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Six Flags Darien Lake (SFDL) Discussion Thread


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They did Fright Fest ever since the Six Flags era. At one point they even considered expanding it, and out of the blue a few years ago (either 2013 or 2014) they cut it and replaced it with this. My only guess can be the staffing or profit issues. I never took Fright Fest as an event that lost money though.

 

They used to do some cool things for attractions as well. They had a field trip ride that used old school buses that would race through the campground, going though scenes near the trailers and had live actors.

 

Another one that was proposed at one point was a boat ride over the lake called "Child of the Lake". Also, there was Road Rage (Dark Bumper Cars with Music), Twister Unleashed (Custom Cycles), and Carnevil (A walkthrough of old ride parts).

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From the website:

 

Is there a Halloween-themed event this season?

Unfortunately, no, there will not be a Halloween-themed event in 2016. The park will be closing at the end of September, and previous Halloween/late-Fall seasons have not been well-attended due to the unpredictability of weather. However, we’ll have Harvest Festival during the last two weekends of operation, which will feature live bands, food trucks, games, crafts, and more!

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^ I suppose that they have a point with the unpredictable weather in Western NY. Anyone remember the October storm of 2006?

 

We actually had Breakers reservations for Halloweekends at Cedar Point that same weekend and when we left our house that morning, it was snowing like a bitch. By the time we got to Sandusky it was 50 degrees and sunshine and was gorgeous the entire weekend. I was amazed at the devastation left in the midst of the lake effect snow and ice in the Buffalo area when it was perfect weather four hours away on the same damned lake.

 

In terms of the Harvest Fest, I agree that they could easily include some haunts in there. But with a beer garden, a beer slide (now think about this.... A BEER SLIDE) and food trucks, I could actually give two shits about haunts. Judging from our visit there last month, the guests seemed to be more about drinking than most anything else anyway, so this might be a solid alternative.

 

Of course, not that WE would ever set our priorities in such a way!

 

I would SO try the beer slide and post the video here!

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Heaven forbid if the lake effect snow machine gets going early this year - Buffalo is pretty much ground zero for snow storms due to where it's located on the lake.

 

As for Harvest Fest, sounds like a scaled back version of Geauga Lake's old Oktoberfest, which I could see Darien Lake expand in the future. It's how GL used to end its season prior to Premier buying the park and adding Haunt in the mid-90's. It was always a good time.

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I think the weather possibilities along with the difficulty in finding staff are the reason they do not have the fright fest activities any longer. I know I went when it was SF and it was in the upper 30's and they only had haf the park open. If you notice, now they are bringing in food trucks on the weekends as staff for the food stands is very difficult.

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Why the hell wouldn't they do a Halloween event? Those events pretty much print money for parks and as Six Flags has figured out, the mazes don't even have to be all that good. They can be mediocre and still bring in hordes of people.

Did they switch it to Harvest Fest when HFE took over management? They're opposed to doing any Halloween events on religious grounds, so they do fall harvest type events instead.

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The weather is the biggest factor, I think. If it is 50 degrees or higher out and calm without rain/snow, then the events are decently attended. If its cooler, rainy, or even snowing, then the park is dead and everyone goes to other places in the area with all indoor haunts like Frightworld and Haunted Catacombs so that they don't have to be exposed to the elements.

 

I do think that if Darien had a large indoor area where they could fit 3-4 haunted houses like Frightworld/Haunted Catacombs, then the event would definitely be a lot bigger of a draw.

 

The bus rides always seemed like a big hit but their capacity wasn't that great (lines for those used to be super long from what I remember) and I am sure there were a lot of additional associated costs with that. The buses were old, too, which I wonder if that played a factor at all in scrapping that event.

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I think the weather is the main reason and it is a valid reason, you never know what kind of weather you are going to get, if its in the 30's, the event will flop and the park will lose money, this is bad. Even if its well attended, is it really worth it... if you get a nice weekend the whole thing will be so packed you won't even be able to move. If they can't keep all the rides open because they have no staff then its pointless even if the park does come at a reduced price, the park doesn't have that many attractions to begin with so you are already cutting it by closing off the water park, which is obviously necessary during the season. The haunts would never be able to compete with what the larger parks do anyways, and the area already has several places to go for haunted houses all of which are very busy from what I understand. Its just potentially a very big loss for the park and I think they don't really need that right now.

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if its in the 30's, the event will flop and the park will lose money

 

We waited an hour and 15 minutes for f**king Pandemonium at Six Flags New England during Fright Fest last year when it was 38 degrees. Are people in Buffalo complete pansies when it comes to cold weather compared to people from Agawam, Massachusetts (which isn't even really Massachusetts, it's basically Connecticut so it's not nearly as cold of a climate)?

 

I'm not buying this excuse. The park obviously has reasons but I don't buy the weather one.

Edited by coasterbill
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I think that they're playing the weather card because there is more to the story, they just don't feel like explaining the whole thing to all the "Wherez muh fright night????!?!?" commenters. Weather doesn't keep people from going out sledding, skiing, etc. in this area, so I can't imagine a cool day would cause too much of an issue. Something like the October Storm was a one time freak thing, just like how some parks have to deal with the occasional natural disaster.

 

And if staffing is the issue, just rotate rides and keep some of the shops and games closed. No big deal. The haunted attractions didn't open until later in the day anyways. Fright Fest always seemed decently attended to me. The park had more visitors in it during Fright Fest than Dorney does on the average summer day.

 

There is always the factor of change of management or ownership as well. IIRC, Fright Fest was cancelled the year that Six Flags sold the park (which coincidentally was also the year of the Oct Storm, though the announcement was made far in advance).

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^ If there is alcohol Involved and has the word "fest" in it, many people in WNY & Canada will flock to it. Perhaps a main reason why they chose the name and probably why there are a lot more beer involved activities.

 

If it is rainy or snowy and in the 30's (particularly if people hear that the rides aren't running), I agree that not as many people will show up. However, if it's mid 40's and up and not rainy, people will still come in hoards and drink their little heads off - especially now with the Bills already looking like a complete train wreck this year.

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They wouldn't even need to staff all of the rides. Busch Gardens Tampa puts on a killer event and the only rides open are the coasters (minus Scorpion) and Falcon's Fury.

 

They could easily have an event where the only rides open are Boomerang, Mind Eraser, Moto Coaster, Predator, Ride of Steel, Viper, the upcharges and maybe a few high intensity flats like Rolling Thunder, Blast Off and Silver Bullet. Other than that just focus on mazes and sell tons of alcohol.

 

As for food, you can be selective about what's open, hell... bring in food trucks if you have to. As for souvenir's, the main gift shop and one right by the front gate are sufficient. Just copy what Busch Gardens Tampa does and do it on a cheaper / smaller scale and it's entirely doable.

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They could easily have an event where the only rides open are Boomerang, Mind Eraser, Moto Coaster, Predator, Ride of Steel, Viper, the upcharges and maybe a few high intensity flats like Rolling Thunder, Blast Off and Silver Bullet..

 

Easy to have rides open for some parks, but Darien Lake...

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They actually used to shut down the areas past Rolling Thunder down, so rides like Mind Eraser, Sleighride, and what is now Rowdy's Ridge were closed anyways. Viper's exit was re-routed to the front of Galaxy Theater. I believe that once Rowdy's Ridge opened, they chose to keep that side of the park open because the rides were new.

 

None of the haunt attractions (Road Rage, Twister, and the Haunted Houses) opened until after 4:30 or so. At that point, they could close off rides like Lasso, Pirate, etc. and move those operators to the other rides. Once it gets dark out, they could probably do away with kiddie land as well. With all of the water rides being closed, that saves on many employees as well.

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I got a chance to go last weekend for free, all water rides were closed, ROS not running and different ones here and there. The pirate is looking pretty bad, the old line queue is literally collapsing. It's part of the entrance but closed off much like the old exit line still standing but unused. Finally what's with the Moose on the Loose and adults riding it? Seems to make the line for the kids way too long (and yes it was actually running this time)

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Beams broken and roof caving in, note the floor rotting.

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I just love the old ride tags.... West Germany

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Adults are riding Moose on the Loose because Moose on the Loose is complete greatness. What don't you understand?

Agreed. We actually had a few ERT sessions for enthusiasts in the time that I was there.

 

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

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Just based on what I saw the kids miss out on it because the line is full of adults. I wouldn't be a big deal if it wasn't in the kid area or if the ride loads faster. The line was about 1/3 full and took my wife and daughter 45 minutes to get on. But hey I might be missing the point, happens more often than I like.

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In all honesty, the reason Moose on the Loose has long lines isn't because of insane demand, it's because of miserable capacity. That being said the ride is actually incredibly fun so I completely understand why adults want to ride it. Hell if I ever spend another full day at Darien Lake (doubtful) we'll be sure to ride it at least once.

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I remember reading a quote a few years back that said this year there would be a new owner in place. This was a while ago of course, and we've seen no signs that this is actually going to come true, at least in 2016. However, if such changes have been planned already, it may be announced in the offseason.

 

CNL is looking to liquidate their amusement properties, as they have already sold Elitch Gardens last year. My guess is that Premier, and/or some smaller amusement company may be interested, with Herschend still possibly being a dark horse if the price is right.

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