Six Flags St. Louis 7/18 - 7/19: Blown Away in the Show-Me State

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 12:01 AM

I have returned from Six Flags St. Louis excited, happy, and thirsty for more. Allow me to entertain you with tales from a wonderful weekend.

I arrived at the park on Saturday afternoon after having spent the morning and a few early afternoon hours in lovely downtown St. Louis. I found the city to be one of the nicer ones I've visited and I highly recommend checking it out sometime. Anyways, Saturday proved to be a heavily crowded day at the park, with waits exceeding a half hour for every coaster save Ninja (there's a shocker, lol). I spent roughly five hours in the park on my first visit of the day (I would return in the evening) and only snagged four rides.

I opted to lead off on Screamin' Eagle being as I was in the general area after processing my season pass and the line was too long for the Boss and Tony Hawk. I waited a half hour, ending up with the front row. The ride op at controls was exceptional, asking how riders enjoyed the ride and really getting guests amped up for the experience. Kudos to him and the crew for a great job.

The ride itself could best be described as graceful. Airtime was present, but not really noteworthy. The location was quite nice, with the ride sitting at the highest elevation in the park and going for a long run through the woods along the back of the park's perimeter. It was quite enjoyable if not particularly intense. Definitely worth the lap and I hope to get a back row ride on it sometime. This, however, would be my only lap on the ride over the weekend.

Seeing that the Boss and Tony Hawk were still pulling lengthy waits, I opted to head off in the direction of Batman. Along the way I stopped at Ninja, which didn't really have much of a wait. It ended up at around fifty minutes, though, due to my desire to ride in the front row which became occupied with Flashpass riders. I was bit surprised to see it happen so often, as it greatly increased the wait time up front. I was also surprised to see it as common practice at most of the other coasters as well.

Anyway, after waiting patiently and witnessing what nearly ended up in a fistfight, I climbed into the front row where I had the best view of the upcoming pain. Surprisingly, the ride was not particularly bad, though still much rougher in the front row than a ride like that should be. It wasn't the worst Arrow looper I've ridden, but it wasn't the best either. Anyways, better to get the mediocre rides out of the way first so the good ones seem that much better.

My spin on Ninja completed, I finally arrived at the bottom of the hill for one of the rides I came for: Batman - The Ride. I've ridden three other Batmen as well as Goliath at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, but this ride still manages to blow me away. My wait for the front row actually hit a whopping hour, but it was SO worth it. I was able to while away the time in line enjoying what I consider the nicest Gotham City park I've yet seen, but I was a bit disappointed when, after passing behind the decorative construction wall, I found the line would remain outdoors until right before cresting the stairs into the station. However, the stairs up to the station were not lit up brightly like I've seen on other Batmen, with this one possessing red lights only, giving an ominous overtone to the final part of the wait. It really helped the ride appear that much more sinister, a sensation which was only heightened upon arriving in the station.

The station also proved to be the best of the four I've experienced, coming off a bit darker and more intimidating. Kudos to Six Flags for really going for the gold on this one. It may not have had the extensive queue of some of the others, but the final aspects of the line, as well as the Gotham City park (the biggest one I recall seeing, and easily the most attractive) made it a rather pleasurable wait.

As for the ride, it simply blew me away. As I said in another thread, I now consider Batman - The Ride to be my absolute favorite roller coaster, with the front row being unparalleled in its ability to deliver mind-blowing thrills and gut-busting intensity. The ride is simply epic, and it's hard to believe it was the first inverted coaster. Well done, B&M.

I then made my way along the front of the park over to Evel Knievel in all its twisted glory. This wait ended up at around fifty minutes, again ending in a front row seat. The crew of this ride was just as exceptional as the Screamin' Eagle crew, and probably even more so. More kudos to Six Flags St. Louis, as great crews were par for the course here, besting most any other regional park I've visited.

The ride itself is absolutely wonderful, and easily the best GCII I've ridden. Airtime was more than abundant, and it wasn't any of the floaty stuff. This was pure ejector airtime, often coming during a turn which made for some killer side-slamming. Nothing painful, but not at all mild. The highlight moment for the front row was probably the set of three miniscule bunny hops taken at high speed, which resulted in one of my absolute favorite moments of any ride. I was laughing throughout, thoroughly enjoying myself on this wooden wonder. It was a fine addition to Six Flags St. Louis, who possesses the best collection of wooden coasters at probably any park I've yet visited.

Evel Knievel would close out my first session at the park, though I wouldn't be gone long. My dad picked me up and we went out for some quality St. Louis BBQ, but after filling my stomach, I quickly returned to the park where I would stick it out until closing time.

Upon my return, I took a few photos while my food digested, and then checked out a few of the lines. Most rides were still a little busy, though not to the degree they were earlier. However, I happened to notice that Mr. Freeze had not been running since my return. I opted to head over to it to check things out. Sure enough, it was closed.

Just what I was hoping.

People were pouring out of the line, so what did I do? I got in line. That was probably my best decision of the day. People kept telling me as I walked past that it was closed, to which I simply replied, "OK," and kept on going. By the time I stopped walking, I was in the station waiting for the front seat. I arrived to see them cycling trains in the station, followed briefly by test runs.

This was more proof that my experiences as a ride op had some value in them. Where most people hear "technical difficulties" and walk away sulking, I view it as an opportunity to score a short wait on a popular ride. Soon after my arrival, I found myself in the front seat on my favorite shuttle coaster, ready to rock on my first night ride of the trip. Blasting down the launch, I was hit square in the face by cold temperatures, somewhat adding to the ambience of the ride and compensating for the inappropriately hot station. The ride was wonderful, as expected, and I look forward to another front row seat on one of the examples of the epic Premier attraction.

I then headed up the hill toward the Boss, the main reason I bothered returning at all on Saturday. The Boss has a great location in the woods like the Screamin' Eagle, and that location would make all the difference in the darkness of night. I waited for the front row, which wasn't a bad wait at all. Three train operation and a great crew, as well as a low amount of Flashpass riders sticking things out saw me planting myself in the train pretty shortly after entering the queue, and pretty soon, I was off into the darkness.

I've read many bad reviews of the Boss, and given the layout of the ride and my past experiences with Gerstlauer wooden trains, it was easy to see why the ride earned its reputation. However, it wasn't particularly bad up front as far as roughness was concerned, so I really got to enjoy what actually proved to be a marvelous ride without getting battered all over the place. The ride was greatly enhanced by the darkness present in the woods where the ride careened with reckless abandon, and it ended up being one of my favorite experiences of the trip.

I then made a beeline for Batman, hoping to squeeze a lap in before close. After working my away around the remnants of the Glow in the Park parade, which was Disney-quality from what I saw (EXCELLENT job, Six Flags!), I hopped into the line for Batman, which was non-existant at this late hour. I got back-to-back laps to close the night out, hooting and hollering the whole way.

A good night's sleep now enjoyed, I made my way back to the park for the third and final time late Sunday morning. I went for Tony Hawk first, figuring it would have the longest wait in the park if I waited any longer. As it turned out, I barely waited at all, and ended up on the spinner in short order. I didn't spin as much as I have in the past on its clones, at least during the majority of the ride. However, I spun my way to the final brakes where we finally reached a stop.

The problem was, after stopping, we didn't start, and we hadn't made it to the friction wheel that straightens the car out and stops the spinning. We spun for probably a good ten minutes before the car finally lost its rotational momentum, and after waiting just a bit longer, they ended up evacuating us right there on the brakes. We spent our time out there with a nice ride op, though, so it was actually pretty pleasant. I got an exit pass out of the deal, so it was well worth it in my book.

Oh, and I'm claiming the credit given that I made it to the final brakes before the evac, lol.

Anyways, I then returned to the Boss for a daylight lap, scoring the front row once again. It was just as fun as the night before, if not as terrifying, and the crew on Sunday proved to be exceptional yet again. Other parks take note: if a customer service lesson is needed, check out Six Flags St. Louis.

I finished up on the Boss, then swung down to the River King Mine Ride, which was yet another walk-on. It was a good middle-of-the-road mine train, not possessing the intensity of the Road Runner Express in San Antonio but not as mild as Cedar Creek Mine Ride and most others in the genre. We got stopped upon engaging the second chain lift as the guy in the front row whipped out his cell phone. Busted! They stopped the ride so they could give security time to arrive without letting the guy get away. Again, slick move. I was impressed, personally. Alas, we began moving shortly and finished the ride.

My second lap of the trip on Evel Knievel would follow, this time experienced in the back row. Sure enough, it was just as good as the front row, sacrificing the view down the first drop for some wicked ejector air over the top. You can't go wrong in any seat on this thing.

Finally, it was time to bust out the exit pass. My original plan was to go for another front row lap on Mr. Freeze, but it was getting towards the time I needed to leave and I didn't want to head further into the park, so I decided to end the visit with another fantastic choice. Walking along the front of the park, I decided to go for a front row lap on Batman to close the trip out in the best way possible. Just as wild as the day before, it would serve as the perfect close to an absolutely incredible trip at an absolutely incredible park.

All in all, the park was extremely beautiful and scenic. The abundance of ads took a little away from the charm, but it wasn't bad enough to make things unpleasant. The park's layout and somewhat narrow midways can get really congested when the place gets crowded, and the packing-in of rides meant that there's not really any part of the park that is particularly sedate. Still, the large amount of rides didn't seem to eliminate the scenic nature of the park, which was quite impressive. Six Flags did a great job keeping the natural beauty of the park intact even with scream machines all over the place.

As for the employees, again, they were top notch, besting any other regional park. They were like laid-back Cedar Point employees, and their spirit was and is to be commended. They seemed to enjoy what they did, and that only makes it more enjoyable for the guests like me.

Six Flags St. Louis may not be the megapark that some of its sister parks are, and it may not possess a real monstrosity of a megacoaster, but I think that works to its advantage. It possesses a nice, diverse selection of rides with something for everyone, and the kiddie area was massive and not lacking in any way, so you can easily spend a full day there. In conclusion, Six Flags has a real treasure with the third-oldest park in the chain and the youngest of the originals, and they really need to be proud of the park.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:58 AM

Sounds like a nice day at the park. Never been, though I've had opportunities -- guess the not very good reviews of the place have held me back in the past. Maybe I need to get out there next year....

The more I think about Six Flags' unusual choices lately in naming woodies (Evel Knievel, Terminator Salvation), the more I like it. It almost seems like a conscious effort to expand on the possibilities for naming/theming wooden coasters. Sort of an attempt to bring this classic mainstay out of its limited pigeonhole and give it complete theming freedom, as it were. I think my opinion is evolving on the idea.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009 12:03 PM

Great TR.

After reading all the older negative reviews and now having been to 2 different SF parks (SFA & SFKK) I wonder if these people even went to the same parks that I did. I guess that SF has really done a good job turning things around.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009 12:52 PM

DaveStroem said:
I guess that SF has really done a good job turning things around.

Yes, they have. And most of the people still saying bad things haven't been to a SF park in years and are relaying old experiences.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009 2:35 PM

My only complaint about six flags is every time I turn around I am giving them money again and I start to feel ripped off. $15 parking, advertising thrown in my face everywhere, no bins for your items on many rides (forcing a 2 hour locker rental), rediculous food prices (for the terible food you get), long waits unless you pay extra for a flash pass over your $50 admission, and the list goes on and on. I used to tolerate a trip to sixflags because it was some what fun and I did not fell totaly ripped of when I left. If I had more money like it seem many people here do I would probably enjoy it but I don't. I can enjoy myself it is just I go for more than just the rides whcih sixflags can't offer.

I would rather go to Holiday world, Kennywood, or Noah's Ark (I know its not a coaster park) but I can relax enjoy the parkm eat food in the parksm and just generanly relax in addition to enjoying the ride. Plus I don't have to constantly go O' crap there went more $$$. My other big one for holiday world as well as the dells is I can go camping near the parks something I really enjoy nothing like sitting around a camp fire with friends. In fact both time I went to cedarpoint I dove 30 minutes to the park each day so I could stay at the closest state campgrounds.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009 7:20 PM

Zues, not to challenge your opinions, as we are all entitled to them.

We got Season Passes for $49.95 ea at SFA and I added parking to mine for another $45. So for $245 my family has season passes for the entire chain with parking. Compare that to the $600 I spent for our CF passes.

As to wait time, we have had considerably less wait times at the 2 SF parks (SFA & SFKK) then at any CF park. I know this is not a fair comparison of parks, but it is still the truth.

As to food, they both stink and are over priced. We take our lunch and eat at the car. We often do pizza for dinner and we have SF sports cups so refills are $1.

As to lockers, I don't use them. I always where cargo shorts and put my phone & wallet in the front Velcro pockets. My non-riding wife keeps the sports cups and the camera. What else are you bringing that you need a locker for?

Now for Holiday World, Yes they do it right with free station lockers but I have never seen this any where else in the 15 different parks that we have been to this year. There regular admission is kind of high IMO considering that there are only 3 adult coasters (great ones though) if your not into the water park.

As to camping, Baymont Estates is 1/2 mile from CP. While it is not a state park, it is a KOA campground.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009 10:46 AM

In the scheme of things, one dollar for 2 hours of locker renting is hardly worth complaining about, at least in my opinion. It keeps things moving quickly in the station and considering the fact that after one weekend I've already seen my season pass pay for itself, I doubt I'll ever spend enough on lockers to match the cost of a season pass for any other chain. Not only that, but season passholders can get some great discounts at their park and others, so while it used to be free, it isn't like it's extravagant. Also, don't forget that parks in other chains charge for lockers on some rides too. Millennium Force or Top Thrill Dragster, anyone? What about Kraken?

I still think Universal, with its free-for-a-certain-amount-of-time lockers, has the best system, but $1 for two hours doesn't upset me at all. Considering the financial shape the park is in, and the fact that their service levels (at least on this trip) are outstanding, I'll happily toss a few extra dollars at a chain that could really use them.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009 5:46 PM

Glad you enjoyed the park.

I have visited SFSTl about 5 times and only 1 time was I not pleased. The rest of the visits were outstanding.

I wish Shapiro would take notice of the 2 Sally darkrides he has at SFSTl and SFFT, and start installing them at more of the parks.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009 11:45 PM

If you travel to several sixflags park the season passes are a good deal. I also live near sfgam one of the more expensive parks I do think some of the other parks get it great when you figure a sfkk season pass gets you in any sixflags I think the prices use to be better and the biggest nusance to me is all the advertising. the parks are otherwise improving.

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