Travel columnist on MSNBC discusses his SFA outing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007 9:13 AM

Lord Gonchar said:
Not even so much that they have no meaning, but rather that they're expected... If little Billy hasn't had to work towards anything in life (all kids who tryout make the team and all the teams who play get a trophy) then how the hell can we expect that kid to understand that he has to prove himself to earn a raise or promotion or time off or other benefits once he hits the workforce?

The answer's simple- you can't. If you really want to look at the big picture, you'll see that parenting plays a huge role in employee behavior. Maybe companies should establish a rewards system for parents of future employees? ;)

Brian Noble said:
Want to know a secret? The kids all know the score, and who wins and loses---of their own games plus the other games in the league. Each and every one of them.

I hope so. I'm not looking for young kids to get the urge to draw blood but I think teaching them it's okay to be competitive is a good thing.

matt. said:
I want [the higher-ups] out there because they should be as in touch as possible with what's happening in their parks as possible, and making it clear to the employees around them what sort of standards they should be up to... As far as I'm concerned that is never, ever, ever going to happen when you work at a park for an entire summer and never see the GM of the park once on the midway.

That's an excellent point that we haven't touched upon until now. There are definitely a few exceptions here and there but on the average, absentee leadership doesn't work. Going back to my retail days again (yeah, I know this is becoming a disturbing habit), I had numerous managers and the ones that got the best results and the best performance out of the employees were the ones that were visible... the ones that were obviously working. Morale was boosted exponentially when a manager came down and actually helped people with a few things, and crashed through the basement floor when there was a lot to do and the boss was upstairs in his office surfing the internet while watching everyone on camera.

RatherGoodBear said:One thing I do remember seeing in the gift shop across from Phoenix was a bunch of flyers posted advertising different social activities for employees. Things like volleyball and theme parties. It might sound corny and maybe not at all cool for a place like suburban DC, but I think things like that create camaraderie and teamwork between employees.

Never underestimate the importance of a sense of family/community. Employees that like each other and feel comfortable with each other will always work better that those that hate each other... or worse yet, don't know a thing about each other.

DWeaver said:
If it came down to it, I'd MUCH rather an employee be fast than friendly.

How true. A fast employee often doesn't have time to be unfriendly towards a customer!

Thursday, August 2, 2007 1:56 AM
I finally decided to read through all the pages, and I'll share my experiences as both a former SFA employee, and as a customer of the park. I'll provide you with information, as well, as challenges to some of the things stated.

First, a little history. I decided to work at Six Flags in middle of July of 03' after winding up in the hospital for two-weeks and not being able to reclaim my old job and life after getting out.

I had been a passholder since 1999, so I was hesitant about working at SFA, but I was really hoping to make a difference being on the inside. So here's what I can tell you:

1) We were trained and had orientation in a small group. No one just handed us a badge and uniform and let us go on our way. We were told things like pick-up trash along your walks, which I did. Since I was over eighteen, I was put on the Skycoaster and go-kart track crew which payed more--due to the more mature nature needed for those rides.

2) We were not allowed to bring cellphones into the park. I don't know when or why this changed. I guess it's possible that some kids families don't have a landline anymore. But still, the employee could call their parents cellphone, and the parents could call the park if some emergency came up.

3) I'm always surprised that no one else brings this up, but the D.C. area has one of the highest costs of living in the country. If you're a college kid at one of the many universities in D.C. you're probably looking more into internships, and the plentitude of jobs in the D.C. area. D.C. is loaded with "National Headquarters of this or that," and a multitude of government agencies, that I'm sure pay more than what SFA does.

4) It was assumed that the park employees never do anything together. I don't know if things have changed, but we had an afterparty one night with rides on S:ROS/Penguin's Blizzard River/and the Skycoaster plus pizza. I rode the Skycoaster with a female employee I'd never met before.

5) The park hired a load of Brazilians plus several Eastern Europeans. I imagine that this could get very expensive, plus I don't know how hard it is to get tempory-work Visas these days. When we got into fall, that's where life got tough. One of the younger managers managed to get his faternity brothers to work there one day.

6) I only worked Joker's Jinx one night, but I can tell you that the control op's control panel has a counter of how many trains have gone through the course.

7) The employee cafeteria was very nice and had a wide variety of food.

8) The park is simply underveloped and badly layed-out. While all the money was being pumped into the Six Flags up North (both of them), we got a water-spinning ride, and a Hurricane Harbor makeover which added a whopping two adult-slides to the mixture.

9) A lot more shade and themeing is needed throughout the park. Contrast SFA with SFGadv. and you'll see a huge difference in the amount of trees, themeing, and rides (even though quite a few flats been removed at GA).

Thursday, August 2, 2007 2:21 PM
Intamin Fan you left the ride you used to go to all the time off that list, good old Komet. Yea you used to work your but off and didn't get any credit for it either.
Thursday, August 2, 2007 2:38 PM
Ahh yes, good old Krypton Comet, otherwise known as the Chance Chaos. Boy that thing was a mess, but I did my best to keep it running. One thing that is strongly stressed with any round ride is to keep it balanced. So when there wasn't a whole lot of traffic (until Fright Fest for some reason), I would have to separate friends who wanted to sit in tubs next to each other.

I learned a lot about the operation of the ride from the mechanics who would come to fix it. It was quite amazing to me the amount of safety systems in place to keep passengers safe, or to keep the ride from tearing itself apart. Usually when you saw the wheel come to a stop, it was either a) because the wheel was out of balance (You can do your best to balance the wheel and all it takes is some rather large people to upset things--think of placing a coin on a ceiling fan or off-center label on a blank CD) or b) a safety feature had been violated.


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