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Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (SFDK) Discussion Thread


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http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/its-now-safe-to-ride-the-medusa/Content?oid=3577205

 

 

It's Now Safe to Ride the Medusa

 

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo ends its lockout of park mechanics — but still faces labor violations charges.

 

By Shane Bond

 

For a time this spring, it looked as if Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo might be a good place for families to avoid. Management had locked out mechanics in a labor dispute, raising questions about safety on the amusement park's thrill rides, particularly as the busy summer season was about to begin. But late last week, the Texas-based theme park chain agreed to end the lockout — though not before union leaders alleged that the company had committed multiple labor violations.

 

The labor dispute at Six Flags started last year when ride mechanics unionized under the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers. Negotiations with management then broke down this spring over disagreements about safety, training, and wages. Even though the Vallejo amusement park features some of the largest and fastest thrill rides in the country, including the 65-mph Medusa loop-to-loop roller coaster, it traditionally has paid the people who make sure those rides remain in good working order a relatively low wage — lower, in fact, than the prevailing wage of $18 to $19 an hour paid to mechanics at other amusement parks.

 

Yet after more than a dozen negotiating sessions with union officials, company management steadfastly refused to pay that higher wage and issued what it deemed to be its "final" offer: $17.50 an hour. "They told us, 'You vote now or we lock you out,'" said union spokesman Garry Horrocks.

 

The mechanics, however, rejected the proposal, so management locked them out and brought in replacement workers from its other theme parks. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is the nation's largest amusement park operator in terms of facilities, and fifth largest in attendance, with about 25 million customers annually.

 

The locked-out mechanics then set up picket lines and warned customers about potential safety issues. "We have seen an increase in ride breakdowns," Horrocks said during the lockout. He said that mechanics brought in from other amusement parks did not have the same level of knowledge about the numerous rides at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom as the mechanics who were locked out. "It's like taking someone who works on Fords and then giving them a Chevy; it's not going to be the same," he said.

 

But Six Flags spokeswoman Nancy Chan denied that safety was ever at risk. "The union is using scare tactics," she said during the lockout. "We have not and will never compromise the safety of our guests and employees. All of our rides are being inspected and maintained by highly trained and certified individuals with years of experience."

 

However, after the mechanics' safety warnings aired on several Bay Area TV news broadcasts, Six Flags management decided to improve its final offer. According to union negotiator Tom Brandon, Six Flags agreed to multiple changes to its proposal, including better training for mechanics and a guarantee to reinstate health care to union employees who were cut off from coverage during the lockout. The changes were enough for union mechanics to agree to the deal despite the fact that Six Flags refused to increase its wage proposal. ....

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Glad that's resolved.

 

So for those of you local people, is the smart thing to do now is go to Superman first or is it still Medusa first and then head over to Superman?

You have a gold pass from SFMM don't you? If you do, Oasis Plaza opens 5-10 minutes early for gold pass holders so you can do Medusa (and Kong if you're feeling spry) first and still make it to Superman before there's a real line. If you havent done SUF yet try to get both rows 1 and 6. The view of the roll in row 1 is spectacular and the airtime in row 6 is awesome.

 

They don't always have a sign advertising the gold pass entry, so talk to the employee holding the rope if its not posted.

 

Unless it's a Saturday or other unusually busy day you can almost always ride everything before it gets busy if you get there early and hustle.. When I go on Sundays I can usually ride all 6 coasters and be on my way to the parking lot by 12 or 12:30 as the crowds are still streaming in.

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^^^I still recommend going to Superman first. The last few times, I went to Medusa in the last half hour of operation and it was EMPTY. As in, we were the only 3 riders on the train during one cycle. I think that was on Memorial Day Weekend even.

Sometimes there is a wait for the front, but the rest is always walk-on at the end of the day. Superman does not appear to experience the same emptying. If you're planning to stay the entire day, I'd recommend doing Medusa last.

 

The concert that I previously mentioned is looking to be on October 12th this year at SFDK! No band announcements yet, but I'm getting super excited! They also announced on their Facebook page that concert-goers might get in to the park one hour before everyone else. YEAHHH!!! Rocker (Rawker) ERT!!!

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I was thinking about getting a season pass for this season, but would I be better off waiting and getting a 2014 season pass later in the year? Does anyone know when those usually go on sale and if they will allow you to visit for the rest of the 2013 season?

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I was thinking about getting a season pass for this season, but would I be better off waiting and getting a 2014 season pass later in the year? Does anyone know when those usually go on sale and if they will allow you to visit for the rest of the 2013 season?

If you plan on visiting at least twice in the next few months then go ahead and get it, because it will pay for itself anyway. The next year's passes usually come out near the end about September I think (I got my 2013 pass last september), but yes if you buy a "next year" season pass it can be used immediately.

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Went to the park on Saturday. Finally got to ride Superman. It's a fun ride. I didn't find it very intense at all though. But props to the ride crew. They were amazingly fast.

 

Also saw the new Cirque show. I'm am NOT a fan of theme park shows but this one was absolutely great. Spoke with Capt. Lee and he mentioned they are trying to get the dolphin's more involved in this show which could only make the show even better.

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  • 2 weeks later...

^It is great to hear that Superman Ultimate Flight manages to be run so efficiently... The fact that they opted for a one train operation for a new ride still baffles me, but at least it hasn't seemed to hurt the attraction's hourly capacity too much.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey guys,

 

i'm from Germany and i'm about to visit Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for the first time. In order to manage multiple rides i plan to get a flashpass.

On the internet page i've seen that Superman is not listed for the pass. why is that? Does anyone know? Pictures of the ride show that it has two entrances.

 

And is there any specific strategy for the park?

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Unless its changed in the last couple of months Superman is on Flash Pass. That right hand door you see in the photos is the flash pass entrance (and single rider entrance when they're doing it).

 

If you go on a Sunday and/or right when the park opens, you can get on Superman quickly before the line gets longer. It usually takes at least a half an hour for the line to build up. I usually do Superman first then V2 and roar, then head over and do Medusa and Kong, and if I'm really bored then the middle of the park for Boomerang which is by itself. There is ZERO signage in the park for Boomerang - use the M&M stairs on the way to Medusa and Kong to find it if you're feeling daring.

 

It's really quite possible to do everything easily without a flash pass, especially if you're not as interested in the flats since there's only 6 coasters (not counting cobra). But if the money isn't much to you or you cant stand lines or rather not worry about it, go for it. If you're going on a Friday or a Saturday it's more useful.

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Flash Pass on Superman requires Platinum Grade, and is limited to one ride per day. You'll be given a time to show up for your ride. If you miss it, you lose your chance.

 

At least that's how it was when I worked there.

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^ Thanks for filling in that gap in my knowledge, V2-dude. Admittedly, I never use the Flash Pass at SFDK.

 

DemCookies, if you arent already planning on getting Platinum, I wouldnt get it just for that..the line doesnt usually get that out of control, which is because of the awesome crew that works Superman. Every single time I've been to the park the Superman operating crew is on the ball dispatching trains as fast as possible..It really is the most consistently awesome operation I've seen at any park. On the busiest days I've seen up to 45 minute waits. Only once (outside of when the ride first opened) have I seen the que fill up the lower switchbacks and spill into the upper ones, that was on Key Club day.

 

PSA: Key Club day is Saturday 10/19. Avoid the park at all costs on this day.

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If you need another reason to get Platinum, you get two consecutive rides on all other rides that accept Flashpass (not Superman). Just show the crew your wristband, and you can stay seated.

 

But as stated, the Superman line moves pretty quickly. I would invest in the Platinum if the line is beyond the lower switchbacks (which happens more often than you'd think. No one here see's it because enthusiasts tend to avoid busier days).

 

^Funny you should mention fast dispatches. On hotter days when the ride first opened, management would slap us with a heat restriction regarding dispatches. Basically we were sending out trains so frequently that the LSM and electrical cooling systems couldn't keep up, and the computer would shut everything down to prevent overheating. We were instructed to slow down, as we were literally moving too fast. The problem was eventually patched and from what I've heard from people still working there, it's no longer an issue.

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Funny you should mention fast dispatches. On hotter days when the ride first opened, management would slap us with a heat restriction regarding dispatches. Basically we were sending out trains so frequently that the LSM and electrical cooling systems couldn't keep up, and the computer would shut everything down to prevent overheating. We were instructed to slow down, as we were literally moving too fast. The problem was eventually patched and from what I've heard from people still working there, it's no longer an issue.
Lol, that is an awesome badge of honor. "Yeah, we dispatched trains so fast we overheated the ride. Yup."

 

I wonder why on Superman guests can load right on top of the unloading guests but on most other coasters the platform has to be mostly free of the departing guests before the air gates even open. (Boomerang has the weirdest station rules..station has to be empty when train dispatches but guests can come in before the train does the fast pass through?)

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^Eh, I've done better. During THBS's/Pandemonium's inaugural season, we were sending cars around so fast that an air tank in the brake run imploded. I'm not joking.

 

As for station occupancy, each ride has a unique operating procedure which includes queue management. Boomerang's first lift uses a cable and the station must be kept clear until the train disengages it. Should the cable snap for any reason, the station is kept clear of any guests for their protection.

 

As for opening air gates, on most coasters, a height check is performed by a crew member on the platform before the air gates can open. They must walk past every gate looking for children and leprechauns who may not be tall enough. Once they have determined that all guest are tall enough to ride, the gates are opened. Unloading guests are leaving during this process. On Superman and Boomerang, the height check is performed at the entrance to the station, so there is no need for a delay in opening the gates once the train is spotted.

Edited by V2-dude
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So it sounds like Flash Pass may not be worth it if you show up right at opening, and head over to Superman then work your way around the coaster circuit. How have the crowds been on the weekends recently? Looks like Flash Pass is offered on a decent amount of rides, and I know there can be long lines for some rides such as White Water Safari. Thoughts?

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Great video of Superman! It perfectly captures how ridiculous the ride is. I never really thought of it as screwed up before, but it really is kinda wacky if you think about it. That said Robb, were you able to try different rows on it? The front is definitely great for the view and the OMFG moment of airtime after the upward spiral. On the other hand, the back has the crazy airtime on the drop and whips you around.

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Great video of Superman! It perfectly captures how ridiculous the ride is. I never really thought of it as screwed up before, but it really is kinda wacky if you think about it. That said Robb, were you able to try different rows on it? The front is definitely great for the view and the OMFG moment of airtime after the upward spiral. On the other hand, the back has the crazy airtime on the drop and whips you around.

I wasn't. Since I was out at the park for "work" not "play", I only got the two rides we were able to video. I'll be back next year and will get to ride a bit more...

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