SFoG BulletPoint – 9/4

Wednesday, September 6, 2006 1:49 AM
It’s the end of the season. No one wants to read pages about the parks they’re already read all season long. Actually I don’t want to write that much, so I’m going to utilize the patent-pending, CoastaPlaya BulletPoint Review.

ARRIVED: Noonish

LEFT: 6:30ish

PARK APPEARANCE/ATMOSPHERE: I had read about how beautiful the location of the park was. There was an abundance of trees in the guts of the park and the hilly terrain made for a unique environment. I would say the park’s cleanliness level was "average." I saw sweepers throughout the day but the bathrooms were nothing like you would see at an "outstandingly" clean park.

RIDE QUEUE TIMES: The crowds were not terrible at all. With the exception of Déjà Vu pushing a 45-60 line, Goliath was the longest line with probably around 30 minutes of waiting. Unfortunately we happened to get stuck in a 40 minute Superman line shortly after it reopened for an unknown reason. I don’t mind waiting for a ride if it is being ran correctly, but I have a hard time justifying a longer wait when operations are lacking. (And I’m not even referring to the other station not being used. The ride ops were just slow and too busy talking to each other)

BEST EXPERIENCE: The woman in the parking tollbooth greeted Beth & I with so much enthusiasm that The Koch’s would have been green with envy. She was utterly sincere when she wished us a good day. There was also a delightful young woman working the snack stand outside of Goliath that was upbeat and quite funny. She wasn’t “annoying funny" like the two wannabe MC’s working the nearby games, but rather making me smile from ear to ear as we chatted during my Souvenir Cup refill. Those two women really stuck out the most.

WORST EXPERIENCE: I’ll just rename this category “The Complaint Department." After entering the park we headed towards the back. The sun was shining through the wannabe rain clouds and whispering, “Ha! I’m hot and you’re going to make you miserable in line." So we choose to throw down the $7 for a Souvenir Cup of water. It was a much better option than the $3.50 bottled water and we got to keep this snazzy cup. (I must comment that the cup came with no clip and was definitely smaller than ones I have purchased at parks, Six Flags properties and not, in the past.) I waited 20 minutes at the hot/corndog place across from GASM with maybe three different orders in front of me. I’m guessing it was taking them a long time with the fries because I could see the corndogs under the warmer and hot dogs can hang out all day in hot scummy water. I probably wouldn’t have cared as much if the sun wasn’t mocking me at this point of the day and the children behind the counter had their act together a little better.

Continuing with the complaints in ascending order is Mr. Cellphone at the Ben & Jerry’s, next to Monster Plantation. We were craving a cold sweet treat and ice cream usually fits that bill. We jumped in a quick moving line inside the building and decided on what treat we would eat. Mr. Cellphone was doing a good job keeping up with everyone while a young woman manned the register. Then it was my turn. I relayed my order of a strawberry milkshake. He fixed my delight and then it was Beth’s turn. He got her order and then reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone, answered it, and walked to the back room. If you missed that last part, I’ll repeat.

He answered his cell phone mid-order and took the conversation to the backroom. Tyler, that’s me, was |------| close to calling his butt back to the counter and giving him a short little lesson is common sense/work ethic/public decency. He came back and quietly scolded his co-worker for not taking orders. That was funny, but only in a pathetic way. At this point I just ask if milkshakes are usually runnier in the South and/or at Ben & Jerry’s because the ones here in Illinois are much thicker than the “milkshake" I got. It just wasn’t my milkshake that had more milk and less shake, but a number of shakers that I noticed as we sat down inside. Any Southerners or Ben & Jerry people out there with ice cream insight?

The final and most heinous act of the day took place on The Georgia Scorcher. As we waited the 5-10 minutes to board I noticed a few things.

  • There was a lack of signage detailing the proper ride position that I have noticed at other parks (i.e. Cedar Point).
  • The ride op on the mic was doing a good job of giving loading instructions. She was giving them quickly, but efficiently and clearly.
  • The ops working the train were not doing a good job of making sure everyone was riding correctly.

Background: I worked at Cedar Point last summer and became aware of the strict rules that CP has set forth for the Mantis crew. All riders must be standing properly. Every infraction adds up and it doesn’t take long for you to be standing (*rimshot*) in hot water. So I have a greater appreciation for a standup crew, but not the Scorcher crew.

I noticed one taller gentleman that left the station sitting on his seat. He was so far down that his legs easily were at a 45° angle with the track. I told Beth & the guy behind me (who happened to mention Chang as we chatted) that his balls were going to be blue by the time he got off. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask him the color of his boys after he came back in the station.

I quickly forgot about that guy when I saw a mother and her child board after him. The child was having a hard time getting the seat to come down to his height and as a result both he and his mother did not get situated before the train was locked. No biggie. The kid’s seat was unlocked and he was set but someone forgot about mommy. Her seat was about belly button height. She jumped up and in and got her OSTR down. She didn’t seem to realize the problem until the train was getting cleared. She successfully got the attention of a ride op on the unload side of the platform and showed him that her feet were not touching the floor. (She was easily 4" up.) The train had not been completely cleared for a dispatch so it wouldn’t have been any problem for the op to hold the train and readjust this woman’s seat. He instead looked at her and just shrugged his arms like he can’t do anything about it.

We boarded the next train and never got to see the woman afterwards. Bottom Line: That was the worst display of safety/compassion/common sense that I have ever encountered as an amusement park patron and employee. There is no excuse for that behavior. He & everyone else that was working the front of that train should be punish/fired/sent around with high seats.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Besides a few coasters, my biggest surprise was the overall layout of the park. It seemed so huge, which was not expected at all. I enjoyed the strung out paths even if they weren’t that efficient to navigate.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: THE CELLPHONES! Many of the employees were working with cell phones in hand. The Flash Pass checker at the mine train had hers out. Mr. Cellphone at B&J’s obviously had his. An op on the Goliath platform had his charging and put a charger away during trains. The workers that sold & took our Flash Pass both had theirs out. These people were overall good individuals from what I encountered and could really shine if I didn’t have to see them texting/talking throughout the day. The management needs to grow a pair, enforce the rules, and give incentives to those that do follow the rules (i.e. a decent pay rate).

COASTER RANKINGS

  • WITHOUT FLAW: Goliath! After sampling Apollo’s Chariot back in May, backseat style, Beth & I took our two rides towards the front in order to please her a little more. (She didn’t enjoy the sensation of being pulled over the hills.) I on the other hand loved AC & wished I would have gotten a Goliath ride in the back. Besides the small regret, I must say that the coaster really delivered. The opening set of hills is great. That second hill got me both times when I couldn’t see where the heck I was going due to the turn at the bottom. The helix was very intense and the turn back toward the park was very snappy, maybe my favorite part. They did everything right with this one. At this moment I ranking it above its Virginian brother, and way above it’s Chicago cousin. (I did notice some roughness at the bottom of a few of the first hills, but it didn’t’ take away from the ride.)
  • REALLY QUITE GOOD: Mind Bender, Déjà Vu, Georgia Scorcher, Superman. Mind Bender wasn’t anything to write home about. I enjoyed it, but didn’t find it amazing like some do. Déjà Vu scared the bejeezus out of me again. Georgia Scorcher was a nice mini-version of its cousins, but I would rather ride its cousins. We rode Superman in the back. Between that and the old design (Didn’t they tame down the GAm & GAdv versions?); the ride kicked us in the butt. The pretzel was almost too much but the rest of the ride was a blast due to the extra zippiness. Who knew it could be more fun than the Chicago version?
  • COLD FRIES BAD: GASM, Dahlonega Mine Train, Ninja. GASM had a few nice moments of fun over some of the hills. The small bump before the brake run was particularly nice due to the close encounter with the roof, but the rest of the ride was “blah." The mine train had a terrible layout.. The highlight was the extra little bit in the tunnel. Ninja started off better than expected, but ended up poorly. Did they remove some support structure on the ride? The reason I ask is because the brake run swayed was more than I thought a ride should. I noticed a huge clearance between the track/train the station floor. My foot would have easily fit and I hang up sizes 13-15 at the end of the day.
  • JUST PLAIN AWFUL: Georgia Cyclone. In a couple years with a continued lack of attention, these cars are going to get stuck perpendicular in the track, Austin Power’s style. They tracked terribly! It really was an abysmal ride that Beth & I wanted to end at the bottom of the first drop. I know I counted two sets of trim brakes. Is there three? It’s a real shame the ride ran the way it did because the layout is amazing. Pity.

(Batman was closed.)

MAJOR NON-COASTER ACTIVITIES: We didn’t do anything besides the coasters. I mentioned the stop at Beth & Jerry’s and that was about it. We were there to enjoy the ambiance and ride coasters. A big of shopping took place on the way out of the park. I picked up a shot glass and a t-shirt.

BEST NON-COASTER RIDE: Monster Plantation. It was the only non-coaster ride of the day, but probably would have gotten the recognition anyway.

OTHER COMMENTS: We decided to scope out the park before deciding to get a Flash Pass/Q-bot/Fastlane. After our long line in Superman (where trains were waiting on the brake run for at least one minute), we bought a Flash Pass at the booth in front of Thunder River’s entrance. It proved to be a great tool that I would buy again any day. We were getting wait times much shorter than the signs showed and the lines looked. (The incorrect signs were annoying because we stood outside of Mind Benders “30 minute line" before deciding that it couldn’t be that long. It was a 1-2 train wait.) I’m almost scared to think what times we would have gotten with a Gold bot. The longest wait we queued for was Déjà Vu with something around a half-hour. Both Goliath times were within 5-10 minutes. I would recommend the little green line cutter to everyone, especially on a busy day.

The park ranks into my upper level Six Flags parks, but it should have been better, as all the SF parks I have visited should. I wouldn’t mind throwing down more cash than I have had to in the past, but I want to see some changes that make my day better. Souvenir maps don’t make my day better. Five costumed characters and neat, but aren’t going to make peoples days that much better. Service is where the park(s) need to concentrate. Ride ops needs to be properly trained. They probably haven’t seen their rides ran efficiently, so the blame isn’t all on to them. Food stands need to get their act together. And when I ask for a refill of water, don’t ask me if I want ice with that. Of course I want ice!

I have faith that the park/chain can make these changes because I have seen other changes implemented. The coasters were running all the trains they should have. That is a big change in itself. So, hopefully the next step is to weed out the losers and appreciate the winners.

I also visited Lake Winnie on Saturday. I won't detail our small credit whoring stop but get to my request. I started collecting shot glasses last summer of parks I have visited. I forgot to get a Lake Winnie glass. We actually stopped back in Chattannooga on Monday, but got there shortly after opening (noon) and were greeted with a mob of people outside the entrance. The glass wasn’t worth it at the time. So I’m just wondering if anyone is going to the park in the next three operating and would be willing to pick me up a glass that I would obviously be willing to compensate for. Just send me a private message if your interested in helping.

I hope to have photos uploaded this week sometime.

*** Edited 9/6/2006 5:57:47 AM UTC by Neuski***

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006 2:38 AM
I just don't understand letting employees bringing cellphones, or any kind of electronic device (iPod etc.) into the park. What's next, laptops? It just shows you how ignorant people are getting. I was in a Home Depot last year and I was behind this woman getting paint mixed. She was on her cellphone the whole time. It was the like the associate didn't exist. That's exactly how I feel when I see ride ops on their phones.

If they're letting kids bring cellphones into the park because they have to call Mommy or Daddy for a ride home when their shift ends, then that's ridiculous. They should provide the kids with a phone they can use that's not in view of patrons. If it's because of a "possible" emergency, then every employee should give the number of the park to their parents or whomever.

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