TR:SFA Opening Day 04/03/04

Associated parks:
None

Saturday, April 3, 2004 8:03 PM
Trip Report
Six Flags America (SFA)
April 3rd, 2004

Weather: Cloudy and 50 degrees (at the most)
Last Visit to Park: Last day of 2003 Season


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes....

The emphasis SF is putting on customer service this year is apparent from the time you walk into the park. Sales associates greeted you at the entrance to every store instead of cowering behind the counter on a cold cloudy day. The Looney Tunes greeting you as you walk in the park. An abundance of managers walking throughout the park making notes of things that needed to be improved, down to the last detail (example, a manager noticed the big water wheel on the side of the saloon wasn't on and made a note of it).

My wife and I showed up at the park at 9:45. We were greeted by a friendly parking lot attendant that waved us through after we pointed out our season parking pass and shouted "It's Playtime". It was good for a good laugh all around. The park maps this season are in booklet form, instead of a trifold foldout map. Nothing much has changed in the parking area but you begin to notice the changes as you approach the gate. First, ticket prices are clearly marked on signs above each window. No more waiting till you get to the ticket window to find out how much a one day admission price is. Each ticket window has a sign above the window that says if it is open or closed. A glance at the ride board showed all rides were open, however, a lady walked out with some signs in her hands about 10 minutes before opening. Every ticket box had a sign above it that said either "It's Playtime" or "Purchase a season pass today for $57.99".

Once you pass the ticket booths, you notice the first dramatic change. Each lane leading to security has been setup with a queue. I'm not so sure I'm going to like this. If I need to get out of line and leave my wife/friends to use the bathroom, I
have to either battle everyone to get back in line again or climb over/under the poles. The other big change (which I do like) is a bagless entry. The concept behind the bagless entry is for those people without bags to enter the park faster.

I'm in favor of this, however, I think the idea of the queues is going to be a disaster. It now makes it impossible for people to move around from lane to lane if one lane is moving faster than another.

Next big change you will see (at least at this point in the season) is security. Instead of the international students the Six Flags Security force (ya know the big guys) are checking bags as you enter the park. They also seemed to have increased the sensitivity of the metal detectors, since it picked up my shoes this time as opposed to last season, it didn't.

Once inside the park, we picked up our free t-shirts and got our wrist band for our free coca-cola drinks and set off for a day inside the park. Off to our right as you passed the entrance to season pass processing, the Looney Tunes Gang was doing a dance routine to a song called It's Partytime that was specially made for Six Flags and specifically mentions each of the Looney Tunes characters. Both my wife and I were impressed with the Looney Tunes crew this year. They really were making our day fun and were fare more energetic. At the end of the show, they shot off some confetti and it was "Playtime".

Next we passed the throng of souvenir photographers (which are using Canon cameras this year as opposed to Kodak last year) and you saw some changes to the Fast Lane and Souvenir Photo counter. First, the souvenir photo counter is now using flat screen monitors. A big improvement that was carried out at all of the souvenir photo counters throughout the park. Next, the Fast Lane both is now called the Main Street Service Center and sells tickets to Sky Coaster, Go-Karts, Twickets (as in Twicket your ticket for an additional 14.99 but don't quote me on that), Fast Lane tickets and Season Pass Upgrades.

Stroller Rental has been moved from the entrance to season pass processing to the new main street service center.

The last change to the entry way that I noticed was the statue of the patriots has bee painted and the water fountain was turned on. As were the other fountains throughout the park.

Other changes were made throughout the park as well. Some new signage was added, the Memphis BBQ place is being REPLACED by Panda Express (they are gutting the whole restaurant and it wasn't open today but is coming soon), Ben and Jerry's is now sold at the front of the park in the 1776 Creamery.

The Rides

For the most part the rides were running just the way I had envisoned them running. Most of the flats were running, the lone exception was Iron Eagle which still is being put back together. Other than that, all of the flats were running. Also, in front of each ride they have removed the iron pole that showed how high you had to be ride a certain ride. They have replaced it with a multi-color pole that explains how tall you have to be ride by yourself, with an adult or you are just to
plain short to ride at all. Nice improvement.

As for the coasters, something rather odd was happening. Batwing was running but Superman was down, as was Joker's Jinx, when is the last time Batwing was running while everything else was down.

Let's start with Batwing.

One train operation. The ride was having some problems when I first made it back to the park but opened by the time I reached the attendant. Oh! The attendants, how can I forget them. It was hard to tell today but it appears each of the steel coasters is going to be running with a crew of five this year. I know Batwing had a crew of five. Another change as far as attendants go, they weren't waiting for you to reach the entrance of the ride to tell you the ride was down. For
Batwing, an attendant was waiting for you at the locker's. Batwing's other two trains appear to still be in the shop for rehab. Pieces of one are sitting behind the coaster and third one hasn't returned yet. I didn't ride Batwing today. I didn't want to risk getting stuck on the lift in the cold weather. I made a couple of trips back to Batwing today. It was running each time I went back except once and then it was only down for five minutes because of one of the seat sensors.

Superman was testing all day. The red train was on the tracks and the blue train apparently is still in the shop being rehab. Again, it appears there are at least five attendants on Superman this season. I hope this is true. Again, they weren't waiting for you to reach the entrance of the ride to tell you the ride was down, they were telling people "Superman is down but Batwing is running". A couple of the attendants waited at the entrance to the ride and a couple were waiting
beyond the tracks by Joker's Jinx.

Joker's Jinx made a couple of test runs around 3:00, but it never opened while I was at the park. It's second train hasn't returned from the shop yet either so it was only going to be running one train operation.

Roar was the first coaster I rode. I rode in Row 1 Seat 1. The best part about this was, they didn't cycle the train. I rode by myself and it was the quickest ride ever. I was going so fast the souvenir photo camera barely got my picture. In
fact, it only got 1/2 of me. Unfortunately, the bend before hitting the final brake run hasn't smoothed out any over the winter and was still a little rough for my taste.

Mind Eraser was running one train. Unlike the three steel coasters in Gotham City, there second train has returned from the shop but was sitting on the transfer track. Unfortunately for me, Mind Eraser seemed to be having a rough day. Each time I tried to ride it, it was down, one time it was stuck on the lift. Fortunately, it didn't appear to have anyone on it.

Wild One was running great. I hardly felt a bump in the whole ride and the air time continues to be awesome. They were cycling the trains on occasion but they were also running them 1/2 or even 1/3 full. One of the things I noticed while I left
the station on both woodies was the ride operator would stand up in her both as the train left and make sure each seat belt was fastened and each lap bar was down. It seems SF is adding some extra safety to each of the rides this year.

Two Face the Flip Side was running. One train operation of course (LOL). I don't have much of an appetite for the Vekoma Boomerang coasters so I skipped Two Face this trip. It did seem to be running pretty loose and I didn't see any downtime.

Penguins Blizzard River was up and running but I didn't take a spin. So was Shipwreck Falls. However, I don't think one person rode that ride all day. The first test for SFA's management team this year is going to be getting Typhoon Sea Coaster open on time. On the outside of Tyhphoon Sea Coaster and Shipwreck Falls were signs that clearly stated they rides would open May 1st. Tower of Doom seems to be back down to two sides again.

The park staff seemed eager to help. When I walked into a store, I was greeted and was asked if I needed any help. If I made eye contact with park employee (anywhere in the park) I was asked how I was. Even the crew at the Old Tyme Photos was out in costumes today trying to get people to get there picture taken. It's going to be a battle for dollars between them and the Paradise Ice Cream stand across from them this season.

The landscaping has been pruned back so that it can grow, I didn't really see any improvements to landscaping yet. It's probably still a little to early to plant flowers. I believe a lot of the landscaping work was done late April or early May
last season. So I anticpate the same this season.

The shows have improved this season. The Country Show in the saloon has a new set and the show is far more energetic this season than it was last season. They need to cut back on the background music so you can hear the singers sing. They have also added quite lighting effects throughout the show.

The new Stunt Show has some long spots that they need to get rid of. Last years was perfect, this years has some long spots in between the wise cracks and the stunts that makes me yawn.

The biggest improvement in shows this season is the Looney Tunes "We Got the Beat". It was actually entertaining. Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes did some pretty good dance routines to songs like R.O.C.K. in the USA and Jump by Van Halen. It's suppose to be a retro '80s show and they brought back memories of songs I haven't heard in years.

On my way home, I was trying to figure out what I was going to write about. After all, I only rode two coasters all day long and I really didn't think the park made a lot of improvements to write about. But as you can see, I have wrote quite a bit
and SFA has made quite a few changes. BTW, the park must have had 1000 visitors today. They weren't handing shirts out when we left.

Thanks for reading and go on out to SFA and have a good time.

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Saturday, April 3, 2004 11:40 PM
Very nice detailed TR! I'm looking forward to my visit :)
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Saturday, April 3, 2004 11:51 PM
It's refreshing to hear that Six Flags is really making an effort to improve their customer service. I'm seriously impressed (so far). I'll see for myself if things continue this way as the season progresses (if I even go this year).
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 12:18 AM
Me and my buddies are heading for SFA this Sunday April 4th. And I hope that SROS is up and running. Because we always start wih SROs it's a thirdtion that we do every season. And I also hope that the Joker is up & running. It's good that SFA has tighten up Security in the park. And I am so glad that they have the ride attendant checking to make sure that every ones setbelts and lap bar where down & setbelts buckled. That make me Very comfertable in riding the rides.
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 12:26 AM
Is this really a positive review? No Superman; no Joker; rides not running at full cap.

My imaginary amusement park would have all of the rides ready and open on opening day. I would have been testing my hyper weeks ago. Every train on every coaster would be ready on the transfer track for use. Opening day would be the deadline for haveing the park ready. BUT...

It's great to hear that the employees were friendly and helpful. I like the fact that the characters are more entertaining. The running fountains and other improvments sound promising.

By the sound of this TR, to me they are a l m o s t there. It sounds to me like the lines were pretty short, if not nonexistent, so one train opps can be forgiven. I don't like the sound of more than one of the big rides being down all day though. That's one of my biggest problems with a lot of SF parks, because some people (like me) can only go to any one park once every few years.

At least they are showing a little effort.

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 8:29 AM
Something I failed to mention in my trip report. The customer service also extends to game attendants this season also. Everytime I turned down a game attendant, I was told "Enjoy my day at Six Flags" rather than silence.
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 11:57 AM
I was all there opening, and to be honest it was great. It almost made me forget all of the bad experiences I have had at that park. Even with Superman, and Jokers Jinx down I was still satisfied with my day.

I wanted to ride Superman really bad, and Jokers Jinx didn't really matter to me because I had just rode the indoor better version at PKD last week. Having said that I had enjoy 6 laps on Wild One, 22 laps on Roar, 2 laps on 2 Face, 1 on Minderaser, and a Front seat, and back seat ride on Batwing.

The longest wait was maybe 10 minutes, and most of the coasters like Roar I could just stay on until I didn't want to ride anymore. Just every once in a while I'd have to move to a different seat when there was a person waiting in line for where I was sitting at.

We met a group of Enthusiests that were pretty interesting, and my fiance and I ending up spending the day riding with 2 cool guys. Tom, and Mark I had a great time if you are reading this, and so did Heather. We are all official ATRA members now!!! ;) I hope you 2 can make it out April 24 to our wedding on the Phoenix. It will be a blast!!!

The atmosphere was different at the park, and the staff was surprisingly very friendly. Also Guy the maintainance guy shared some interesting news. Believe it or not. A B&M in between Superman, and Wild One for the 2005 season. And also a path that connects Batwing to the Roar area of the park. Man would that help. He also said they are planning on moving the waterpark from the front of the park to the back. I assume its all speculation at this point, but we'll have to wait and see what they announce. A floorless is my prediction.

*** Edited 4/4/2004 4:21:19 PM UTC by Coasterfantom2***

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 12:17 PM
Wow! That last paragraph is some pretty interested news. I hope it comes true.
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 12:23 PM
I don't buy it. Especially the part about moving the waterpark.
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 4:18 PM

dexter said:
Is this really a positive review? No Superman; no Joker; rides not running at full cap.

My imaginary amusement park would have all of the rides ready and open on opening day. I would have been testing my hyper weeks ago. Every train on every coaster would be ready on the transfer track for use. Opening day would be the deadline for haveing the park ready. BUT....


And you'd be in the poor house before your 2nd season.

Your Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario would be great if we're talking Orlando! We're talking 40 to 50 degree temps, and coasters whose manufacturers have built in safety cut offs that cause the rides to shut down if it runs too slowly (in the cold)

Rides running at full capacity require full queues.....

While your scenario is nice, the fact that SF is still dealing with financial problems, would have me thinking that they would still be cutting corners where they can safely do so.

SAM

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 5:04 PM
I think he just means that every coaster should be ready to operate in full capacity if needed. Although, even for park with an off season this isn't always possible due to various circumstances. A lot of times extra trains aren't ready early in the season because they're waiting on something from the manufacturer. It takes forever to get those specialized parts from the manufacturers sometimes, I'm talking months. I'm sure Joker and Superman were scheduled to run, but sadly they can't control the weather.
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 6:11 PM
Okay, I'll give in to the weather, because it is something that can not be controled. Like I said before, it doesn't bother me if rides aren't running at full cap if the lines are short or even nonexistent. But to have a ride closed because you didn't (or forgot) to order parts for it to be able to open on time is not a good excuse.

I am lucky to get 1 visit to SFA or any other particular park every 2 or 3 years. Due to lack of finances, I can usuially only visit 2 or 3 parks per year. If I go to a park and more than 2 big rides are down and the lines are ridiculously long, than I will feel that I didn't get what I paid for.

Just look at the SFGAdv TR and you will see why I am concerned that all of this "SF is changing for the better" talk is rubbish. I just don't want to see them not take their ride capacity problems seriously. That is one of the biggest problems that they have. I am not very impressed with the first impression trip reports so far.

Good for them that the employees are nicer so far at the begining of the season. I hope upper management gets their rides up and running so that the employees don't get frustrated and want to lash out at all of the angry guests. Thats how they got in this mess to begin with.

I wish all of the SF parks the best, but so far I am only seeing that they aren't trying hard enough (with some usuial exceptions, of course). Other parks have their rides up and running on opening day. That tells me that it's not impossible for a park to be prepared for opening day.

I am going to PKI, and CP in May. Do you think that I am hesitant to go to these parks due to multiple ride closures and low capacity? No sir, because I haven't witnessed, nor heard of those kinds of problems at those two parks, or a lot of other parks as well.

I Really DO hope that SF will do much better this season. If they do not, they will have a lot more angry guests than usuial, due to their new add campain bringing in new and/or lost guests. Right now it could go either way; very positive or very negitive.

Sorry for the rant, thanks for all who read the entire post. Oh yea-and nice TR, coasterguts

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 6:40 PM
Sadly, I heard the same story about ride closures from my friend Shannon today, Sunday. Granted, it is cold and very windy. She did tell me that Iron Eagle has been painted. That's good news for all you Rotoshake fans (granted there are about two of you:)). I think it's great if the employees are making an effort. But, SFA's big problem (and I think it always will be), comes down to clientele, and malfunctioning rides. The same person told me that every ride was working at PKD the day before (although Scooby-Doo went down for a little while and Drop Zone got stuck). *** Edited 4/4/2004 10:49:27 PM UTC by Intamin Fan***
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Sunday, April 4, 2004 7:24 PM
I was there from noon to about 1:30 today. There were more employees than guests!!! The only coasters that were running were Batwing (and only just barely, see below) and Wild One. Roar also seemed to be working, but when I went to walk through the queue, I was shouted to by the ride ops that they were closed. But Blizzard River and Shipwreck Falls were operating just fine... *sigh* I asked the op to SF if anyone rode today. He said that two people actually did. To each their own I guess. The attandants standing outside S:ROS claimed that the cold was causing havoc with the rest of the rides. I believe them!

As for Batwing, it was creaking and groaning like an old man. The crew was slower than molasses, but they were training. The op checking the seats on the right side was particularly sadistic. She gave a whole new meaning to the word 'staple'. They also had problems locking the seats. The sensors kept on complaining and not registering properly. Once the ride actually got going though, I noticed a LOT less head banging!! Normally I could only make it through this ride once, but it was actually still enjoyable today after the third time around!

All in all though, if I didn't have a season pass, I would have been peeved.

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 7:51 PM

I was there from noon to about 1:30 today. There were more employees than guests!!! The only coasters that were running were Batwing (and only just barely, see below) and Wild One.


That, WRONG, plain and simple...

I personally rode the Wild One, and Mind Eraser, I also saw Two Face in operation.

SAM

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 8:08 PM

And you'd be in the poor house before your 2nd season.

Really?

I can think of several parks that have "all rides ready to reach maximum capacity" as a goal for opening day each and every year. Amazingly, they are still in business. Sure, the weather might prevent some rides from opening, but these parks woudn't have trains laying about in various states of disrepair.

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 9:37 PM
I was there today & thought that area in the field between S:ROS & Batwing looked suspicious...they had orange construction barriers & alot of dirt was moved around.

From what Sam Marks said to him it looked like just dirt left over from PBR's construction last year but I believe something's up.

The park was dead today & like Coasterphantom2 said the staff were really friendly especially the staff at the gotham city games area....BTW Sam Roar did re-open & we rode it a couple of times,it's still rough as hell but Wild one was running nicely today.

I also rode ME for the first time in two years today & it was unbelievably smooth in the front row left side....too bad S:ROS wasn't up today:( but there's always next time.

I'll post a full TR some time this week...see ya all at SFA again on may 1st.

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 10:39 PM

dexter said:
Okay, I'll give in to the weather, because it is something that can not be controled. Like I said before, it doesn't bother me if rides aren't running at full cap if the lines are short or even nonexistent. But to have a ride closed because you didn't (or forgot) to order parts for it to be able to open on time is not a good excuse

It's not really that they forget (I'd hope they're a little more organized and aware than that), it's just that those manufacturers take forever to order parts from! Sometimes the simplest of things take absolutely forever to receive shipments of. I guess it's because there's only one manufacturer (for the majority) of certain parts for amusement park rides. Granted that may not be the case in this situation... it still happens more than often.

Well, my main point I'm trying to get at is that there's a lot of bugs early on in the season. Six Flags truely appears to be trying to shape up, but some things they have no control over. I'm sure they're working to get things running at higher capacity for when the true crowds come and the weather warms up. *** Edited 4/5/2004 2:56:35 AM UTC by Cameraman***

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Sunday, April 4, 2004 11:34 PM
When was Two face up today?

I was in the park from just after opening til the 5pm close & Two face never ran,let alone tested once today.....sure there were employees standing around the ride all day but they were not letting anyone on the ride at all.

I noticed the new paint job on IE & it looks great,now they've just gotta get it back together & tested for state operational permits & it should re open to the public soon.

Also it looks like S:ROS got some paint as well...it looked much better today than it did at the end of last season,especially the superman logo just in front of the station.

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Monday, April 5, 2004 1:11 AM
I'm really, really happy with everything SFA is doing! They may not have gotten a new ride this season, but all the smaller additions have, in my opinion, really made the park look significantly better. I was glad when they put the height measuring bars at the front of the lines last year, but I really like the new "Stoplight style" measuring signs. It reminds me of the method Hershey uses and it's much easier to locate that the dull metal bar they had last year in front of the rides. Now, what I'd like to see is something like PKD has at the front of their ride lines. At PKD, they have a box to put out and disgard you cigarret in that is in plane sight and clearly notes how there is "No smoking in the queue line." It really seems to work well there.

I also love how the park is really working on getting all the older flat rides bake to like new condition by replacing old seats and repainting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I now count 4 flat rides that have all been repainted in the last two years: The Tilt, Iron Eagle, Cyclone, and Falling Star. I know last year there seemed to be a few of the older kiddie rides that looked like they could use a coat of paint to brighten up their fadded appearance, but I haven't heard anything of them being painted. Also seems they redid the Superman pavement logo which looks great. Hopefully all this painting is leading up to painting of a few of the older coasters which would really just complete the whole ensamble.

Factor in the queue rails they added to the front enterance, which I'm still not too sure about, guess I'll just have to wait till the park is busier to see how effective they are, all the new signage, the new shows, probably a ton of other improvements that I just haven't noticed, and the much improved park staff and I'd say that SFA has really done well for not getting a new ride.

Hopefully we'll continue to see these small additions throughout the year in the form of landscapping and other small improvements because they all add up. My biggest hope is that this great staff continues to be this good throughout the summer. That woulkd be one of the best things SFA could do to help their image.

Now all we need to hope is that it rains significantly less this year...

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