Tatsu.
Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.
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