Six Flags America: Hurricane Harbor 8-13-06

Associated parks:
None

Thursday, August 17, 2006 7:13 PM
Who: Me and Lady T (uh, Lady T and I, excuse me)
What: First Exeperience w/ SFA's waterpark
When: Sunday, 13 August 2006
Where: SFA - Largo, MD
Why: A chance to see the waterpark before it closes for the season
How: Through the magic of the Season Pass


Ever since our excursion to Lake Compounce and visit to their waterpark, I planned to get to SFA's Hurricane Harbor to see how it compared. After several weeks of trip SNAFUs, we finally took the long 30min trek over to SFA. We played the role of heathens this day, eschewing church services for the carrot of a near empty park. (note: we usually go to early service and could have easily went and still made it to th epark by opening).

For some reason, we were lollygagging (for all you Bull Durham fans) and didnt quite make it to the park at opening. As we turn off of 214 into the park, there is a fairly long back up at the toll booths (so much for that 'carrot'). I ease all the way past them towards the de-marked "employees" lane which at least 'used to' be the parking passholders lane. The security guard notices my sticker and waves me through.

I should note, someone else mentioned that the premium parking has been eliminated. I didnt notice anything like that, and apparently, no one else did either as none of the upfront spaces were taken, save for handicapped spots. I'll make a note to look again if we head back out that way this year.

As we approach the gates, I spied a ticket taker who had no line meanwhile, several of the other lines were 20 deep. I hope all those people were in a group, otherwise, they were just being dumb lemmings. We slink past the photogs, make a sharp left and enter a part of the park that I dont think I's been in but once: Hurricane Harbor.

We quickly decide that we'll play 'beachcomber' and claim a set of lawn chairs around the wave pool as "Hostyl Territory". But first, we must change, which requires the renting of a locker. I cleary asked for a small locker, which the helpful young lady charged me for, but she must have reached into the wrong basket of keys because we got a large one instead. *shrugs*. We toyed with the notion of getting a tube but then didnt know what to do with it so we passed.

We grab a couple of chairs in the 2nd row from the wavepool and then notice, noone is in the pool. In fact, the nearby kiddie play area also seems deserted. There are plenty of lifeguards walking around, but no one is in the water. It was like a shark had just come thru or something. We didnt ask, but just figured the pool was still closed. The waterslides, however, were accepting riders, wo we head straight for:

TORNADO: Proslide 'Funnel' - 10/10
We grab a two person raft and I immediately figure out that I'm going to get a work out as none of the slides have tube elevators. The wait wasnt too long, maybe 15min tops and once at the top, the girl working there was getting into the spirit, splashing the guests and spinning them around before casting them down the chute. As it's our turn she chortled "Who's going down backwards? Hmm..." Answer: Lady T :)

The tunnel part is very dark, loud, and faster than I expected. But that was nothing compared to the drop into the funnel. Maybe, I'm naive, but I wasnt expecting actual airtime. My butt lifted slightly off the raft and I yelped slightly. The rest was rockin good fun and then we hit the wall of water at the exit of the funnel. The strange thing though, when we got to the bottom, the attending lifeguard just kinda looked at us; leaving us to our own devices to get out of the splash pool. At Lake compounce, the bottom guard assisted all riders exiting the pools. I dont know which is the "proper" or "standard" way that most waterparks operate, but this was slightly disconcerting. (cue foreshadowing music)

We ended up riding this twice during the day. The second time I got the treat of going backwards; this time on a 4-person cloverleaf raft (though still just the two of us). This confirmed what I had suspected, but refrained from commmenting on a while back. Remember the kids who got hurt at SFGAm on the funnel? One of them remarked that they "went upside down". True, we all know that is physically impossible, but being at the top of the first swing, laying back on the raft, I could see how someone might *percieve* that as being upside down. It certainly didnt feel like being right-side up! But all in all, in the words of Simon Cowell: "Loved it. Absolutely, loved it!"
SONG: Rock the Boat - Aaliyah

From there we got a little confused, though we were getting in line for one ride, but ended up in line for:

BAHAMA BLAST: Proslide DARK Mammoth 6/10
Clearly, this is one of the parks "family" rides. Again, we grab a tube and hike up the stairs. Whilst in line, I notice that one of the other slides is having an issue. A large, but not morbidly obese, man seems to have had trouble going down a tube slide. I dont know if he fell off, or just changed his mind, but the lifeguard at the top walked down the slide to the man, and a supervisor-type walked up the slide to the same point. I wonder what happened (cue music), but it looked like things were fine.

Also, while up in line, we notice that the Castaway Creek-lazy river complex is completly drained (Boo closed attractions..hooray beer!). Admittedly, this was on the postedlist of closed attractions, but having not hardly stepped into the waterpark before, the name meant nothing too me. I wonder if there was a malfunction, or if this is another late season Shapiro cutback.

As for the ride itself, it was perfectly *meh*. I give it the one bonus point above pure mediocrity simply because, as noted above, this is purely a family ride. I could see the whole clan riding this from junior to grandma (provided she doesnt mind stairs).
SONG: Party Up - DMX

After that, we double back to the attraction we were originally going for:

PARIDISE PLUNGE/REEF RUNNER: ??? tube slide 7/10
This is a pair of slides one open, one enclosed, dont ask me which is named what. We had the choice of single and double tubes. Since Lady T is a bit of a chicken, we select the double. Somewhat more exciting than Bahama Blast, mostly due, I think, to us really being to big to share a raft, when we hit the catch pool, we both caught water wedgies. :)
SONG: Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Meatloaf

While in line for PP/RR, we saw people in the wavepool, so we headed there next. But on the way we looked into the Hurricane Mountain complex, but it was closed. And the Buccaneer Bay kiddie area was still devoid of peeps, but with plenty of lifeguards.

We relaxed in the wave pool for only a few minutes before they announced the hourly clearing. We joked that there was no "safety inspection" that was needed, but rather, they just wanted people to buy food. Well, it seems to work as all the kids around us were begging for money to get snacks. :) After sunbathing for a while (yes, even black people sunbathe lol), I got bored, so I suggested we go over to one set of slides we missed. The sign said "Pick a Shark and Ride" so we chose:

MAKO: ??? single tube half-enclosed slide 7.5/10
There is not much to the slide, it's basically just a quadruple-down with the first two drops enclosed and the others in the air, with a water curtain sparating the twain. There was some pretty significant airtime on the 2nd and 3rd drops and again, a water wedgie. :)
SONG: Deepest Blue (Shark's Fin) - LL Cool J

The wavepool re-opened and we headed over there. By now, the crowds wre picking up, though i wouldnt call it "crowded". I'll assume here that it is pretty standard procedure that a horn/whistle goes off evertime the waves are going to start, but Good Grief: people lost their friggin' minds. Half the people ran towards the water, while the other half ran *out* of the water. And I'm not just talking kids. The "adults" were wylin' too! This time while in the pool, it seemed like we ended up in the "couples" sections. Ther were no less than five couple clinging to each other tightly. I wont speculate on what was happening below the froth.

We then went back for a little more Tornado, where the line was twice as long. Again, this was a very fun ride and I understand what Burke & Co. bought so many of them (Shapiro would be wise to stick with that trend).

By now, the kids play area was populated. We watched the kiddies play for a little while, then noticed that another complex had opened:

HURRICANE MOUNTAIN: ??? 4-slide single tube complex
Yes, it's a four slide complex, but only one slide, Agnes, was open. I though it odd that the op at the top of the slide was not in swimwear. Heck, she had on sandals with socks. Odd. Also, the slide complex is built into a fairly thick set of woods which I would think would obscure view of the slide (more creepy music). Anyway, I board the tube and on the very first turn, I feel that the channel is a little too narrow. The second turn, my feet hit the wall of the turn. On the fourth turn, my feet hit the wall and I capsized. I hit the bottom of the slide with the side of my face, bending my sunglasses. Somehow though, I never let go of the handles, so hear I am, sliding down with the tube riding me. :( After a couple of turns, I was fortunate enough to right myself and skidded into the catch pool. A moment to get my bearings, and checking to see if I had pulled a Rothelisbeger and dented my face. What was suprising though, was that nobody noticed! Maybe because I *ended up* right-side up they assume all was well. But I'd think that if you *saw* someone flip, you'd at least perfunctorilly ask 'are you okay?' But I think therein lies the problem, I dont think anyone saw a thing.
SONG: Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See - Busta Rhymes (Flipmode is the Squi-dodd)

Well as you can guess, I wasnt keen on riding *that* again, so we went back my the wavepool. I just wanted to sit for a momnet and regain all my senses. In retrospect, I should have notified someone, or sought medical attention, but I felt fine and figured I'd be aiight (and I am, thank you for asking :)). After a few minutes or so, Lady T was tired so we cut the day short and left. I dont think that we were there but 4hrs. But it was pleasant enough.

A couple of park notes, while most of the lifeguards seemed alert, on more than just Agnes did it seem like a few of them were, how shall I say, distracted. On the "Shark" ride, the guy wouldnt even give people the all clear. Riders were asking *him* when to go. And, as I mentioned before, none of the "catch pool" guards were assisting people out of the water. Oddly, in the changing rooms, there were no seats in the private changing areas, only benches in the common area (at least for the men, Lady T says the women had seats). On the bright side, the park was very clean. In fact, the main midway was very Cedar Fair-like in that there seemed to be a trash can every five feet or so.

On the downside, there were no costumed characters in the waterpark. I mean come on, Wonder Woman is practically wearing a swimsuit already and what better place for Aquaman?

Thanks for reading?
jeremy

+0
Thursday, August 17, 2006 8:10 PM
Thanks for the trip report 2Hostyl. I guess you didn't notice the carpet around the wave pool that hadn't been cleaned all summer.

I think Castaway Bay is closed due to cutbacks. I'm hoping it's closed for a planned addition to the waterpark for 2007. We'll see. But I don't see them starting this early. The whole Hurricane Harbor remodel started in March 2005 and was completed, for the most part, by Memorial Day weekend 2005.

Did you notice the wave pool is falling apart? Yep, there are nice pot holes all over the place in the bottom. Not to mention the paint job didn't seem to dry long enough after being painted last season and there are splotches of blue and white all over the place.

As for Hurricane Mountain? They start each season running four slides and by the end of the season they are down to 1. Who knows why.

I think the Bucanner Beach pool opens late, probably for the same reason Castaway Bay is closed. Staffing Issues.

Yes, SFA has a decent water ride collection and they did a outstanding job on the remodel of the water park. There are areas they clearly cut corners (the wave pool is one of them) and thats what puts a black eye on the whole water park for me. In fact, I was going to take two friends to the water park this summer and was so disgusted with condition of the carpet around the wave pool that I decided to buy their one day tickets off of them and go to another water park in a town with historic significance 3 hours away.

As for costumer characters. Probably staffing cuts. I know Petunia Pig, Lola, Wiley Coyote, Porky Pig, Grandma, Daffy and Bugs have been seen in the water park this summer. I've even seen them riding rides on a news special or two. However, if you didn't see them. Chalk it up to budget cuts.

Sorry, to post my negative feelings about the water park. I go, I do have a good time but I think it's high time SFA got their act together and fix the problems they still have in that water park. It's the single biggest attraction of the park. I realize a lot of the problems with staffing at the moment have to deal with budget cutbacks. However, there are other ways to cut back on the waterpark than closing some of the attractions, like opening the waterpark a hour later than the rest of the park

Oh, I know you were kidding about the 15 minute water break. A little history behind it. It was implemented shortly after a kid drowned in the wave pool in 1986. It's been part of the park since then. There not the only park that does it. I've seen the same water break at that other water park in a area with historical significance down the road. Though, I'm sure the boost in food sales was an unintended side effect of the water break. :) *** Edited 8/18/2006 12:12:59 AM UTC by coasterguts***

+0
Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:12 PM
Nice Report Hostyl! (Music: "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow?")

Just a comment. On my last (solo) visit to Splish Slash, I went on my furst funnel slide. (Alien Encounter). I acually went on it 3 times during the day. On the first time, I was shocked about getting a fun (but small) bump of air on the first climb up the wall.

On the second ride later on in the day, I told my fellow passengers to try to hold their Butts Up, so that the tush wasn't touching the slide. We went much faster and higher up the wall, and the air was was a little better and there was a surprising pop of water hitting me in the eye.

The third time, I had three skinny kids with me, so I didn't get any air at all, though I did take my hands off of the handles for an added thrill.

You have to admit, it's a great slide that eats up to 4 at a time.

I also saw that in Splish Splash, there are guards in some of the pools who assist people when needed. Carrying up a 4 person raft might be a bit dangerous on the steps in my opinion.

I also think that the empying of people for 15 minutes for a saftey check each hour is stupid. Splish splash has a cycle that runs about 10 minutes off and I think 8 to ten minutes on. I will say that when the waves are on, the guards in this pool have (by far) the hardest job in the park. When the pool is going, it's hard to closely watch all those peeps. If someone in the middle is in distress, it might be hard to find out before its too late.

The older pool in Dorney Park has a central island, that makes it easier for the guards to patrol.

I (for one) cast my vote for more water park TRs.

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Friday, August 18, 2006 6:54 AM

coasterguts said:


In fact, I was going to take two friends to the water park this summer and was so disgusted with condition of the carpet around the wave pool that I decided to buy their one day tickets off of them and go to another water park in a town with historic significance 3 hours away.


Funny, I really didnt think that the carpet looked bad. I didnt notice it at all actually. And oddly enough, I'll be going to WCUSA tomorrow!

As for the pool emptying, I was of course joking. There isnt a public pool that I know of that doesnt have a similar policy (besides hotel pools). It was just that the whole Hurricane Bay is surrounded by food/drink shops and that seemed to be the first thing people went for.

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Friday, August 18, 2006 7:26 AM
Ya! I realize you were joking, just thought I would through a little history in there. It's good. :)

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been to the park. I may have done enough complaining about it that they may have finally cleaned it. But, yeah it was pretty trashy with balls of peoples hair blowing by me on a regular basis. :(

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Friday, August 18, 2006 12:20 PM
On one hand, I really like the slides on Hurricane Mountain. They're kind of secluded, some are pretty long and they're old school-style slides. On the other hand, they're highly dangerous. My friend gowithgravity said he flipped his innertube and got majorly messed up on one of the slides two years ago. He rode one of the slides again last year and had another close call and decided to not ride them anymore. I think part of the problem is that a) they were never intended to be ridden with innertubes and b) the weight capacity limit on some of the slides (250lbs) might actually be set too high. If they lowered it to say 200lbs. maybe more people would have second thoughts about riding and c) maybe these older ProSlides weren't designed very well. It may be time to replace the complex with something else like some Pro Bowls and Cannon Bowls, or speed slides.
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Friday, August 18, 2006 12:52 PM
^ Yea, I don't think they originally ran with tubes. I think the yellow one has the lowest weight limit, and I also think it may have a height limit, too. I've never ridden it.

On another note, didn't the wave pool originally used to be much deeper? Did they change that after the kid died?

I hope they get rid of paradise island and put in something much better. A nice template for a lazy river would be SFFT.

+0
Saturday, August 19, 2006 1:40 AM
The lazy river at SFGAm actually looked too long. That's not a bad problem to have when you've got a lot of people.
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