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Everything posted by wildcattb5

  1. It pains me to say this because it was my original home park growing up in Upstate NY, but I really don't have any desire to return to Darien Lake anytime soon. There was a time where I would've defended the park against anyone who would try to slander it, where I would've talked about all its quirky features and how despite all the challenges being thrown it at from constant financial and ownership changes, it was holding its own. And I still feel it has the best Intamin hyper in the US and one of the most cared-for (aka least rough) Arrows in Viper. But as time has passed and as I've become more traveled with visiting parks elsewhere, I really cannot defend the park anymore. Even after the recent re-acquisition it really is kind of a joke how they try to pass it off under the "Six Flags" banner, like I'd have more respect if it was treated like Great Escape or Frontier City and at least admit it's not up to the "standards" of other SF parks. Now you may be thinking: "wait, Six Flags has standards?" Well at most of their parks you can except multi-train ops, incremental improvements each year, basically a good faith effort to retain pass-holders and grow overall attendance. Darien Lake has always had this attitude of "we're the only large park around, where else are you gonna go" and as such they have deemed it "acceptable" to make you wait longer with one-train ops, remove more attractions than they install, and even by Six Flags standards the park has always felt worn and faded. You would think additions like Tantrum and the SkyScreamer would be net positives, but ultimately I look at the park today versus going there on school trips 15 years ago and honestly I feel the park was a much more well-rounded experience back then even with the impending sell-off. The late 90s/early 2000s additions were still recent enough, you still had classics like the Arrow log flume, Grizzly Rapids, the UFO, and now the Ferris Wheel. So aside from sentimentality, there's really no reason to go out of my way to return. Even with family/friends still in Buffalo I'm more excited to see what Gene Staples will do with Fantasy Island/Niagara Park and would be eager to check that out before returning to Darien Lake. Of course a new breakthrough attraction would make me return but I don't see that happening soon. On a side note, if I ever went to Marineland that would probably be my answer instead based off of everything I've read and seen, but I can't bring myself to pay that ridiculous admission for a park that offers so little and also has a history of mistreating animals.
  2. I think it has more to do with: it's back to school time, the park is losing their student staff, they don't have enough people to operate the entire park, therefore it makes no sense to attempt to staff a ride that is in the far back corner of the park on its own barren pathway as the season is winding down.
  3. Made my return trip to the park for the 2nd time this summer, and a big reason for that was how much I missed the Flyers. I am happy to see that in true Knoebel's fashion, the ride looks absolutely fantastic with its fresh coat of paint on the supports, and the operator today couldn't have been better, nice long cycles, plenty of snapping, and great banter with the guests as they left the ride. Not sure his name (nor would I disclose it if I did, to protect the innocent) but hat's off to him. Otherwise not much other developments that haven't already been said, still a good amount of rides closed due to either needing parts or lack of staff, but all the heavy hitters were open (minus Black Diamond and Flying Turns). A sizable thunderstorm did take a good 30-45 minutes away around 6 pm but I waited it out to let the crowd die down and get a few more rides rather than drive home in the rain without getting my money's worth on the wristband. And while it's nothing that isn't already known, the Phoenix and Twister crews are among the best anywhere with efficient operations, obviously it helps with having minimal restraints to check but you have faster throughput with them running single-train ops than other parks do with 2 or even 3 trains (looking at you Candymonium with your stupid unnecessary hidden seatbelts)
  4. I know the free-spin has been known for a while now, but it's still kind of ironic to think that in a 20 year span, we went from having the innovative yet trouble-plagued S&S creation of Hypersonic XLC to an S&S clone.
  5. Looks like Nitro reopened today, according to both the Six Flags app and Queue Times.
  6. It's worse with coasters whose seatbelts automatically retract back into its compartment when unbuckled. At least with coasters that have it just loosely laying on the seat, it's more likely to be paid attention to and fastened. But you're right, anyone who's worked in either amusements or retail knows that some people just have no common sense or lack the ability to follow clear instructions or prompts.
  7. Are you going to invest in a Flash Pass? If yes go, if not don't. The rain forecast is typical summer scattered storms, and that won't deter the crowd unless the day is a clear persistent washout.
  8. Between Skyrush and El Toro's issues, on top of every park suffering from being short-staffed, not the best time right now for Philly area coaster fans like myself. Though obviously coaster snafus are mild compared to pandemic lockdowns where certain parks in this country weren't open at all last year, so it's all relative... I'm still betting that Skyrush gets up and running before NJ even completes their investigation on El Toro...
  9. Knoebel's announced it'll be having an additional Hallo-fun weekend in lieu of the festival. Judging by the wording, it even seems like they realize the fairgrounds is a larger, more suitable venue for the festival. I think it'll be mutually beneficial, it'll allow the festival to expand in its new space while providing an additional weekend for the park's best event.
  10. So it sounds like you want to pretty much ride everything save for a couple exceptions. If you see Ka operating, I'd go there first and foremost. Lately it's been operating better-than-average and no longer having to wait for Zumanjaro is a big plus that has immensely helped operations. But it's still a strata-coaster that can break down at any time and not reopen, so if getting on it is important to you, do it first. After that and Zumanjaro, cut over to El Toro, then Bizarro and the mine train while you're over there, then hit up Joker and/or Houdini and/or Skyscreamer on the way to the other side of the park. Jersey Devil being brand-new makes it temperamental, still lots of teething issues but they will do everything in their power to keep it running being that it's the new star attraction, so definitely get on it if you see it operating. Then it's up to you how to hit up Nitro/Batman/Skull Mountain/WW/Dark Knight/Justice League, obviously having the platinum pass will give you considerable flexibility compared to waiting in regular queues. Then once you get your fill in that side of the park, you can return back to Golden Kingdom or Plaza Carnival for more El Toro or Ka fun. If you have no interest in Superman or Green Lantern then no need to hang out in the Boardwalk area other than to just pass through. Like others have said, there's no right/wrong way to plan out the visit, you can totally do this backwards and still have a good time, biggest thing to remember is that your best/feature rides are on complete opposite sides of the park between Ka/Toro and JD/Nitro/WW. So it's best to plan on spending blocks of time in certain park clusters versus constantly zig-zagging back and forth.
  11. True but at least Mind Eraser they like half-painted before giving up on the rest of it. Which kinda makes it visually worse when you think about it. Haven't been back to Darien Lake since re-becoming Six Flags but not surprised about ROS.
  12. Awesome, so they can replace the Snickers sponsorship at Nitro with that of PPG and with a fresh coat it'll no longer be the most faded Six Flags coaster! Oh well, one can dream...
  13. Also gotta love that a park in the literal middle of nowhere (Knoebel's) can manage to operate a daily schedule even though the labor market in "middle of Pennsyltucky" is considerably more sparse than the Lehigh Valley. Now granted they haven't been immune (as seen with the numerous ride closures during the week that are not mechanically related) and it also helps being a family-run organization that retains staff with literal decades of experience, but still, literally every other park in the area is showing how to properly handle this labor challenge. Yes it sucks to not have as many night opportunities as in the past, but most people will take the early closures over not being open at all during a hot summer day.
  14. So I could only be at the park until 3 due to evening commitments and they opened Jersey Devil at... Of course, 3. So being the good boyfriend I am I decided to hold off this trip and... Oh, who am I kidding, of course I had to stay and get at least one ride in, plans be damned! I won't go into detail because I don't think I'd be adding anything that hasn't already been said, but yes it is worth the hype. Don't listen to anyone who negatively overreacts because it "isn't the best RMC", or Raptor for that matter. Because if you come from a park that doesn't have an RMC, you would want this ride at your park, and wouldn't be nit-picking. My one word of advice (and I apologize if it's already been mentioned) is to remember it has the same loose article policy as El Toro and Kingda Ka, but the lockers are quite separated from the entrance, they're back next to the funnel cake stand. Quite a few riders got turned away after waiting in line not realizing this. Photos below of test runs, apologies for the sun glare. This is a ride best photographed in the morning for sun angles, but didn't have that luxury today. Also one of the early tests stalled entering the MCBR (pic attached), and barely made the inversions. On a side note, there was a security guard turning people away today from Nitro's entrance if they had loose articles, a-la El Toro style. This is my first time seeing this, and some guests were argumentative (presumably because they know this is a ride that doesn't usually do that). Anyone else know if they've done this before from time to time? My thinking is maybe they had an issue with an on-board rider taking out a phone previously today, but who knows.
  15. Yeah I knew going in that it was a possibility, and it's nothing that hasn't already been known as they're working on the top of the lift. My favorite moment so far today was the reaction of riders on Ka when they realize now that they don't have to wait for Zumanjaro, it's an "oh $#!+ We're going right away" and as others have stated it has immensely improved the cycle time.
  16. At the park on this gorgeous Wednesday aaannnddd JD has no activity whatsoever, no tests, all is quiet. But hey, at least their unreliable stratacoaster and river rapids are running, so points for that?
  17. In regards to waits on a Wednesday, for most attractions you shouldn't have to wait more than 5-10 minutes at most. Phoenix may see longer lines if there's a crowd but the ops always keep it moving considering it has one of the easiest and quickest restraint checks on any coaster, I've never waited more than 20 minutes on a weekday. Twister being on its own island practically means it'll usually be a walk-on. Impulse also is minimal waits even with the low-capacity trains because it scares the GP. The one big exception to all of this is course is Flying Turns (if it's open), that you can expect 30 minutes minimum to get on unless the park is dead, and that's an optimistic wait time for that ride. Do keep in mind that Knoebel's also does the Sundown Special during the middle of summer weeks and that often does attract a crowd of locals because of how ridiculously affordable it is. So Phoenix in particular may actually see a longer wait later in the evening. But again, Knoebel's is so efficient with ops that a "long wait" there is comparable to average wait at a big park (except for Flying Turns).
  18. Yeahhhh there's a whole lot wrong with this post... (Although technically the caption isn't wrong as long as Kingda Ka operates this week)
  19. Guess SF is truly serious in making sure they are doing the exact opposite of Cedar Fair this year. Still unbelievable how the tables have turned (well, for now at least)
  20. Besides all the regulatory burdens, I'm sure like everyone else there's the issue of adequate staffing as well. Seems like every other day the Philly TV market is constantly re-hashing the news that Morey's and nearly every business down on the shore are under-staffed from the lack of international work visas this year. They might be able to justify a "partial re-opening" with the understanding that this park was left for dead not even half a year ago, and that it's understandably next to impossible to get a park and all its rides back up to 100% in only a matter of months. But certainly they still want to make a good impression and clearly show they're not like the previous ownership...
  21. So despite the weather forecasts suggesting a 50/50 chance of thunderstorms, I still decided to make the 2-hr trek to Knoebel's today. I was pretty close to calling it off and going to Great Adventure instead since Jersey had less of a storm risk, and the plus of possibly seeing Jersey Devil test runs. But knowing that Knoebel's runs most stuff in the rain barring lightning, I figured I would have better luck with them regarding weather policy than risking SF closing down a park at the sight of a raindrop. It was a typical early June light weekday crowd, but with less school kids since most schools aren't doing year-end field trips this year. Definitely campers being the main source of guests today. Even with a chunk of attractions not operating, the park still felt more than open and waiting to provide customer service, with most of the major food stands and shops open and ready for business; even little kiosks like the Dippin' Dots near Haunted Mansion were open, which you know would be shuttered on a weekday at a big chain park. Best of all was the sight of the familiar friendly long-time staff that you always see doing their designated roles. I feel bad because I'm horrible at remembering names but you always know the Knoebel's season is well underway when you see the familiar faces. I opted to not get a wristband out of fear the day would be rained out at any instance, but sure enough other than one 30-minute pour it just ended up being a cloudy day and I exceeded the wristband cost in tickets. Oh well. Got 6 rides on Phoenix, and it was hauling ass the whole time. I'm used to it slowly making the first turn-around but right from the get-go it was ripping around that turn; it's as if it got a little magic from Twister in regards to aggressiveness. I remember previously being underwhelmed until the final bunny hills and now the airtime is popping from (almost) start to finish. 4 rides on Twister and it's treating riders even more so like a rag doll, but in a good way (except for one teen boy who hurled afterwards at the exit gate on one ride). Got a ride each on Impulse (still underrated) and Kozmo's Kurves (I'd enjoy the airtime more if it didn't whack my knees into the bars when trying to eject me). Flying Turns still shuttered but the track work looks finished and the trains look ready to go, and Black Diamond was also closed too. As for non-coasters, while I was saddened I couldn't experience the Flyers I was happy to see the maintenance crew putting the pieces back together, a sign that it'll hopefully re-open soon. Fandango is still waiting for parts, and the Wipeout is still visible in pieces. Got a couple rides on the Grand Carousel and one each on Haunted Mansion and Skooters, because of course a trip isn't complete without them. Also got a surprisingly long ride on the Paratrooper, and hit up the Pioneer Train too. Skipped the log flume this time around (Skloosh is still closed) and the Skyway was also closed; not one for drop towers but Stratos-fear was open for anyone who loves that Larson tower. Also the Tornado being installed has an extremely sharp dark blue and green scheme which I totally prefer over the standard carnival ones. Didn't go as crazy on food as I thought I would but got some Loaded Tri-tators and Sicilian and White Broccoli slices from Cesari's. All hit the spot as usual. And when it did rain for 30 minutes, it was perfect timing for enjoying several rounds of Fascination. All in all for a day that could've very well been a bust I'd say it went about as well as could be expected. Everything was a walk-on and while not everything is open just yet there's still plenty to do to keep one occupied for several hours. Between Fascination and the museums and covered attractions like the Carousel, there's plenty of options to stay dry, more so than your average park. And of course it's still the same charm and awesome service you would expect from Knoebel's.
  22. Anyone been to the park this weekend? (Or recently since this weekend weather-wise was a bust). Got this Thursday off and I'm split 50/50 whether to go to Knoebel's or to Hershey. Keeping my expectations in check for either one since it's still early in the season and I know all parks are dealing with short-staffing. Originally the deciding factor was gonna be whether Storm Runner or The Flyers opened first but obviously neither seem to be in any rush to open unfortunately. Still leaning towards Knoebel's because of all the other amazing flats that are open, all the coasters except Flying Turns have been consistently operating, and of course the food. As much as I love Skyrush as my favorite coaster in PA, Knoebel's as a whole usually wins out, but I'm curious if anyone can share recent experiences...
  23. I was gonna react to how overblown this has become, but coasterbill beat me to it. To pinpoint off of his post, the main purpose of the water dummy is NOT to test if the restraints properly work, it's to test if the train can actually complete the circuit the course, under typical weights of riders, without stalling, valleying, or exerting excessive force or wear to the track and/or structure. In fact, if the water dummy was an actual person, it wouldn't be able to ride Jersey Devil or any of the coasters at GAdv or any major amusement park. A paraplegic person cannot be safely restrained on a roller coaster, so any human that lacks arms or legs like the water dummy wouldn't be able to ride. The Ride of Steel incident at Darien Lake is a prime example why: there was nothing wrong at all with the coaster, the victim should've never been allowed to ride and sadly paid the ultimate price.
  24. Just like with other industries, they had this facade of "you love being a customer here, so you'll really love working here!". And of course the reality is completely false. While surely lots of young enthusiasts think it would be really cool to work at a park, the ones who do quickly find out that unless you really have a great/fun group of co-workers and the camaraderie that comes with it, it really is no different than any other crappy min-wage retail/food job: - As already said, unless you're at a SoCal/Florida park, the work is seasonal. You're still gonna want/need money during horrible Northern winters. - It becomes just as repetitive/monotonous as being a cashier or a fast food employee. - You can't just run to the bathroom when you want to if you're operating a ride, you need to call for a replacement. - Most importantly, you will still get treated like absolute $#!t by the supposed "happy" guests because you (gasp!) are doing your job and enforcing safety policies, whether it's someone taking out their phone on a ride, using the queue railings as a jungle gym, or blaming you because apparently it's your fault their large girth can't fit in the restraints. All of that for (pre-pandemic) minimal wages. "But you get perks like free park admission on your days off!" Well when you're overworked/tired/under-appreciated do you REALLY want to spend your time off at the place that's a big part of all of that? So yeah, theme parks may not be getting the attention of other retail industries in regards to the effects of the hiring crunch, but the reasoning is all the same. People all across the working world are re-evaluating how much crap they're willing to put it with, and still want to have some sense of dignity, and they'll go work somewhere that can at least provide a semblance of that, while giving the finger to those places who did not. (And no, I am not a former Cedar Fair employee, but I have worked my fair share of retail)
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