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Why Does Everybody Hate on Six Flags?


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I'm honestly really fascinated to know why so many people hate on the Six Flag brand like crazy. Frankly, I love my Six Flags and I always will. As roller coaster lovers, shouldn't we love Six Flags BECAUSE THEY FOCUS ON ROLLER COASTERS?! Great Adventure is my home park, I go there all the time and it's still right up there with Hersheypark, Universal Orlando and Cedar Point to me and yes I've been to all of these. My friend that I went to Cedar Point with told me after the trip he liked Great Adventure better and he loves roller coasters too. I've heard numerous complaints about their customer service but Six Flags has always treated me well and I can put that up against other parks. I've heard complaints about their food but let's face it, has anyone been to an amusement park that has really good food? I haven't. I've heard complaints about the amount of time it takes to load the trains. Really, Nitro is the fastest coaster I've seen at loading trains and El Toro is a close second. So I have to ask, why the hell do people hate on Six Flags so much? I'd really like to know.

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I've heard complaints about their food but let's face it, has anyone been to an amusement park that has really good food?

 

Yes. Epcot has much better food than most non-theme park restaurants. Places like Sizzler and Golden Corral have worse food than I've seen in many theme parks.

 

You should branch out from just Great Adventure, arguably Six Flags' flagship park, to see how other parks in the chain are run, and how their operations are run. Then you'll understand more about what others, who have gone to these other parks all over the country and have seen it for themselves, are talking about with their respective beefs towards Six Flags.

 

If I can try to summarize it all, it's not just because Six Flags focuses on roller coasters. It's because Six Flags focuses on roller coasters at the expense of just about all the other aspects of the guest experience. Theming, food service, customer service, cleanliness, maintenance and upkeep, hiring standards, etc all suffer because so much of the capital budget, and general budget, is sucked up building roller coaster after roller coaster after roller coaster leaving little to spend on the smaller details that go a long way.

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Go to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

 

 

One train operations.

7 min dispatches on popular coasters.

Rotting and abandon buildings or rides scattered all over the park in plain sight of the guests.

HORRIBLE food.

Dirty and run down.

Obnoxious and rude employees.

Lack of anything else other than roller coasters.

 

 

And all these flaws are magnified when you have Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, Lego Land, and SeaWorld all within 2 hours drive of the park.

Edited by Top Thrill Dragster
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I have a few reasons to share on my list of issues.

 

Inconsistency. One six flags may be clean and friendly, while the next is dirty and rude. You can even experience this in the same park. One area is nicely kept and charming and them turn the corner to rotten wood, pealing paint, wild landscaping, and rust.

 

Operations. Go to six flags over Texas. Pretty good operations! Rides seem to all stay in working order and the trins load quickly enough. Go go fiesta Texas down the road and you never know what may be open or laws and they run too few trains and the operators Are slow pokes.

 

Balance. Well rounded parks are SFOT, SFGAm, SFFT, SFStL, and SFNE. These parks offer good coasters and plenty of flats, ranging wild to mild. Go to SFMM, SFGAdv, SFOG, take the coasters out and there's nothing left! No balance! At all! None!

 

Restraints covered in electrical tape, rides open late, eyesores sit untouched for years, no cohesive planning and development, initial investments on theming and detail completely abandoned and watered down in only a couple seasons offering a decline in your experience over time.

 

 

I love roller coasters, but I also love parks! Everything about them. I enjoy the architecture, landscape, rides selections, food, atmosphere, music, layout, all of it. Basing a park's merits purely on what coasters they have is short sited and small minded. There is a balance blend and art to having a good park. Six flags can never make up its mind. The few good ones out there literally fight with the company to do what they know is better.

 

SFOT and SFGAm embrace their history and love their properties. Look around and it shows. They are like diamonds in the rough in that company. SFNE is unquestionably the most beautiful and diverse park in the chain. SFGAdv can't hold a candle to it. It's so big it's got ratty landscaping all over that they can't keep up with, ugly tent structures all over, abandoned sections within the park, dulled watered down theming, disregard for their amazing history, and a big coaster collection. I don't care if it's the best coaster I've ever ridden if it's at a park that's ugly and unkept and doesn't have more to offer. I'll give the ride all the credit in the world but that doesn't make the whole park wonderful. Sf is a mess. Great rides, but only a few great parks.

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I'm not sure if it's an atmosphere thing or what. Having both a Six Flags park and a CF park as home parks (SFDK and CGA) I have a little something to compare to. What I don't care about in terms of SF: all of the advertising. A few here and there is one thing but when you get to plastering ads everywhere right down to the trains it becomes an ad frenzy rather than your escape from reality. On the flipside, a CF park feels a bit 'cleaner' and 'pure' if you want to say since if there are any ads they're quite subtle. Even Disney has some advertising (Space Mtn with FedEx promotion) but is kept subtle.

 

The lockers... The locker policy in my opinion is also pretty lame. I'm one who tends to take just a back pack with me which may have a jacket, camera, and souvenir cup as I do like to have hands free. While it's only $1, it almost begins to feel like a mini upcharge to ride the coasters that require them. My first experience with the lockers was a bit of a nuisance since my plans revolved around the lockers. Since it was a calm day when I went, I almost felt obligated to stay in the front of the park for 2 hours while my goods were stored. I don't have to worry about this at a CF park. With this said, these are the only few things that come to my mind that take away from a SF park.

 

I have ran into some friendly employees at both CGA and SFDK though I have a bit more experience with CGA since I frequent that place more. Food at both places aren't bad considering where you're at, and considering how many people they need to tend to when it comes to cooking...think mass production. Both parks have their quick and slow operations (CGA's Grizzly crew has gone onto a good 3 minutes between unload-dispatch). On average at both places seems to be about a little over a minute if I don't count Superman (which is insanely fast at unload-dispatch).

 

I do hear that SFDK is definitely one of the better SF parks and honestly it is a pretty nice park. Only other Six Flags park I went to which was only a single visit quite a while back was SFMM (2001). I don't quite remember how operations and cleanliness was as I was just exiting the GP stage and entering the enthusiast world.

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A lot of the hate carries over from the old Six Flags days. Premier Parks, IMO, destroyed the Six Flags brand when they flagged small parks like DL, EG, KK, etc. then basically left them there to rot. Up until 2004 or so the parks were in ROUGH shape. They very rarely painted old rides, they built coaster after coaster every year, and it was not uncommon to find the parks either running fewer trains or to be extremely short staffed.

 

I'm going to cover a few of the issues people complain about with Six Flags. For most of these I'm going to compare them to Cedar Fair, because as a whole they have more in common with each other than say Disney, Busch, or even Herschend parks.

 

L_ockers:

People got so worked up over this, but CF does this too. Kings Island has them for Flight or Fear and Firehawk, and Cedar Point has them for TTD and Millennium Force. Difference? No one b****es about the CF parks AND their lockers are a minimum of $2, not $1 like Six Flags. As a former ride operator, I LOVE these things. People bring so much utter crap with them to a ride platform, which can REALLY slow down operations. Nothing pissed me off more than getting ready to dispatch a train and then someone started yelling at you because they realized they still had their phone, iPod, camera, keys, wallet, etc. in their pockets.

 

One train operations/closed rides:

I'm going back to 2002 on this and the park I'm going to use (only SF with a lot of visits in this time frame) is SFOG. The only time I've visited when a coaster was closed the entire day was this year while Georgia Cyclone was getting topper track, and early season visits with Deja Vu (self explanatory there). Every time I have been and a ride was down they were either actively working on it, or the ride was down due to some kind of weather issue. I have visited one time when EVERY coaster was one train. It was in the 40s and every single train was going out with a handful of people. Every park would do the same thing. Every other time everything has been running multiple trains, with the exception of Ninja a couple of times (walk on) or at Deep South Bash 2011 when they were working on Mindbender's second train.

 

Compare this to the following CF parks that I have spent at least 3 or more days at in the same time frame: Carowinds, KI, KD, and CP.

Carowinds: on two visits in 2010 (including opening day) EVERY single coaster was running ALL trains. The second visit was Easter Sunday and besides Intimidator and Nighthawk, everything was a walk on. My visit this year was slightly different though. The park was not overly crowded, but for some reason Thunder Road only ran one train on each side and Intimidator dropped from 3 train operation down to 2 mid day. This caused the wait time to increase by 10-15 minutes.

 

Kings Dominion (2002, opening weekend 2010). Opening weekend 2010 was PATHETIC. Hurler and Shockwave did not open for the year for several weeks, Rebel Yell was only running one side, Backlot SC had ONE train on the track, the other two were nowhere to be found. We waited in line for an hour just so I could get the credit. Grizzly was one train with 30+ minute waits, Volcano was 1 train, Dominator was 2 trains but with pathetic dispatches. We timed several in a row and the quickest one was 4.5 minutes. The. Quickest. One. All this, and virtually NOBODY called the park out on this in the trip reports here that weekend. Imagine the uproar if that had been at a Six Flags!

 

Kings Island (2 days each in 2010 and 2011, 1 day this year)-

2010 park absolutely dead, all trains running except for Blue Racer (down all day both days), and The Beast (2 trains both days)

2011- moderately busy- ALL trains running on all rides

2012- Crowds in between dead and moderately busy- again, ALL trains running.

 

Cedar Point (2 days each in 2010 and 2012)- All trains running each visit. The only two exceptions are Gemini (only one side running on 3.5 of those days), and Magnum this year (2 trains both days with a full station, while Mean Streak and Iron Dragon each had 3 running barely full. Maybe maintenance issues?).

 

So the same issues happen at some parks at BOTH chains, yet CF seems to get an unfair pass. I'll even throw Dollywood in here. On my second visit this year Wild Eagle was running one train with the wait ranging from 25-40 minutes throughout the day. My last ride the person at the station split was doing a terrible crowd control, as the station was so packed you couldn't move. People still give them a pass because they're Dollywood.

 

Park upkeep/advertising/theming etc:

Six Flags has REALLY stepped it up the last few years. Just look at what coasters they've painted since 2004 or so:

SFOG: Scorcher, Batman, GASM, Ninja, and Mindbender, etc.

SFMM: X2, Viper, Batman, Superman, Ninja, etc.

SFDK: All the non kiddie steel coasters

SFNE: Bizarro, Flashback, Mind Eraser, etc.

SFFT: Superman, Poltergeist, Boomerang, etc.

 

Cedar Fair rarely paints rides it seems, and when they do it seems like they do it in parts (3 years for MF, 2 years for Magnum, 2 years for Talon, only Anaconda's brake run in 2010, only Xcelerator's supports, only Vortex (KI) rails, etc.). Why does Six Flags get so much hate for for this, yet again most CF parks get a pass?

 

I'll admit Six Flags does way more with advertising, but it's a money maker for them. Maybe I'm just use to it because of the internet, TV, sporting events, etc. It really doesn't bother me to see Mindbender's train plastered with hair products or Georgia Scorcher covered in blue natural gas flames. I think it would bother me if it were to be done on an actual heavy themed ride, but Six Flags doesn't really do that, and that's ok. They have done a much better job recently of landscaping/theming their rides. Honestly, I would much rather CF and Six Flags buy a major ride, give it a good looking station and nice landscaping (Diamondback, Maverick, X-Flight, Dare Devil Dive, Lex Luthor, etc.) than buy a crappy ride and try to really theme it (Dark Knight).

 

TL:DR Summary:

I think many people forget that Six Flags isn't Disney/Universal. You can't expect that level of quality when you don't pay for it. That would be like going to Red Lobster and expecting 5 star food there. Not going to happen. Their gate prices reflect what you can expect, IMO. I paid $45.99 for my 2012 SF Season pass. I paid $66.99 for a two day CP ticket, $60+ for a one day Dollywood ticket, and $29.99 for my one day Kings Island ticket. I feel like I got the best value for Six Flags for the money spent. They aren't perfect, but they are a far cry from the Six Flags of 1998-2005 or so. Unfortunately for Six Flags, it is VERY hard to shake a negative reputation, which is why they get so much hate.

 

I'm really not as big of a Six Flags fanboy as my last few posts make me out to be. I just hate seeing everyone "gang up" on something

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As roller coaster lovers, shouldn't we love Six Flags BECAUSE THEY FOCUS ON ROLLER COASTERS?!

 

This is what I take issue with. Yes I like coasters, but I'm much more of a "Theme park fan" than a "roller coaster fan" and Six Flags on the whole has sum-standard theme parks.

 

I could write a huge essay about what they're doing well and not so well but I'm sure they're aware or their shortcomings. Let just put it this way - I'd rather spend a day at the MAgic Kingdom than 70% of SF parks.

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I've heard complaints about their food but let's face it, has anyone been to an amusement park that has really good food?

 

Yes. Epcot has much better food than most non-theme park restaurants. Places like Sizzler and Golden Corral have worse food than I've seen in many theme parks.

 

I went in 1983 and the food was mostly terrible. American made McD's look good and I think the Mexican restaurant was about to have a riot due to slow service and poor quality. Japanese was good but probably $$$.

 

BGW is decent. Country Kitchen at KD is good when they're even open but more expensive for what you get. Both definutely were better in the past, though. When KD had Bubba Gump's, now that was something. Panda's is good but volatile.

 

As to SF, the superhero theming doesn't make me want to like them, but in my limited experience is OK except some ride closings at SFA. Their early closing times are lame, though.

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I went in 1983 and the food was mostly terrible. American made McD's look good and I think the Mexican restaurant was about to have a riot due to slow service and poor quality. Japanese was good but probably $$$.

 

Thanks for the current update on food quality at EPCOT.

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I've heard complaints about their food but let's face it, has anyone been to an amusement park that has really good food?

Yes, Dollywood has great food.

 

As do Silver Dollar City and Knoebels (not haute cuisine, but well-made amusement-park food for a reasonable price).

 

Note that the name of this site is "Theme Park Review," and not "Roller Coaster Review." While we do, indeed, lover roller coasters here, we also focus more on the overall park experience. For example, my favorite theme park is Tokyo DisneySea, which has only one coaster, which I haven't even ridden yet. No one has topped the atmosphere of that park, at least for me.

 

Six Flags parks are quite variable. SFOT, SFOG, SF Great America, and SFSL are good parks; SFMM and SFA, not so much. If you're simply at a park for the coasters, that's OK. But other park chains (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld) offer much better overall experiences than Six Flags.

 

Panda's is good but volatile.

 

I take it that you meant "variable"? Or is Panda Express prone to fits of violence?

Edited by cfc
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Of my 3 home parks: Legoland California, Knott's Berry Farm, & Six Flags Magic Mountain, SFMM has the worst food, worst management, worst operations, and the worst crowd. Six Flags is hated on just because they have low quality and they love to cut corners at the expense of guest satisfaction. Even when SFDK & CGA were my home parks, SFDK had worse operations and a worse crowd than CGA.

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Yes I like coasters, but I'm much more of a "Theme park fan" than a "roller coaster fan" and Six Flags on the whole has sum-standard theme parks.

 

Yeah, for an illustration of why people hate Six Flags so much I recall my first and only experience with SFMM. It was early 2007 back when Six Flags was trying to sell the park off for a quick, crack-like infusion of cash to save management's asses from getting blamed for financially ruining the company. The park was in deplorable condition. Yes, they had a lot of coasters and a scenic setting, but they offered nothing else. A great deal of the coasters were down for maintenance and the ones that did run were in bad condition. All the B&Ms had a terrible case of "B&M rattle", even Tatsu, which was quite new at the time. And there was a terrible lack of non-coaster attractions.

 

Walking around SFMM in that time it felt like being a West Baltimore slum with a bunch of abandoned-looking buildings that desperately needed paint. The fact that management wasn't even paying for paint on random little buildings said how little they gave a crap about the park. At one point I walked around looking for food and noticed there was one outlet selling sushi. I thought to myself, "What depraved individual would buy sushi at a filthy Six Flags park?" I wound up getting an apple to munch on, but when I bit into it it was totally rotten inside. What a perfect metaphor for SFMM at that time.

 

We met up with Robb & Elissa that weekend and they told us that the Herschends had looked into buying SFMM, but decided they weren't interested because the park would require ~$200 million to fix the park up to their standards. Maybe some of that money would have gone into additions, but a lot of it was just deferred maintenance. Instead of adding as many coasters as they could possibly order, management should have taken some of that money and put it back into keeping the park pretty and enjoyable to be in. It sounds like Jay Thomas was attempting to go in this direction with SFMM during his far-too-short tenure running the place.

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To be fair, I've been to SFMM for a few TPR events and enjoyed the park--there are some solid coasters (for example, Tatsu, Batman, and Apocalypse, and I rather enjoyed X2, as well).

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shouldn't we love Six Flags BECAUSE THEY FOCUS ON ROLLER COASTERS?!

I think most people would agree that they like the roller coasters at Six Flags, just not always the operations at some of the parks in the chain.

 

I've heard numerous complaints about their customer service but Six Flags has always treated me well and I can put that up against other parks.

How many other parks have you visited? Have you ever visited parks outside the USA?

 

I've heard complaints about their food but let's face it, has anyone been to an amusement park that has really good food? I haven't.

Yes, quite a few, actually. Disney, Universal, Busch, Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, Knoebel's, Europa, Liseberg, I could continue but I won't....

 

I've heard complaints about the amount of time it takes to load the trains. Really, Nitro is the fastest coaster I've seen at loading trains and El Toro is a close second. So I have to ask, why the hell do people hate on Six Flags so much? I'd really like to know.

The answer is simple...

 

YOU NEED TO GET OUT MORE!!!

Edited by robbalvey
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One thing that kinda irked me about SF was the year they put in the l_ockers...

 

I wrote a nicely worded letter (not a flaming rant) to their corporate customer service department stating why I disapproved of it and how some of the other parks worked to accommodate guest's items without having them pay extra for it. I never received an acknowledgment from them where even a "Thanks for the E-mail - we will definitely look into it" answer would have been better than nothing at all.

 

I then sent an E-mail to CF mentioning the effectiveness of their ride bins/sliding doors & there was a nice response in my Inbox the next day thanking me for taking the time to write them and how glad they were that they could provide a good park experience for me. They also mentioned that if there was anything else that they could do to make my experience better in the future to let them know.

 

When I had an issue with processing my CP Platinum Pass a couple of years ago, they worked with me and were eventually able to get me all squared away and were also very apologetic about the confusion. To me, that showed excellent customer service by being able to resolve a negative issue in a professional and courteous manner.

 

I sent a letter to Sea World a few years ago thanking them for the awesome job they did when they found my Dad's keys to the motor home which he lost while riding Manta (he had thought he had emptied all of his pockets before boarding). I also received a very nice, prompt response in which they acknowledged that they were "just trying to provide good customer service". They also thanked us for visiting the park and mentioned how they hoped that we would visit their park again in the future.

 

While I can't say that I have ever had a "horrible" theme park experience at any park we've visited (I've never been to Fuji-Q! ), customer service & guest relations are very big keys to a parks success...just ask Disney.

 

Being that I have worked in a customer quality assurance role for the past ten years, it does make a difference when you provide prompt responses to customer concerns & issues in an effective, friendly, professional and outgoing manner. There is nothing more satisfying knowing that you helped someone resolve an issue and they in turn praise your effort in helping them. Ignoring a negative issue, a problem trend, or even those "little things" will only anger & alienate some customers which could very well result in them going to another competitor in the future.

 

While the lack of response to my E-mail would never keep me from visiting another SF park (nor would I "hate" on them for such a minor offense), it does heighten my awareness for watching for examples of good/poor customer service during future visits to their parks.

 

I certainly wouldn't hesitate to write SF and tell them about a noted excellent customer service example & would be very interested to see what type of response I would receive. Let's see if comes to fruition!

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The fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo... The fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo policy in my opinion is also pretty lame. I'm one who tends to take just a back pack with me which may have a jacket, camera, and souvenir cup as I do like to have hands free. While it's only $1, it almost begins to feel like a mini upcharge to ride the coasters that require them.

 

BGW has the exact same fluffy fluffy bunny policy and they cost pretty much the same amount. Some coasters here require you to stow your bags away while others are a bit more lenient with smaller bags (backpacks are a different story for most coasters though). It definitely helps speed up operations on the platform when you leave your stuff outside the ride gate than just placing things on the platform and then running back to get on the train.

 

I personally just carry essential items (camera, cell, wallet, water bottle) when I go to a theme park. It definitely helps out with the whole fluffy fluffy bunny issue.

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I find that the Six Flags Parks I've visited just don't offer a complete Theme Park Experience. There are things they do very well, like having a very good coaster collection at many of their parks, but when you have parks like Six Flags America, where they have no shade, one train ops on every coaster, very average food at best, it doesn't help their image. In comparison, I would say a park like BGW offers a more full experience.

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Kings Island has them for Flight or Fear and Firehawk, and Cedar Point has them for TTD and Millennium Force. Difference? No one b****es about the CF parks AND their fluffy, fluffy bunnies filled with medicine and goo are a minimum of $2, not $1 like Six Flags.

 

You do realize that's because on all but Firehawk that the loading and exit platforms are in different locations? And I believe that there were either bins on Firehawk or they let guests put stuff up against the wall.

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