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Six Flags Darien Lake (SFDL) Discussion Thread


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I have a season pass but haven't had a chance to go since July (lengthy TPR tour + working), and was perplexed from the first few reviews since I didn't think it was that bad. It needed a lot of improvement, but I wouldn't say I had a bad time. The reviews reflect this as they aren't nearly as bad in July.

 

Man, things must have gone downhill in the past month. I'm going to head over there Saturday to see what's up.

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As a regular visitor and season pass holder, I can honestly say that I am very unhappy with operations. Unless I just have bad luck every time I visit the park, the place is dead. Half of the rides at any time are closed, either due to staff issues or maintenance. I was going to go for Fright Fest, but I sadly am not because the issues are getting worse. I will fully support the park in any bad situation, but this is really bad. The one thing that makes me angry, is that the park is letting people go on social media and put it down like that. It is giving the park a super bad reputation.

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I was there labour day weekend and have been there 5 of the past 7 labour day weekends. I personally find the place enjoyable, especially if you stay on site and just enjoy a slower paced amusement park. I have noticed that the operations have really gone down hill the past couple of years. One year they allowed the ROS to stay down for almost half their season, that's crazy! This year all of the coasters were open, but again they refuse to run two trains. I honestly believe this is due to staffing and the desire to keep people around a little longer in their park. The washrooms were filthy and there aren't even people at the side gates to check your tickets (wristbands). The waterpark was insanely busy and they didn't even open all of their water slides. At least 4 major water attractions were out of operation. In a park this size, you really need all of your rides operating to keep people busy.

 

I think Darien Lake has an enormous amount of potential, and it already draws many from Toronto and surrounding areas. I can only imagine what it could become with a couple premier ride additions, cleanly washrooms, and adequate staffing.

 

I wasn't around for the 6 flags days, did they do a better job?

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I love what Herschend is trying to do, but some issues need to be fixed at the end of the season.

 

There some issues that need to be fixed during the off season like fixing up the second trains for the coasters so that they can have two train operations again, putting new lights on the Giant Wheel, cleaning the bathrooms, and repainting Ride of Steel and Mind Eraser. Fixing the issues the people are complaining about should be a priority for them during the off season!

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Right now staff, cleanliness, and maintenance are what really need to be looked upon. The park has a wonderful maintenance team, its just they need to hire more workers so that repairs can be done quicker. Usually when RoS breaks down, one guy (I forget his name) comes to fix it. Maybe if more workers were available, the process would be quicker.

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Not trying to justify their staffing issue, but perhaps I can offer some insight. Darien Lake finds itself in a peculiar location this time of year. They might be "Buffalo's Park," but they are really secluded pretty deep into suburbs. When they don't offer housing, it's tough to find some help from local college students who usually wouldn't prefer driving that far to work everyday (students make up the vast majority of ride operators). The major colleges and universities are not very conveniently located near Darien Lake at all.

 

Where am I getting this theory? Well I have experience in the world of short staffing at amusement parks. We are lucky in Erie to have three sizable universities within 20 minutes of the park, and a fourth within 30 minutes. We heavily incentivized our ride operators to have their friends moving into college come and work the last couple weekends. Of course we had a few days where certain rides opened late and a couple not at all, but we managed to keep the damages controlled. Never was a major attraction closed, only the least ridden children's ride, Mini Enterprise, and the least ridden flat, Paratrooper, experienced a closure due to understaffing.

 

About non-ride operators and full-time staff operating rides. This is not a Darien Lake thing, but a common thing across the industry. Twice this season I have given up my managerial duties for the day to operate rides in order to keep all of our rides open. Also, certain positions on rides do not require as extensive of training as other ride operator positions. Training lap bar checkers (on some rides), exit attendants, and teaching some children's attractions do not require an exhaustive amount of time by any means. Simple planning ahead can make a non-rides person a safe, functional, and efficient ride attendant. Therefore, I wouldn't fear a typically non-rides employee working some positions on rides like a couple guest comments suggested.

 

Hopefully, Darien Lake can find some solutions and continue growing.

 

You are pretty much spot on sir. Though DL's case is a bit more extreme. Supervisors and managers would end up working a ride on a DAILY basis due to the staffing levels this year. From the beginning we were never at a proper amount of people which is only exacerbated now at the end of the season.

 

Where you are off a bit is on the training. For our attractions training occurs on two levels. Attendant and operator. Attendant training can take between 5-8 hours depending on the number of position (for example, Grizzly Run has 5 attendant positions to train on. Where as a roller coaster will have two or three). Then operator training requires and additional 5+ hours. So my point being, it takes a while to get people trained on rides, and a lot of logistics to create smooth operations (breaks, split shifts).

 

Cleanliness is also supposedly going to be a major focus next year. With park services (the sweepers) focusing more on the bathrooms. And other staff focusing on their own areas.

 

Maintenance like the rest of the park is low staffed, but they face some of the biggest problems. The rides at Darien Lake were so poorly maintained over the last ten years, and this is now causing many of the major problems. This is also why you are seeing one train operations. Parts were taken from one train to fix the other, so that they could have atleast one train running while replacement parts are brought in. (Example, ROS has been almost regularly been alternating trains each season)

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Where you are off a bit is on the training. For our attractions training occurs on two levels. Attendant and operator. Attendant training can take between 5-8 hours depending on the number of position (for example, Grizzly Run has 5 attendant positions to train on. Where as a roller coaster will have two or three). Then operator training requires and additional 5+ hours. So my point being, it takes a while to get people trained on rides, and a lot of logistics to create smooth operations (breaks, split shifts).

 

Sorry, I may have jumped the gun on this one. Darien Lake is much larger and contains more complex attractions, so training is likely much more extensive and complex. Perhaps my context was off when evaluating the situation. To give a couple examples of positions at Waldameer you can train someone on quickly is exit on Thunder River and exit on Steel Dragon. For Thunder River, all you have to do is sit there and inform guests when it is safe to exit, and the only button you press is "station stop" if someone were to fall onto the station conveyer. It requires about 30min of training, at most. If you are a non-rides person, you get this spot for the entire day as lame and boring as it sounds. Another example is exit on Steel Dragon. All you do is instruct riders which direction to exit, pull up any lap bars on an unoccupied seat, and hold the "move to load button" until the car moves to the next spot. I could go on with extremely simple positions on other rides such as Comet, Music Express, Pirate's Cove, Ravine Flyer II, and Sky Ride. None of these positions involve main controls or complex decision making. Yes the guest ride attendant does exactly one simple, boring position on one ride for, in most cases, 9 hours, but it keeps staffing to an acceptable level. Of course, only highly responsible park employees are chosen as guest attendants, and we always give them ample notice of what they are doing so that they can complete preliminary training of reading and signing manuals a day or so ahead of time.

 

That's where I was coming from on that portion of my post.

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I feel like if the PAC was sold off then you might as well kiss Darien Lake goodbye. I get the impression that the concerts are one of the few things the park has going for it at this point.

 

I am actually hoping that they put off Lake Monster for a year (this is seeming more and more likely as we approach the end of the season) and focus on fixing the rest of the park.

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I feel like if the PAC was sold off then you might as well kiss Darien Lake goodbye. I get the impression that the concerts are one of the few things the park has going for it at this point.

 

I am actually hoping that they put off Lake Monster for a year (this is seeming more and more likely as we approach the end of the season) and focus on fixing the rest of the park.

 

I'm kind of regretting bringing that up. It's a small possibility because of what i heard but let's just assume it was false for now : )

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The PAC rumor is false. Live Nation owns the venue, not Darien Lake or Herschend. The venue will continue to operate as a Live Nation venue, every year there's some stupid rumor that the group behind Kingdom Bound Christian Festival is buying the PAC. The truth is a festival that attracts 20,000 people doesn't not have a group behind that could purchase a venue like the PAC where just this year alone has seen 6 acts bring in 20k+ on seperate occasions.

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Never was a major attraction closed, only the least ridden children's ride, Mini Enterprise, and the least ridden flat, Paratrooper, experienced a closure due to understaffing.

 

Paratrooper is the least ridden flat? That's terrible. People have no taste, I ride these whenever I see them.

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Sorry for the double post, but I just found out that Dark Waters is not the name for an attraction, it is actually the new name for Fright Fest. The haunted attraction that uses the boat will be called "The Child in the Lake". Sorry for any confusion, but seeing that the park does not announce much, I had no idea until I reread the paragraph.

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Though I do find the new name for Fright Fest rather fitting for the park. and I do like the Child in the Waters story for the new "Haunt" attraction. What is TPR's general consensus on the Lake Monster actually happening in 2014? We have strayed away from the topic from time to time but IMO I would say Lake Monster is Not happening in 2014. I say this because I'm not sure if Darien could pull off a project like this starting so late, especially with the winters we get in good ol' Western New York. But also because Didn't Herschend say they didn't plan to add any coasters any time soon? I know, I know, Lake Monster wouldn't exactly be a "New Coaster" but at the same time it kinda is... right? I will be honest. I think it was just a survey that we all got excited over and then it fell flat. Not to say there wont be a "Lake Monster" coming to the park (and what bad publicity that would cause after all the coaster enthusiasts that followed this story find it to be false and what not) But based on the very little we have to prove it as a "go" is a survey, some spray painted footers, and a news article. that's about it. Hopefully I'm dead wrong. but at least there's another descent topic to mention on the thread. Is the Lake Monster Truly a "GO" for 2014? and... Que the comments!

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I don't think there has been talk about Lake Monster in the past month or two. I don't think they are going to to anything anytime soon because of Goliath @ SFGAm. I kinda think it will be made by RMC, because of Outlaw Run.

 

Thecoasterguy14 said that they aren't looking to demolish Predetor. What do you think will happen?

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Ok so I just finished reading the 2013 Golden Ticket Awards and to my surprise, Ride of Steel is no longer in the top 50 List. If i remember correctly, Last year Ride of Steel was tied at 26 with Volcano: The Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion. Sad to say, Volcano is in 39th place and Ride of Steel is in no place at all. I hope this is a wake up call to the park to consider working at their guest services and try and fix up their rides. (Probably Not) but one can hope. If I had to guess why they didn't make the charts this year is because

1) They haven't been receiving "amazing" reviews lately

2) One train operation

3) very slow operations staff this year

Of course these are all IMO but still. Darien has lost a very big placement. so.... Lets see some effort!

Lastly,Dolly Wood received the Best New Ride of 2012, Silver Dollar City won Best New Ride of 2013, Can Darien pull itself together and win Best New Ride of 2014? Wouldn't that be cool? alright. I'm done here. PEACE!

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Ok so I just finished reading the 2013 Golden Ticket Awards and to my surprise, Ride of Steel is no longer in the top 50 List. If i remember correctly, Last year Ride of Steel was tied at 26 with Volcano: The Blast Coaster at Kings Dominion. Sad to say, Volcano is in 39th place and Ride of Steel is in no place at all. I hope this is a wake up call to the park to consider working at their guest services and try and fix up their rides. (Probably Not) but one can hope. If I had to guess why they didn't make the charts this year is because

1) They haven't been receiving "amazing" reviews lately

2) One train operation

3) very slow operations staff this year

 

Well Ride of Steel may not have won a golden ticket this year (or ever), but it's still the best ride at Darien Lake!

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We've discussed the problems plaguing this park. They leave a bad impression on voters. It's the same reason, parks with good reputations seem to get more favorable results. While the intention is to vote purely on the coasters, human emotions will always play a factor.

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We've discussed the problems plaguing this park. They leave a bad impression on voters. It's the same reason, parks with good reputations seem to get more favorable results. While the intention is to vote purely on the coasters, human emotions will always play a factor.

 

Like what happened or more likely what's happening to Darien Lake that Is causing such problems as understaffing, lack of ride maintenance, and lack of general park cleanliness? Somehow I think the park is "suffering" with all the said things.

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The park is suffering without the problems this year. Neglect to aesthetics (paint, cleanliness, etc.) is a major problem, plus the park hasn't received a "major" coaster in 14 years. I still believe that Lake Monster can be done in the time frame left. The ride doesn't have to necessarily open on opening day. It can open in June or early July. The project may not even be a complete redo of Predator. Some old elements may be replaced with new ones, and the rest retracked.

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