SFGAm PACKED! 10/15/05

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 1:14 AM
Going into the day, I knew it was going to be crowded. The high was forecast in the mid 60s with sun all day. I had no idea what I was in for! I’ll talk about the rides and crowds first, then the Fright Fest stuff.

We arrived at the park just after 10. Waiting in line to get buy one get one tickets for my friends actually took less time than usual. A good sign! Naturally we headed to Superman first to avoid the crowds. We had about a 35 minute wait for the back row, which we were very happy about. The ride was very forceful in the loop, as usual, and our first-timers loved it.

Next up was Raging Bull, because we figured everyone usually goes clockwise around the park from Superman. This was a good idea, but at 11:15 or so, we already were in for a 45 minute wait for our rodeo. I simply cannot get enough of this ride. So fast, so smooth, and just enough air.

After a quick lunch, we went to American Eagle, which was only running the red side (only blue was open last Saturday). The line was backed up into the midway, but only a half dozen switchbacks were open under the tent (more than I’ve seen in a long time though). The line moved quickly and only took about 45 minutes. Our front row ride was great as usual. I’m getting a new love for the red side, but the lift needs some work as the car felt like it was going up and down off the track when we engaged the chain.

Next up was an hour long wait for Iron Wolf. The queue was completely full and spilling pretty far onto the midway. The line was intersecting the line for the railroad at one point! Eventually we made our way to the back row and took a bit of a beating, but still enjoyed the ride. There is a hint of fog after the corkscrew, but I didn’t notice it while on the ride.

After exiting the ride, we noticed that the midways were heavily populated. The line for the Dippin’ Dots stand was probably a good 10-15 minutes. We went back to Revolution, which had just reopened after a breakdown, and waited about 25 minutes. I love this ride, but the second half is way too short. Crank this baby up!

We played some games next and made our way down the path. We passed Demon, which had the queue completely full and the line spilling almost to the Illinois Trollway Bridge. Déjà Vu sat idle, as it did last week, taunting everyone in its shadow. Eventually we decided to take Orbit for a spin. We only waited about 15 minutes, which surprised us a bit.

We then decided that we wanted to call it a day and do some fun stuff back in Milwaukee, so we headed for the Necropolis, and then out. After getting out of the Necropolis, Gotham City was jam-packed. It was pure gridlock. The line for Ragin’ Cajun was across the bridge and going into the entrance to the picnic area. Batman’s line may very well have been starting at its original spot on the other side of the bridge (on the far side of the East River Crawler). More and more people seemed to fill up Mardi Gras. When we passed Superman, the line was completely full and backed up to the entrance to the Looney Toons Store. As we left the gate, there were still massive lines at the entrance, with most turnstiles still open. There were plenty of people leaving, but a whole heck of a lot more people trying to get in. As far as I could tell, the main lot was full…the overflow lot was darn close to full, and four lanes of traffic trying to get in stretched West to at least the highway ramps and East to the first light after the SFGAm intersection. Tons of people were walking into the park at that time too. Oh yeah, and this was only about 5:45.

As far as Fright Fest was concerned, I saw a few costumed characters when we arrived, but none in Southwest Territory while we were over there. Seven Sins Cemetary was decorated slightly differently than last Saturday, with the seven deadly sins “kiosks” in different locations and more decorated. Everything else was pretty average. The soundtrack throughout the day was a mix of new songs and older classics (Halloween theme)…last week I did not hear Halloween at all. The Necropolis was using the Logger’s Run queue as an entrance, spreading out the flow of people I guess. At 5:00, there weren’t characters in the Necropolis, but the line for the Mausoleum of Terror was already quit large (perhaps just the ticket line, not sure). To be honest, I think the midways were far too crowded for any of the characters to be effective. The trolls were on the grassy area next to the bridge most of the time we were in their area. A new thing they were doing this year was writing things in chalk on the ground…insults pointing to people (“bad bleach job” “failing loser” – in reference to people doing the rope climb).

A final note about Déjà Vu: I asked the Orbit operator if he knew anything about it, and he had been told weather and staffing. I’ll believe staffing, since both sides of AE aren’t open either, but the weather bit I think is ridiculous these days. I was under the impression that that issue had been fixed after the second season in whatever changes were made to get it more reliable? Besides…it was 60+ and sunny…not below 52 (what he told me was the limit and what I’ve heard before). Even if there was a 52 degree limit on it still, how does that explain the Last Blast event in 2003 when I rode it several times in 32 degrees? Come on, Six Flags…I don’t buy it.

I’d be interested to see an attendance figure today if anyone can ever produce one.

Kev

P.S. Wow that's long! Sorry!

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 1:46 PM
Mr Doom, We were there yesterday too and I could not believe all the people that were there! We got 1 ride in on Raging bull and 1 ride in on Superstition. We were going to ride more but did not feel like waiting for an hour and a half for the coasters. The park was obsenely packed and when talking customer service about our 2 hour wait at Martha's chicken, he said it was because or the bogo tickets and the great weather. I think the management at this park needs to wake up and do some hiring when they know for a fact that most of their employees go back to school. I was really tee'ed off yesterday about all the rude people at the park too. I went in thepark feeling like having a fun day and the rude people that were there really ruined it for us. The pushing and shoving, and people running into everyone else was really terrible. The Fright Fest decor and Haunted Houses were pretty fun though.

I have never seen a line that streached all the way past Iron Wolf and also using the Q line for Loggers run ever during a Fright Fest. I have been to all the Fright Fest's at this park and was just simply could not beleive the crowds!

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 2:23 PM
I dont think staffing has anything to do with DV being down. Ive been told that it is a mechanical problem from some a employee who has worked the ride but was told all the people staffing this ride were re-assigned before FF started. . If staffing was a issue you wouldnt close a popular ride like DV, escpecially when there have been no weather problems this FF.
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Sunday, October 16, 2005 3:08 PM
Without a doubt, the most crowded I have EVER seen the park. We were there for 12 hours - 6 coasters, 4 flat rides, and one show. So, when I look back, I guess it wasn't THAT bad, if you average it out - a little less than one attraction per hour (of course, we had a little help with a Fastlane pass, 2 people, 2 rides). Wait, yes it was that bad, considering that on a Tuesday during mid-season, I could have done the same thing twice, in half as much time w/o FL. I even fell asleep standing in line once ! We were able to hit Viper, Raging Bull, Demon, American Eagle, V2, Batman. So I got in most of the "essentials". We were waiting at Superman at closing. We made it to the station when it broke down. We probably could have gotten on eventually, but we had friends waiting at the car, so we called it quits at midnight.

Anyway, we still had fun, but I just can't handle the crowds when I'm used to going on weekdays, with 30 min waits being the worst.

My new slogan for SFGAm - "Six Flags Great America: Where you have to wait in line, to wait in line - and we'll charge you extra for doing it !" (The Fastlane line for RB was all the way out the exit line at 8pm !!! Lines for the guy's bathroom, lines for food...and I'm sure there HAD to be a line at Guest Services to complain about the lines !)

Either way, still my favorite park - just don't go on Saturdays...during Fright Fest...with BOGO tickets...on a holiday (Sweetest's Day)...when the weather is good...on only 2 hours of sleep...

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 3:13 PM
These Halloween events are HUGELY popular and many parks make a huge chunk of their total revenue during those few weeks. Knotts makes 25% of their total annual revenue in just four weeks!

Long lines during Fright Fest? That's a no-brainer if you ask me.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 3:35 PM
Yes, I know. You make a good point. Well, usually, I flat out refuse to go on Saturdays, normal season OR FF. I usually go on Sundays during FF, and weekdays during the season. In the past, crowds on Sundays during FF are still better than crowds on Saturdays anytime. I've never had a problem with crowds on non-Saturday during FF - I've even had walk ons.

Well anyway, I hadn't been to SFGAm _at all_ this season yet, and my girlfriend had never been to SFGAm & had never ridden _any_ coaster outside of WI Dells. Some friends were going on Saturday, and invited us along - I couldn't pass up what was proabably my last chance to go this year.

But almost everything was open, and everything was being operated well, the ops were doing a great job. I don't really blame the park, but if it continues like this, they should try to do something - open all day on Fridays, don't offer discounts for FF... whatever it takes, even limiting capacity if it came to it.

I will give the park credit though- they did have their sign saying "Park very crowded - please choose another day to visit" (this was after we came in though).

My only real complaint is how expensive everything has gotten (food, etc).

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 6:41 PM
There is absolutely no way anyone can blame the park for this. Ops were doing a wonderful job and as LightFantastik said, just about everything was open. I'm just not sure why both sides of AE aren't run during Fright Fest (not sure I remember the last time both were operating during FF).

To be honest, I was glad to see it that crowded. It means the park is doing very well. I just wasn't quite ready for THAT. =) Not sure the park was half that crowded last Saturday, but it wasn't nearly as warm out. Darn weather!!

I'm looking forward to Friday night...its gonna be cold and drizzly - how FF is meant to be!

Kev

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Sunday, October 16, 2005 8:38 PM
I just wish the park would not have been so dang crowded. The ride ops did a fantastic job! Maybe during FF they should not have the discounts. *** Edited 10/17/2005 12:56:36 AM UTC by stoogemanmoe***
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Sunday, October 16, 2005 9:23 PM

Mr Doom said:
Ops were doing a wonderful job and as LightFantastik said, just about everything was open.

Compare this with the SFGAdv halloween trip report where the coasters had two ops checking restraints and the third cursing at the guests over the pa. SFGA knows whats up and how to keep lines moving, fast moving lines = happy guests.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 6:38 PM
I was there Sunday and heard all the horror stories from Saturday. Sunday was bad enough. I can't imagine what Saturday was like.

The employees were saying there were almost 50,000 admissions on Saturday- Yikes!

They seriously needed some que management even on Sunday. You can't have the main walkways completely blocked by lines. In most cases they could move them off to the sides and not impede the regular traffic flow.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 7:50 PM
I was thinking there was around 50,000 people there. My boss' husband was one of the Schwarzkopf engineers who built SFGAm (actually built Marriotts Great America) and worked there until around the time that Six Flags bought it. There is a poster-sized overhead picture of June 7th, 1981 and on it, it has a sticker that says 51,xxx. They claim that was the most crowded day at the park. The lines looked very similar to that picture as you could see everything spilling into the midways and main walkways.

*** Edited 10/18/2005 11:51:33 PM UTC by onceler***

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