Surprise! Surprise! SFA (Friday, May 19)

Associated parks:
None

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:05 AM
Having switched now to summer work hours, I decided to use my first Friday afternoon off to go to SFA to pick up our season passes. Working until 11:30 and it being a two hour drive, we knew we would probably only have about 4 hours in the park since it closed at 6pm. Our 4 hour time limit was cut to three hours because I decided to take the Baltimore-Washington Parking Lot… I mean Parkway… and got caught up in a traffic jam because of an accident. (side note… I ALWAYS get caught up in traffic jams on the BWParkway... I’ll NEVER learn).

Anyway… After being detoured off the parkway, even though we had no map and had no idea exactly where we were, we had the good fortune to make the correct turn off the exit and took a rout that lead, more or less, to the park.

Arriving at the park we found the parking lot to be VERY empty and we found a parking space very close to the entrance. We passed through the entrance using our preprinted season pass forms and headed directly to the season pass office and probably our longest wait of the day at about 10 minutes, but once it was our turn for processing, things went quickly and we were soon on our way.

I am not intentionally going to do a “Went here, did this… then went here and did that… then went back here again and did that again…” but it might seem that way since we just started at one side of the park and worked our way to the other.

For what ever reason, every one of my visits to SFA starts out in South West Territory and ends in Coyote Creek… and this trip was no exception.

First up….

Two Face: The Flip Side: 1 ride: I have not ridden this coaster since my initial visit back in Aug of 2001. The line was always too long and slow moving. However, today it was a walk on. I grabbed the last seat of the train facing backward... which is actually the first seat of the train facing forward on the return trip. It didn’t seem quite as rough as I remembered… and the loop on the out bound trip was actually kind of neat the way the train slowed at the top of the loop, and then speeded up as it exited the loop, whipping the back of the train over the top.

Wild One: 2 Rides: 3 train wait for the front seat, walk on for all others. Fast and fun as always. 1st ride in the front seat, 2nd ride in the back seat, and I am still not sure which one I prefer. Neither are bad… just not sure which is better.

Jokers Jinx: 1 ride… 3rd seat (or 1st seat, second car). Skipped this one last time because of the wait. No wait this time… it was a walk on. Not my absolute favorite… but worth a ride if the wait is not too long.

Superman Ride of Steel: 1 ride… 3rd seat (or 1st seat, second car). 3 train wait. Fast as always… but not quite the great thrill that it was on my first visit. I don’t think the coaster has change, but rather that I’ve just gotten more used to it. As always, insane first drop, great air on the first and second hill and the hill on the curve into the station still flips your stomach.

Snack time: Chick-fil-a in Skull Island. A bit overprices, but hey, it is a park… what do you expect? Some complain about “chains” operating in parks… I don’t mind it… at least you know what you are getting.

Roar: 2 rides… front seat and back seat…. Walk ons both. This GCI never fails to NOT impress me. Fun coaster… worth a ride or two… but nothing memorable. Great visuals on the first drop, but after that… eh… Some complain of roughness... I didnt' think it was all that bad.

Mind Eraser: 1 ride, front seat walk on. I can only take one ride on this coaster… those head rests do a number on my ears. Change the head rests and you would have a much more fun ride.

Snack for the road: Funnel Cake in Main Street 1776. Its dough… its fried… it’s covered in sugar… how can you go wrong? (Don’t let your doctor or nutritionist hear you say that!)

That about sums up our day. Low crowd and cool weather certainly helped our enjoyment.

A few things to note. I am not sure if it is simply a beginning of the season thing, or if the Shapiro Era changes are starting to be felt… but….

- Even though the crowds were light, all the coasters (with the obvious exception of Two Face) were running two trains. Not sure about Batwing… I didn’t venture quite that far… but from what I could see from SROS there wasn’t very much of a line there.

- Flash Pass rows of cars were open to anyone who wished to ride them, with a sign / warning present that said that these were actually reserved rows… you may chose to ride in them, but if there is a Flash Pass person who is waiting will get priority over you. The last time there these rows were blocked off form “regular” riders and, even though lines were long, they were not filled when no Flash Pass riders were present and were dispatched empty.

- Crews seemed to be working very efficiently. On my second Roar ride the train actually blew right through the break run and into the station because the other train had already been loaded and dispatched before my train finished the course.

- Employees seemed to be much friendlier. Some went out of their way to say “have a nice day” etc. The ones who said nothing at least were working and not being overtly rude as in the past.

- The park seemed MUCH cleaner. We lost track of the number of “sweeps” we saw.

- With the exception of renegade rapids, Typhoon Sea Coaster, and a ride in Gotham city that looks like a Himalaya type ride, all rides were open. The Himalaya style ride was partially dismantled with a sign excusing the disruption (so it looked long term), Typhoon Sea Coaster seems to never be open (are those skeletons part of the pirate themeing, or just guests who expired of old age while waiting in line?), and the Rapids may have been closed because of the cool temps. A few shops were closed, but most eating places were open. This is a switch from past visits when rides were closed but places to spend money were open.

- Many management types seen walking around making rounds.

- More security seen making their rounds.

- The park just looked better…. Areas mulched and landscaping looked well maintained… flowers planted and maintained... and it seemed to be more benches.

All in all, it was a fun day and I was impressed with the way the park was looking and operating. Will I get back there again this year? I don’t know… but if I don’t, it will simply because there is only so little time and so many parks to visit, and not because I came away saying “NEVER again… or at least not for a very long time” as I have said after past visits.

I might make it a point to get there again near the end of the season to see if the pleasant surprises I found there last Friday were results of a new modus operendi and will still be present, or if they were simply a case of this being the beginning of the season only to be forgotten as the season wears on and winds down. *** Edited 5/24/2006 3:10:23 PM UTC by SLFAKE***

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:22 AM
I was actually surprised to hear RR was down. It was up on Sunday. TSC was down on Friday? So that means it was down Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday since I-Fan rode it on Sunday evening and it wasn't open Sunday morning when I was there. TSC has been extremely reliable thus far this season. Avalanche was moved from being next to Joker's Jinx to the Krypton Comet spot. Krypton Comet was a Chance Chaos. Like the other Chaos ride in many parks, it was removed.

I hope the park keeps improving. The change is extremely noticeable over previous seasons. I've been told to have a nice day or asked am I having a nice day. Sometimes I've been surprised and actually had to look around to see who was asking me. :)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:29 AM
TSC: Not sure why it was down... Maintenace Issue or Weather issue. It was cool on Friday... but then again... Shipwreck Falls was running and splashing all over theplace.

Saw two "stranded" boats: One at the base of the lift hill... one about 3/4 of the way up the hill.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:43 AM
Glad to hear you had a good time. I was reasonably impressed with park when we went back in 2003. I fell in love with Wild One- what a great, underrated wood coaster. I can only imagine what it was like before all the modifications.

There's a Chik-Fil-A there? I LOVE Chik-Fil-A! ;)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:10 PM
Actually,they have two Chik-Fil-A restaurants in the park. One in Skull Island and the other across from Flying Carousel.

Wes
Who is eating Chik-Fil-A as he writes.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:11 PM
Way to rub it in ;)
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:14 PM
Yes. We found it on the park map as we were checking for places to grab a bite to eat. Lucky thing too... we could have easily passed it since the sign is not very large. And that is a good thing. While the sign is the standard red and white Chick-Fil-A sign, it is relatively small and it doesn't stick out or look out place in the Skull Island area.

Don't get me wrong... It's just fast food... but it's comparable in quality to what you would find at a Chick-Fil-A out side of the park. Looks like they might have cut their menu a bit too for the park.

Now the price... that is higher than you would find out side of the park... but, sad to say, that is to be expected. You go to a park, you know you are going to pay more for park food (and no comments about 25 cent cotton candy at a certain park... I mean food... not pink insulation in a stick).

While it was more expensive than a Chick-Fil-A out side of the park, if I have to pay the higher prices for park food, I would rather pay for decent to good park food that I know (i.e. Chick Fil a) -VS- the park's own food such as at the restaurant / food area between Skull Island and Coyote Creek as we did back in 2001... the most DISGUSTING park eating experience of my entire life! It was even worse, over all, than the sour "sweet" corn on the cob at Geauga Lake last year!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:39 PM
Question about Chick-Fil-A in the park... are they closed on Sundays like other Chick-Fil-A's

And I thought I remembered seeing another one in the park.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 1:06 PM
Yes the Chick-fil-a's in parks are closed on Sundays like the normal/mall stores. Kind of sucks but I understand it's Chick-fil-a's policy and you aren't going to get upper management to change that policy from what I have heard in doing a business case study during a college marketing class.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 3:32 PM
The food in the Coyote Creek Salon has is good. I like the BBQ Sandwich and the chicken sandwich isn't to bad. Skull Island's Pizza Place was pretty good last year. Now it serves Papa John's. Don't know about the other parks but I haven't seen anyone buy a Papa John's Pizza. I think the park is loosing money on this deal, but gaining from exposure once the coupons start getting delivered to homes.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:37 PM
That's because Chik-Fil-A is owned by some religious Christian nutcase. I understand there have been numerous lawsuits against the company by employees that claim to have been fired because of their differing religious beliefs.
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:42 PM
^Then tell me why Chik-il-A is THE most profitable privately-owned restaurant company around?

Who's the nutcase now?

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:59 PM
Calm down. I didn't say he wasn't a good businessman, I said that his religious beliefs seem to have gotten in the way of how he does things at times. Besides, where does it say that they are the most profitable privately-owned restaurant company around? Do all private companies release profit statements?
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:28 PM
Umm, you did more than say his religious beliefs get in the way of how he does things sometimes. There is a difference between saying this and calling someone a nutcase.

And as for his beliefs "getting in the way"--someone's beliefs should govern how they live and act. How is this "getting in the way"? It's his business--let him run it how he wants. And if that's according to his beliefs, then so be it.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:38 PM
I was somewhat joking around and it seems that was lost on you. Yeah, I did say his religious beliefs seem to affect how he does things sometimes but I never insinuated that he wasn't a good business person. You're putting words in my mouth.

It's a privately owned company but if it's true that employees were fired because of their conflicting religious beliefs, he is clearly in the wrong. Just because someone owns their own business doesn't mean they can discriminate when hiring employees. I can't open an amusement park and hire only white males ages 18-45 to work at the place.

And I'm still waiting for you to explain how Chik-Fil-A is the most profitable privately-owned restaurant company.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:49 PM
Well, that was something that I had heard from a friend of mine--either one that read it or one that used to work for Chik-fil-A.

How do you know he was discriminating on this? I know that he won't let just anyone open a franchise, and that makes good sense to me. I think he wants certain people more on the same page with him in this matter, but that doesn't mean that other people can't "work" for Chik-fil-A; it just means that not just anybody can get a Chik-fil-A franchise. Seems like good business sense to me.

And personally, I don't like being called a religious Christian nutcase. Even though this was directed at him, I'm also a Christian. Sure, call me a coaster nut--that's what I am. But I don't appreciate that, and that's why I took offense.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:38 PM
So, um, isn't Batwing running much better this season? ;)
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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:39 PM
I gotta side with rablat: Your nutcase comment was pretty out of line, Rob.

I applaud the owner of Chik-fila for having beliefs and upholding them. If someone didn't want to play by his business rules then he shouldn't have them as employees. Until I hear a specific case cited (like him firing someone just for not being Christian) than I think the whole discussion is based on rumor and is moot. I heard from many people that Walt Disney is frozen and stored somewhere in Disneyland....doens't make it true :)

*** Edited 5/24/2006 10:43:56 PM UTC by Peabody***

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:31 PM
Aside from the price <six bucks just for one slice is pretty steep don't ya think?>the papa johns pizza is much better than the typical pizza they had in skull island last season...that stuff they had last year tasted more like used rubber than pizza IMO.

As far as food to avoid I make it a rule to avoid hollywood cafe if at all possible,my friend got seriously ill after eating a burger for lunch there last season,the food in crazyhorse saloon is good though.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:01 PM
If I was out of line on the nutcase comment, I sincerely apologize. It was meant in a somewhat joking manner. But I digress...

Do a Google search on Chik-Fil-A's CEO and toss in the word lawsuit. You'll see proof of a couple of lawsuits that were filed by employees that truly believe they terminated because of their religious beliefs. I'm sure the lawsuits could be frivilous but if you do a little reading and see how "extreme" the CEO's thinking is, it is entirely plausible.

Trust me when I say that I admire pretty much anyone that stands up for what they believe in (crap like Osama bin Ladin are exceptions) but there is a way to take things a little too far. Going by what I know, I'm getting the feeling that might be the case here.

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