Six Flags America 04/07/13

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 2:15 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
If these parks were really as horrible as the forums would lead you to believe, they'd be out of business.

I don't think it's just "the forums" that has issues with the park. If you compare Cedar Point with SFA on Trip Advisor the difference is night and day. SFA has more people rating them as terrible than excellent and have more people rating them as terrible than Cedar Point who has 1167 more total reviews. The same goes for the other well known Six Flags parks including Six Flags Magic Mountain which is open year round and brought in 2.7 million customers compared to Cedar Point's and Kings Island's 3.1 million last year.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 2:50 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Point taken.

However, it's not without conditions. You're comparing what is generally known as SF's worst park with CF's flagship...and even than SFA has a rating of 3 out of 5. Average. Not horrible. Average. Also note the timing of the reviews - most of the bad ones are from several years ago - they've gotten 37 reviews in 2013 and only one is 1-star. Two are 2-star. The other 34 are 3-star or above. Which kind of lends itself to my earlier comment that things have changed enough at both chains that the experience is comparable. If you do the average of all of the 2013 reviews the scores is a 4.02. Most of the Cedar Fair parks are sitting at 4 out of 5.

With can both interpret however we want. To me what TripAdvisor users say about SFA doesn't scream horrible or failing in any way. It's an overall average amusement park experience with current ratings that are higher than ever.

And none of it speaks anything about the actual debate here - is their capacity and throughput significantly lower and is it affecting the experience in the eyes of their customer base? In fact, click on the 1-star reviews. I skimmed the first two pages going back to 2011 and saw not a single complaint about one-train operations, empty seats, capacity. One of those 20 reviews mentions long lines in passing.

There's a million reasons to hate Six Flags. No one seems to be bitching about inefficient operations.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, April 16, 2013 3:14 PM
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 3:48 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

I only picked Cedar Point because they are known for their efficient ride operations and I think that correlates to guest satisfaction in an indirect way. Almost all of the negative reviews mention rude or lazy staff.

I think they are capable of much more throughput. Even Kennywood at their laziest is faster than them.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 6:17 PM
sirloindude's avatar

A lot of people probably don't understand whether an operation is inefficient or not, which goes to your point a bit, but my point is that just because somebody might not know better doesn't make it okay. I think the point made above that SFMM with its year-round operation doesn't hit the attendance figures of KI speaks volumes. Granted, KI doesn't have DLR, USH, and KBF, but it also doesn't have the LA area population and tourism numbers either.

That's steering away from the fact that my complaint is predominantly toward SFA, though, and I want to emphasize the fact that this problem is especially severe at SFA, but not necessarily the chain as a whole.

I guess I'm not understanding why it's such a problem to give your guests an experience that beats their expectations. Does SFA have to hit interval every single time? No, but I don't think that taking 5 minutes to dispatch a SROS train on the assumption that nobody knows it can move faster is a valid mentality either.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 6:31 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

sirloindude said:

I think the point made above that SFMM with its year-round operation doesn't hit the attendance figures of KI speaks volumes.

Mostly about location and local attitudes, I would guess. And I say that because while SFMM is about an hour north of the city, Knott's isn't and they do 3.7 with year round operations - only .6 more than the Ohio seasonals...in LA, not way outside of it.

1. Apples and Oranges
2. Myriad of reasons (not just correlated to ride capacity)

I guess I'm not understanding why it's such a problem to give your guests an experience that beats their expectations. Does SFA have to hit interval every single time? No, but I don't think that taking 5 minutes to dispatch a SROS train on the assumption that nobody knows it can move faster is a valid mentality either.

I hope I'm not implying that it's ok because no one knows better or that they do it because no one knows better. That's not the point at all.

The fact that it happens is being taken as a given. Hell, I'll concede it - even if it is an arguable point.

So it happens. Slow dispatches. Empty seats. Running less trains than possible. But does it directly anger people in a way that significantly affects their business?

None of the info we're privvy to (or that's collected or whatever) shows me it does.

Does it suck that Superman is only pushing 700+ people an hour (as related by Billy)? Sure.

Does it bother most people in that inefficient operations (or a more 'GP' term like long waits or long lines) is a major complaint. Doesn't seem to. But...

If it is and we're just not seeing it, does it affect their business? Not enough that they're closing the doors and not in a way that we can correlate with info available to us on the outside.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 7:27 PM
sirloindude's avatar

Perhaps not enough that they're closing their doors, but is it affecting their business? It could be. I'm one person, so don't interpret this as me speaking for the masses, but because I find their operations to be poor, I go there less. I don't buy souvenirs, I don't buy food, any of that. I don't recommend it to people. Some of my relatives don't go there often anymore for the same reasons. I post a thread on here, and people don't go because they don't read anything good about it.

Vater said he hadn't felt compelled to go, but if I came on here raving about the place and how great their crews were and how Superman, a ride that is simply excellent, never has a wait because the crew is so great, could that change his mind? I can't speak for him or anyone else on the subject, but it could have an effect.

To be honest, I think that based on a lot of the responses here, I'm not reporting some shocking news. Many of the responders indicate having had similar experiences and those experiences being why they haven't gone back. It appears your good experience seems to be the exception rather than the norm using the data available.

I'm not trying to say that Six Flags in general is now an atrocity, and past trip reports from me in recent years have given glowing reports about how great some parks are doing. I'm just saying that SFA doesn't seem to be on the same page as its sister parks. How will this affect them? I don't know. I was just trying to report on my experience and how things that are important to me affected my day.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013 8:42 PM

sirloindude said: I'm not trying to say that Six Flags in general is now an atrocity

Ever been to Mt. Olympus? A friend told me that the average consumer isn't very knowledgeable about the service they get (when we were at a Six Flags park, and I pointed out ride ops fooling around/talking when trains were stacked.) But one thing is for sure, Holiday World keeps people coming back. It's their long-term goal to guarantee guest return. Six Flags is in a weird spot; they have changed their game plan several times over the past 2 decades... the quality of their service (especially at Great America) is much higher than it was 10 years ago - but the percentage of season pass holders have really gone up.

I'm trying to make a point, but I'm tired and confusing myself. Maybe my main point is that SF loses long-term guests in favor of quicker profits... Astroworld closed, SFWoa (should I count that?), Magic Mountain has lost much of it's family crowd, etc. People will return to Holiday World, Dollywood, Knoebel's, probably even Cedar Point for a lifetime due to the excellent service. The Six Flags parks don't compete with them, but then the argument gets too complex for me and I'll just listen :)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 3:54 AM
LostKause's avatar

GayCoasterGuy said:

I'm trying to make a point, but I'm tired and confusing myself...

I imagine Gonch has a dry erase board next to his desk that he uses to map out interesting arguments like this. Maybe you should try that, Billy. It might help. :)


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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 10:45 AM

I honestly think Six Flags has, from what I've heard, improved things greatly over the years. However, I don't get why they treat some of their parks the way they do. If it were just the ride ops, people probably wouldn't think it was so bad at SFA. I mean, look at Hershey's ride ops. On many of their coasters, they're slow as molasses. However, Hershey also still has leftover charm, pleasant employees, and maintenance covered well. SFA has coasters in dire need of painting and train repair. The parking lot, while clean, is grass and gravel (Hershey has a huge well maintained and organized asphalt lot). I would never say SFA is a BAD park, but it seriously needs some love. I've only been to three Cedar Fair parks, but all were consistent in cleanliness, maintenance, and employee behavior. Six Flags could learn from CF in this aspect.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:50 AM
Vater's avatar

Where is this grassy, gravely lot you speak of?

http://binged.it/ZxwCOR

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:38 PM
sirloindude's avatar

I agree. One thing I do like about SFA is that the main part of the parking lot is actually kind of pretty. That's not a common compliment I have for parking lots.


13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones

www.grapeadventuresphotography.com

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:43 PM

LostKause said: I imagine Gonch has a dry erase board next to his desk that he uses to map out interesting arguments like this. Maybe you should try that, Billy. It might help. :)

Too much work. And honestly, Gonch would still do it better than me. Plus, those dry-erase markers make me ill :(

I may have said it before recently (cuz I know I never repeat myself, NOT) but I look forward to my next visit to SFA (just as I look forward to my next visit to Great Adventure). If nothing else, I'll have fun with friends. Unless I go by myself, then I just leave if I'm not having fun :)

bunky666 said: The parking lot, while clean, is grass and gravel

This is sometimes the sign of a GREAT park. Just sayin...

Last edited by GayCoasterGuy, Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:47 PM
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:57 PM
matt.'s avatar

I guess I could also use a whiteboard.

So...enthusiasts are generally more critical of lousy parks than the GP is.

I'd also offer that we're more passionately positive about good parks than the GP is.

These are, kind of inherently, what the hobby is about. Otherwise, why bother spending time and money on it? Otherwise we'd just be going to our home parks once a year or every other year and leaving it at that.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:02 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

You're exactly right, Matt.

Where it falls apart is when you extrapolate that criticism and passion to the crowd, thinking the enthusiast mindset represents what the average parkgoer sees and thinks.

It doesn't work that way. You're 100% on the money. Enthusiasts are generally more critical of 'lousy' parks than the GP is...and much more passionate about 'good' parks.

That's exactly the point that seems to get missed too often.

Be passionate, be critical. But also understand you're the exception.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:03 PM
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:26 PM

SFA has been on a slow rise over the years it seems to me. Thankfully the park is being invested in more now. It is a much better park than what it once was (comparing SFA 2001 to SFA 2011 - my last visit).

When I lived about 30 mins away I loved the place, it was a great local park. Small crowds, no lines, a decent enough collection of rides. A great place to go for a couple hours after school/work. I had a fun summer working attractions there in 2006.

To put it bluntly, looking back in hindsight, the day to day operations at the park were a joke compared to other "major" parks. Understaffed day after day and an underfunded maintenance department being the most glaring and obvious issues. While the employees shoulder a great deal of the blame for not trying very hard and at times not acting pleasant; the management did very little to give any incentive to do a better job and really provided a downright terrible working environment. Having worked for other parks now its easy to see why the employees at SFA act more miserable than other parks - the working conditions are more miserable than other parks... lol

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:31 PM

Lord Gonchar said: Enthusiasts are generally more critical of 'lousy' parks than the GP is...and much more passionate about 'good' parks.

And sometimes we are very critical about some aspects of a park that we love to death... and sometimes really love some stuff about a park that we don't care for. All that without being a hypocrite or a victim.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:09 PM
rollergator's avatar

CQI - I want every park to know that there are things they could do better (fix those restrooms, Knoebels). That being said, if you said to me that I was limited to one park for the rest of my life....I'd quite possibly pick Knoebels.

The "perfect park"....doesn't exist. But I want every park to be the best it can be. If offering some constructive criticism helps in the continuous quality improvement process....then it's worth it.

SFA? Just tell the board ops that a checked train needs dispatching...now.

Last edited by rollergator, Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:34 PM
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 2:27 PM

rollergator said: (fix those restrooms, Knoebels).

Come on, those awkward sink knobs and freezing cold water while it's raining in October adds to the charm! Darn... now I have my first complaint about Knoebels.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:09 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

While it's true that enthusiasts are more positive about good parks and more negative about bad parks, I think we're more negative in general. I remember when a boomerang used to be a marathon worthy ride (back when I was in middle school). When I was going to a park every 3 or 4 years, any remotely thrilling ride was "the best ride I've ever been on." It takes quite a bit to get me to even raise an eyebrow at this point.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Friday, April 19, 2013 1:18 AM

I may have ended up in some sort of temporary lot at SFA? I don't know, but it was not paved. It wasn't unclean or ugly by any means, but it kind of didn't fit with the rest of the park.

I'm still a pretty nice enthusiast in terms of what I tolerate at a park. I'd go back to SFA, but not if I had other options.


"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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