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Six Flags America in MD - Educate me...

squirrels

Posted:
5/31/12 at
11:55:33 AM

It seems I may have some mistaken impressions about 6FA.

How many people on here have been there? What were your general impressions of the park itself, specifically the crowds? Everyone I've talked to locally about that park has warned me that the park is full of rowdy/"thuggish"/dangerous groups of people. Are they exaggerating? I don't mind going anywhere by myself, but going with friends/family, I like to avoid those kinds of situations.

How are the rides? How does the ride quality compare to some of the other parks in the region? (KD/BGW/Hershey/Dorney) Are the coasters top-notch?

When is the best time to go to avoid large crowds/lines?

How have your experiences been there? Good? Bad?

I appreciate the input. Maybe this park has gotten a bad rap in my book because of hearsay. Let me know what you think.

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by drachen drachen Profile at 5/31/12 12:10:42 PM
I think Six Flags America gets more grief than it deserves. I like the park a good bit.

Most of the employees and guests come from the urban D.C. and Baltimore areas, but I've never felt unsafe there.

The employees are very friendly and talkative. You can tell they like their jobs.

One thing you'll notice right away is the beautiful main midway as you enter the park - themed to a colonial U.S. feel.

I even feel the park has improved its look and operations in recent years.

There are four above average roller coasters at SFA, two of which I would rate as great. Joker's Jinx and Roar! are still pretty good. But Superman is an elite ride, and Wild One is one of the better old wooden coasters around. And of course, there's the new Apocalypse.

Bottom line is... Go. It worthy of at least one visit.

Here are my thoughts on the park from last year, if that helps...

Six Flags America 2011

drachen
Coaster to Park Ratio: 4.90 / Steel to Wooden Ratio: 2.55 / Wooden Coaster Percentage: 28.2%
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Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by beastmaster beastmaster Profile at 5/31/12 12:12:19 PM
I've been to the park several times. I've never run into SEVERE crowds, but I've waited over an hour (slow-loading) for Batwing, and as long as 45 minutes, for Wild One, a terrific old woodie moved years ago from Paragon Park in Mass. Superman is my second favorite steel ride (behind I-305)..one I enjoy much more than I did its cousins at Darien and Agawam. I rode Iron Wolf in Chicago, which is now at SFA as Apocalypse. I don't care much for stand-ups, and that was one of the worst. Roar is decent wood, better mid-train (blasphemy!) than the back. Far as Jokers Jinx, I prefer the indoor Flight Of Fear versions. The park HAD one of my favorite water rides, Skull Mountain, which has been removed (a sign of the Apocalypse.) They have a rodeo-themed Breakdance I like a lot (no single riders, though.) Batwing? I like Vekoma better than B&M when it comes to Flyers, and I preferred Batwing to FireHawk/X-Flight. the park is well kept, but I found certain areas difficult to navigate. I've seen large groupings of loud, obnoxious teenagers, but no worse than elsewhere. Never felt unsafe...well, except for the first time I rode Batwing.
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist...
Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 5/31/12 1:23:05 PM
Avoid Saturdays at all costs, just like any other amusement park.

Of the five parks you listed, I'd honestly put SFA on the bottom. SFA is more quirky than the other four listed. The spoke layout is an annoyance but it is what it is. The park has a great line up of water-based attractions and some of the coasters arent too bad either.

One of the reasons why a lot of people in our area have an issue with SFA has to do with the 1999 rebranding of the park to a SF. Premier Parks who bought the rights to the SF brand converted smaller scaled parks to the SF brand.

In the Baltimore/DC market, there was a misconception that everything that was previously in Wild World/Adventure World had been removed and all new rides and coasters were brought in. Of course this was false, the '99 season did add three coasters (Joker's Jinx, Two Face, and The Great Chase), complete overhaul of the kiddie area to become Looney Tunes Movie Town, new trams were purchased and the park built a much needed overflow lot, and the main artery of the park received the Colonial transformation that it is today.

On top of the misconception about SFA becoming a "new" park, the management at the time completely botched the "Grand Opening". They pushed the Grand Opening date back a week and when they finally opened, none of the new attractions were open, and many of the existing attractions were not up and running from their winter rehab. Joker's Jinx opened in late April and Two Face opened in mid-May on a Friday. I was on the first official ride of Two Face, though there was no fanfare to be had because the coaster was so far behind schedule. A fellow URC'er was with me on the maiden voyage and I can't remember what his screen name was.

A lot of people who went to SFA in '99 vowed never to return. Bad experiences were far too common.

Over the next five to six years the park was always in the press for the wrong reasons. There was an overnight robbery at the park where a former park employee allegedly stole over $100,000, there was a stabbing in the parking lot, a brawl inside the park amongst teenagers (what is now being called by the press as a flash mob), and Two Face was having severe maintenance problems that were being caught on tape by local news stations via their helicopters.

Somewhere around 2006-2007 the Shapiro era began and Shapiro saw a lot of upside in the park that previous ownership did not. There have been rumors for over a decade now that SFA has been up for sale for all these years and I can say that those rumors are/were absolutely uncategorically inaccurate.

Shapiro brought in a new Park President (prior to John Winkler from SFGAm) and they focused on general upkeep on the park. A few of the coasters received much needed paint jobs, the waterpark received two large overhaul projects, one was a complete retheme and the other was paint, slides, etc. And for the first time under Shapiro, the park started a formal training program geared towards Guest Satisfaction.

All in all as long as you go there and ignore the coaster enthusiast bias, you'll have a nice day.

As far as "ghetto" comments that enthusiasts love to make about SFA, like any business there are certain price points for entry into the park. SFA's price points have risen in the past few years for a reason. You won't find those deeply discounted admissions as much anymore, BUT, everyone should have the ability to enjoy a day at an amusement park no matter your socioeconomic background. No one is better than someone else. We're all people trying to enjoy life.

One final note on SFA, the park didn't see any new coasters or major capital projects added 2002-2011 because the park was making money hand over fist WITHOUT having to add capital projects. The park was exceeding their annual sales numbers and HQ wasn't investing in the park. Attendance started to decline for SFA in 2009 and this was no longer the case. Guest satisfaction remained high, guest intent to return remained high, guest spending was higher than most (not all) other parks in the chain...

SFA has really come a long way since '99.

And I think enthusiasts are finally starting to notice.

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by Geauga_Dog Geauga_Dog Profile at 5/31/12 7:27:20 PM
Thank you for the synopsis. I booked my hotel last night for a BGW/KD trip in a couple of weeks and am planning on hitting SFA this year for the first time.

Last Saturday I went to Darien Lake and it seems I've become a member of "Club TFFI" (pronounced "tiffee" which means "Too Fat For Intamin") while trying to board Ride of Steel and I wonder if the seatbelts are similar.

G-Dog

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by theRock-steel theRock-steel Profile at 5/31/12 9:26:40 PM
I was there once in August of 2007 and I am going again that time this year. I have felt uneasy probably because DC draws large groups of minority teenagers, but nothing bad happened. Back then the park looked good. They did have a problem with keeping some of the steel coasters up and running. I sat on Superman for about 20 minutes before it started moving again back into the station. I heard that Batwing was down a few times. The Vekoma inverted boomerang had issues that day and many others; they ended up getting ride of it. Just before I left, a water ride stopped in the middle of its course so some families got totally soaked. Keep in mind there have been several management changes since all this happened, so let's hope that these problems were solved. Ok, a coaster review:

Apocalypse - one of the worst B&M stand ups. Lets hope they made many positive changes since I rode Iron Wolf late last year.

Batwing - Manta is my favorite flyer, but this Vekoma is better than the Supermans which are much better than Firehawk and Nighthawk.

Joker's Jinx - This and its brother at SFFT are not as good as either Mr.Freeze and Disney did better with its enclosed LSM. However, this gets much better rankings from me than the Backlot Stunts or the Flight of Fears.

Mind Eraser - It's a SLC that hasn't had big improvements made to it. All inverts are better and even the Batman clones are not this rough.

Roar - This is a GCI with the original PTC trains. If you like the roughest by that builder you will be ok. See Hershey's Wildcat or BGT's Gwazi.

Superman: Ride Of Steel - A pretty good hyper. I am a B&M man, but this is very good. There is also just one Morgan that I like better. This is top of the line for this park.

Wild One - On any given day this is the best old time out-and-back. There are not many woodens that I like more.

In general I like this place. Great Adventure, Great America, Fiesta Texas, and Over Georgia are better parks of the chain. It's really a middle of the road for a thrill seeker.

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by Great_Ump Great_Ump Profile at 6/1/12 10:54:38 AM
Geauga_Dog said:

Last Saturday I went to Darien Lake and it seems I've become a member of "Club TFFI" (pronounced "tiffee" which means "Too Fat For Intamin") while trying to board Ride of Steel and I wonder if the seatbelts are similar.

G-Dog

I've put on a few pounds since a few of you have seen me last, I'm 6'2 280# and on Superman it's really hit or miss. Some seats I can ride just fine, others I'm 4-6 inches from being able to fasten the seatbelt.

Joe
Great_Ump

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by squirrels at 6/3/12 12:09:59 PM
Great_Ump said:

Geauga_Dog said:


Last Saturday I went to Darien Lake and it seems I've become a member of "Club TFFI" (pronounced "tiffee" which means "Too Fat For Intamin") while trying to board Ride of Steel and I wonder if the seatbelts are similar.

G-Dog

I've put on a few pounds since a few of you have seen me last, I'm 6'2 280# and on Superman it's really hit or miss. Some seats I can ride just fine, others I'm 4-6 inches from being able to fasten the seatbelt.

Joe
Great_Ump

I'm like 6'5 260#. My long legs kept me off of FoF at KD...couldn't get the lapbar down. The pivot on the floor was so thick I had to put my legs either WAY in front or WAY in back of the floor...and in either position the bar would not get past my knees.

If it's a "Nitro-style" clamshell I can get it down. But doesn't Joker's Jinx use the same cars a FoF?

Also, has anyone ridden Apocalypse/Iron Wolf since its relocation?

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by alpengeistno3 at 6/3/12 9:20:48 PM
squirrels said:

I'm like 6'5 260#. My long legs kept me off of FoF at KD...couldn't get the lapbar down. The pivot on the floor was so thick I had to put my legs either WAY in front or WAY in back of the floor...and in either position the bar would not get past my knees.

The secret to FOF for long legs is to ride in any even number row. There is a plate in the front of the odd number rows that will raise your feet up about 1-2" above the floor of the train. At 6'5", you may still have a tight squeeze, but if you try different spots in the train (Car 4, Row 2 is probably the most forgiving for me) you may be able to squeeze in. Avoid car 5, row 2 on the loading side at KD as it is the shortest seatbelt on the train!

Joker's Jinx is the same, but the seatbelts are less forgiving. Even if the buckle is touching the snap, it will not buckle unless the bar is at the perfect angle (almost got disqualified from riding because the ops were refusing to force the buckle to snap even when it was all the way in.)

Paul

Re: Six Flags America in MD - Educate me... by Coastergenius100 at 6/8/12 3:22:06 PM
Great_Ump said:

As far as "ghetto" comments that enthusiasts love to make about SFA, like any business there are certain price points for entry into the park. SFA's price points have risen in the past few years for a reason. You won't find those deeply discounted admissions as much anymore, BUT, everyone should have the ability to enjoy a day at an amusement park no matter your socioeconomic background. No one is better than someone else. We're all people trying to enjoy life.


Joe
Great_Ump

We're not saying that anybody is better than anybody else, but you have to understand where some people are coming from. Six Flags America has had a problem for years due to their season passes, and their refusal to raise the prices for them to a reasonable amount. From what I've heard from execs, they hemmorage money on them, and they're trying to make the cost of a season pass more appropriate compared to the cost of a single day admission, but it's hard with the corporate hierarchy.

While having a season pass may work for other parks, at SFA it's a 1 1/2 times the price of normal day's admission license to go to the park 20 times a year, loiter, not spend any money, and basically be babysat for free all day. While the casual goer and the tourists who fund the park's operations have to put up with them.

Believe it or not, SFA is actually in an affluent area. Many counties in southern Maryland and Northern VA are constantly ranked in the top 20 in the country (thanks to government jobs). The residential areas surrounding the park are very expensive. It's just that the culture and the season passes have attracted a certain type of crowd. And most middle class and affluent customers would prefer to just drive a bit longer to KD, Hershey, or BGW.

It's my home park, and I only go every few years, only when I'm dragged by somebody else. But then again that's also due to me not being as into coasters recently, and having ridden 220 at this point, I've become a bit of a snob in what I'll accept now.