Six Flags Great Adventure, Sunday May 10th

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 2:21 PM

I usually avoid parks on the weekends, and I always try to maximize shoulder seasons (May and September) so I can enjoy the rides. However, this time, our schedule was so tight that we just had to go last Sunday. The park was fairly full in beginning of the day and it lightened up considerably around 5 pm -- the sun was brutal, beating down on us. We tried to find as much shade as we could.

My family of 5 has been a Cedar Fair Platinum holders for the third year, and Six Flags Gold Pass for second year.

I've gone to Six Flags in Chicago, St. Louis, Dallas, Georgia, Maryland, and NJ.

And, honestly, I can't say I like Six Flags. Why?

1. Ride maintenance is horrible. Rides, whether they are B&M or Intamin, run significantly rougher than their counterparts at Cedar Fair parks. Kingda Ka was positively concussion-inducing compared to Top Thrill Dragster. Nitro had disappointingly "wheels-rough" feel to it, but not jarring or anything. The only bright spot was El Toro, and I totally get why its #1 in the world. Bizarro was a pleasant surprise, though.

2. Front gate entrance. Oh, please. Fingerprint scanning? Metal detectors (Cedar Fair parks don't have them except for Canada's Wonderland and Haunt weekends). So entrance takes a lot of time.

3. Season pass processing center. Ugh. No.

4. The only bright spot for the Deaf community is that we're allowed to get disabled pass for the rides and this helps because a lot of other entertainment venues in all parks including Cedar Fair parks aren't accessible for us. If it wasn't for this pass, our day last Sunday would have been... bad. Cedar Fair restricts their disabled pass for those with mobility impairments, a policy I disagree with.

5. Ads everywhere. Not that it's a deal-breaker, but it makes the park feel cheap.

Most, if not all, loading stations and queue lines have cramped feel to them compared to Cedar Fair parks. Loading stations, too.

I just hope Six Flags team members do read this forum. (sigh) And Six Flags America needs a new B&M hyper or invert or wing, please.

The best surprise about Six Flags Great Adventure, for us, was the Safari and El Toro. I'm a hard-core B&M hyper, giga, wing and new invert fan -- and I didn't like the B&M offerings at Six Flags -- they felt dated and not well maintained.

Yet, after moving to Washington, DC from Indianapolis, the nearest park with enough "worthwhile" rides is Six Flags NJ. And possibly Busch Gardens Williamsburg... but this means I have to shell out another big bucks for their season pass. I hope that Cedar Fair will buy them out one day soon. ;-)

Am I right in thinking that Cedar Fair management team really do a great job of running their parks? And I absolutely love their new main entrance makeovers at Cedar Point and Carowinds, and I hope to see the same at Canada's Wonderland and Kings Island.

Marvin

PS: I miss Fury 325. 9 hours away. Damn.

Last edited by Marvin Miller, Tuesday, May 12, 2015 2:23 PM
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015 4:58 PM

I don't get all the Six Flags Great Adventure hate.

Just kidding. I totally get it. That is one park that I just can't fall in love with.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:00 PM

Kings Dominion is probably closer to you than Busch Gardens Williamsburg and has a decent ride collection. It is also, of course, a Cedar Fair park, seeing that you like those.

One question, and this is not me trying to be snarky. Consider it ignorance of the challenges that deaf people have. What inconveniences do you have to warrant the need for a disabled pass? I can understand that you cannot hear the ride operators instructions (or pre-recorded spiels). Just curious. I am not trying to attack you. Just curious. Thanks.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015 7:03 PM

I was curious about that too, but didn't want to seem nosey or insensitive.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015 7:36 PM

I was trying to word that same question without sounding rude...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:07 AM

Note: embedded links throughout the reply.

I appreciate the willingness to ask uncomfortable questions in here, and keep in mind that it takes time and energy to consider how to best reply to these questions. Most people within the marginalized communities, especially among the disabled, often do not have time, energy or even the ability to put together a well-thought out response.

I'm privileged in this sense -- I'm comfortably bilingual, American Sign Language and written English. I grew up with Deaf parents and Deaf grandparents and Deaf aunt and uncle. A large majority of my people in our Deaf community do not have that ability due to the screwed up educational system we have. If you think public schools are in a bad shape in this country? Deaf people have it far worse. So many are "mainstreamed" alone in their public schools, and a large percentage of them grew up without a healthy Deaf culture, identity and native/natural American Sign Language and more importantly, successful Deaf adult role models available to them. ("Madness in the Mainstream")

A brief digression is in order here -- my four Deaf kids is currently attending Indiana School for the Deaf and one of them is now at Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, DC along with me being back at Gallaudet University to complete my bachelors degree in Deaf Studies then masters and doctorate (after 24 years hiatus :-)

At Indiana School for the Deaf, the entire administration team including the superintendent is Deaf and fluent bilinguals as well as over 80% of the teachers are Deaf themselves. So, my kids grew up being surrounded with positive Deaf adult role models, native ASL use and their Deaf identity is fully embraced. (link)

This doesn't happen for more than 95% of the Deaf kids in the country. Results? Semi-literate, under-educated population with serious mental health issues and serious language deprivation syndrome as coined by Dr. Sanjay Gulati (https://youtu.be/8yy_K6VtHJw). Note: interpreting voice over isn't that great, though.

What about cochlear implants? Sadly, they work for only a small percentage of kids... approximately 15% according to data that's often cherry-picked and manipulated by scientists and surgeons. All of them, including the most successful ones, still grow up without having an access to Deaf culture, ASL, and healthy Deaf adult role models and this robs them of their identity in this world.

I will not go into detail on cochlear implants because there's enormous amount of willful "ignorance" put forth by the specialists who profess to have the best interests of our Deaf children.

Back to the question on why I feel that the Deaf people should be allowed to use the disabled pass even though we are not mobility-impaired, physically-wise. I struggle to make this argument because I am probably invoking many negative "framing", "neural associations" with these terms: Deaf, disabled, and so on.

The Deaf community has argued for years that we aren't just disabled but we are also a cultural and linguistic minority that deserves to be recognized and be given equal status in our country. There were a time on an island called Martha's Vineyard where "everyone here spoke sign language" which shows that equality, true integration and increased social mobility is possible for a such a community that lasted from 1600's to 1950's when the last Deaf person on the island died out. Most moved out due to increased opportunities. (Nora Ellen Groce's book: "Everyone here spoke sign language.")

Yet, in our country today, we're not even close to being citizens on equal footing. The Deaf people aren't at the table for design, programming, and system-level decision making. We get inadvertently left out of the process and find ourselves "locked out" of many things each theme park has to offer.

As a result, there are a lot of things in an average park that's just not available to us in a meaningful way. Theaters, concerts, performances, carnival-style barking, public announcements, Safari at the Great Adventure -- the guide blathering about the animals -- we miss out on those.

Many of these add to the entire experience of going to an amusement park. We miss out on these. Therefore, we're most definitely getting screwed on ticket/season pass prices here. We're paying for something that we get a fraction of benefits.

"But, let's be honest -- you aren't there for anything else but the rides, right?!"

Yes and no.

Yes, our family is usually hyper-focused on the rides when we visit the parks. We hate Kings Dominion for this reason -- none of their rides appeal to us, despite being a Cedar Fair park, a well-run park.

No, because having access to all other stuff -- the intangibles -- gives you choices and "fall back" plan in case things get too crowded or so. Service can be as important part of the experience, and this is why people rave over Walt Disney World.

For years, I've always wondered why reviewers made a big deal out of service -- making service as important as the quality and taste of food -- at restaurants. I've always thought, "It's all about the food! Who cares about the service?! Just point to what you want on a menu and they bring it to you. Its not that hard! Sure, if they take forever then...."

Then came Mozzeria. First Deaf-owned and Deaf-run Neapolitan pizzeria in San Francisco that has earned rave reviews everywhere. Their food is amazing. I've been there about 7 or 8 times now, and I love the food. But... it wasn't just the food that blew me away.

The service was a revelation for me.

Deaf waitstaff would come up and sign everything with us, telling us of specials and we were able to ask them which ones were good or which food items were more "tangy" or on a bit of "sweet" side. Such a nuanced experience!

For the first time, I felt at home in a restaurant. Wow. Now I totally get why service is almost or even more important than the food itself.

This is which why my family ABSOLUTELY loved Cirque Imagine show at Kings Island. No words! No dialogue. All visual action! Totally accessible for all... well, except for the Blind and Deaf-Blind people. :-(

But sadly, Cirque Imagine is an exception to the norm.Yes, Cedar Fair does offer ASL interpreters if requested 2 weeks in advance.

2 weeks in advance? And I have to specify show times, which performances. Forget about "going with the flow" in case it rains or there's a huge line or whatever.

Ugh.

And I recall a time when I called Kings Island asking for ASL interpreter at their special event where they announced Banshee. They arranged for one. Great!

What was not so great? Nobody had a clue as to where my family and I should sit so we can see the interpreter. Nobody seemed to know that there was an interpreter coming. We had to force our way through a huge crowd, several times across and back forth, desperately trying to find a staff who knew what they were doing and the event started. I couldn't even see the interpreter. I had to force my way to the front of the crowd and I could barely see the interpreter and I was able to catch the second half of the announcement.

(sigh)

A good thing that the ride was absolutely stunning when Banshee made its debut. ;-) More than made up for the crappy announcement experience. Almost.

So, until amusement park management team hires qualified Deaf and disabled people on their team and integrates park-wide accessibility which would represent a small fraction of their multi-million dollar annual budgets with use of technology and visual aids and live closed-captioning on big TV screens, I firmly believe that Deaf people should be allowed to use the disabled pass so we can get the most of what is "accessible to us".

Making parks more accessible and meaningful to the disabled and the Deaf and Deaf-Blind community needs to happen from the beginning at ideas phase, design, and programming and so forth. Not as an add-on or as an afterthought.

I hope I've answered the question. :-)

Marvin

Last edited by Marvin Miller, Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:20 AM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 9:31 AM

All very interesting points. But I still don't see where deaf = disabled pass to not wait in line... By your logic, anyone who doesn't speak English or whatever primary (note I didn't say "official") language in any given country would be entitled to a disabled pass... If I go to Phantasialand should I get a disabled pass because I don't speak German? Now I know deaf and speaking a language aren't the same thing. Not insulting they are. But the examples given above are more a communication barrier than a disability. Of course I don't really get why most people who do get a disabled pass really need them either. but that's a conversation for another thread.

On a separate note I'm glad you found a way to enjoy the full experience at a restaurant. I worked at a small Italian restaurant here in WNY. We had several servers who knew ASL. We had a very large deaf client base because they could get the full experience with us.

Also fascinating about the education systems... I had no idea.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 11:11 AM

Key difference between you, an able-bodied hearing person, visiting a foreign country -- you do so of your own accord AND you have the option of learning and speaking their language. As a Deaf person, the option to "hear" isn't available to me. Lipreading gives me 30% at best. Cochlear implants has its set of huge issues. And these parks are within my own home country and I'm locked out of maybe 35-75%, depending on your perspective, of what a park has to offer us.

Sure, I'm a hardcore coaster fan... well, at least for the rides that are highly re-ridable ones, but when my Deaf mother or Deaf stepmom comes with our family and she doesn't want the rides... she's stuck paying full price for something she will get a little value except for sunburn. ;-) I'm still getting a fraction of park's value.

Basically, the disabled pass is a compensation for lack of access throughout the park. Perhaps a flawed one, but one that I would like to see remain until these barriers are taken down and everyone can enjoy everything a park has to offer.

Maybe instead of arguing that point with me or any Deaf or disabled person, just honor what we are asking for and offer support in pushing for positive changes within Cedar Fair, Six Flags and other park management to be more inclusive, supportive and enhance experience for all.

I do appreciate this conversation. :-)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 11:18 AM

I respect your answer, but I don't agree that deaf people deserve a front-of-the-line pass either. I empathise with your situation at an amusement park, but you go through life without hearing anything, no matter where you are. The mall, the beach...

I know I sound insensitive, and I'll admit that I don't know what it's like to be hearing impaired, but I really do respect you and anyone else who is disabled. It's a touchy subject.

Changing gears here, I knew a lady who had a cochlear implant. I was amazed by her story. She hadn't heard anything for her entire life, and now she was in her 50s and could hear for the first time. I'm happy that at least some people can be helped by this technology. The first time I even heard of such a thing, I met a young teenaged boy with the implant. When he told me what it was and what it allowed him to experience, I teared up a little.

I wish that that technology worked for every deaf person.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 4:56 PM

LostKause,

I'm somewhat floored by your dismissive comment towards my long and carefully considered words, and then you add in "I wish that technology worked for every deaf person" -- wishing that my culture, my language and my heritage should cease to exist so your lives can be easier or neatly dovetails into your phonocentric world is just... stunningly insulting.

I'm trying to not be mean here -- and this kind of discussion is important, because it helps increase understanding and respect for natural diversity of people on Earth. I appreciate your courage in posting honest comments, but man, I gotta admit... that hurt.

I know you didn't mean to come across that way. The system of privilege and power favors white able bodied males over everything else, and we all need to recognize our privileges and try to examine our beliefs and thinking, opening up for new and healthier humanity for all.

Take care,

Marvin

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5:17 PM

So the gist is that there's no reason you can't stand in line, you just feel entitled to the passes based on what you feel you're missing due to being deaf?

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5:38 PM

Marvin,

I have to agree with most of the above posts - that you are able to get a disabled pass at some parks should really be seen as a courtesy and not as a right. Being deaf, as Gonch has said, doesn't directly affect your ability to wait in a queue for a ride or attraction. If we apply that logic across the board then I'd be able to demand a front of line pass to the rides I like because I don't care for shows, most flat rides, transport rides, etc. It comes across as a misplaced sense of entitlement to be honest - you seem to have a full and varied life from what I read so perhaps a little perspective and appreciation of what you have, and what you can do, wouldn't be a bad thing instead of demanding allowances for situations that very many more people are not able to even dream about having.

And your reply to LostKause was pretty rude, regardless. It comes across as having a chip on your shoulder when someone is merely being courteous.

Last edited by invy, Wednesday, May 13, 2015 5:43 PM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:00 PM

Entitlement? Rude? Chip on my shoulder?

I don't know what to say. Nobody here addressed my point of paying for Platinum passes at full price and receiving only a fraction of the value in terms of total experience. What would you propose instead?

When people say things to me like, "I want you to be 'cured'." It's hard not to take it personally. I do understand that there's prevailing viewpoint out there in society on the Deaf people, and its rather difficult to change. The gay, lesbian, transgendered and queer community had to undergo years of fighting the "prevailing" notions about their "right" to marry and many other relevant issues, and they were able to move from the fringes of society into more wider acceptance, but not without a heavy cost. Many people tried to "cure" them. Same with people of color. Same with women and their fight for equality and voting.

I hope to be able to contribute to a significant change in how Deaf community is perceived by the larger society one day.

This discussion may represent as a small step towards that dream, and I had no intention of being rude here and I did try to word my post in most positive way possible.

Marvin

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:06 PM

Marvin Miller said:

Nobody here addressed my point of paying for Platinum passes at full price and receiving only a fraction of the value in terms of total experience. What would you propose instead?

I would propose you don't buy something you feel lacks value for you. The same way anyone, regardless of whatever "privilege" they might or might not have, does.

I'm not trying to be rude so please don't take it as anything other than discussion. I don't mean to discount your deafness, (disablility, condition - what's the correct non-offensive terminology here?)

I simply disagree with your logic.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:15 PM

If you can skip the lines for being deaf, then I should be able to skip lines for being autistic, which I do not expect at all. Skipping lines should only be for those with mobility disabilities. No offense to you, I do know some deaf people. Communication isn't too hard since they can read lips well.

Last edited by Thabto, Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:17 PM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:20 PM

I'm partly deaf in both ears, much more so in my right. I wear glasses. I'm overweight (although down 45 lbs.) I'm diabetic. I've had two toes amputated on my left foot, and surgery elsewhere on the foot. I have never asked for, or felt that I was entitled to, any special privileges at an amusement park.

And I was at Great Adventure the same day you were. You thought it was "fairly full" in the early part of the day? Marvin, my friend, that mofo was a ghost town compared to what you might have encountered. I don't know what you went on, but lines in the areas of the park I hit were non-existent until mid-afternoon, except for the Log Flume.

Last edited by Mike Gallagher, Wednesday, May 13, 2015 6:26 PM
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:03 PM

Yes Marvin, all of the points I made, I stand by. You want Platinum specialness. What you pay to enter a park is not important. Like what I pay for toilet paper - it's only my arse that knows the value of it and sometimes your finger goes right through the middle of it. Such is life.

I'm having a dig at you but it's not about your being deaf. I do think you're using it unfairly to an extent and I know more successful deaf, gay, black, asian, straight, disabled men and women than I don't. None of whom go to amusement parks that I go to, more's the pity.

I am literally lost for words now, I don't want to dismiss your points but you seem determined to pin this down to your deafness and how others treat that instead of entertaining the thought that maybe you're just a wee bit too defensive when people try to empathise? There are many, many people out there who probably deserve much more than you take for granted, try thinking about things from their perspective...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:31 PM

I fully understand that not speaking a language isn't the same as being deaf. But both have absolutely zero impact on anybody's ability to stand in line for a roller coaster...

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:39 PM

I have fairly severe ADHD AND problems with my feet and knees. Do I get a free line pass?

Sorry, dude.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 8:14 PM

Marvin, I am very sorry that you took my comments to be rude. That was not my intention at all. I do not view being gay as a disability. I do view deafness, blindness, mobility issues, ect to be a disability. I am kindly interested as to why someone with a disability would not want there to be a cure for their disability.

But I am not disabled, so I guess that is an interesting thing that I just learned. Some disabled people wold rather be disabled. Maybe that's because they are used to it. I don't know.

I know I once again sound insensitive, and I'm sorry it sounds that way. I am more approaching this with friendly interest. It is a conversation. I thank you for participating.

I do not think your comment after mine was rude. I took no insult at all.

I respectfully disagree that you should be allowed front-of-the-line access because of your particular disability. I know it's harsh, but you go through everyday life not hearing. There are certain things you will not be able to enjoy, and I once again empathise. ADA access is for people who can't stand in line. It's not a prize given to someone for having a disability.

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