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How in God's name do they expect to turn SFA... the current crap hole of the company... into the "best" by the end of the year?

 

The SFA turn around has been going on behind the scenes for the past few years since Shapiro came on board.

 

Since 2007, there has been a lot of work to improve the park's infrastructure and they've really spent a considerable amount of time and money doing the things that previous management staffs have not. Things like basic upkeep, fresh paint, improved landscaping, better guest services training for ALL employees, replacing light bulbs, upgrading the park's sound system...the list goes on and on.

 

They moved John Winkler, who had great sucess at Great America in the 90's and Great Adventure in the 00's to SFA to complete the management overhaul.

 

I've been going to Wild World/Adventure World/SFA since 1986.

 

While some have said over the years that SFA is a crap hole park as you put it, I think a lot of the grief SFA has received over the years from the enthusiast community has been a bit unfair as it's been the popular thing to do on many of the internet sites. SFA use to get crapped on for where it's located or the clientel the park tends to attract on the weekends and I don't think those things are relevant when enthusiasts bash the park to no end.

 

In retrospect, I think the branding of SFDL, SFA, SFEG, SFNE, and SFWoA (RIP Geauga Lake) was a bad decision at the time it was made. Clearly these parks couldn't hold a candle to the already established Six Flags brand. With SFA finally receiving a little TLC over the past few years, I genuinely believe that while SFA does not have the number of attractions that SFMM or SFGAdv has, SFA is FINALLY starting to hold it's own.

 

When SFA opened for the 1999 season, the general public were expecting a brand-spanking new park. Joker's Jinx and Two Face did not open with the park. Looney Tunes Movie Town was also behind schedule. The park at the time should have delayed opening until they were ready to open. Instead, guests showed up only to be disappointed that their high expectations were not met. Operations were pi$$ poor and a LOT of attractions did not open with the park.

 

I know a lot of people that went to SFA early in 1999 expecting to see the Six Flags brand in full effect and as a result of the mismanagement of the rebranding, they have not returned since. SFA has been pulling out all the stops to turn that image around and after many years of being the proverbial red headed step child, SFA is FINALLY getting the TLC the park deserves.

 

I think anyone who believes that SFA is up for sale as the rumors have circulated for years are fools. SF Inc sees the potential this park has and have committed themselves to this process.

 

I love SFA but unlike others I try to keep an unbiased opinion on the park. My standard for visiting SFA is the same standard that I have for any other park. When I visit SFA, I judge SFA the same as I judge all the others. I've had good trips to SFA, I've had bad trips to SFA and I've very honest in my trip reports on both.

 

SFA has come a very long way over the past few years and I am very excited about the future of this park. I'm excited about the new life that Mr. Winkler and his team injected into SFA in 2009 and hope the trend continues in 2010.

 

For those who say they'll never step foot in SFA again...that's fine. The rest of us are having fun without you.

 

I'm not a SFA fanboy who wears blinders and think the park is the best park out there. However, there have been many positive changes in all aspects of the park and I don't think SFA has received enough credit for their turnaround.

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Fair enough, but to claim that it will be the best Six Flags park by the end of the year is overly ambitious and is surely a goal that will not be met. Maybe by setting his goal at an unattainable level it'll force the park to increase in quality more than it would if the goal were realistic?

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Fair enough, but to claim that it will be the best Six Flags park by the end of the year is overly ambitious and is surely a goal that will not be met. Maybe by setting his goal at an unattainable level it'll force the park to increase in quality more than it would if the goal were realistic?

 

I don't think the goal is unattainable.

 

SFA had the highest overall guest satisfaction rate for 2009 at 97% among all the SF parks.

 

They must be doing something right.

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^97% guest satisfaction based on what?

 

That's freaking unheard of in the industry. Not even Disney and Universal get those types of numbers. I get the feeling those numbers are skewered in some way (as in, Six Flags considers a guest satisfied as long as they rate something a 6 or higher on a 1-10 scale or something like that). There's no chance in hell 97% of guests are giving ANY park the highest rating, let alone SFA.

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Nice interview, same song and dance, but we'll see how the plans hold up this year.

 

"We are continuing to invest in the parking lots as we do with the parks themselves; using much of the money we make charging for parking. We aren’t that much different (certainly cheaper) from basketball and baseball games with their parking pricing structures.”

 

Gonna have to disagree with this, as parking at Angel stadium is a pretty decent $8, and $5 if you decide to walk a little bit. $15 is a bit steep, in my opinion.

 

Its one thing if you're at Disneyland and you get a quiet, smooth tram ride all the way to the entrance of the park. But at Six Flags the trains are so old and the tram roads are so bumpy, that the trains rattle, bang and bump the entire ride to the park entrance! So if the park pulls 1000 cars, they're pocketing $15000, and I know Mark says it, but it certainly doesn't seem that they've invested that dough on parking lots very efficiently.

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The SFA comment is the only one that confuses me. I've never been there, but I don't see how the addition of a Thomas Town makes it one of the best parks in the chain. As is, there's no possible way they could even be near the top of the list...they have to put at least a few big(ger) rides in for that. It's astonishing for me that a park so close to Washington/Baltimore hasn't added any sort of roller coaster, family or major, in 9 years, and it'll be 10 at the soonest if they're planning anything for 2011.

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Thanks for typing up all that info!

 

The thing about SFA is that, imo, a lot that park's future is more about what land there is available to them to expand. It certainly won't be the best park in the chain attraction wise, so maybe it's a question of the overall aesthetic appeal? Because it is smaller, it will not cost them as much to improve the overall infrastructure of the park, which is very important. 99% of the appeal of the Disney park experience is the decoration / theme, that isn't limited to the rides, but to every visible structure. In that sense, a completed themed out section of the park like a Thomas Town vs. a cul-de-sac, takes the park to another level.

 

Imo, the park with the greatest potential is SFGADV. If they would take the Wild Safari in the direction of say Disney's Animal Kingdom / Busch, that would take them closer to being the Disney of the north east.

 

Also, just from the call, the enthusiasts seem too focused on flat rides. For SF to go where it needs to go, that is not the answer. Flat rides just are too carnival. I think they are great for small pockets of usable space, but that is about it. SF is positioning itself as an alternative to the more expensive destination parks like Disney / Universal. To that end, they need to bring more of a similar experience to what those massively popular parks offer their customers. Going after carnival rides is aiming way to low. There have been positive developments like the refurb of Monster Plantation, Buccaneer Battle, Dark Knight, Glow in The Dark parade, attemtps at theming coasters (Terminator/Bizzaro), committment to live entertainment, etc..

 

The only problem is that SF has to split these attractions among so many parks, that each park feels incomplete or out of balance, some more than others. That is probably what enthusiasts are picking up on when they ask about additional flat rides. It's the diversity of the ride and attraction experience that guests are experiencing.

 

In future guest research for SF,they should ask what is your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd favorite attractions - after the roller coasters - at Disney and Universal? Then, for each park, fill in the appropiate gaps.

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^97% guest satisfaction based on what?

 

That's freaking unheard of in the industry. Not even Disney and Universal get those types of numbers. I get the feeling those numbers are skewered in some way (as in, Six Flags considers a guest satisfied as long as they rate something a 6 or higher on a 1-10 scale or something like that). There's no chance in hell 97% of guests are giving ANY park the highest rating, let alone SFA.

 

While I do not know how that is judged, the statistic was posted by SFA on their Facebook page a couple of weeks ago...

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The SFA comment is the only one that confuses me. I've never been there, but I don't see how the addition of a Thomas Town makes it one of the best parks in the chain. As is, there's no possible way they could even be near the top of the list...they have to put at least a few big(ger) rides in for that. It's astonishing for me that a park so close to Washington/Baltimore hasn't added any sort of roller coaster, family or major, in 9 years, and it'll be 10 at the soonest if they're planning anything for 2011.

 

Best park, I'm guessing, doesn't have anything to do with the attraction line up.

 

I'm sure it's more about the park that has the best operations, best safety record, most profitable, best guest service, highest intent to return, and all those categories that makes a business successful.

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I'm totally going to hold him to the Parent Pass thing at ALL Six Flags parks!

 

That was the BEST thing at SFGAd, and I've asked SFMM to do it or something similar for years and they never have.

 

I am the person who asked about the parent pass on the Fan Call . I have three kids and one who is under 54 inches which is the main reason for my question . I LOVE the parent pass at SFGADV and when we visited SFNE this summer it was a pain to have to deal with no parent pass. Disney , Universal , Cedar Point and even Bush Gardens and Hershey Park all have parent swaps or have a better system then Six Flags Does . We are planning to maybe take our kids out to SFMM and Disney Land next year and I full well know that my son will most likely not be 54 inches tall by then , I do hope that he holds true to his word and gets the passes into each and every park . If I hear anything else on this I will let you know. I do however have to share that I did get an e-mail on Tuesday as a follow up so I am sure that this is something that will be taken care of !!!

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^Great to have some other park enthusiasts/parents on the board!

 

I went to SFMM yesterday and they had not heard anything about the Parent Pass so I think Shapiro was a little ambitious in saying that every park would 'have it by tomorrow' but hopefully this gets done soon as it is VERY needed at SFMM and other parks in the chain.

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Nice interview, same song and dance, but we'll see how the plans hold up this year.

 

"We are continuing to invest in the parking lots as we do with the parks themselves; using much of the money we make charging for parking. We aren’t that much different (certainly cheaper) from basketball and baseball games with their parking pricing structures.”

 

Gonna have to disagree with this, as parking at Angel stadium is a pretty decent $8, and $5 if you decide to walk a little bit. $15 is a bit steep, in my opinion.

 

Its one thing if you're at Disneyland and you get a quiet, smooth tram ride all the way to the entrance of the park. But at Six Flags the trains are so old and the tram roads are so bumpy, that the trains rattle, bang and bump the entire ride to the park entrance! So if the park pulls 1000 cars, they're pocketing $15000, and I know Mark says it, but it certainly doesn't seem that they've invested that dough on parking lots very efficiently.

 

Angel stadium is the exception, not the rule. Dodger stadium is $15, Staples is anywhere between $10-100 depending on the event and lot, USC football games are anywhere between $20-100 depending on the lot, the Rose Bowl was $20 last year, and so on.

 

I believe SFMM also recently re-striped a big chunk of their parking lot as well.

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In response to the parking...

 

Magic Mountain has also added a new POS system to the toll plaza in the past two years. When one considers they built the park when computers were anything but common place, it probably costs them a pretty penny to implement something like that.

 

Also, some parks don't have trams at all - its a long walk from the far reaches of the big Knotts lot across Beach Blvd.

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It looks like Mark Shapiro is holding to much of his word, and changes are afoot.

 

http://www.sixflags.com/national/footernav/sixflagsblog.aspx

 

So we’ve got one Super Fan Call in the can and I’m already looking forward to the next. Thanks again for your time, your questions and your feedback. Mark really enjoyed himself and has already requested we get another one on the books soon. A quick recap of some highlights (plus a few notes on what happened after.)

 

First, the Parent Pass. For the uninitiated, the Parent Pass is not a physical pass but a policy across the park. It works like this, parents and children go through the normal line queue but one of the children doesn’t ride for whatever reason – usually height restrictions but sometimes fear (I mean Kingda Ka?! I’m 27 and still get a little sweaty in that line). With a Parent Pass, one of the parents can ride while the other hangs back with the non-rider. At the end of the ride, the parents swap places so that everyone gets a turn without having to wait in line twice. Long story short (too late, I know) we had a guest ask why this policy wasn’t implemented across the board. That’s when Mark broke it down real simple, “You’re right, it should. This policy will become universal by tomorrow.” One of my Twitter dudes put it best, “Best part of the @SixFlags call- a lady asks for ‘parent passes’ to be available at every park, Shapiro says it will be done by morning. BOOM!”

 

Then there was Jason B.’s question on Great Adventure’s Congo Rapids. First off – THRILLED this ride was brought up. I’m a major coaster fan but I might even be more of a sucker for the water rides. Jason claimed some of the effects on the ride were shut down and it was losing a bit of its luster. Ditto Jet Stream at Magic Mountain. Despite this call happening less than 48 hours ago, I know for a fact that both are being looked into as we speak and I’ll have an update for everyone soon.

 

One of the most exciting things to come out of the Fan Call has got to be the return of Houdini to

Great Adventure. That’s one you guys have been asking me for for months – and now it’s finally done. (Apparently Mark Shapiro yields a little more power at this place than I do. Go figure.) So, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Houdini will be up and running. I’ve also got it on pretty good authority that, if everyone plays their cards right, it’ll reopen for Fright Fest, as well.

 

And, yesterday, my boss sat in on a meeting where Mr. Shapiro asked the Head of Ops to look into a package of flat rides for Great Adventure. You GrAdv dudes sure are vocal about what you want.

 

Full transcript should be available soon. I’ll try to post it online as soon as I get it. Thanks again, guys. Your feedback is going to help make 2010 even better.

 

Mike

Six Flags Social Media Agent

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^Great to have some other park enthusiasts/parents on the board!

 

I went to SFMM yesterday and they had not heard anything about the Parent Pass so I think Shapiro was a little ambitious in saying that every park would 'have it by tomorrow' but hopefully this gets done soon as it is VERY needed at SFMM and other parks in the chain.

 

 

Read the SF blog though it says that parent pass will be allowed at each park I think they missed the part that it was a paper pass at SFGADV . I wonder if we will still have it now . Standing on line with a 8 year old for over an hour for a ride that kid cant ride is a nightmare and I do not look forward to it . I wonder if Shapiro knows that it was a paper pass .. at least it was last season . I guess I will find out on SAturday when the park opens .

Did you use the paper pass at SFGADV when you went ? Just wondering ???

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^In the fan call you said they didn't have it at SFNE? I remember going to the exit with my little cousin because he couldn't ride Bizarro, although he wanted to. His parents were in Hurricane Harbor so it was my brother, my other cousin and me. My brother went on with my other cousin while I waited at the exit with my little cousin who couldn't ride. When my brother got off I switched with him and went to ride with my cousin who already got to ride it, while my brother waited with the little cousin.

 

Not many people know you can do that, but I think if you just ask the ride ops, they will let you. I wasn't aware of the parent pass until you brought it up in the call. But I knew that SFNE has kid swap. Well for Bizarro I know they have it, but I'm not sure if the other rides have it.

 

Now that you brought it up, the paper pass sounds better than just asking and I hope its implanted like Mark promised.

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^In the fan call you said they didn't have it at SFNE? I remember going to the exit with my little cousin because he couldn't ride Bizarro, although he wanted to. His parents were in Hurricane Harbor so it was my brother, my other cousin and me. My brother went on with my other cousin while I waited at the exit with my little cousin who couldn't ride. When my brother got off I switched with him and went to ride with my cousin who already got to ride it, while my brother waited with the little cousin.

 

Not many people know you can do that, but I think if you just ask the ride ops, they will let you. I wasn't aware of the parent pass until you brought it up in the call. But I knew that SFNE has kid swap. Well for Bizarro I know they have it, but I'm not sure if the other rides have it.

 

Now that you brought it up, the paper pass sounds better than just asking and I hope its implanted like Mark promised.

 

The paper pass is just so much easier then dealing with a child that can not ride and have to wait at the exit for the rest of the party . I know Disney Gives you a Fast Pass for the parent pass and allows up to 3 people to go . A paper pass is just easier for everyone the employees , the parents and most of all the kids because they are not stuck waiting in line for a ride they cant ride .

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I believe that a paper pass is VERY necessary. Ride ops are sometimes new and don't know everything, teens and other people could try and take advantage of the system, etc.

 

Yes, we used the paper parent pass system at SFGAd in 2007 and 2008 and it was WONDERFUL. I have talked to several people at SFMM since then to try and get it implemented and I was always told they were 'getting on it' but it never happened. Hopefully Mark Shapiro has a bit more pull than I do to make this finally happen!

 

Disney's system is still the best, but SFGAd's worked VERY well!

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I did get an e-mail on Tuesday as a follow up to the fan call and did explain that the paper pass was what I was speaking of . I do hope that this is implemented across all SF parks . I think that many parents dont even know that they can even do this in general never mind get a pass for it at SFGADV . I am glad that I made such a hit at the Fan Call Just leave it to a big mouth woman from NYC to get people talking. It was on twitter , Facebook and two other sites I didnt even think it was a HUGE deal or a great question at the time LOL ...

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Also, just from the call, the enthusiasts seem too focused on flat rides. For SF to go where it needs to go, that is not the answer. Flat rides just are too carnival. I think they are great for small pockets of usable space, but that is about it. SF is positioning itself as an alternative to the more expensive destination parks like Disney / Universal. To that end, they need to bring more of a similar experience to what those massively popular parks offer their customers. Going after carnival rides is aiming way to low. There have been positive developments like the refurb of Monster Plantation, Buccaneer Battle, Dark Knight, Glow in The Dark parade, attemtps at theming coasters (Terminator/Bizzaro), committment to live entertainment, etc..

 

I know for Great Adventure, the park is really lacking in flats I think that is where part of the asking for flat rides comes from. The only operating non coaster rides in the park that are not kiddie rides are: Houdini, Round Up, Zamperla Regatta, swinging ship, Parachutes, Tea Cups, Top Spin, Carousel, Sky Ride, Log Flume and Rapids. With the rapids and Houdini not open until Memorial Day, that only leaves 9 non coaster rides in the entire park for the first 2 months of the season. I think before adding flats they need to reopen all the SBNO rides though like the bumper cars, music express, simulator theater and rockin tug.

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Also, just from the call, the enthusiasts seem too focused on flat rides. For SF to go where it needs to go, that is not the answer. Flat rides just are too carnival. I think they are great for small pockets of usable space, but that is about it. SF is positioning itself as an alternative to the more expensive destination parks like Disney / Universal. To that end, they need to bring more of a similar experience to what those massively popular parks offer their customers. Going after carnival rides is aiming way to low. There have been positive developments like the refurb of Monster Plantation, Buccaneer Battle, Dark Knight, Glow in The Dark parade, attemtps at theming coasters (Terminator/Bizzaro), committment to live entertainment, etc..

 

I know for Great Adventure, the park is really lacking in flats I think that is where part of the asking for flat rides comes from. The only operating non coaster rides in the park that are not kiddie rides are: Houdini, Round Up, Zamperla Regatta, swinging ship, Parachutes, Tea Cups, Top Spin, Carousel, Sky Ride, Log Flume and Rapids. With the rapids and Houdini not open until Memorial Day, that only leaves 9 non coaster rides in the entire park for the first 2 months of the season. I think before adding flats they need to reopen all the SBNO rides though like the bumper cars, music express, simulator theater and rockin tug.

 

What can you expect when they've been focusing much of the cap ex towards new coasters at SFGRADV every other year for the past decade?

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It's not just that flats are not prevalent, the issue is that so many flats have been removed in the past few years with no replacements.

 

Looping Starship

Rodeo (OK, that was sort of replaced with the Rockin Tug, that is now not working)

Enterprise

Rotor

Wave Swinger

Bumper Cars

Musik Express

 

At least the Tea Cups and Sky Ride have been running consistently the past two years, as those had not been running for a long time. On top of that patrons were kept in the regarding Houdini and the parachute Drop operates at oly 1/3 capacity.

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