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Six Flags Great America (SFGAm) Discussion Thread


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However, the flash pass employees were still standing there, with nothing to do - not a soul in the queue. They say "they're employed by Flash Pass, not Six Flags" ... Yet, they sometimes try to assign seats; hold up the queue and let empty seats go when the lines ARE long. It's all a mess.

 

 

I've been to SFGAm over 20 times this year alone, and I have never seen that happen. On what ride do they let EMPTY seats go?! That's just crazy! If anything, it's the GP holding up the line in the station and they wait a train so they can ride with their friends (therefore, leaving empty seats untaken) but Flash Pass people don't assign seats on any coaster in the park.

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On what rides even could flash pass workers assign seats? Is there any ride other than Whizzer where they're actually in the staion? Other than using exit passes I've only ever been assigned a seat once, and that was by a park worker.

 

Like Jeremie said, I have never seen a ride go out with empty seats because of flash pass workers. Yes, they do pulse the line, which is a good thing, but it's not like they wait until the station is completely empty to let more people go through.

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I apologize - I was thinking *more* of the station attendants assigning seats and having empty seats go out.

 

However, I've seen flash pass employees assigning seats on Demon and Whizzer. Of course GP will hold up lines, they are clueless. It's the job of the employees to get people going. The operations seem to change year by year, and many times within a season. It's not the norm, but it seems like "whatever the employee feels like doing that day" sometimes, or how they perceive what they have been told to do by any number of supervisors. It's all over the board. Some employees say NO double rides, some say "Sure!" Some say they were told NO by some supervisors and YES by others. I had one ride op on Raging Bull tell me "if you would have asked me, I would have let you" as he got the lap bars unlocked to get me out of the front seat. I apologized to him and was very nice about it, but I thought to myself - really? If I would have asked?

 

Watch Viper on a busy day. Depending on who is working at the station entrance - if anyone - you will entirely empty seats go out. The object of having that attendant there is to help. Help fill trains, help get people moving through - and to keep the station from getting too packed. The key word is help. You can only do so much leaning against a wall with your arms crossed, though. Waiting until all but the front and back stalls are completely empty and the next train is ready to stop, THEN starting to usher in folks... I've been baffled by stuff I've seen.

 

It's not always easy to fill all seats, but there is the opposite end of the spectrum, too. Many employees simply aren't trained to be efficient and fill seats/pair up folks/make sure groups/families get to ride in the same train, etc. It's a lost art. A whole empty seat on Whizzer on a busy day is a sad sight. I've seen them multiple times while waiting in line for a single ride. It doesn't matter to the park from a short-term point of view. There is no immediate return on investment for an extra employee to make sure trains get filled most of the time and out on time. There is more sense to simply promote and offer a way to pay to cut, which is the focus.

 

These are just my objective observations after having worked in parks/rides myself. I still love Great America, the rides we have, etc. There are also *plenty* of excellent employees that work there. But with my history, it's easy to see how much room for improvement there is - in terms of efficiency. I'm grateful to have worked in parks and on some great coasters, but it's a curse at the same time.

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I mean, I can see closing an hour early, but 3 hours? They say "because of the rain" but what they really mean is "there aren't enough non-season pass holders in the park and we can't make any money." It's an integrity thing, it's getting old. "They're just season pass holders - we already have their money...." I don't like the way things are going. Like many regulars, I would rather pay $200 for a season pass and have a better run park.

 

That logic doesn't make any sense. Parks don't make their profits from admissions (let alone on season passes---where for accounting purposes, it shows up as like $6/month in revenue, since you have to spread it out over the entire life of the pass). Parks want people in their park spending money on food/merchandise/games/ride photos/premium products/etc. because that is where the real profit is at.

 

The more logical explanation is that attendance in general was low to begin with, combined with the fact the guests in the park were already getting a bad experience with so many rides closed for rain...it just made more sense to shut the park down than to deal with the weather. I'll never forget how annoyed I was with Cedar Point for its crappy rain policy, dealing with rides going up and down all day...I actually would have preferred they just shut down, so I could have just left for the day instead of battling ride closures/rain off and on the whole day trying to get all my credits.

 

But it still really stinks. Especially after having being told specifically the park would stay open until 9pm an hour before the early closing was announced.

 

With the theme park experience you claim to have, you should know better than most that things change on the fly. I'm sure they gave you the best information they had at the time.

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The park closed 3 hours earlier last night. Was supposed to be 9pm, but they closed at 6pm. We found this out as we came into the park at 5pm. There was a light rain on and off after 4pm; the storms cleared.

 

My friend spent 20 minutes on hold to be told by a Guest Relations representative that the park would "stay open until 9pm, rain or not." My friend Rob said the rep *insisted* they would NOT close prior to 9pm. So we drove up... blah blah blah.

 

Got home to find out they retro-edited the online park hours and changed the closing time to 6pm for yesterday. They did that a few weeks ago, too.

 

I mean, I can see closing an hour early, but 3 hours? They say "because of the rain" but what they really mean is "there aren't enough non-season pass holders in the park and we can't make any money." It's an integrity thing, it's getting old. "They're just season pass holders - we already have their money...." I don't like the way things are going. Like many regulars, I would rather pay $200 for a season pass and have a better run park.

 

There were still full trains going out on Raging Bull and Demon(!). Whizzer, Little Dipper, Ragin Cajun and other rides were closed.

 

However, the flash pass employees were still standing there, with nothing to do - not a soul in the queue. They say "they're employed by Flash Pass, not Six Flags" ... Yet, they sometimes try to assign seats; hold up the queue and let empty seats go when the lines ARE long. It's all a mess.

 

Money first, who cares about service. As much as I brag about and love my home park and coasters, this sort of thing gets old. I still love Great America, but sometimes I really wish Holiday World and Knoebel's were closer. The level of pure stupidity that six flags incorporates is sometimes hard to handle. And this is probably the best run park in the chain...

 

I don't know how anyone can fault him for being upset that after calling ahead and being reassured that the operating hours will stay the same, he drives out of his way (presumably) only to find out that the operating hours have in fact changed. It's a completely reasonable reaction.

The thing is, you can't really fault the park for going about it like that. As much of an asshole move as it is, it's a no-brainer for them to cease operation on a day that they're sure puts them in red. If you're the park, it comes down to whether a penny saved in the short term is worth the risk that it could influence future visits (or non-visits) from the people you're sending home early in the long run. I really think most people are like goldfish when it comes to remembering things like this, so I wouldn't think twice about shutting it down early if it were up to me.

 

And yeah, it's absolutely about money and not at all about whether or not the guests are having a good time. I can tell you for certain that it happens all the time in baseball. In questionable weather, more often than not, the ballpark will open it's doors, money is made from parking and concessions, eventually it gets delayed, and well after it could safely be assumed that there won't be a game (or if it started already, play won't be resuming), the announcement is made. Ideally (for the team/vendors/etc.) the game doesn't make it to 5 1/2 innings, and is as if it never happened. They keep your parking and concession money for that day, and get to double up on the same guests at a later date when it's rescheduled.

 

Re: assigned seating- I look at these as more of a suggestion. If you want a particular row and let the grouper know in a courteous manner, you will get that row. Most of the time I like the back row on a coaster- it would be absurd to find out that now I need to drop an extra $50 (or whatever it is) to be able to sit there.

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I don't know how anyone can fault him for being upset that after calling ahead and being reassured that the operating hours will stay the same, he drives out of his way (presumably) only to find out that the operating hours have in fact changed. It's a completely reasonable reaction.

 

Exactly. From what my friend told me after he called, the guest relations employee was very "no...oh no.. we WILL be open until 9pm." He even went on to tell him that if it rained, most rides would close except the indoor coaster, games, etc., but the park would NOT close early.

 

If someone's posts or trip report annoy or bother you, why not just ignore them?

 

Either way, I still love my home park and still consider it to be the shining star in the chain. I will most likely go next week. If they shut down early, I will probably be on here moaning about it. But I will also brag about how great the Whizzer is... and how rough but awesome and geeky the Demon is. How underrated the American Eagle is, and how we have one of the best overall collection of rides in the country.

 

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But it still really stinks. Especially after having being told specifically the park would stay open until 9pm an hour before the early closing was announced.

 

With the theme park experience you claim to have, you should know better than most that things change on the fly. I'm sure they gave you the best information they had at the time.

Quoting this because it's worth repeating.

 

As someone who comes from the theme park background, and anyone here who has worked at a park will tell you, closing a park early is one of the toughest decisions park management has to make. And I can tell you with great certainty, closing a park early is not a decision that is made on a whim, nor is it made without proper justification.

 

Sure, it might have upset you, as it might have upset others. BUT...theme parks aren't in the business of upsetting their customers on purpose. If you think of the knock-on effects that could happen if a park was allowed to operate in all scenarios in which they weren't making money, a few upset people is by far a lesser concern in the overall bigger picture.

 

And like Joey said, as someone who is a frequent theme park visitor, an enthusiast, and plugged into how parks operate, you should know this.

 

--Robb

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Am I the only one who has never felt airtime on American Eagle?

 

I always some get decent airtime on the first two hills. Everything after the helix depends on the trims. When they're turned off or barely touching, the last few hills can be packed with air. When they're hitting hard though, I've had rides with no airtime in the second half.

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Was there most all Sat and Sun.

 

Should've ridden Roaring Rapids earliest but don't like to be soaked afterwards. Always ends up being the ride we miss due to weather or other issues. Saturday we used a regular flash pass. Even with that, we sometimes were doin other stuff well past the time we were allowed to ride something. Still, we rode just about everything we wanted. In riding and re-riding coasters, I find that my opinion shifts a lot. X-Flight in the very back left was definitely my favorite out of everything Sat. Rode it again Sunday, 4th row right and very back left and felt like it wasn't as exciting as Sat. Seemed slower with more upside down hangtime. The ending helix felt rougher Sunday. Rode Batman twice on Sat and 3x Sunday. Row 6 once, 7 3x, and 4 once. Definitely like 7 the best. 4 was a re-ride after 7. Our ears ended up forcibly touching the restraint some in that row. Doesn't give as much whip on the inversions. We're goin for row 8 next time. G-forces seem different further up. I'm thinking it's the forces that push you into your seat that are stronger. Pretty sure that's the positive Gs. This was definitely the case in riding Demon in the very front(the only time I've ridden anything in the very front). The forces pushing us into the seat were way stronger on me in the front row. The floater air on the first drop occurred later and was less than when I've ridden Demon further back.

 

I tried counting down Giant Drop but that didn't work. Cool ride but I don't think I'll go on it much more. They were dropping it as soon as it got to the top Sunday. Superman was down for testing a little bit Sunday, but not much. Think we did row 4 Sat and 7 Sunday. The pretzel loop and overall ride felt more intense in 7. 6 seemed like a good middle ground. I still find Raging Bull to be a bit too bumpy for my tastes. Something at GA gives me a slight brain-freeze style headache everytime I go and RB just aggravates it. Eagle was only running two trains on red Sunday. Overall a good ride but that end part of the helix seems to have even stronger Mean Streak style roughness than the blue side. We only rode Viper Sat. Row 7, I think. It's definitely the most fun in the back, but also the most physically aggravating too. I might just take ibuprofen and go to the back again next time.

 

Batman was very consistent, didn't feel different in the rain. The more I ride it, the less urge I have to re-ride. When I first started riding coasters again last month, I really wished I could re-ride everything right away. Sunday had lines that only went as far back as the flash pass entrance on Batman, x Flight, and Superman. Those lines turned into a walk up shortly thereafter. The other stuff was basically a walk up all day til 5:30 when we left. It was maybe between 1 and 2 that they announced the early closing due to low attendance or whatever. I forget where I heard the low attendance part. Condor was open a bit and they closed it maybe around 2. We did hear another season pass holder say she just showed up at 4.

 

I'm just glad this wasn't Cedar Fair. If we were at Cedar Point I bet they'd have closed everything. Last time we were there they closed almost everything because of strong wind. MF was open. Corkscrew ended up with a huge line and all these fast lane people kept popping up. Probably turned our 10-15 minute wait into a 45 min wait. Iron Dragon ran. Maverick was open with a 2 hour line, I think. Mantis too, if I recall. I've heard their rain policy is more strict than their wind one.

 

Yankee Clipper was closed both days, if I remember. Roaring Rapids ran Sunday. Log Jam might've. Don't recall Whizzer being open. We were very surprised at Sat having weekday-like attendance. We'll probably be going next weekend and then every weekend of Fright Fest. We have another Cedar Point trip the last regular weekend of GA. Hopefully we'll get to some of the other Six Flags parks next year.

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I can understand reasons for closing parks, but things have really changed over the years. I am clearly out of touch with park operation. When I worked on the Cedar Point Blue Streak in 92/93, we would go down to one train in the rain. We had to, with those skid brakes. The rule was - the ride stays open until the train shoots the station. We stayed up with one train until the train would shoot past unload, then we would go down. Those were great times!

 

I can see how that would never fly these days. When the park rained and rides went down, some of us were sent home, but many of us would do stuff like wax trains, clean under rides, etc. I don't ever remember the park closing early back then. It seems Cedar Fair is quite the opposite these days. But I would still be surprised to see CP close early due to rain. Especially if the storm cleared and there were still people in the park.

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Am I the only one who has never felt airtime on American Eagle?

No. Rarely, if ever, have I ridden another wooden coaster as sorely lacking in the airtime department. This was on the blue side. I'm hoping to catch the red side next year for a better experience.

 

^Cedar Point has TGI Fridays. There is plenty of stuff for the park patrons to do to wait it out if it rains.

Exactly!

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^Aw darn. Wish someone would have told you to pick red. It's much better. Smoother and more hills.

 

Red runs like a bat outta hell when those brakes exiting the big helix are OFF. They were off for a few years up until last October. The ride was running so great and fast I was very surprised and sad to see those brakes back on last Fright Fest. The run back (on red side only) was like a mini-voyage. The speed bumps from the helix exit to under the lift had great air time, even in the back of the train.

 

As a friend of mine (who isn't as big a coaster geek as most of us here) recently said "it was getting better and better - what happened?" I have no clue. Maybe budget cuts?

 

The thing about American Eagle is that it's had a VERY up and down history. It was GREAT when it was new and for those first few years. Around the time Shockwave was built (1988) it had deteriorated very badly and brakes were all on full. It was painful bad.

 

Then - they added steel I-beam tracks from the first drop to the top of the big helix. This helped the ride tons... Then - maybe 4 years ago, the rest of the track was considerably *tight* and those brakes coming out of the big helix were off. Before that, I never ever remember them being OFF.

 

Now, the ride isn't as fun. It has so much potential. Except those silly helices at the end of the ride. They were always lame.

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Both of SFGAm's wooden coasters are kind of moody, but I think AE is much less so than Viper. Bliss is AE's first drop when they run Blue backwards while sitting in the last row (usually the front row). Backward or not, the first drop always delivers. Many a time the only airtime I find on Viper is the last hill before the turnaround into brake run, while AE is usually good for 3 spots even if it's not in peak form, still, I can definitely see it be a less than overwhelming ride in the right conditions, be it maintenance, weather, etc. .

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Many a time the only airtime I find on Viper is the last hill before the turnaround into brake run

 

May I suggest you try the first car on Viper. Preferably seat 3 Late in the day, of course. I think you will be surprised.

 

1-3 is where I typically ride Viper apart from the occasional back row ride. It's probably just the time of day I usually ride it that contributes to my underwhelming opinion of the ride; Batman, Iron Wolf, or Raging Bull is where I usually find myself as the day comes to a close.

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^Well, I've ridden it at night, with a full train, on wet tracks, and it still wasn't amazing. Quite good, sure, but not amazing or up to the praise I'd heard about it.

 

Yeah, I do feel it's overrated. Any/every time I ride it I keep hoping to finally get to the bottom of why so many hold this ride in such high regard. Georgia Cyclone is the one that does it for me- more so than the original Cyclone itself.

 

Edit: Actually, now that I think about it, Viper's lap bars are incredibly forgiving. Those things sit *high* above your lap even after an attendant comes around to check/push it down. Such a lap bar presumably scores a lot of points with people who ride coasters as a hobby. Not sure how I didn't make that connection before.

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Edit: Actually, now that I think about it, Viper's lap bars are incredibly forgiving. Those things sit *high* above your lap even after an attendant comes around to check/push it down. Such a lap bar presumably scores a lot of points with people who ride coasters as a hobby. Not sure how I didn't make that connection before.

 

Yeah! Those lap bars rocks. They have special shocks installed so they will never fall. And even when you pull them all the way down, they are only at the level of a buzz bar. I've heard PTC isn't happy with the park over that.

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I'm still reeling over the "shining star in the chain" remark... I had to go back and double-check that we were still talking about SFGAm.

 

Everyone has an opinion and everyone likes what they like, I suppose, but I visited last year for the first time in awhile and was completely underwhelmed.

Wizzer was good as always, Little Dipper was an amazing surprise (at how SF... SF!!!... seemed to really care for it), the spinning mouse was beyond psycho, and I always luvs me some impulse shuttle.

The other coasters were just meh, IMHO, and a bit of a disappointment. Even Iron Wolf, which I really liked before, had become nearly unrideable and painful.

The one other big surprise was Viper, which offered little airtime, few forces, and shallow grades on the drops, but which I really, really enjoyed anyway. I think of it as a "family-friendly Cyclone" and it would be a good middle coaster for lesser enthusiasts trying to move up to the big stuff.

 

SFGAm has its moments, sure... but I'd hardly call it the shining star of the chain. SFOT has a better collection/variety of coasters, SFGAd could also hold its on in that department, and I also thought that the park layout at SFGAm was pretty terrible in terms of flow.

 

BUT

 

These are only my opinions. Everyone has different things that they look for in a park and a different set of criteria for what makes an enjoyable experience. SFGAm just didn't meet very many of mine. Your milage may vary.

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