Six Flags America

Friday, August 20, 2010 5:29 PM

Wow, what can you say about this place? I took my son and nephew there on Friday, Aug 13. I guess the date alone should have warned me not to go, but we did.

We arrived mid day (drove up from the Richmond, VA area) and got our passes processed. Right off the bat, I was impressed with the staff. Most of the staff were friendly and very helpful. That, however, was about the extent of my being impressed with the park. I was struck, after walking down 'main' street, at just how commercial the place is. There are product ads everywhere. I can't recall another park, except for Disney, that was this commercial. Branded restaurants are one thing, but Snicker's, Samsung and other product ads are another. I guess Six Flags needs to raise cash someway.

After walking around a bit, one notices how run down the place looks and 'feels'. It is a clean park, I didn't see trash anywhere as the staff was constantly cleaning (much like KD does now) but it still felt dirty. Most of the rides appear to need some kind of maintenance and the fact that two of them (Skull Island(?) and the Mind Eraser) were closed for maintenance is pretty scary. If it is bad enough for this place to shut them down, I don't think I want to ride them at all.

So, we rode Batwing and Superman. Superman was awesome. Great speed and air time. It is a shame that it is located at this park. Batwing was OK, but it hurt my chest for some reason.

The kids rode Jokers Jinx, which, being a clone of Flight of Fear, didn't excite me all that much. They loved it and said that because it was outside, they liked it better. And this is where their excitement for park ended. They rode the Wild One, which makes the Rebel Yell look new. They didn't like it. They also rode Roar, which is in far better shape. I guess they took better care of this one.

By now, I was ready to leave the place, but we stayed a bit longer to get some other rides in, none of which stood out. Shipwreck Falls was fun to watch, but not for the ride, but for the people either trying to get in the big splash or those trying to get away from it.

All in all, it is a mediocre park, but it has loads of potential. If they would just clean the statues and the signage (get the bird poop and muck off of them) it might be better. Like I said, the staff was great, but the rest...not so much.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010 12:51 AM

Rides closed for the day is pretty common at many parks. If they were in dire need of maintenance and running...well, that would be something to be scared about.

Nice to hear the park has cleaned up. I haven't been there since 2003, but the positive stuff you mentioned (no trash, super helpful and friendly staff) was the polar opposite on my last several visits--overflowing trash cans and completely lazy and disenchanted staff. I don't quite get how the park felt 'dirty' because a couple rides were down or 'appeared' to need maintenance, however.

Unless Wild One hasn't been well-maintained in the last 7 years, I can't imagine it not running well. I've had nothing but great rides on it (and it's a much better coaster overall than Rebel Yell).

Honestly, as grim as you say your visit was, after reading your TR I kinda want to give the park another go. Doesn't sound all that bad to me.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010 2:59 AM

" I don't quite get how the park felt 'dirty' because a couple rides were down or 'appeared' to need maintenance, however."

You misunderstand...it didn't feel dirty because the two rides were down-and I understand that rides are down for maintenance, that wasn't the point-it felt dirty and unkempt because: Every single coaster in the park looked neglected: paint was peeling off and/or faded like they've been there for 20 years (which, except for Wild One, they can't be since the place has only had them since the early to mid 90's); WildOne looks terrible. The whole thing seemed like it could collapse any second; in the kiddie area, everything was 'weathered', that is, they had layers of gunk, including lots of bird poop-nothing looked clean; The signs were disgusting. Landscaping was almost non-existent, especially back where Superman and BatWing are. It was more like a travelling carnival than an established theme park. Like I said, the place has loads of potential but seems to be neglected by its corporate parent. It was relatively trash free and I didn't notice any overflowing trash cans, but it still 'felt' dirty.

As for the two closed rides, my comment was more tongue in cheek. Given how the place just looked, I got the feeling that the rides were closed because even by the low standards of the park, they were bad. Strictly an attempt at humor. The young man standing at the entrance to the Mind Eraser said that it would be running that next day. So, yeah, I understand that they close them routinely.

One other gripe: the Johnny Rockets were not 'real' Johnny rockets. The only resemblence to the real restaurant is the name. The food was fabulously awful and there was practically no selection.

Having said all of that, we did manage to enjoy ourselves. It is not a total loss and if your last visit was when it was even worse, by all means go back. The staff was a delight and they do have a few really nice roller coasters. Stay away from the rotor ride (across from Jokers Jinx) it looked worse than anything else in the park, including the WildOne.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010 6:53 AM

geogray said:
"Stay away from the rotor ride (across from Jokers Jinx) it looked worse than anything else in the park, including the WildOne.

I'm not an expert, but based on my visits, I think you may have meant the Round-Up (Riddle Me This) Unless they installed one this year, SFA doesn't have a Rotor to the best of my knowledge.

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Saturday, August 21, 2010 11:13 AM
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Saturday, August 21, 2010 12:22 PM

Mike, you are correct. I misspoke.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010 3:02 PM

I've been to SFA many times (relatives living in the area). I always felt like staff *had* always been the glaring weakness at the park. The last couple visits have shown VAST improvement in that arena.

Typically, steel coasters don't excite me THAT much. RoS rides are a clear exception to that rule. Nonetheless, I've argued for a long time that the wooden coaster maintenance crew at SFA is among the best, if not THE best, in the entire chain. I've always gotten *really good* rides on Roar, and that is the benchmark ride I wish BGT would try to emulate with Gwazi (GCI, PTC trains, intense yet smooth. Wild One, for all its changes, is still a very solid ride with good airtime throughout and an ending helix that can be absolutely blissful when the brakes aren't hitting too hard...

I had a few of those "miserable experiences" at SFA about a decade or so ago....but I'm glad I continued to visit, and would still stack up their wood/steel combo against some of the best parks out there.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010 11:54 PM

Agree with Gator.

SFA doesn't deserve the rep it has and it has probably one of the most underrated coaster line-ups around.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010 2:06 AM

I don't know, Lord Gonchar, my one and only visit was not that good. While we managed to have a decent time, I can't get over how run down it feels. Appearance, for me anyway, is half of the equation. I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy BGW so much, the place is beautiful, clean and the buildings and rides don't have 20 years of muck on them like SF America. SF America isn't all bad, like I said. It has tons of potential. If SF would put some money in the place, clean it up and put in some new rides (when was the last time it got a new major ride? And Thomas Town does not count.) the place would be much, much nicer.

Oh, it needs better and cheaper food too. $51 for two hamburgers, chicken fingers, three fries and drinks is way too much. Even KD is cheaper than that. Hell, $51 at Friday's gets us dinners for four.

One of the things we were warned about just wasn't there: we had been told, by many people, that the people who visit the place were not friendly and liked to start problems. Didn't see that at all. In fact, it seemed to be quite the opposite. I struck up many conversations with other people and they were all just as friendly as could be. The staff was great, it was just the place feels kinda dumpy. Sorry, but that is the way I saw it. I wish I had taken photos of what I'm talking about.

And WildOne does not look like it was well kept. It makes the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion look new. My son hated it and complained of a headache after he got off.

The two steel coasters I rode were fine. BatWing hurt my chest, so I did not enjoy it as much as I could have, but Superman was awesome. Reminded me of Apollo's Chariot. Fast, lots of air time. Loved it. That alone almost made the trip worth it. Almost.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010 3:28 PM

I'm just curious as to how Wild One doesn't look well kept? Serious question, I'd like to hear your answer.

As for the looks of the park, the only thing I have any issues with are the fact that the rides and buildings could use a paint job. Otherwise, the park has a great lineup and I feel it's come a long ways from my first visit almost 10 years ago.

Here are my pix from last Labor Day.

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Sunday, August 22, 2010 3:54 PM

Tekwardo, many of the boards looked is if they were popping up (i.e. needed to be nailed down again); the trains - from what I could see - looked neglected; the whole structure, as the train was coming back in the helix, shook visibly as if it were about to fall apart. Now, I realize that most woodies do that, but this one seemed more pronounced than what I would think is 'normal.' Many of the boards were warped, badly. It just LOOKS terrible. Maybe I am being wholly unfair as I did not ride it. I am not a huge fan of wooden coasters anyway, but this one just looked worse than most that I have seen and, trust me, Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion was, by far, the worst I had seen until this one. Rebel Yell shares many of the same things I am pointing out here. However, I will trust what you all are saying about its maintenance. And, it is possible that my opinion is tainted by my whole experience at SFA.

You pointed out my biggest complaint with the park: the severe need for fresh paint. But, did you notice the signage, statues and other structures that had what looked like 20 years of muck on them? Really detracts from the whole experience. KD was like that for years and they have finally started fixing the place up. SFA could be really nice.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010 6:16 PM

If your comparing SFA to BGW I can see your point. But in reality BGW is more of the exception. I have been to SFA twice and had a great experience both times.

I think while they don't have a lot of coasters their line up is pretty strong. Superman is loads of fun, JJ is the best of breed since it doesn't come to a stop on the mid-course like KI & KD.

Wild One is one of my favorite classic era coasters.

I am sorry that you didn't have a better time at the park.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010 7:08 PM

^ i agree. But I will add that you shouldn't be upset that you didn't get on the Mind Eraser. That was the worst roller coaster I may have ever ridden.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010 8:12 PM

Yep, ME is right up there on my list of one and done coasters. The worst had to have been T2 at SFKK.

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Friday, August 27, 2010 6:35 PM

Dave, I wasn't really comparing BGW and SFA, short of Disney, nothing really compares to BGW. No, I was just saying that SFA just felt run down. Like I said, it LOOKED dirty even though there was little, if any, trash visible. We still managed to have fun, but I wouldn't consider this park to a destination until SF either cleans it up and/or adds something worth driving up there for...

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Friday, August 27, 2010 10:01 PM

geogray said:
We still managed to have fun, but I wouldn't consider this park to a destination until SF either cleans it up and/or adds something worth driving up there for...

Ouch.

Hell, S:ROS alone is better than any of the coasters at all the parks mentioned in this thread.

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Friday, August 27, 2010 10:20 PM

Superman is a great coaster. And thanks for not dinging me on my poor grammar. The people who have replied to this thread are pretty cool and this has been a great discussion, thanks.

If Six Flags would just put a bit more effort, time and bucks into the place, it could be a really nice little park. Just curious, this is the only Six Flags park I've been to, are they all run and look like this one?

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Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:33 AM

No. In fact SFA is often considered to be the worst six flags park of all.

-edit not half bad considering that if you asked me!

Last edited by Eric Hossfield, Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:34 AM
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Sunday, August 29, 2010 2:59 PM

Eric Hossfield said:
No. In fact SFA is often considered to be the worst six flags park of all.

-edit not half bad considering that if you asked me!

...now that KK is no longer in the running for the "crown."

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Sunday, August 29, 2010 9:09 PM

I've been pretty critical of the park seeing as it's my home park. I agree with the Superman love, though, as it really is a great ride. I think I'll be making a visit out there this coming weekend as it's been 2-3 years since I've last been there. I do think the park could do with some landscaping, though. I think if SROS had some trees around it, especially in the middle of the helixes, it would be absolutely wicked and even better at night than it already is.

As far as it having an underrated coaster collection, I think the abundance of rides that are cloned lowers my opinion of them, but I should be fair and admit that the park's fantastic 4 (SROS, Joker's Jinx, Wild One, and Roar) are a pretty good set.

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