Six Flags Rant

I took my 8-year-old son to Six Flags over Georgia this weekend. We haven’t been since Halloween when it was freezing cold and raining – but practically empty.  What a difference! I expected that it would be hot. I expected that it would be crowded. I expected long lines and wait times for everything.

Well – I got them! But I have a problem with the wait-times for the rides and some of the rides themselves. Long, long ago, in a time mostly forgotten, I worked at Six Flags. It was my summer job during high school and so I feel like I know it all, of course. So here’s my problem: there are  no longer enough ride staff on each ride. The result is that the time between rides is much longer than it needs to be. And on at least one of the rides,  the ride time was SHORTER. That’s not right. We rode the Highland Swings – now called the Gotham Crime Wave – and I could not believe how short it was. 1 minute. Yes. And because it was so short, they never reached the height and speed it always had. I remember this ride and my son LOVED it and so did I. But not anymore. Unless you have a tall 4-year-old, don’t bother. Anyone tall enough to ride is going to say “Is that it?”

Another complete bust was the bumper cars. Always one of Jacob’s favorites, we went to wait on-line. ONE HOUR Later, we were still only halfway there. And the ride management was TERRIBLE. They were letting little kids ride by themselves, they were not giving any instruction on how to turn the wheel to make the car move and so pretty much every ride started and ended with a log jam of cars stuck behind some bewildered 5-year-old. We finally got off the line and went to try the water park. Where we found a 100 people long line and only 1 group being allowed in every 2-5 minutes. No thank you. I might try it again next time if I am stupid enough to go back. I got a skip the line pass – good for only one ride, but might use it for the water park.

Best moments of the day were riding the wheelie and the old octopus ride which is now a rock n roll twister. We both loved them, even though the wait-time was horrendous.

This makes me wonder if the slowness on the ride waits is deliberate and they are trying to make more people buy the flash pass? For the two of us for the day, it would have been around $55 I think, to skip the lines and zoom ahead. If we win the lottery, I’ll maybe try it.  But honestly, I always think those skip the lines type passes should be advertised as “Richer than anyone else? Well, you don’t have to wait on-line like everyone else!”

My other rant was the air and venting inside the ride waiting areas. There are vents there for air conditioning to cool off the waiting areas. But they are no longer being used in many of the rides. Half the misting stations/cool down spots were not working.

And don’t get me started on the staffing. Okay, I’m started! We went into the Diner to get some lunch and cool off and the lines were HORRIBLE. When I got to the counter I soon saw why. First, there were not enough staffers, second, the ones they had were slow and pissed off at the world. There was one really nice girl who helped us, but pretty much all the others were indifferent at best and rude at worst. I know they don’t pay much, but you ARE being paid to be there, whereas, hey, I’m PAYING to be there. Get it?

Then the food was TERRIBLE. Horribly dry burger and chicken strips and undercooked french fries. Plus there were about 2 pieces of ice in my drink so I asked for a little more. To punish me, I guess, the (nasty) girl filled it up with ice so we had about 2 drinks of lemonade before it was empty. I went back in and asked for cooked fries which took about 10 minutes and finally found a manager who gave us another half cup of lemonade.  Lunch, with coupons and seasons pass discounts for buy one, get one half price, plus one free drink, was over $20 and really awful.

We played ring toss and I know the scam. Get there early and play the games or don’t bother because they change out the rings and balls for ones that make it nearly impossible to win.  But Jacob really wanted to play, so we played Ring Toss because we had a coupon. I think it took 15 minutes to get two buckets of rings. Seriously? Why would anyone wait that long to pay $5 to play a game? Are they nuts? We only waited because we had a buy one bucket, get one free coupon from my seasons pass. (A long story – a bad mistake and I’ve used the darn thing one time!)

True to our family’s theme park tradition, it started to rain.  I don’t mean a sprinkle. This was a torrent of hard, biting rain with thunder and lightning. There was really nowhere to go near us, so we ran into the Johnny Rockets.We could only stay if we bought food, so we ordered a double burger and split it. Which means it cost $14 to get out of the rain. By the way  – best burger in the park and even their fries and onion rings were pretty good, but they don’t honor the season’s pass free medium drink offer, which ticked me off until I tried the burger!

I know Six Flags is having money problems, but this is not the way to get people to come and spend their money there. It’s the way to go out of business. Staff up, train your people and improve the quality of the food and service to make the ridiculous ticket, food and game prices worth paying.

On a positive note: we did enjoy splashing in the water on the way to the car, a couple of rides, the last burger in the rain and I loved the fact that I could walk around for 6 hours and survive in the heat. Plus – I fit in all the rides with no problem. At Halloween I fit, but it was still a squeeze on some of them.

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