Six Flags Great America -- safe park, indeed!

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So I got to go to Six Flags Great America for the second time this year (on Saturday, 9/16)--one of the good things about my girlfriend going to college near Chicago (as I live in MD). Having gotten in a May trip and a September trip, both on weekend days, I am still impressed with this park. I'm not going to say that it's perfect or that it doesn't need work in places, but if all Six Flags parks operated like this one, the company would be in better shape.

I'll format this article as I usually do, citing random notes and observations.

--The park had medium to medium large crowds, but they weren't as large as they were when I went last year around the same time. For instance, when we rode S:UF later in the day, the queue was in the direct section, whereas last year, the switchbacks were almost all full.

-- The original Batman: The Ride is my favorite. Sure, SFGAdv's seems more powerful, and SFMM's has a nicer station, but I like the pretty grass and pond near the end of the ride. I also like the small "park" section of the queue. The ride ops were doing pretty good with this one.

--Overall, coaster operations were fairly efficient. All coasters that were running were running max trains, as far as I know. The only coaster not running was American Eagle right.

--American Eagle left impressed me more than American Eagle right did when I rode it in May.

--The park does a good job of theming, and they also do well in the music department. I like some of the background music choices that they use.

--I got to eat in the saloon in Southwest Territory. I was impressed with the theming here. Unfortunately, after eating my taco salad there, I started feeling really bad, and I was in American Eagle's queue at the time. Don't fault the park much with this, though, as this could just have been a personal issue and not one that would affect all other people.

--Soda machine prices were still at $3, which was good to see, since SFA had increased their machines to $3.50.

--Raging Bull was fun as usual, though it did seem to be running somewhat rough, and they employed 2 trims, which killed the ride some.

--Viper impresses me. Either the park really cares about this coaster and maintains it well, or the design just doesn't tend to tear itself apart, or both. We rode in the back seat, and it wasn't much rough overall. It also provides some fun airtime. I also liked how they had the springs on the lapbars tight--I didn't even have to hold the bar up to keep it from falling on me--great idea! On the downside, one of the trains had its middle car closed.

--There were some rides closed. From what I noticed, the following were closed: sky trek tower, giant drop, American Eagle right, revolution, loggers run, and perhaps 1 or so other flats. But there were still a fair amount of rides open, including all of the coasters (except half of AA).

--From what I noticed, all of the Flash Pass entrances were being manned by employees, except for Iron Wolf, though I'm not sure if they were even using Flash Pass on it that day. This park seems to run Flash Pass better than some of the other parks. All of the Flash Pass lines that I saw actually merged with the regular lines before the station. This enables less confusion in the station, as well as not cutting people off right before they board in the station. I still don't like Flash Pass, but at least SFGAm seemed to be running it fairly well overall.

--Though the pricing is high at the park, I expected it, and it wasn't as offensive, perhaps partially since the park was actually being operated fairly well, unlike some of the other parks in the chain. The ticket prices are a better deal than SFGAdv, as they are $5 less, and during the summer season, you get a nice waterpark included with admission. The parking lot is also nicer.

Overall, we had a nice time at the park, and I would definitely go back again. Maybe next May we'll check it out again. It was amazing how small the crowds were on a Sunday the beginning of May this year!

It's also interesting to me that this park operates as well as it does when it doesn't have as much competition as some of the other parks. Shouldn't the ones with more competition strive to operate better, since potential guests have more choices? Another thing of note is that the overall group of park patrons seemed to be better-behaved or whatever than those of SFA & SFGAdv.

*** Edited 9/19/2006 4:00:07 AM UTC by rablat5***

coastin' since 1985

That is very interesting. It seems ironic that the best run Six Flags parks are often among the ones with the least competition. I mean parks such as SFGAm, SFOT, SFFT, TGE, etc. Meanwhile SFA competes with KD and HP, SFGAdv competes with DP, HP and Moreys, SFMM competes with KBF, etc. and these are the parks that draw the most complaints.

It is good, however to know that the attitude is not, "Six Flags is your only real choice so we can get away with a crummy park". That's not the way it is in Chicago or Dallas for example.

I still take exception to the $15 parking and the food pricing that is too high for regional parks. Most importantly, however, we need to see real improvements in parks such as SFGAdv and SFA.

Arthur Bahl

It does seem interesting, and somewhat contrary to what would make sense. I'm glad that there are better SF parks--it's good that not all of them are as bad as SFGAdv, SFA, SFMM, etc.

I'm still not happy about the high prices, but at least at a park like SFGAm, it doesn't seem to annoy me quite as much, maybe partially due to the fact that the park itself overall is being run better than certain other SF parks.

SFGAm is definitely one of the better SF parks, and after 3 visits, it still holds true.

coastin' since 1985

I have yet to see Revolution open once this year and that was only put in like 3 years ago.

On a seperate note I thought it was interesting when I read the re-entry handstamp sign when I was leaving the park on Sunday. Only for Fright Fest no re-entry into the park after 9 PM on Friday and 7 PM on Saturday.

Glad you had a good time. This park is the exception to the rule under SF and has been for quite some time.

Only downside this year is the park's down flat rides. However, from what I have heard, alot of it is just bad luck.

Revolution is down due to a defect with Huss Frisbees.

Giant Drop is down due to frayed cables. Waiting on parts.

A part on Sky Trek Tower hasn't been manufactured in years so getting the part is time consuming.

American Eagle blue is being retracked.

Triple Play didn't open this year because a main part on it was sent to SFOT as part of their 10 ride package this year.

Trailblazer is down because a defect was discovered by Zamperla on all of it's similar rides.

Thank god the park has a pretty big selection of rides to offset this. A smaller park would be crippled with this many down rides.

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

rollergator's avatar
Great America is *clearly* one of the best of the larger parks.

But SFoT and SFoG hold their own and do quite well (although I think SFGAm probably makes more money, being located where it is). If only GAdv (and SFA, SFNE, etc.) could stick to those kinds of standards, *there* could be the foundation of a very successful chain. Of course, I'm trying to hold out hope that SFMM can be rescued, so I'm not always realistic. (Sorry Gonch, hehe).

So have they already retracked American Eagle red? Maybe that's why it was running better than American Eagle blue earlier this season. Unless, of course, the red side has always been better than the blue side.

I wish I could experience some of the better SF parks more often. Unfortunately (to a certain extent), our main picks here are SFA & SFGAdv, which don't have the best reputations for operations and clientel.

It would be nice if they could turn SFMM around. That place could be pretty impressive if they seriously got their act together. The park has more character than SFGAm in terms of terrain and location, but it is definitely inferior in terms of operations.

Wow, that's a lot of flats down. But it really wasn't too big of a deal. At least they had all the coasters running with max trains (with the exception of AE blue), which is more than I can say for SFGAdv. SFGAm still has room to improve, but it is easily above some of the other parks, and one of the best in the chain.

coastin' since 1985

I went the week before Labor Day, and like you found the park to be enjoyable. I had heard a lot of bad things about the park, well really just about the guests at the park. But I found the GP their to be great. Sure their where loud groups that looked like they where all just released from a local jail. But they never bothered anyone else around them. I would take the guests at SFGAM over the guests at Holiday World any day of the week. At Holiday World I don’t think 90% of the GP their have ever seen a minority or a book besides on TV.
Nice TR. I am a long time SFGAm Fan, and I visited the park back in August on a Saturday as part of a company picnic. The park was extremely busy, yet handling the crowds well, even though the water park was closed because of some people getting sick. This was my first time back to the park in a few years, so I was shocked how much had changed.

My only complaint would be how many new games had been added. Everywhere we went, there were games, and this seemed to give the park a real carnival feel to it. I know this is not only SFGAm, but if the Six Flags team really wants to bring the chain up to the level of Disney, consider knocking out some of the games areas and replacing them with family attractions.

I was a season ticket holder to this park throughout the 80s, and back then the only place you would find games was in the area back by the Eagle and in front of the arcade in Orleans next to the rapids. For the guests that want to throw their money away at the games, they will search them out, I don't think SF needs to occupy every open patch of midway with another carnival game.

Don't get me wrong I still love SFGAm, I have been lucky enough to visit several other parks in the past few years, and SFGAm and CP are tops in my opinion. Hopefully, the SF team in NY can bring all the parks up to this level. *** Edited 9/20/2006 9:34:32 PM UTC by Lurker***

Chitown said:
Glad you had a good time. This park is the exception to the rule under SF and has been for quite some time.

Great America really holds to the Marriott days as much as it can. The attention to the cleanliness and appearance to the park, as well as operation are evident that there are a lot of employees that are still on the payroll from Marriott days.

$3.50 for soda. Almost three times the ALREADY inflated price of the same bottle at the gas station.

That's farking ridiculous.

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