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Six Flags Great America (SFGAm) Discussion Thread


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Didn't the park buy a whole new chasis for Batman? Seems like a lot to effort for a few months- maybe we'll see that chassis end up at another park for a Batman promotion.

 

From what I understand from the Coastercon video/announcement, SFGAm sent their original chassis to B&M for some sort of "makeover". The backwards chassis is on lease until whatever changes are made, and the original chassis is returned. The PR lady said something to the extent of; the original chassis will return with changes almost as exciting as the backwards transformation. After that I think we can expect to see the backwards chassis' rotated throughout the chain until many if not all Batmans receive the same refurbishment/makeover. Am I the only one that paid attention to the entire announcement?

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So AE has run backwards for six entire seasons and for part of a season twice?

 

Pretty much. I thought I read somewhere (or I could have been told this) that the reason AE only went backwards for part of the season was because it brought on some wear and tear not only to the tracks but the train itself. Again I could be wrong with this info. I just wish I could remember where I read or heard it.

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If, on very slow days, some rows are roped off I think that's ok. I've seen Dragon Challenge with a sparse crowd and it takes more time for the ops to buckle all the empty seats when guests are allowed to sit anywhere compared to just leaving empty seats buckled and only having to push the restraint down.

 

No, at least when I was there, it was not to help sent trains quicker... Without sounding like too big of a dork, there are two theories to theme park operation at play here... The first is always leave a line because it extends the in-park stay and doing so ups per capita guest spending, the second is run them through as quickly as possible and as many times as they want. It decreases guest spend, but theoretically ups word-of-mouth because people talk about how great it was.

 

The time I was at Cedar Point, they roped off 2/3rds of three different rides and made the waits about 20 minutes apiece for them. I've also been to Great America and seen them running two trains on Demon with only one person on it.

 

Neither way is wrong but I like the two trains way more. And I also have no idea if Cedar Point still does that.

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I would agree that Great America is much better than the other Six Flags parks. But still way behind Cedar Point. Multiple trains can help efficiency, but not when they are stacking for minutes and plenty of empty seats going on (including double seats...). This is all year long, not just at the start or end of the season. GAm has some great employees - they really try their best. But my main point is they don't have much to work with. The training simply is not there to begin with.

 

I've spent a lot of time at Six Flags parks, and while I have seen that sort of delay at every other one of them, I have never seen it at Great America personally. In fact, I can think of more times that I have seen perfect ops there than slow ones.

 

I agree with the seat thing to an extent, but it's also a philosophy of let people ride where they want versus get people on faster. I also fall into the category of liking going exactly where I want.

 

PS. While I say that I like these things as a guest, as a business I think what Cedar Fair does makes a lot of sense, and my stock portfolio would back that claim up

 

PPS Sorry for the two posts right in a row, posting from my phone and it's really tough to edit these together.

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Went to SFGAm today and the crowds were pretty light. The new entrance was working well, work is still being done on East River Crawler. X-Flight is only running one train but at least Batman has 2 running. Yankee Clipper is also open for the season! Both sides and both trains on Eagle were running and the brakes were off after the helix so the final airtime hills are amazing. Even the brakes on the last helix were off and you fly through them.

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Went there both Sunday and Monday. Something felt off. I think the air pressure with the colder weather changes stuff. First time I noticed pressure changes on Sky Trek Tower. For some reason I didn't find the rides all that fun. This was the first time I felt dizzy after riding Pretzelman. Everything felt more intense than I remember and I was in row 3. Not sure if it was the cold weather or me having had bronchitis a few weeks ago, but it was difficult to breathe on the turns. Viper was running really good, less bumpy than last year. Airtime machine, although I don't find ejector air to be the most pleasant sensation. Was about 5 rows from the very back. Still got that catapult effect on the first drop. Whizzer gave me a lot of lift airtime. More than I recall. Since my wife decided she didn't want to go to the park due to not fitting on backwards Batman, I got to ride Demon by myself back in the middle. I never thought it was scramblin my brains when riding it before but it felt this way. The restraint dug into my right shoulder. Feels like I pulled it down further than ever even though I'm 8 pounds heavier than last fall. I wouldn't describe Demon as being rough. Intense for sure. Everything feels way more intense than when I was last at Fright Fest. Maybe I went so much last year that I built up a tolerance.

 

Looked like X-Flight was running one train with a line that would be 25 minutes with two trains going, so I skipped it Monday. Whizzer was maybe a ten min line Monday and Sunday. Demon was a walk-up. Pretzelman was a walk up Sunday around 8. I rode Batman backwards once and wasn't really all that enthused. The stuff that I like about the ride is missing and just about every part felt like it was pushing the G force to the max of what I can stand. Will probably try it a couple more times. I'm going to try and head back soon.

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I agree with the seat thing to an extent, but it's also a philosophy of let people ride where they want versus get people on faster. I also fall into the category of liking going exactly where I want.

 

You can let people pick their seats, fill a train (including most single seats) AND get that train out at interval. That idea is completely lost on many people (us coaster fans AND ride ops). Even Cedar Point has resorted to assigning seats in some cases. It doesn't have to be that way. With a little work and communication, everything can happen together. It can't always be perfect, but it can be much better than it is at many parks.

 

My point is, this is not even a thought in training these days. Even if they wanted to do it, they probably wouldn't know how (that's not sarcasm). It's been so long since that type of operation was standard. Working in early 90s Cedar Point ride operations, you knew everything that was going on with your ride; you had very clear communication with the crew that was present and your guests. You got trains out within several (less than 10) seconds of interval; you were able to let groups ride together, pair up most single riders, let people pick seats, etc. because that was part of the job. It was part of training. It took a few days to learn a new ride; to get the rhythm of how that crew worked. If you weren't able to get it after a week, you were moved to an "easier" ride, or Kiddieland

 

I always say working at CP long ago was a huge blessing, but also a curse. I've been hard wired (or had it beat into my head!) to look at efficiency, so it makes it hard sometimes when I look at what a current crew is doing. So it's nice to be with friends and talk about other stuff

 

The numbers 640 and 777 are stuck in my head. Great America had dry-erase boards bragging about highest hourly capacities on their coasters one year. American Eagle and 640 and Superman had 777.

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^^ Superman: Ultimate Flight

Thank you.

 

People have been saying that these backwards transformations are just gimmicks, but I think they are good for SFGAm since they don't get a new ride this year.

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^^

 

I'm going to email you (GCG) a more detailed response that I think you'll get a kick out of, but I doubt anyone else will. Having said that, the gist is that the type of capacity you are talking about has mostly disappeared due to budget concerns. The capacities for rides like Superman are way closer to probably an 800 rider per hour max then the 1100ish that is claimed. The American Eagle's stated capacity of 1800 / hour MUST be for both sides of it, and was probably from when it came out - and there was 3 trains per side.

 

In those cases, both of those capacities are actually excellent. It belies a different trend however, which is that parks aren't focusing on capacity nearly as much as they were even 10 years ago. The Eagle used to run 3 trains, it now runs two. They probably could have modified it to run the 3 again, but that would be for a lot of extra cost... so they are okay with it running less. A lot of Anton designs were made to accomodate 2000 rider / hour. No one makes them like that any more, and a big part of that is that no one demands them like that any more... other than Disney.

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^^

 

I'm going to email you (GCG) a more detailed response that I think you'll get a kick out of, but I doubt anyone else will. Having said that, the gist is that the type of capacity you are talking about has mostly disappeared due to budget concerns. The capacities for rides like Superman are way closer to probably an 800 rider per hour max then the 1100ish that is claimed. The American Eagle's stated capacity of 1800 / hour MUST be for both sides of it, and was probably from when it came out - and there was 3 trains per side.

 

In those cases, both of those capacities are actually excellent. It belies a different trend however, which is that parks aren't focusing on capacity nearly as much as they were even 10 years ago. The Eagle used to run 3 trains, it now runs two. They probably could have modified it to run the 3 again, but that would be for a lot of extra cost... so they are okay with it running less. A lot of Anton designs were made to accomodate 2000 rider / hour. No one makes them like that any more, and a big part of that is that no one demands them like that any more... other than Disney.

 

Any chance you could send me that same response?

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the gist is that the type of capacity you are talking about has mostly disappeared due to budget concerns.

 

I still vote that it's more "not a part of training" anymore. It's a foreign concept. Remember, I coming from the POV of having worked a manual coaster with 2x24 seats (CP Blue Streak). The hourly capacity was 1,250 max. We hit it most of the time, and passed it many times as well. People rode together, we paired most singles, and even found a way for people to wait for the coveted front seat (with no air gates/stalls).

 

The American Eagle's stated capacity of 1800 / hour MUST be for both sides of it, and was probably from when it came out - and there was 3 trains per side.

 

I can't find the fact sheet, but I'm absolutely sure AE's capacity was in the 3ks if not 4 when it came out. I remember Magnum being 2,100/hour and Gemini was something astronomical.

 

The Eagle used to run 3 trains, it now runs two. They probably could have modified it to run the 3 again, but that would be for a lot of extra cost...

They stack with 2 trains, almost every time I'm there; I think heads would explode if they tried 3 again. That ended (if my memory is correct) in 1985, the year after Six Flags purchased the park.

 

A lot of Anton designs were made to accomodate 2000 rider / hour. No one makes them like that any more, and a big part of that is that no one demands them like that any more... other than Disney.

Revolution at Magic Mountain could do 3,400/hour. That wouldn't matter now; in it's present condition not many people want to ride it

 

Whizzer ran 3-4 until sometime in the mid-80's. No air gates, no seatbelts; people got in and after a quick visual check, the train was off. They still run 3 on busy days, but they stack. Heck, they often stack 2 trains.

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The American Eagle's stated capacity of 1800 / hour MUST be for both sides of it, and was probably from when it came out - and there was 3 trains per side.

 

I can't find the fact sheet, but I'm absolutely sure AE's capacity was in the 3ks if not 4 when it came out. I remember Magnum being 2,100/hour and Gemini was something astronomical.

 

Arrow was the last manufacturer that seemed to really build for capacity. Shockwave, built immediately before Magnum, had a theoretical capacity of 2,000 / hour, and they were originally planning on adding a fourth train to it. I have some Arrow docs somewhere talking about it, and you can see the proof of it by the fact that the ride had three transfer tracks for trains...

 

I have no clue why it was never added, but if it was the ride capacity would have been nearly 2,800 riders per hour. Which is flat out insane. That's more than twice as many people as can ride Millennium Force theoretically in an hour.

 

The priority isn't on capacity like it once was, and you can blame that on a LOT of different reasons... but, having said all that, theoretical capacity has changed too. The Arrow numbers used to be pretty much real world numbers, but from what I have observed, unless you are running B&M and Intamin coasters without stopping to load / unload in the station, you can never actually get the real numbers for their capacities. But, with things like the upcharge line skips, does it make those a better value to actually have the line go slower? If the latest and greatest new rides had capacities of 2800 per hour, and lines were consistently 15-20 minutes, would you want to pay for the upcharge? Now it costs the park in two ways, the fact that the ride cost far more to get that added capacity, and the fact that less people see the upcharge as worth it because the ride doesn't have horrible lines.

 

Revolution at Magic Mountain could do 3,400/hour. That wouldn't matter now; in it's present condition not many people want to ride it

 

Whizzer ran 3-4 until sometime in the mid-80's. No air gates, no seatbelts; people got in and after a quick visual check, the train was off. They still run 3 on busy days, but they stack. Heck, they often stack 2 trains.

 

I believe that Whizzer used to actually run either five or six trains when it opened. That changed multiple times to become less and less, and adding things like air gates, seat belts, off ride storage of crap, and so on slow things down a lot. That is a ride where I have also seen full, ready trains sit there waiting while the ride ops stand watching the ride, so I'm guessing it has to do with an old ride system that the park hasn't found a reason to upgrade.

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Nice to see you back goatdan!

 

Guys, listen to him.....he has good working knowledge of the park. That's all I'll say. ::wink::

 

I still sit and look at the Whizzer station and wonder what it was like when they had that many trains running on it. Did they unload, then move the train up for loading? I was just a little too young to recall that, and I don't know if I've seen pictures.

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Nice to see you back goatdan!

 

Guys, listen to him.....he has good working knowledge of the park. That's all I'll say. ::wink::

 

So... you can trust me on those Batman LEDs, hey

 

Having said that, I would never claim me to have a ton of knowledge about any of it, I just like to randomly sit and watch operations at different places, so it gives me some interesting background to build on...

 

I still sit and look at the Whizzer station and wonder what it was like when they had that many trains running on it. Did they unload, then move the train up for loading? I was just a little too young to recall that, and I don't know if I've seen pictures.

 

Unload was in the first station that is now a series of brakes (It's still there, there are chains up on your right when you get there). I'd have to actually look at the ride to remember, but there were two blocks on the lift, one at the block brakes, and then I believe a total of five or six on the return trip to the station. With no seatbelts or airgates, there was very little pausing there at all, and as long as you were cranking I *think* that it was six trains, but may have been five that could go on it at once, so long as you were cranking, the spacing didn't get all screwy, and you could keep cranking away.

 

A lot of rides that have ride systems designed like this either don't run this way any more or do on only extremely rare situations, except for in places like the Disney parks. The thing is that if there is a load issue for even a minute, the ride has to stop ride vehicles at whatever the hold point is, which shuts down the ride. In the day and age where riders can't be told they have to just walk into the ride vehicle or they can't ride (which, for the record, I agree with) and where you can't send a ride with the hope that they buckle their seat belt (which, I also agree with), it's nearly impossible to keep rides like that going without shutting everything down. The rides that do it - again, mostly Disney things - are generally designed where when they know there will be a loading issue, there is a way they can pull a vehicle to the side, or use a different loading platform, or whatever to keep them moving.

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^Exactly! When I was a kid, I don't remember feeling "rushed" or anything. You waited behind the line, and when your trained pulled up - you got in. Mom would strap her purse around her shoulder and you would hold on to your souvenir bag. If you had something big like a backpack, it either went on the floor of the seat you were in, or you threw it on the side. It was very basic; it's a huge contrast to how things are done now. I know some of it is needed, but it's nuts. Cedar Point didn't put in air gates on their coasters until sometime in the mid 90s.

 

With air gates, numerous consecutive announcements and extra restraints, people get more nervous. We don't have many problems with people waiting for the subways here in Chicago.

 

I have vivid memories of waiting to ride Whizzer at night: trains zipping everywhere with their head and tail lights shining bright through the trees. A really great memory is my friend Danny and I waiting in line, 4th of July 1982 (geesh I was 9!?). It was very foggy/overcast that night, and the park announced they would not be able to do fireworks. In lieu of that, the park was to stay open an extra hour! The entire under-station queue for Whizzer took 20 minutes when full. I love this shot of Whizzer (3 trains! No photoshop!) from GreatAmericaParks.com :

 

Edited by GayCoasterGuy
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Arrow was the last manufacturer that seemed to really build for capacity. Shockwave, built immediately before Magnum, had a theoretical capacity of 2,000 / hour, and they were originally planning on adding a fourth train to it. I have some Arrow docs somewhere talking about it, and you can see the proof of it by the fact that the ride had three transfer tracks for trains...

 

I have no clue why it was never added, but if it was the ride capacity would have been nearly 2,800 riders per hour. Which is flat out insane. That's more than twice as many people as can ride Millennium Force theoretically in an hour.

 

I believe this. Arrow may have had similar plans for Viper @ SFMM as it has four trains as well: Brown, red, yellow and orange.

Also, thanks for your insight.

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