SFGrAdv 9/23

Associated parks:
None

Monday, September 25, 2006 8:15 PM
After receiving a comp pass from a fellow buzzer I decided to take my dad to SFGrAdv for a day. I took a train to his house friday so we could get up early on Saturday and head out.

After sleeping most of the 3 hour drive we got to the park at around 11:30. I have been planning to stop at the park for the friday before PPP with my girlfriend, so I gave the comp pass to my dad and bought a 2007 season pass from the electronic kiosk outside the gate. This was a mistake.

We entered the park and headed to the processing center. There were 3 picture takers and no line, so an old lady waved us over. This was my first poor experience (of many) for the day. Apparently they haven't fixed the kiosk to actually print 2007 season passes although the computer screen says that's what your buying. It took the lady about 30 minutes of her telling us that it says 2006, while we tell her that we believe her, but the screen told me I was buying a 2007 pass. "No, look, it says 2006" "Yeah, you're correct. However, that's not what I purchased." And then a manager walked over and said 'oh they havent changed it yet I guess' and tells the lady that she could give away the 2007 passes anytime this happens. She apparently has a fannypack FILLED with them, and the way the manager said it to her gave me the impression that this is widespread knowledge in the processing center and possibly that she has had to personally deal with this before.

We walked over to Kingda Ka. I rode this durring the season pass sneak preview last season, and I've ridden TTD a few times, but my dad hadn't been on either so I thought he should get to see what the launch is like.

After going through 4 security check points in the 2 hour line (get a ticket, lockers, give the ticket, enter the station) we grabbed a seat toward the front. They were running one side of the station with 2 trains very inefficiently. The two hour line would have been a lot better if they could get the launch times to under 6 minutes/car. There was one train on the holding track that was missing the casing on the back car, and the fourth was no where to be seen.

The ride itself was surprisingly shakey. I thought it was decently smooth when I rode it last June, and I've always found TTD very smooth, but this ride tracked terribly. The launch was amazing, and the veiw/drop were neat, but the vibration really took away from the ride. I didn't regret the 2 hour wait, but unless I'm with someone who hasn't been on it before I would not wait more than an hour.

We walked over to El Toro, the first big new to me coaster for the 06 season (pandamonium being little more than entertaining). I was interested to see how they fit this ride into the Viper station which I always found very cramped. Turns out they didn't. It's so frustrating when a line dumps into the front, but most rides that do this have enough space for people to walk by. Trains were being sent out with a few empty seats toward the back with an hour and a half line all afternoon.

We took our first ride in the backseat and were instantly amazed. I really enjoyed this coaster. My dad (who I dragged to many many amuesment parks throughout my adolescence) instantly claimed it was his favorite wooden coaster. The airtime is amazing on this. It's extremely powerful, but graceful at the sametime. It felt like a more pleasant version of the air on Tsunami. The turnaround was fun and every hill gave tons of air. But the end of the ride was my favorite part. The drop to the infeild was beautiful and a lot longer than I expected (I purposely haven't looked into this coaster that much) and those S turns were executed beautifully.

My dad and I were winded and in the mood for some lunch and a beer. Good luck with that one. Every place we tried didn't serve beer until 6pm. I can understand the policy behind this: most children will have left by that point or will be leaving shortly so there will not be as much alcohol consumption around them. But it also seems backwards.

If parents bring their children to the park and the children want to go to bugs bunnyland the father (or mother) may have a better day at the park if they can relax with a beer for that period of time. As stated in the article a few weeks back it would give the park more of a 'vacation' feel. And also it why would a park want to promote drinking later in the afternoon. It would make more sense to cut off alcohol service later at night so that patrons do not have the ability to drive home drunk. Personal responsibility and whatnot aside, this is Jersey.

After wandering the park for a while we found a guy selling beer in a plaza that also had a few places selling food. I have to say that the food was of better quality than the last time I ate a meal at a six flags park some years ago, but it was still not worth the price.

We got in line for Nitro which, like every other coaster in the park, was running 2 trains and still stacking for at least a minute every go around. After a 20 minute wait the ride broke down and someone on the loudspeaker said they were expecting 1-2 hours of downtime. It was getting late so we decided to grab one more ride on El Toro and then leave. The line for Batman was 2 hours according to the people in front of us on the Nitro line, so we skipped it.

Of course, 10 minutes into the walk to El Toro I looked back to see what looked like a full train cycling on Nitro. Another ride in the last car on El Toro was still surprising and amazing. I would still put Legend above it (haven't gotten to ride Voyage yet) but this became one of my favorites quick. I can't wait to get a bunch of night rides on it the friday before PPP (which has been empty the last 2 times I've gone on that night).

I convinced Dad to grab a quick ride on Medusa before we left. The line was only 10 minutes, but the ride was very uneventful. I enjoyed this coaster a lot when it opened in 99, but it looses it's effect on me more and more everytime I ride it. The best part of the ride was watching the baboons from the lifthill. The crew for the ride was doing a great job. The loudspeaker guy was enthusiastic and having a lot of fun, and the two restraint checkers were very quick. They were only running 2 trains, but they were running them very well.

Overall it was a fun day at the park. We only got on 4 rides, but it was still enjoyable and worth money. I wouldn't pay the gate price to get in, but having the comp pass and a desire for a 2007 SF pass made the 15 dollar parking, 10 dollar lunch, 8 dollar beer, and 300 sodas not seem that bad. The employees were horribly inefficient for the most part (Medusa team was doing a great job and having fun at the same time). I know the Jersey service worker pool isn't the best the east coast has to offer (no offense Jersey), but this was sad.

One final note: I now believe that fast/gold passes may be the precipitating catalyst to Marx's proletariate revolution. Fast Passers were being cursed out pretty bad by the El Toro queue. A few verbal threats were made. General unrest was the feeling. Revenge was wanted - even more if the person had the thing hanging from a belt loop.

Thanks once again for the free pass Richie Reflux

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Monday, September 25, 2006 10:50 PM

Fast Passers were being cursed out pretty bad by the El Toro queue.

Heh, that's always the best. Good times.

Thanks for the TR as promised. :)

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Monday, September 25, 2006 10:55 PM
That happens at just about every SF park....I hate it on supes at SFA when they end up letting a whole trainload of flashpassers on the ride making the rest of us <who played by the rules> have to wait even longer just to get on.
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Monday, September 25, 2006 10:58 PM
Oh, Six Flags New England was worse..

The girl was giving flashpass people ultimate authority. If there were flashpass people at the stairs, she would immediately stop, turn and let them into the station. But since there was a constantly flow of flashpassers, we stood under the tented portion of the queue for about an hour, moving probably about 10 feet.

Go to darien lake, the wait rarely exceeds 15 minutes.

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Monday, September 25, 2006 11:17 PM
Glad you were able to use the ticket Mike. Thanks for the report.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 12:47 AM
You believed the people ahead of you in line about the line for Batman? I would have gone in and looked myself, personally, before believing some random people in front of me in line...
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:07 AM
The line for Batman was spilling into the outdoor queue, which generally means at least a 45 minute wait. Add in the 6 minute dispatch times and the unknown of how many switchbacks 'inside' were being used and an hour an a half wait makes a lot of sense. drop half an hour for exageration.

And plus neither of us were dying to ride Batman anyway. We've both been on it many times before.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 10:12 AM

BATWING FAN SFA said:
making the rest of us <who played by the rules> have to wait even longer

Sorry... but the flash passers are playing by the rules too... SF rules state, you buy a Flash Pass, and follow the procedure, you get to do certain things.

Now if you want to complain about a whole bunch of flash passers being allowed to fill a train at SFA (a park where they are not fed into the regular line near the station, but rather given 1 or 2 reserved rows per train), then by all means, complain... but not about the Flash Passers. Blame the ops who don't know what the heck they are doing.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 11:15 AM
It's TRs like this that reinforce the fact that SFGAm is just a better park all-around.

I really don't like the Flash Pass, but if they're gonna have it, they should run it well and run it the same way, if possible, at all the parks. To me, here's how it should be run:

1. Have a designated entrance to the station that enters the station from the exit side (but not the actual ride exit). Have 1 row or 1 car set aside for Flash Pass users only. The FP entrance can be manned by one of the station ops. Or...

2. Have the Flash Pass line merge with the regular queue right before the station. Have this intersection manned by an employee.

Personally, I prefer #1, as it intrudes on the regular guests the least. The FP users have a separate entrance, as well as designated rows or cars that they alone can use. This also could cut down on the need for an extra employee to do the job. SFGAdv used to run Nitro like this, but have since changed.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 2:05 PM
Funny, I think #2 is really the only way to go. It seems to work well @ Disney, Universal, and every other place that it is used. I really dont see the downside at all. I really dont think that having people boarding on the exit side without an attendant is fesible because you'll have confusion between the exiting riders and the boarding VQers. I think an attendant is needed in all cases. (if for no other reason than to verify height/VQ access.

I think that 'reserved rows' is just all around dumb. Merging before the station keeps the majority of chaos out of the most important working area and would have the least impact on efficiency.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 2:18 PM
I have to agree with 2Hostyl on this. #2 is definately the better option. It works well at Disney and it even works well in a Six Flags park we all know and love. They use the line merge at SFGAm and I know for a fact that they can only insert people from the fastlane queue into the normal queue after a certain number of people have passed by in the normal queue. This cuts down on people getting upset with the system and keeps the normal stand-by lines moving at a decent rate.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 2:54 PM
I agree... option 2 seems the best, for the reasons stated.

One odd thing on option 1... at SFA I have seen a) the Flash Pass reserved seats go out empty when fo Flash Passers were waiting, b) a whole train of flash passers load, and worst of all c) the restraints be unlocked to throw two people from the regular line out of the Flash Pass seats even though NO flash pass people were waiting... and the seats went out empty

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 2:56 PM
#2 is FAR and away the better option, as it reduces the detrimental impact on capacity...

Actually, just re-read jeremy's post, again and again, until you can recite it from memory to any higher-up at SFNE. From my experience, NO park has ever done more to exacerbate the situation caused by poor implementation of virtual queueing...although from all accounts, SFGAdv runs a close second... ;)

edit: SLFAKE, why am I under the impression that you witnessed all three of those *abuses* on Wild One....oh, that's right, I remember now...worst.crew.EVER! *** Edited 9/26/2006 6:59:03 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 3:08 PM
SLFAKE--it's SFA; 'nuff said :)

As for option #2, it's a good solution, if implemented correctly by the park and the employee manning the post. If the employee does not do a good job of letting the right people in at the right time, then the users of the normal queue could suffer (see SFNE story by Ride of Steel above).

As for #1, it doesn't always work the best for capacity, but it tends to affect the guests waiting in the regular queue the least, which I am for. I didn't say that the queue in the station wouldn't be manned; I said that it could be manned by an existing station employee.

It would kinda work like this: train gets back to the station, train unloads, guests begin clearing out while the air gates are still closed, station restraint checker lets in next 2-4 FP guests and directs them to a CLEARLY MARKED FP row/car. While they are boarding, the air gates open and rest of the riders board. The FP queue is, of course, blocked off to regular guests.

Either solution could work if implemented correctly. But the operations portion is very park and employee dependent.

*** Edited 9/26/2006 7:11:59 PM UTC by rablat5***

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 3:47 PM
I agree that merging the lines before the station is the best course of action, but at SFGrAdv it is clear that the flashpass individuals have supreme authority over those in standby.

Another intresting thing to note is the other ramp that lets into the back of the ride (using a ramp instead of the stairs). I saw a bunch of people wander up this ramp, with absolutely no one watching or caring. The ramp splits off from the exit. One guy that we asked said that he had a VIP pass because last time he came he had bought gold passes for his family, and then El Toro went down and they complained. Instead of getting a comp pass like most other complaints he was given free entrance tickets as well as unlimited exit access for every ride. Not even another gold bot, but the ability to walk on to any ride all day long.

All the other people I saw come up that way had no marking on them - I'm guessing they got off the ride and saw the free no wait way on.

But this example goes to show how much more SF cares about the flashpass users compared to regular guests.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 4:43 PM

SLFAKE said:

BATWING FAN SFA said:
making the rest of us <who played by the rules> have to wait even longer

Sorry... but the flash passers are playing by the rules too... SF rules state, you buy a Flash Pass, and follow the procedure, you get to do certain things.

Now if you want to complain about a whole bunch of flash passers being allowed to fill a train at SFA (a park where they are not fed into the regular line near the station, but rather given 1 or 2 reserved rows per train), then by all means, complain... but not about the Flash Passers. Blame the ops who don't know what the heck they are doing.


Yes & that's what my little rant is all about.It usually happens when they get more flashpassers waiting at the exit than just the standard two,which BTW poses somewhat of a safety issue with people blocking the exit ramp waiting for flashpass while those who've just ridden are trying to exit the station area.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 4:49 PM
"But this example goes to show how much more SF cares about the flashpass users compared to regular guests."

This is unfortunate. This basically says to people that the money they paid for admission isn't enough to eliminate waiting in line. I don't like how it puts people on unequal footing.

On top of that, it shows itself unfair when it's not implemented properly. If Six Flags is going to use this system (which I don't like), then they should implement it properly and fairly. FP queues NEED to be properly staffed.

I wish we were back in the days of single queue lines and high-capacity operations. SFGAdv used to operate like this.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 4:49 PM

rollergator said:


Actually, just re-read jeremy's post, again and again, until you can recite it from memory to any higher-up at SFNE. From my experience, NO park has ever done more to exacerbate the situation caused by poor implementation of virtual queueing...although from all accounts, SFGAdv runs a close second...


What was so wrong @ SFNE? I used a qbot there this year and, at least on S:ROS, Flashback, and Mind Eraser, the lines were merged just before the loading area. Also, on S:ROS, they seemed to let fair numbers of people on from both lines. We were actually stopped in the FlashPass line so that more stand by folks could be let on. Now granted, the lines were short to moderate all day so maybe it was easier. What I *dont* remember is how the Pandemonium lines were handled.

As for the "how much more SF cares about the flashpass users compared to regular guests" bit, in a way, shouldn't they care more? Recall that I'm speaking from a position of one who will use VQ programs liberally, but I kinda would like to be given extra consideration as I've paid extra money. Also, from a business persective, these are the customers who are most likely to give you money so for sure these are the ones you want to go out of your way for.

It's kinda like at a bar or a restaurant. At this one particular place I and several of my co-workers go for lunch/happy hour, we are often given that 'extra' bit of service because we are repeat customers and we tip well. Not that the barkeeps spit in the glasses of other folks, but they always keep an eye/ear out for us. Why? Because they know we are basically, willing to pay (tip) for that extra bit of kindness.

Back on topic, I am disgusted at the state of GAdv as relayed by the majority of TR here. They really need to get their ish together butt-quick. I had a non-enthusiast friend visit there late August and he said he had a great time...but that was with the Gold FP ;). I would *think* however, that people would at least be having 'decent' days, even after you factor in the requisite 'park-inspector-curve' that most of our TRs have in them (let's face it, we *do* tend to be more critical than most since it is our passion).

I wonder what Marine World will be like next month...
lata, jeremy

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:29 PM

2Hostyl said:What was so wrong @ SFNE? I used a qbot there this year...

Which is PRECISELY why you found nothing wrong there...LOL! Then again, I went last year...

The *normal* line for Pandemonium realisitically should have taken 25-30 minutes....1:15 later, I was ON the ride....finally. The ops seemed to only really *notice* the Q-botters, and universally ignored the regular line. Q-bots were everywhere, and the regular line seemed to CRAWL along...OK, mostly it was stopped cold for 5-10 minutes at a time, but the rest of the time it crawled. I know it's a low-capacity ride, and it was "the new thing", but moving butts on and off the latest new ride are of paramount importance.

Make NO mistake, I'll get a Qbot in a few weeks at GAdv...not becuase I necessarily WANT one - just that I don't feel like I *could* get in a lap on Ka and a lap on Toro without one...

bill, trampling trademarks as I wander aimlessly... :)

*** Edited 9/26/2006 9:31:29 PM UTC by rollergator***

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:42 PM

2Hostyl said:
Back on topic, I am disgusted at the state of GAdv as relayed by the majority of TR here. They really need to get their ish together butt-quick. I had a non-enthusiast friend visit there late August and he said he had a great time...but that was with the Gold FP . I would *think* however, that people would at least be having 'decent' days, even after you factor in the requisite 'park-inspector-curve' that most of our TRs have in them (let's face it, we *do* tend to be more critical than most since it is our passion).

I felt that I was clear in stating that overall it was a good day and that me and my dad had a lot of fun. We would have rode more rides with a flashpass, I'm sure, but we did not leave feeling cheated. However, that's not the feeling I received from others in line. I'm talking about locals or kids on field trips.

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