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Six Flags Themed Areas: Does anyone care?


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A recent post in the SFOT thread suggested that the big announcement for 2013 would be transforming the Gotham area into a DC Comics area, allowing for more characters and theming.

 

That brings me to a question: would anyone care, or would that announcement be seen as craptastic?

 

Some parks like SDC have a basic overall theme for the entire park with minor variations of that theme in certain areas. It seems to work well.

Other parks like IOA or Disney have multiple themes carried out with elaborate detail. This seems to work, also.

 

But SF themed areas just seem to fail miserably, IMHO. Ride theming is usually limited to the station and queue line building, park area theming is mostly just the names and logos on the various shops.

 

The question is, do these themed areas make you enjoy the park any more than you would if the park were just a collection of rides? I enjoy themed rides a lot, but I could care less whether the area around it is themed. Even Holiday World, with its definite themed areas, feels pretty homogenous other than the ride names. I wouldn't like it any less if it were not themed at all. Cedar Point seems to have gotten the idea and doesn't seem to be any worse for it.

Edited by robbalvey
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The theming is an absolute hot mess in King's Dominion, FOF and I305 are in the "Africa" themed area. It seems that Anaconda,Crypt and Volcano-the blast coaster are the only rides that keep with the African theme. Sometimes, parks just like to divide the area into designated areas like HP with "Comet Hollow" and "Music Box Way"

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I'm not sure how I feel... Six Flags Great Adventure's Theme is strange on the West side of the park (Nitro, Batman, Ferris wheel) but on the east side you have some great themes! The western area has always looked nice (most likely because it was well done from the start) and the two new sections (Kingda Ka and El Toro) have a nice simple theme, but still transports you to a different place. In my opinion probably the best looking themed sections in the modern history of the six flags properties!

 

With that said, I'm not sure the themed sections in other areas of six flags properties are well done... Perfect example is SFA, other than the front entrance, the rest of the park feels like a dumping ground of coasters from other parks, with no real flow at all...

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I thought The Golden Kingdom was nice at Six Flags Great Adventure. However, I wasn't really a huge fan of Plaza del Carnaval. One really odd part of Plaza del Carnaval is that Rolling Thunder is in it, and like I305 and Flight of Fear, it doesn't fit in.

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I'm not sure how I feel... Six Flags Great Adventure's Theme is strange on the West side of the park (Nitro, Batman, Ferris wheel) but on the east side you have some great themes! The western area has always looked nice (most likely because it was well done from the start) and the two new sections (Kingda Ka and El Toro) have a nice simple theme, but still transports you to a different place. In my opinion probably the best looking themed sections in the modern history of the six flags properties!

 

With that said, I'm not sure the themed sections in other areas of six flags properties are well done... Perfect example is SFA, other than the front entrance, the rest of the park feels like a dumping ground of coasters from other parks, with no real flow at all...

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Agreed, but SFGadv's theming does have a big flaw. They have one part of Golden Kingdom seperate from the rest of the area having you to walk out to the Boardwalk and around to access the rest of it ever since they closed that path.

As for SFA, it starts out being nicely detailed on Main Street, but the farther back you get, it sucks more and more. The western area was nice, but the concrete paths are crumbling, the Southwest area looks rundown, abandoned, and uncared for, but Gotham City (if you could call it that) is the worst. Should call it Gotham Field instead. The only theming in that area is the food court and station buildings, the rest is grass and field.

 

EDIT: Rolling Thunder does still kind of fit the Del Carnival theme though since the west and Mexico were both kind of close to each other back then.

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Yes, I would care. I know for the most part, Six Flags fails at theming. But when they do try, it's really nice and I do really enjoy it. I think hands down the best theming in the chain is at SFFT. It has six clearly defined themed areas, and they are done pretty well. Crackaxle Canyon, Rockville, and Spassburg in particular. I also really appreciate that over the years, they have continued to attempt to keep with the theme in most cases. They could easily have called Goliath "Batman," but instead, they painted it colors to fit in with Los Festivales and surrounded it with a Mexican/Mayan feel. It's subtle theming, but it fits in with the themed area. I like it, and I would miss it if it were gone. I wish the other parks would revert back to trying harder with the theming.

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^ I was wondering that myself! I think it could/should. They would have to re-theme Pandemonium, Crazy Legs, and Acme Rockin' Rocket. Maybe they could add some Justice League type in the Action Theater? I would be super happy with that addition.

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Yes, I would care. I know for the most part, Six Flags fails at theming. But when they do try, it's really nice and I do really enjoy it. I think hands down the best theming in the chain is at SFFT. It has six clearly defined themed areas, and they are done pretty well. Crackaxle Canyon, Rockville, and Spassburg in particular. I also really appreciate that over the years, they have continued to attempt to keep with the theme in most cases. They could easily have called Goliath "Batman," but instead, they painted it colors to fit in with Los Festivales and surrounded it with a Mexican/Mayan feel. It's subtle theming, but it fits in with the themed area. I like it, and I would miss it if it were gone. I wish the other parks would revert back to trying harder with the theming.

 

^ I agree on every point, Six Flags Fiesta Texas goes high in my book as a Six Flags THEME park. As for theming in general, i would care if Six Flags decided to stop trying. Theming adds to the ambiance and the general feel of the park and rides, it definitely plays an important role in my experience in the park, on rides and other attractions.

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Great discussion!

 

I have always thought of the attempts at "theming" at a Six Flags or Cedar Far park to be more like "decoration." And yes, I think a nicely "decorated" attraction - meaning a well done station, queue area, ride vehicles, ride entrance area, etc, really do add something to a coaster or flat ride.

 

But this is where a chain like Six Flags needs to stop. In the case of something like Terminator or even Dark Knight, where they tried so hard to build a story and a theme, and then FORCED you to watch it, *that* is the point in which "nobody cared" and even got frustrated with it! While I give Six Flags credit for trying, they actually tried TOO HARD!

 

And I remember having discussions with the director of operations about being forced to watch the Terminator pre-shows, etc, and he would tell me "Well, you're forced to watch them on Tower of Terror..." and yes, but Terminator is NOT Tower of Terror! That's a completely themed attraction from start to end, and Terminator was just a "traditional wooden coaster with a pre-show." If you're going to pretend you're competing with Disney for a complete themed attraction, then you need to follow through with that. Otherwise, people are going to laugh at your efforts, and honestly, Terminator and Dark Knight were completely laughable.

 

As far as ride "decoration" goes, I actually thought Six Flags recently did a nice job with things like Green Lantern:

 

And even X-Flight, which has no intellectual property for inspiration, looked pretty nice:

 

but I kinda think this is the limit for Six Flags & Cedar Fair parks. Disney, Universal, Busch, and event Dollywood/SDC seem to be able to pull off "theming" pretty well, and they should keep it up. But the "amusement parks" should just stick with "decoration!"

 

That's my take on things....

 

--Robb

Edited by robbalvey
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^ Totally agreed. "Themed Decorations" work for Six Flags/Cedar Fair. Unless you are building a fully themed attraction from start to finish then a forced pre-show is a waste.

 

And let's face it, even the Tower of Terror pre show get's old sometimes.

 

Again, I thought the re-do of Gotham at SFMM was actually done really nice. You don't really get the feeling you are in Metropolis, etc (like you do in say Frontierland) but it's nice for fans to see all the different references in the decorations.

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And let's face it, even the Tower of Terror pre show get's old sometimes.

Agreed....And even though I've seen it like 1,000 times in multiple languages, I don't mind sitting through it! It's perfectly timed, entertaining, and actually DOES add to the story of the ride.

 

Terminator on the other hand was long, poorly written, and flat-out annoying because you simply didn't care. You just wanted to "ride the wooden roller coaster."

 

You don't go to Six Flags for themed attractions, and they just need to embrace that.

 

--Robb

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Almost all of the B:TR's started out with great theming. I especially liked the SFGAdv one. I think the best themed B:TR is in Six Flags Over Georgia. I certainly wouldn't enjoy Batman The Ride as much as I do without the theming. Now that I think about it, Six Flags Great Adventure's Gotham area started out with some great theming, but I think it was around 2007 when they started taking it out. http://www.greatadventurehistory.com/BTR.htm

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^^ To be fair, it's not "bad", and it's certainly better than Terminator, but it just kills me that you're forced to watch it, and when you get into the station, you see that they've been running empty cars around the circuit because you've been stuck watching this long pre-show. This is what I witnessed at both SFGAM and SFGADV on recent visits.

 

If it was just something that was being presented to you while you wait in line, that's totally fine (which is how I think Terminator is now), but even just a couple of weeks ago at Great Adventure, we were still forced to watch the Dark Knight pre-show (which I've now seen too many times) and I could have been riding instead of watching it, because the station was empty.

 

Theming should never....EVER get in the way of operations or ride capacity...EVER!!!

 

--Robb

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^^^ I didn't mind The Dark Knight pre-show either. But there is also another difference between that and Terminator.

 

Dark Knight: Low capacity mouse coaster

Terminator: Relatively high capacity wooden coaster

 

I think the problem most people had with Terminator was that it wasn't just 1 pre-show, but 3. And by the time you'd get to the station they would be sending out 1/2 empty trains which greatly reduced capacity. I'm sure this happens on The Dark Knight as well though.

 

If they had just utilized the indoor queue and had that be part of the "line" it wouldn't have been an issue.

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I care about Six Flags themed areas. I feel like without the themed areas, the park would be a total mess. It is OK to put a ride that doesn't make sense in a themed area (Apocalypse in Cyclone Bay?). I do feel like theming makes a coaster better as I really enjoyed Apocalypse (SFMM)'s theming. I never was forced to watch the pre-show, probably because it is no longer Terminator and the line is short.

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I agree with Robb. The only thing that annoys me is that they have the license for the most popular comic book character of all-time and the IP gets wasted on mildly themed roller coasters. A Batman ride that had the same attention to detail as the Spiderman ride would be amazing.

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I don't go to Six Flags for themed areas/rides. Never have never will. I wish they would have taken the money they spent on the 'theming' and put it towards a better/longer ride.

 

A perfect example of this (and has been mentioned before) are the Dark Knight Coasters. We rode it a TON of times at SFGAd, and they let us try with differing levels of theming ranging from full on, work lights, audio off, pitch black, etc. The general consensus was that it was best in pitch black!

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I agree I don't go to Six Flags for the themeing. While it makes some areas look nice, if it's not up-kept it just looks like crap. Again using Great Adventure as an example. Movietown: Since they've taken out Chiller, that whole area just looks dated and like crap. Batman's there, and it's still a good ride, but also on the same token the Batman queue could use some TLC. The Dark Knight, yeah the preshow gets boring after a while, but it's still a nice attempt at by the park to do something well.

 

But I think Six Flags if they want to keep going down the themed route, needs to have each park look at what areas they already have, and work on them, and work on tying rides to those themes or if they are going to re-theme, give each ride a little something to go with the theme. Even if it's just some minor decorations in the queue.

 

On the other hand if they decide to ditch area themeing all together, it won't diminish a ride.

 

Also instead of themeing areas of a park, what if each ride had it's own type of theme? Would that make it better or worse for the park?

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I love theming. I'd rather spend my day at Dollywood, a Disney park, or Universal over a coaster park any day. That being said unless you are going to go all in on theming you might as well skip it.. Green Lantern at GADV? I suspect it would have drawn the same crowds if it had a generic name and no theme. Six Flags could have saved the money on the license and the minimal set decorations and used that money towards the next capital investment.

 

Then there is good theming at Six Flags parks. Arguably, the Golden Kingdom area is a well themed area with original intellectual property. But, since the park itself doesn't have a cohesive story, (ride the movies, we're in the country or the theme park of tomorrow as examples) it was probably a waste of money as it's theming is a visible juxtaposition against the other areas of the park. "Visit Golden Kingdom to get an idea of how terribly themed and disjointed the rest of our park is".

 

 

I guess my thought is this-Six Flags just "dipping their toes" into theming is wasted money. You either jump in the water and create a cohesive immersive experience or admit you don't know how to swim and impress people with the things you do well.

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