Labor Day weekend Trip to Six Flags Over Texas: Saturday Afternoon.
so after my TPR USA 2018 trip got back on Saturday, 8/4 -- we had planned the next day (Sun 8/5) to head to Six Flags Over Texas for the first time in many years to take advantage of our 2018 Season Passes. . . which we had purchased on a whim on Cyber Monday 2017, after several years of not having them.
there were several things on my list that I’d really like to ride: Texas Skyscreamer, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Riddler, Mr. Freeze (which I had never been on as it was down every prior visit to the park), and New Texas Giant – which I also had never been on.
However, there was simply no way I would be able to ride anything (let alone navigate the park) until I had given my Quad injury time to heal. Luckily, the hotel was willing to refund the room rate, and we planned to reschedule once I was recovered.
Fast forward about a month, and I was doing much better. Still not 100%, but much better, and ready to give SFoT a shot.
Labor Day Weekend, was our rescheduled trip, since we had Monday off. . but due to the holiday weekend (and a College Football game), room costs had skyrocketed. The place we had planned on staying that we had to cancel on (across the freeway from Six Flags) had jumped from ~$80 pre tax to almost $380 pre tax.
I was willing to pay for the room anyways since I knew price would go up due to holiday weekend, but decided to look around first.
Thanks to an online search thru my Marriott rewards account, was able to book at 4 Points by Sheraton (which had just been acquired by Marriott) and get a great room rate of just about $100 for the night.
Interesting aside: Folks that were checking in at the other side of the desk when we checked in paid over $400 for their room. . they asked why our room was so much cheaper, and she told them it’s because I had pre-booked online, and they were paying walk in rate. *I* think she should have told them that it’s impolite to listen in to what others are paying. . but hey, I don’t work there
They also had what looked like a decent coffee shop/bar in the lobby that was open late, I think due to the football game crowd. We didn’t get a chance to sample the food or drinks, but I did peek at the menu and the options looked good.
It’s also really close – almost walking distance, and on the same side of the freeway - as SFOT, so I highly recommend this hotel: 4 Points by Sheraton (it’s a converted Holiday Inn Express as of May of 2018).
Anyways, since Dallas is ~3 ½ hours away from Austin, I got Nick to agree that we’d leave on Saturday by 11am, get to hotel to check in by 3, and then have a good 7 hours in the park before they close at 10. Then in the morning, we’d check out of hotel, and go to the park for a few hours before heading back to Austin no later than 4pm.
I figured that would be a decent amount of time to spend in the park and we should be able to hit what we wanted to ride.
What I hadn’t realized, but quickly discovered, is that not only was that Saturday BAFF (bring a friend free) day, but also there was a Platinum Passholders event happening from 10pm – midnight that night, so yeah it was going to be packed. I figured that since Nick won’t ride many things, I’d see about maybe doing my own Flash Pass, but would play it by ear.
So we packed the overnight bag, and got on the road to Dallas. With a brunch stop along the way in Hilsboro, where we stopped at IHOP and I tried one of the advertised everywhere “IHOB” burgers. They were having some staffing issues (and a very large church group had taken the majority of the servers, so we had to wait about 15 minutes even tho there were a lot of tables open. I absolutely didn’t mind, since what’ the point of sitting at a table if your server is going to be tied up with helping the large tables?
The burger I got, I think called the breakfast burger, was actually pretty good: Hashbrowns, Bacon, and an egg on top of the patty, and for a side I was encouraged to swap out the fries for pancakes. Even tho the egg was a little overcooked (it’s supposed to be runny so when you bite into it, it runs down throughout the burger), I was impressed with how it was better than it had any need to be. So yeah, I’d recommend it.
The crowd was very entertaining too – about what you’d expect in a small town in Texas: lots of Religious shirts, lots of cowboy hats, and lots of Metallica t-shirts on everyone else that wasn’t wearing a cross or a cowboy hat. LOL
We finished our lunch and were back on the road shortly. With very little traffic we made great time, and by 2pm we were pulling into the Hotel lot and getting checked in. we dumped our stuff in the room, hopped back in the car, and took the 2 minute drive to SFoT parking lot.
A fellow TPR member (and that’s another reason why I love the group of folks who post here at TPR), offered to reserve parking for us, since she wouldn’t be using her Diamond Membership that weekend. Nick was worried about taking advantage, since we weren’t members, but I accepted the offer (and thanked her profusely via email, so that’s why not mentioning names here. . but it was a wonderful kindness). I figured, if the park tells us we can’t use a Member’s reserved parking without them being with us? We’ll just go to the regular parking anyways. . so no harm in asking. It turned out that SFoT didn’t care at all, and directed us to the Preferred parking lot, just beyond the Parking entrance gates, and right near the front entrance to the park.
we stopped to get a picture of us near La Vibora from outside the fence then headed into the main gates. . and absolute chaos.
I knew it would be crowded due to BAFF, and the Diamond Membership event. . but the Flash Sale on the passes had really brought out the people (I had renewed ours for 2019 online from home on Friday). The entrance queue lines to get in were packed.
The Flash Pass booth had a line that snaked all the way back across the main entrance, and I took one look at that and decided that instead of Flash Pass? we would just ride what we could, and would wait together in lines enjoying each other’s company, since most of what Nick can/will ride don’t take Flash Pass anyways.
Honestly, tho I had a wish list of things I’d like to get on, there was only one ride on “must ride” list (New Texas Giant), and he was willing to wait with me in line for that.
it was insane how crowded it was at the front entrance plaza – which also had blasting loud music over speakers, and folks on microphones promoting the flash sale and a local radio station. So we needed to get away from there, but not before getting on the Carousel – which at Six Flags is up the steps overlooking the main entrance plaza.
It really is an absolutely gorgeous carousel here at Six Flags Over Texas. Certainly one worth riding. But OMG. . if you read my report from Six Flags America, I was disappointed that they I rode the carousel there to U2. I said it was the worst I’d ever been on. SFoT said “hold my beer”
We rode the beautiful grand Carousel at Six Flags Over Texas, not to organ music, or even Carousel music. . but to blasting loud Will Smith “Getting Jiggy With It
”. I $#!t you not.
To say I was appalled is an understatement. . LOL. . but I’m smiling in the pictures, because. . . well. . . it’s a Carousel. But bleh. . awful. We finished our ride, and immediately got the hell away from the entrance Plaza, and didn’t ride it again, which is rare for me.
we headed towards Giant, but stopped at anything Nick would ride along the way, including El Sombrero (a Trabant), which is where the full effect of BAFF day hit us while in line, where we witnessed just some awful behavior.
Apparently BAFF actually translates to “bring your entitled a-hole acquaintances with no social interaction skills and who can’t afford to buy a ticket to go out in public” Seriously, I’ve never seen so much self-entitlement, posturing, and/or line cutting in my life at a park.
Another example is the exit from Titan, where you exit thru the gift shop. I was trying to buy us bottled water and the one employee manning the register ignored me for 6 minutes (I timed it) while she flirted and made dating plans with some guys on the side of the counter. I eventually just put the waters down and walked out.
I don’t work at SFoT, so not my place to say anything, so I said nothing. . although later in the line for Texas Giant, after watching the 5th group of teenagers cut the line, I actually DID say something to the guy who was manning the Flash Pass entrance. And he shrugged at it. Yes, I know they have the “if you see someone cutting, text” signs up ..but it was just disappointing to see that.
Anyways, deep breath. . . regardless, I let all of the above go and did our best to enjoy the afternoon/evening.
we went to New Texas Giant, and without Flash Pass it had about an hour wait, but Nick stood with me in line, until we got to the Flash Pass entrance (at which point he slipped out and sat down). This was bucket list coaster for me, as I had not been back to the park since they RMCd it. I thought the 1st half was incredible, but after the midcourse, it just kind of meanders about, slowly. Someone I rode with told me that they had started breaking it severely at the midcourse in the past few months, but that earlier in the season it had been flying thru the course. Hopefully will get a chance again in early 2019 season to try it out again and it will be less sluggish on the back half. Sill, I liked it.
After that we headed over to Titan – which as big as it is, is still “hidden” way in the corner of the park, and had a very short line because of that. I rode this solo too, but the wait wasn’t more than 10 minutes. This is still a great coaster, although I noticed also they brake here at mid course, almost stopping the ride. The weirdest thing about Titan is that they use the center of the layout for storage, so it’s odd to see pieces of the dismantled Troika, rafts from Thunder River/Roaring Rapids, and old parking lot shuttles, just hanging out in the center of the coaster as you zoom around it. Able to get some nice views of the baseball stadium from this ride tho.
We also grabbed a ride on the scrambler, Sidewinder, here too. .and saw them setting up one of the Haunts (Zombie themed) for Fright Fest.
the flume, while historic, and always worth a ride? Was only running one side, and the line was well over an hour, so we bypassed that. Same with Thunder River rafts, which had a line spilling out of the queue and into the walkways.
we did get in the line, and wait over 45 minutes for Yosemite Sam, yeah park was that crowded.
But I was fine with that because: 1) Nick will ride it 2) the queue is covered, and has air conditioning in the middle, 3) its’ an indoor dark ride and we both love those.
Interestingly enough, once we finally got to the boats ,we were between a family of 7, and a group of 8. . so they sent us alone, in a boat that holds 8-10 (two boats connected, each with two seats). I guess that explains why the line had grown so long, it was weird that he didn’t’ ask if any groups of 2 were there to fill the rest of the boat. Eh. . it made for a surreal experience, and was quite nice.
we continued around the park stopping as we got to things (Rodeo was closed ☹, so no bull themed ride for me tonight, as was the Oil Derrick(something to do with elevator parts needed)), Shockwave was basically a walk on, which is a shame. It still holds up great, and they are no longer doing that silly VR stuff on it. I was going to re-ride if nick was willing to go on it with me, but he just wasn’t feeling it so we moved on.
got to ride Caddo Lake Barge, and I’m glad we did, since it’s going away. It’s a fun, if short, cycle and it wasn’t pulling much of a line. Superman Tower of Power DID have a huge line, but luckily it has a solo rider line, so I waited less than 10 minutes for my ride on it.
we were headed towards the Mine Trains (Mini and Runaway), when Mr. Freeze started cycling. It hadn’t been running the whole time we were there and I was joking how I’d miss it yet again, so we bypassed everything else and headed directly to Mr. Freeze. Nick sat down outside, and I got in the line having no idea how long it would be – since the queue is hidden – but figuring it wouldn’t be too bad since it had just opened. Here again, LOTS of line cutting – in this case, teens pretending to talk on their phones, to cut the queue to “meet their friends up ahead”. And people let them pass! Grrrr.
It didn’t matter in this case, because 5 minutes after I got in line the ride went down, and a lot of folks left the line. I texted Nick and said I was gonna give it 15 minutes since I SEEMED to be close to the loading platform (wasn’t sure since never had been on the ride). After 14 minutes, they opened up the ride again, and it turned out I was correct, I was really close to the platform. So close, in fact, that when there was an open seat at the back – or front, since it’s reverse blast still – they asked if anyone was riding alone, and I got on the 2nd train after they reopened! Well worth the wait, and excellent ride, and something that’s totally re-ridable. If I had a flash pass, would have gotten immediately back in line. But since we didn’t and I didn’t want to be greedy, I went back to Nick, and we headed back towards the Mine Trains.
Both had gone down while we had side tracked to Mr. Freeze, but there appeared to be folks in orange vests working on both. So maybe a quick sensor check or something? Regardless, we decided while over here we’d get a ride on Gunslinger – which is still the exact same ride it was when it was at Astroworld. Even same lighting and guns. It doesn’t run the same program tho, as SFoT is operating the Gunslinger with no tilt
it still does the basic swing, but just in a circle, no tilt so you’re swinging towards the ground. The enthusiasm of the operator made this a hell of a good time tho, even with a mediocre ride cycle, so it wasn’t bad waiting a few cycles to ride. It’s a Yo-Yo, which has the same weird “chest” restraint the yo-yo at Carowinds had. . so this time I made sure to get a pic of it.
By the time we got off Gunslinger, both Mine trains had opened back up, so we grabbed rides on both. Runaway Mine Train isn’t super exciting. . it’s basically lift hill the ride (it has 3 lift hills, but no real drops, other than the final one thru the saloon). .but again, it’s historic (the 1st tubular rail) and not too bang-y. and bonus is that it’s a coaster Nick will ride. Mini Mine Train is way shorter, but is also much smoother, with a small pop of air. We chose to sit in the front, because it has more leg room. We weren’t the only adults on it without kids, so don’t judge us!
it was getting close to 8:30, and we needed to eat something, but first we headed back towards Gotham, which was still packed, and up to Texas Sky Screamer. The line on this was so long it spilled out of the queue, and it looked like at least a 2 hour line. I certainly didn’t want to waste the rest of our evening waiting in a line (for something Nick won’t ride due to the height). .so I blew it off and instead we went thru the tunnel to Judge Roy Scream.
Judge Roy was a 1 train wait, and because we waited for front row, got a really good ride on it. It’s a shame how rough the rest of the train seems to have gotten – we heard lots of complaints as exiting – but in the front car it provided pops of air time, and a pretty smooth drops. I would hate for them to remove it, but it really does appear to need some re-tracking to get it back to top shape. Like Shockwave, JRS is a ride that’s been at the park forever, but never seems to have much of a line, and that’s a shame.
coming out of the tunnel after JRS, we went down the steps into Gotham proper, and decided we’d grab a light snack at Johnny Rockets. We don’t have the platinum dining pass, so although we’d eat free at our home park of Fiesta Texas, here we’d have to pay. Not an issue, as we weren’t all that hungry anyways.
So we split onion r’s/Fries, some water, and each had a shake. There wasn’t much of a line, as they had all the counter registers open, which is surprising for Johnny Rockets – as I’ve always gotten stuck in a line at the two Fiesta Texas locations.
But the service was horrendous. Seriously. At one point the guy who took my money disappeared in to the back, and I watched several folks go up to the hotplate and look at what appeared to be my order. Then walk away. I asked someone if that was my order, and they looked at it, looked back to me, said no, then went back to their register. A few moments later I asked them again if they could find my operator, as he had disappeared, and they went into the back and got him. He went to the hotplate, picked up the order that had been sitting there (that of course was mine) and brought it over to me. It was still hot, so we didn’t complain, but sheesh.
We grabbed a table on the far right of the restaurant, and then discovered the reason that the counter ordering wasn’t busy: this Johnny Rockets had set up ordering kiosks in the dining room, that you could place your order at, and then go to a window on the side to pick up. THIS is where the crowd was, and man was it a cluster. People standing confused, picking up the wrong food, bumping into each other (and the people standing around confused – hovering by the window waiting for their food). I’m *so* glad we hadn’t noticed this as an option and (as frustrating as it was) ordered from the counter ourselves. If it was this bad towards the end of the evening, I can only imagine the chaos this location gets earlier in the day, or at meal times!
oh, this Johnny Rockets is also where I witnessed an employee watch someone drop food on the floor from a tray they had just picked up from the self-serve window. . . and just stand there leaving the slipping hazard in the middle of the floor instead of cleaning it up - and she was LEANING ON A BROOM
Had a good time during our afternoon/evening, but sheesh. The clientele and some staff at SFOT leave a lot to be desired.
it was about 9:15 by the time we finished eating, and Nick wasn’t in the mood to spin, so he decided to skip Pandemonium and told me he was basically done for the night. I had been willing to go on Pandemonium since he’d ride it with me, but since he was done, instead I sat him on a bench near the restaurant and went and got in line for Catwoman Whip.
Gotham was still pretty crowded (I guess because of the Diamond Member event), and Riddler had a really long line, but Catwoman had only a 20 minute or so wait, so I got in line for this new version of Enterprise. It pulls some serious G’s and probably wasn’t the best thing to ride just after eating fried food, but I have to say I really liked it. Not something I can ride over and over – certainly need a break between rides. But very good. And with a beautiful lighting package. Hell, most of Gotham looks fantastic at night, Riddler, Catwoman and Harley all look stunning. What a great lightshow to have at the front of the park for advertising.
I wanted to go look at Harley, expecting it to be packed, since Spinsanity was the brand new ride. . but surprisingly the ride had a shortish line. Likely because the ride cycle is a little short. So I sat Nick on another bench, and got in line for it – not realizing it has a single rider line until I had already made it most of the way thru the queue. Didn’t take too long, and ended up on a seat on the edge of the ride. It was a lot of fun, since as you are spinning, it feels like you’re going to hit the spinning supports. . so lots of head choppers and feet choppers in effect. I got off it, and since Nick was still sitting, went around and using single rider line, got another ride on it – this time they put me in a center seat. And yeah, HUGE difference. In the middle seat, you just swing back and forth a few times, not very exciting, and certainly not as thrilling as it looks. The edge seats are the way to go, and if you get a chance to ask for one of those, it greatly improves the ride experience.
Joker was walk on, but I just wasn’t feeling it that night (could have been after Catwoman and then back to back Harley after eating). . so since it was close to 10, I told Nick we could head out as it had been a long day since we started out in Austin.
It was just as packed leaving the park as it had been at the entrance plaza when we came in, but eventually we made it out to the car. And then realized that although we were parked near the front, you don’t leave the parking lot at SFoT thru the area you come in – you leave thru the back and side street out the middle. And with everyone trying to leave at the same time at the end of the night? Yeah, the benefit of parking in Diamond Elite Preferred parking was a detriment. It was literally a parking lot. Traffic was so bad, and so stopped, people were getting out of their cars and dancing among the headlights. Really. Where were the parking attendants directing traffic? No idea, but they were *not* in the parking lot at the end of the night, trying to help people make an orderly exit.
After almost 50 minutes sitting in traffic to exit the parking lot, we finally made it to the side street exit -- and within 2 minutes after that, were back at the hotel took showers and climbed into bed.
We actually got a lot done, even with how crowded it was, but yeah the ending pilgrimage from the parking lot wasn’t “fun” and we actually considered maybe not going back in the morning.
But logic won out (the exit tomorrow won’t be anything like this, since we’re leaving mid afternoon). Besides, there were a few things we had skipped and since Sunday, in Texas, likely would be much lighter crowd in the morning at least. . . it would give us a shot to get the things we missed that I / we were hoping to get on.
here’s some pics from our 1st afternoon/evening at Six Flags Over Texas in many years: