A new look, at Six Flags Great Adventure's opening day
Published: April 14, 2014 at 9:42 PM
Six Flags Great Adventure
opened for the 2014 season on Saturday, April 12, a glorious and unseasonably warm day. Since my last visit to the park in October there have been some significant changes, both in appearance and in season pass processing procedures.
The most immediately striking visual change is the addition of the three Zumanjaro drop towers to the back of Kingda Ka. Kingda Ka was not operating for reasons which will become obvious in the below photograph and is not scheduled to resume operation until the opening of Zumanjaro on May 24. The Drop of Doom will load from behind Kingda Ka.
The other noticeable change is the absence of Rolling Thunder and consequent complete visibility of El Toro. Before the demolition of Rolling Thunder, El Toro’s track during the latter part of the ride was obscured from view by RT. Now it’s all out in the open and this is not necessarily advantageous, as it detracts from the element of surprise. The final drop, which offers some of the best ejector airtime I’ve ever experienced on any coaster, does not look at all prepossessing now that it is clearly visible. As oxymoronic as this sounds, the drop looked better when you couldn’t really see it and it seemed to come up out of nowhere. And the fact that El Toro crossed over Rolling Thunder’s track was pretty cool.
That being said, El Toro rides as well as it ever did and remains, IMHO, the best coaster in the park. Anyway, on to a new era. A small part of Rolling Thunder still remains, seen in the foreground of the photograph. This gives rise to speculation as to whether it will remain permanently in place, perhaps as a memorial?
As to season pass processing, there has been a major change. First of all, the season pass processing tent has moved from a location between Superman and Green Lantern to a location a short distance off the boardwalk. Secondly, the protocol is completely different from that of previous seasons. Historically, season pass holders have been photographed then given a plastic card featuring the photograph along with a book of coupons to bring a friend for free and other discounts. As of this season, pass holders get a plastic card with no photograph; they will be identified by fingerprint. Upon entering the park, they’ll present their card and have their index finger scanned. Additionally, there are no coupon books. Coupons are available on line and will have to be uploaded onto the season pass.
It would be unrealistic to expect everything to go off without a hitch on opening day and indeed it did not. El Toro, Nitro and Bizarro all experienced “technical difficulties” while I was waiting to ride them, although park staff did a great job in getting them back up and running. A train on Superman is rumoured to have gotten stuck on the lift hill, forcing evacuation of the riders, but this is unconfirmed. All in all, a good day. The staff at Six Flags did an excellent job and it felt so very very good to get back on a roller coaster after a six-month absence!
Published: April 15, 2014 at 8:35 AM
Six Flags in Jackson is such a sad place. Upkeep, employee attitude, and the park patrons, are all below par. I used to visit every year, but just can't bring myself to do it anymore.
Published: April 15, 2014 at 9:16 AM
I assume guests from other Six Flags parks will be allowed entry based on the picture on their pass. This move to biometrics at just one of the parks in the chain is an interesting development. I'd be interested to know what caused the change.
The move to electronic coupons is nice. However, it would far easier if they just gave standard discounts to passholders like other parks do instead of their gimmicky coupons.
Published: April 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM
Can somebody explain to me why Six Flags opens their parks sporatically? SFGA is not open until May 3rd, but Great Adventure and St. Louis are open
Published: April 15, 2014 at 7:50 PM
Anthony, this is just speculation, but it possibly has to do with weather. Cedar Fair also staggers the opening of their parks. Kings Island opens on Friday, but Cedar Point doesn't open until May 10th. It might also have to do with the labor force- Kings Island is closer to several major metropolitan areas and with plentiful college students to draw from, while Cedar Point is located in a relatively small town with fewer college students to draw from until they get out of school for the summer.
Then again I might be completely full of hot air. Doubtful, since it's April 15th and never got above freezing here in northern Ohio all day and we got 3 inches of snow last night. That was after 80 degree weather on Sunday.
Published: April 15, 2014 at 8:21 PM
Thanks Bobbie. Appreciate the report from that corner of the Six Flags world.
Our local park, Six Flags over Georgia has been open since mid-March. Down here in the South that can mean a sunny day in the mid-60s or a rainy washout in the 50s. We even had a few "rain-out" days where the park announced it was not opening on a scheduled day. But we have had more "good" weather days than bad so far. I have visited SFOG 3 times since it has opened this season. Good to be riding coasters again.
Regarding the season passes, SFOG also has the new fingerprint linked season passes and electronic coupon books. I got the impression from the Six Flags website that this change was rolled out to all of the parks.
Published: April 16, 2014 at 6:41 AM
I would agree with James K. observations of weather and labor force being the main reasons. As an exampole, our local park, Kennywood, doesn't open to a full schedule until the college students are done & the weather is more consistent. And their full schedule shuts down earlier than the past since the colleges start earlier now than they did a couple of decades ago. The theme parks in Florida & California are not very dependent on a seasonal work force since they are open all year.....And, yes James, we just experienced the same weather system. But it's sunny right now. Only 4 weeks 3 days to Portofino at Universal.
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