SFWoA 6/30...same ol', same ol'

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Monday, July 1, 2002 5:57 AM
My wife and I had been thinking about taking a trip to SFGAM on Sunday, which would have meant leaving Columbus around 3 AM and leaving Gurnee at about 5 PM to return home. In the end, we both chickened out and decided just to go to WoA instead.

We arrived at the rides side parking lot at about 10:40 or so, and I couldn't believe how backed up the line to enter the lot was. I found out that it was mostly due to the fact that people couldn't handle splitting from two lines into four. When I passed several cars on the left to get into the far left lane, people started getting visibly upset, despite the fact that I was doing nothing wrong. Learn to read the signs, folks.

After applying some SPF 30 (it was about 90 and extremely sunny), we went up to the gate to wait in our second longest line of the day-the 15 minute line to enter the park. Thank the lord that we're season passholders, or else our wait would have been doubled just to buy tickets.

Finally, into the park, we headed for X-Flight. The entry way to the ride has now been almost entirely blocked off so that a Six Flags employee seated there can remind you to empty your pockets into the nearby lockers. This blockage so confused many parkgoers that several of them assumed the ride was closed and turned around. Since the theme of today was going to be-you guessed it-capacity issues, this was not an entirely unwelcome event.

The line only extended back about halfway through the nicely shaded queue, which should have been about a 10 minute wait. However, due to a stunning ONE train operation, we waited about 45 minutes around several people who seemed to feel the "No Smoking" signs didn't apply to them. About 5 minutes before we were to ride, a second train was finally added, cycling through the course empty, which nearly caused those in line to riot. "What the hell? An empty car??" and so on.

Anyway, on to the ride-just as fun as I remembered. As the featured attraction of the park, it doesn't really hold up, but when a hyper is added next year, it will be a solid secondary attraction. For those of you that haven't been on a Vekoma flyer, the moment of truth on this ride is the bottom of the loop. God forbid Markey ever rides this thing.

Next up was Superman: Ultimate Escape. Attention all SFWoA parkgoers: This is not, I repeat, NOT the same attraction as Wicked Twister down the coast, so please stop saying it is while in line. Normally non-factual comments spoken by parkgoers don't bother me, and I would never consider "correcting" anyone, but that was kinda irking me.

I'd like to take all the crew on S:UE on a field trip to CP to see how a crew on an impulse should work. Despite the fact that there were only 4 people in front of us waiting for the back, our wait was about 20 minutes. Each time the train was loaded, the crew was inexplicably opening and closing the airgates 2-3 times. Since there is no test seat, several people attempted to ride and could not, delaying the process further. Our tilted-cap ride op took about 1 1/2 minutes checking all the restraints, literally walking at a snail's pace down the length of the train. Way to take pride in your work.

Regardless, it's still a great ride. Our seat in the back provided a much different experience than the back of WT, but a great one, nevertheless. The holding brake is working as well as ever. There's no doubt that S:UE is a much different ride from WT, but I find it to be really enjoyable in its own right.

No trip to WoA would be complete w/o a lap on the the SLC, Serial Thriller. With the newly padded restraints, this ride is a ton of fun. Our back seat lap gave us plenty of speed and great forces. If you keep your head to the right, you'll experience no headbanging. A vast improvement over last year, and only a two train wait, as this crew was working hard.

The beautiful sit-down by the lake, Batman: Knight Flight, was next. 15 minute wait and more line smoking. I don't know if people realize how rude it is to smoke in confined places (more on that later), but if you are a line smoker and think you're not bothering anyone else, you're wrong. How hard would it be for SF to post an employee to watch the lines? Since they were stacking two trains on a three train course, maybe they could also add some people to the platform so that two people weren't checking all the restraints.

We took two laps on this day, one in row 7 and one in the front. I had never taken a front row lap on a floorless, and as such I've always been kinda mystified as to why some people are so enthralled by them. No longer. Our front seat lap (which was actually our last ride of the day, but I'm condensing) was about the best lap I've ever had on any coaster. Grey-out on the massive vertical loop, intense speed and force through the cobra roll, nice hangtime off the MCBR...hands down, the best coaster at WoA. Seeing your feet inches above the track is just about the coolest thing ever.

I had never taken a lap on Raging Wolf Bobs (#64), so I wanted to ride for the count, but I warned my wife, "This one is rough. Really rough. Like Mean Streak rough." She decided to ride anyway...what a mistake. This is probably the only coaster I've ever been on that I would never consider riding again. Check it off the list and keep moving.

It was about 12:30 or so at this time, so lunch was in order. I decided to walk over to the season passholders lounge, Beachcomber's. The poor guy behind the counter was working by himself, so he was in no mood to check for passes, which was fine by me since it wasn't crowded. I appreciated the $1.50 coke and the $2.49 pizza, to be sure. Problems arose when his female co-worker came back from break and threw all the non-passholders out. Maybe a few more signs would be in order?

Since we were in the neighborhood, we hopped on Big Dipper (#65). A whole family tried to line jump us, at which point I yelled at them to get behind us. The "father" (and I use the term loosely) said, "What does one place in line matter?" I just ignored him and he got in line behind us. About 5 minutes later his teenaged son lights up a freakin' Black and Mild cigar in line. Everyone within 10 people of them is coughing and hacking, so I asked him to put it out, fully expecting some sort of confrontation with him, his dad, or both. Luckily, enough people around us applauded when I asked that they both decided the wisest course of action would be to simply put it out. Once again, one SF employee watching the line would have prevented both the line jumping and the cigar smoking.

The ride was wonderful, but it injured my small wife's back with all the airtime. I felt really guilty for enjoying the ride, but I couldn't help it. Two big thumbs up for this classic coaster. I expected a rough ride, but instead got massive ejector air and a big smile which I had to hide until my wife felt well enough to walk again. The only negative was the one-train operation when there were clearly enough guests to support two.

Since she was in no mood to ride coasters, we headed across the floating walkway to the wildlife side, enjoying a frozen lemonade along the way. We just caught the Sea Lion/Otter show, which was a hoot. We then hotfooted it over to see Shouka's training session, which appeared to be going well.

After walking through the Penguin Encounter, we got the most heavenly frozen treat I've had at a park, a cherry shaved ice. A bargain at twice the price on this ninety degree day. We then walked down to the shark encounter, stopping at every mister along the way. Kudos to SF for placing these throughout both sides.

We then walked back through the woods to get a lap on Roadrunner Express (#66). This ride actually has some strong lateral forces, causing me to slam into my wife's side three times...and then they let us go around for a second lap! A fun family coaster, but I wonder how kids don't get smashed by their parents.

The Villain was running great on this particular day. The best ops we saw all day ensured that it was virtually a walk-on, and it reassured its place in my top 5 woodies. I can't help but think that PTCs would make it even better. CCI needs more coasters in their home state (CP?).

We took our aforementioned ride on B:KF and called it a day at around 6. Summary? I didn't really see the improved operations that many have mentioned so far. The wildlife side was well maintained, but the rides side seemed very dirty and poorly maintained-S:UE and ST desperately need paint. Except for Villain, train stacking was occurring all day long due to uninterested ride ops. Nevertheless, we had a great time, especially on the wildlife side (which I've glossed over on this TR), and we'll probably return later this summer after the heat wave is gone.

Thanks for reading!


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Doesn't it seem as though morons always have the caps lock on?

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Monday, July 1, 2002 6:36 AM

Sounds like you feel much the same way about the park as I do. You love the rides, but could do without the easily preventable annoyances.

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Jeff - Webmaster/Admin - CoasterBuzz.com, Sillynonsense.com
"We used to hate people, now we just make fun of them. It's more effective that way." - KMFDM, "Dogma"

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Monday, July 1, 2002 7:20 AM
From the tone of your TR, it sounds like Villain is once again running 2 trains. Is this true?

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It's 106 miles to Indiana Beach. We've got a full tank of gas and a half-full cooler of cokes. It's light, and we're wearing Disaster Transport 3-D glasses....hit it!

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Monday, July 1, 2002 7:30 AM

Jeff-You couldn't be more dead on. Rides=good, Ops=bad.

MooreOn, Villain was indeed running two trains, and the ops were actually filling them! That was another peeve of mine...each B:KF train went out with at least 6 empty seats.

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Proud CB club member

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Monday, July 1, 2002 10:03 AM

That is one thing I simply do not understand in the least. If you have a full queue of people waiting to ride a coaster, why do they send out trains without all the seats filled?

I've seen this time and time again at more parks than just SFWoA. Is there a paragraph in the Ride Op Employee Manual that talks about this issue? Is there a legitimate reason for this practice? It's just baffling!

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Monday, July 1, 2002 12:12 PM
Lallen, I think in this case it was because there were no fewer than 4 people hanging out in the operator's booth while only 2 people were on the platform. I'm not sure why there were all those people just sitting around doing nothing (maybe someone who works as a ride op to WoA can explain?), but the two girls on the platform had their hands full just checking restraints. Also, to be blunt, they really didn't care too much-hence the stacking of two trains on a 4210 ft long coaster.

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Proud CB club member

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Monday, July 1, 2002 12:36 PM

Nice TR. I go to Woa atleast once every week or two and I love it. I know that the ops can be bad at times but I see this at a lot of other parks all the time. Look at other Six Flags parks and you'll see the same thing. I don't see why Sfwoa is always getting bashed (you aren't, I'm just pointing out the typical people that go Sfwoa and complain in their TR's.)

The only thing I hate about the park is the one train operation. At the beginning of the year, the park was incredible. I went June 1st and it was the best time I've ever had there. They ran 2 trains on everything (cept Big Dipper.) I was so happy that day and X-flight was a walk on the whole time. I do wish that they would recline that thing on the lift but I wouldn't mind if they still do it in the station, as long as they have 2 trains running!! The last 3 times I've been there they just totally changed. They took pretty much all of the 2nd trains off and ran one train. The only rides that had an exception were The Villain and Batman but other than that, they need to shape up with that.

Wow I was mad at the people who bash this park, but it seems I almost did the same thing. Oops.

I love and hate this park at the same time.

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Top 5:
5) S:ros Sfdl 4) Raptor 3) Apollos Chariot 2) Magnum 1) Millennium Force

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Monday, July 1, 2002 8:35 PM

I remember the train stacking and one train op when I went two years ago. It does not sound like much has changed since I last visited.

They aren't reclining X-Flight on the lift? Last I heard, Batwing was reclining like it was originally intended to.

What is with the people smoking in line? That is an annoyance and an easily preventable one.

Great TR! I enjoyed reading it!

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Off to CP in August, Hopefully off to two other parks in July though!! YEA!!!! :-D It will be a good summer!
Questions:
smles@ilstu.edu

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