Six Flags Saint Louis - A Trip Report

Notes from an October 2008 Six Flags Saint Louis visit.

From James Rao
Posted October 16, 2008 at 5:19 PM
I went with four other people to Six Flags Saint Louis on 10/11/2008, so I thought I would take a few minutes to jot down my park review. Our group consisted of myself, my brother-in-law, my niece (>54”), my oldest kid (53”), and my middle child (48”). I left the wife and youngest child at home because my wife only likes true theme parks, and there is very little for my daughter (< 42”) to do at a typical Six Flags park.

Let me just state right off that I already had low expectations for this excursion, but was hopeful that some of the changes being made at other SF parks had made it to SFSTL. The results were a mixed bag. I will start with the positive stuff and work backwards to the negative.

Evel Knievel – this brand new GCI wooden coaster is excellent. While short and compact, Evel is relentless and fun. We rode it several times during the visit, and everyone agreed it was the best ride in the park. This coaster rivals The Raven at Holiday World, but is not on par with The Voyage (also at HW), which remains the best wooden coaster I have ever ridden. Still, a great ride, one that made the whole day a worthwhile excursion.

The Ninja – this custom-built Vekoma MK-1200 was a lot of fun. Sure, you have to brace yourself before the jarring turns or risk breaking your neck, but I love loops, and the Ninja sports three of them. Short, fast, and fun, this was my second favorite ride of the day.

Batman The Ride – a typical B&M inverted coaster (which is a good thing!), this ride is not as good as the Patriot at Worlds of Fun or Alpengeist at BGE, but it is a fun ride, and worth several visits.

Mr. Freeze – a Premier Rides launched coaster that loops and climbs, then does it all in reverse. 55 seconds of adrenalin rush. It is a fun ride, but short and filled with unrealized potential. It is better than a Boomerang, but still just a variation on that all-too-short theme.

The Boss – a CCI wooden coaster that is long and fast. It is also old, jerky, and painful. It is worth a visit, but keep your Doan’s Back Ache medicine handy.

Tony Hawk’s Big Spin – a typical Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster with a slight twist: instead of a picture at the end of the ride, this coaster sports an on-ride video camera that captures your entire trip and can be purchased once completed. The videos were somewhat neat, but we skipped the purchase. The ride itself is fun, but standard.

Screamin’ Eagle – an old school wooden coaster that races through the terrain quickly and painfully. The ride is so old and unkempt that most adult riders will require an appointment with a chiropractor after a single ride. I highly recommended this ride at night. Please note: this is the only coaster that is not a Flashpass attraction, so the waits can be long during the peak touring times of a busy day.

River King Mine Train – the oldest coaster in the park is an Arrow runaway mine train. Somewhat boring during the day, this steel coaster comes alive at night when the drop through the tunnel becomes a pitch-black descent. This mine train ride is simple, mediocre fun for the whole family.

Xcalibur – This Bussink Evolution ride is a pretty intense midway experience. However, it is not a Flashpass attraction and the line moves slower than any midway line I have ever experienced. At five minutes per cycle (load, ride, unload), this ride will suck the life out of your amusement park visit. Honestly, on a busy day, if you have Flashpass, ride this attraction first thing, and then ride your Flashpass attractions. Xcalibur is worth a ride, but not if the wait is more than about 10 minutes.

Flashpass – I purchased a basic Flashpass for the whole party for $95 bucks. I know it was a lot of dough, but since our park tickets were free, it seemed like a good trade off. Additionally, the park was insanely crowded the day we visited and without some sort of fastpass system, we would have been miserable with waiting. In fact, due to less than stellar loading and unloading practices, I consider Flashpass completely necessary at SFSTL, and somewhat nice, if you can foot the bill. It is not a replacement for Disney’s free fastpass system, but it is no more expensive than what is offered at Universal. The big problem with Flashpass at SFSTL is that there are just a handful of attractions in the system. On the other hand, there are only a handful of attractions worth riding at SFSTL, so it evens out, I guess. Moreover, it is fun laughing at the plebeians waiting in line while you take their seat in the front row.

The Staff – For the most part, SFSTL employees were decent folk. Some were very energetic and outgoing, some less so, but for the most part our experience with the park staff was a positive one. I dropped the staff into the mediocre category because many of the ride operators (Mr. Freeze and Batman especially) were oblivious to the height requirements on their rides. My 53” son rode Mr. Freeze (54” requirement) without question, and could have ridden Batman (54” requirement) but I did not want to take too many chances. Furthermore, my 48” son could have ridden Mr. Freeze as well, but I tried to be a somewhat responsible parent. No one was checking. SFSTL needs to be careful. Don’t they have enough lawsuits pending right now?

Midway Attractions - After the coasters, there is not much else to do at SFSTL. The park is filled with basic midway experiences and carnival rides. As I stated in my Adventureland trip report, I generally regard midway rides with the kind of contempt most people reserve for socially transmitted diseases, so I was not very happy with the ride selection once I completed my coaster tour.

Sneak Entrances – There are ways to sneak on to some of the major rides at SFSTL, without Flashpass and without a wait. I will not go into details, but even with Flashpass we utilized these short cuts on both Batman and River King several times to bypass very long lines. SFSTL needs to tighten up their line security a bit if they want people to purchase Flashpasses.

Kiddie Area – The kiddie section of the park was quite obviously an afterthought. Situated along a short, windy path, Bugs Bunny National Park is not really a section at all, just a series of mall food court caliber rides sandwiched between Britannia and Gateway to the West. I left my 5-year-old daughter at home for a reason: there is almost nothing for the under 42” crowd to do at SFSTL.

Insect Problem – Not sure if there is anything SFSTL can do about this, but they have a major problem with wasps and bees at this park. Xcalibur, the River King Mine Train, and all the little roadside sugar stands were the biggest offenders. At the roadside stands, big white buckets with red syrup at the bottom were used to attract the pests away from the buyers/sellers, but I am thinking some other form of repellent can be used. Maybe not. Either way, dodging wasps while careening down a steep drop is not the kind of intense fun I am after!

The Whole Park – SFSTL was without a doubt the ugliest, dirtiest amusement park I have ever visited. There were weeds growing everywhere. Even the grounds around the brand new Evel Knievel coaster were sprouting weeds. Mr. Freeze sits in an area of the park that should be called Weed Island. In the line for the Boss, you walk past a roof covered with years and years of gum that litter-prone visitors have spit out as if marking their territory. There was trash everywhere, except in the trashcans. Every ride, building, and sign needed a fresh coat of paint. All the decorations were washed out and bland from the lack of maintenance and upkeep. The areas around the bathrooms reeked of urine. The rides themselves (with the exception of the new coaster) were in dire need of upkeep. For those rides that had indoor queue areas, cobwebs were the featured theme. The park walkways were congested and cramped. Rides were placed willy-nilly with no thought to aesthetics or theme. Tony Hawk, The Boss, and the pay-extra Go Carts are in Britannia. Batman and the Joker are nowhere near DC Comics Plaza yet, Scooby-Doo sits right in the middle of that area. The Ninja is in the Studio Backlot. Evel Knievel is listed on the park map as being part of the 1904 World’s Fair section (which makes no sense), but honestly, it is part of DC Comics plaza (which also makes no sense). There is no rhyme or reason to SFSTL, no theme, no thought for ride placement, they just stick a ride where there is room…and often where there is no room. Worst of all, no one working at the park seems to care. The entire time I was there, I only saw one employee with a broom and dustpan, and she was not sweeping, just walking. The only thing that would indicate that the mgmt team even recognizes there is a problem is the fact that every employee sports a bright green/yellow T-Shirt that boldly states, “Please keep the park clean. My family comes here too!” I am sorry to say it, but SFSTL is the trash bin of the theme park universe.

Halloween Additions – SFSTL is a pathetic park for Halloween fun. There is one Haunted House and it costs and extra $5 if you want to visit. There is also a Haunted Hayride and a Haunted Train ride, both underwhelming at best. There were a few Halloween shows, but I did not take time to visit. The one Halloween parade I saw was so short I missed half of it when I had to blink to get the weed pollen out of my eyes. The only thing scary about SFSTL is the tragic lack of upkeep and attention to theme.

Restaurants – I did not eat at SFSTL. In fact, I would not eat at SFSTL. The park restaurants were all disasters. In every case, the restaurants looked like McDonald’s after a Saturday lunch rush – but without the one frantic worker trying to keep things clean. Specifically, in the Villains Cafe, not one table in the restaurant was clean. Same thing at Panda Express. Prices too were out of control, even for an amusement park - $50 for a Papa John’s pizza, bread sticks, and a side salad. We left the park to eat at a local Steak n Shake. Not great, but $35 fed five of us, including dessert and tip. Not a lot of better options in Eureka, MO, but almost anything is better then the dining options in the park. Abysmal.

I hate to end my report on such a down note, because overall we had a decent time on the rides we visited (coasters, mainly). However, I would not visit SFSTL again unless there was some new addition (like Evel Knievel this season) that prompted the excursion. After visiting SFSTL, my appreciation for my local park, World’s of Fun, has grown, and my love of Disney, Universal, and Busch with their attention to detail, theming, and cleanliness has reached lunatic proportion.

SFSTL, as I have stated many times before, is a pit. Nevertheless, underneath all that garbage are a few fun rides. With some TLC, elbow grease, and a fistful of cash, SFSTL can be saved. There is a decent park under all that trash. Six Flags mgmt just needs to find it, spruce it up, and make it lovable again. It will take some doing, but it can be done.

Otherwise, sell off the good rides, and close the place down.

From Amanda Jenkins
Posted October 16, 2008 at 10:52 PM
Great report James! I went there ten years ago for the first time, and it was pretty much the same as your report. At the time I was a freshman in college and was really geared up for a fun time, how sad that it didn't pan out. Mr. Freeze was the new coaster at the time and was the only positive thing I can remember from the park itself. The prices were outrageous then for food and we did not waste our money on eating there. I have never been back there. Our schools here in Memphis try to bolster up the band and choir trip around going to Six Flags. As a former teacher, I would only put my name as a backup for the other teachers if someone was unable to chaperone. Thankfully, I was never called into action.

SFSTL is definitely one of the worst parks our nation has. But like you said, it makes you really appreciate the ones who try to make it an enjoyable expereince. Thank you Disney and Universal.

From James Rao
Posted October 17, 2008 at 4:40 AM
Thanks for the feedback, Amanda. I am glad to see I am not the only one who feels strongly about the bad condition of SFSTL.

From Greg Bark
Posted October 17, 2008 at 9:51 AM
There's room for iron ride parks in this world, and I enjoy them, but not when the place is a giant trash disposal ground. Thanks for the report, James. It sounds like you could use a trip to Silver Dollar City. While they have their fair share of midway rides, their the only true theme park in Missouri.

From James Rao
Posted October 17, 2008 at 10:08 AM
I agree, Greg, SDC is the best/only theme park in the state. We haven't been for a couple a years cause we did Orlando in 2007 and BGE this year, but next year we'll probably stay closer to home and hit SDC.

As for the midway rides, SDC is not too bad, and it makes up for them with excellent theming, good shows, great food, and top notch customer service. However, Celebration City (SDC's sister park in Branson) is filled to the brim with midway attractions and only a couple of real good rides. Too bad too, cause Celebration City's wooden coaster, Ozark Wildcat, is excellent.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 17, 2008 at 12:48 PM
Have you written one on Six Flags Great America? I would love you hear your views on that due to while the kiddie attractions being too an afterthought, they are lots in the SFGA park. I am starting to believe SFGAd and SFGA are the two "worth while" parks

From James Rao
Posted October 17, 2008 at 4:42 PM
The only other SF park I have been to is SFMM in California, and that was back in the early 80's.

The good thing about SFGA is it appears to have enough coasters (12?) to make up for all the midway attractions I loathe. Even with Flashpass, 12 coasters will take a chunk out of your day. I would love to spend a couple days at SFGA. Maybe when the kids are older/taller....

The good iron ride parks (SFGA, SFMM, Cedar Point, etc), up the coaster count so much that you forget how lame the midway rides are because you are too busy riding coasters! Smart move!

From Anthony Murphy
Posted October 17, 2008 at 2:12 PM
Well yeah and SFGA takes it further by giving usually the newest kinds of coasters out there (they had the first stand up, inverted, and hyper). The kids areas are much bigger so there are some decient kiddie rides

From James Rao
Posted October 17, 2008 at 4:40 PM
Five of the twelve coasters at Six Flags Great America have a 54" height requirement. None of my kids are 54" tall yet. If I take the kids to a coaster park, I want them to be able to ride coasters, not kiddie rides they can find at any park in the nation!

Anyone have some HGH for sale so I can hurry up and grow my kids???!!!

From Scottland Jacobson
Posted October 17, 2008 at 4:54 PM
James - Excellent report! I'm sad to see that my recent positive experience at SFGA in Illinois doesn't trickle to the other Six Flags parks. It disgusts me when they cannot keep the park clean and looking good. I recently visited Elitch Gardens in Denver (now owned by Park One) and found it quite cute and clean - although it's a tiny park in comparison. When is Six Flags going to learn??
Like Anthony, I'll look forward to a few more inches on your kids so you can experience Great America. I'd love to hear of your experiences there.
If I'm on a business trip to St. Louis - I'll drop in on SFSTL, but after reading your report, I certainly will not be making it a destination!

From James Rao
Posted October 17, 2008 at 5:05 PM
Scottland, just drop in, head right and circle the park riding the following attractions: Batman, The Ninja, Screamin' Eagle, The Boss, Mr. Freeze, and finish it off with a couple rides on Evel Knievel. Then bolt. You will have experienced the best the park has to offer and you will get out of the mess before a tetanus shot is required!

And, as much as I want to enjoy my kids' youth, I am anxious to have at least one 54" child in the family!

Next year....!

From Anthony Aldridge
Posted April 7, 2009 at 6:05 PM
the park is improving from what it used to be...2009 will be better than 2008 which was better than 2007

P.S. you may not like the park and think it needs closed but most people love it i have went there since i was little and i would cry if it closed

From James Rao
Posted April 7, 2009 at 7:20 PM
I never said it should be closed, I just said if they don't want to clean it up and give it some love, then they should let it go. Six Flags is broke, so if they won't fix the place, then sell off the parts and pay back some debt. Furthermore, I am not the only one who thinks the park is having problems. Read all the comments in this thread as well as the trip report that Ben James wrote and you'll see there is a consensus opinion that SFSTL needs a LOT of help.

When I went to SFSTL last October, the place was a pit. Frankly, it was the dirtiest park I have ever visited, and I have visited a lot of parks over the course of my 40 years on this planet. Paint was peeling from every building and ride, there were weeds everywhere, and the trash cans were all full to the brim with no employees around to empty them. The restaurants were a horrifying mess, and the bathrooms unusable. The customer service was mediocre at best, the face characters a joke, and the line management non-existent.

I have read a few updates about some painting that is going on at SFSTL as well as some other clean up efforts. However, it will take a concerted effort and long term commitment to improve things... and a new paint job on Mr. Freeze is just not enough. But I hope things do improve. Cleaning up that park is almost a safety issue at this point.

I know the Six Flags Company is slowly improving things at all their parks, and I know the process is arduous and expensive, but significant progress must be made before I will set foot in SFSTL again. Both Worlds of Fun (in KC) and Silver Dollar City (in Branson) are much better options for clean and safe theme park thrills right now.

If you really want the park to stay open and improve, you should make sure that you are communicating with the customer service folks at the park. If you see an issue like I have described in my report, you should let someone know. Things will never improve unless people like you take action.

If you want to save your park, then you are going to have to get involved.

Good luck. Let me know when you think it is safe enough to return without getting a tetanus shot first!

From Robert Miller
Posted April 9, 2009 at 3:53 PM
James,great report, don't know how I missed it, I totally agree with all you've said. I've made 3 trips to SFSTL, don't remember the year of the last one, but it was bad back then. That's probably why I've never planned another trip. The coasters are the best part of the park, but the mess you talk about was there too. About the only bright spot of all the trips, was seeing Loretta Lynn in concert.

On that last road trip, my daughter and I also stopped at Great America after SFSTL. Like I've always believed, if you love coasters as much as we do, you can overlook the rest of the parks' short comings. Is GA where they have that beautiful double carousel, one on top of the other? It's got to be a one of a kind.

Great Adventure had to be the worst park I've ever been in, but thank goodness, they're turning it around. With all the gangs and trouble that came with the them, more and more people(myself included)stopped going. GA was also the first park I have ever had to go through a metal detector to enter the park. That should tell you something about the patronage. To many times you went to go on a coaster, only to find out it was broken. The place was filthy too. I haven't been back in about 5 years, but things are looking up from what I've read.

James, sad to say, I've never been to your home park WOF. But from the way you talk it up. I'd like to add it to my final trip out west. I've taken my wife out to California to ride coasters, then my daughter on the above said trip. I'd like to plan a final one with my grandson in maybe 4 or 5 years, as long as these old bones of mine don't break on a coaster before then. I looked at the link on TPI for WOF and found out its a great park, don't know how it slipped under the radar on my last trip west and back, all 10,000 miles by car, with just me driving. Again, sorry about that JR thing on the other thread. Just call me Bob :)

From James Rao
Posted April 9, 2009 at 5:08 PM
Thanks for the support and kind words, Bob.

Just to be clear, though, my home park, Worlds of Fun, is no hidden gem. It is a decent stop for about four hours (just enough time to ride all the good rides). When I compare it to SFSTL it seems like a much better park than it is, but WOF is still just a standard iron ride park propped up by a few above average coasters. Definitely do not plan a vacation around it! ;)

One thing I will say about WOF - they do a pretty good job of keeping locals happy: the park is clean, it is safe, the service is above average, their Halloween festivities are excellent, and the prices are on par with what you would expect. However, there are far too many standard midway experiences, no theming to speak of, no real good places to eat, and the water park, Oceans of Fun, is a separate admission ticket (unless you have a Cedar Fair Gold or Platinum Pass).

Still, it is not a bad stop on the way to somewhere else, and it is a much better/cleaner park than SFSTL or Adventureland (another iron ride park within three to four hours of KC in Altoona, Iowa). The Mamba is an excellent hyper-coaster (still one of the longest in the nation), the Patriot is a very good inverted B&M, Timber Wolf is a fun, but painful old woodie, Spinning Dragons is a nice family coaster (like Tony Hawk at SFSTL), and The Prowler is going to be another in a long line of GCI masterpieces. So if you like coasters, there are five of them worth your time at WOF.

FWIW, an even better option than WOF is Silver Dollar City, which is about 3 1/2 hours South of KC in Branson. If you have not visited SDC, it is definitely a place worth taking a couple days to enjoy.

From Robert Miller
Posted April 11, 2009 at 7:44 AM
James, I've been to Branson before, and that would be one of my stops on the way out west. I love the shows and all, and spent three days there with my daughter. I was thinking of stopping at WOF as we head west, but just for one day as you suggest. The one problem with such a large trip, is all the down time just driving from one place to another. That's why SDC would probably not make it on the list, unless something else dropped off while we were at Branson. I want to take my grandson, so I can show him all the places I took his mother and his grandmother on another trip west.

That last trip took 36 days, lots of planning, and lots and lots of the green stuff and nearly 6 years to save it all up. And I don't know how much more this old, really old butt of mine can take driving around this beautiful country. I do love to drive, so like Don, the planning stage begins. You'll be a big help when I plan next year's trip, along with the other TPI members. WOF will definitely be on my trip west. Thanks James :)

From James Rao
Posted April 11, 2009 at 5:26 PM
Just let me know when you're coming, I will do what I can to help! I just hope your Grandson appreciates all you are doing for him! ;)

From Jake Jones
Posted August 15, 2009 at 8:56 PM
I know this is an old topic, but I wanted to bring this up. Fright Fest at Six Flags St. Louis negatively impacts your experience at the park. The park gets more crowded, they add these lame Halloween sets w/hearses and other scenery which block paths and the "frightening" atmosphere just gets old.
There is gum on the walls of a few coasters (most notably Batman), but other than this, the park's cleanliness seams fine to me. The park keeps improving, this year with the Glow in the Park Parade which adds the first live show in years (they have been cutting live shows to save $$$).
Try coming earlier in the year if you can, and you might get a different feeling. It is no Silver Dollar City by any means, but I think a better park than your trip report explains.

From James Rao
Posted August 16, 2009 at 4:47 AM
Thanks for the update on the park, Jake, and welcome to the site!

I have been to SFSTL several times over the years, including the October visit last year that spawned this report. The problem is that other than a few of the coasters (EK, Ninja, Batman, and maybe Mr. Freeze) there is nothing at SFSTL that inspires me to drive the 4 hours to make a visit. It is just not a destination park (like SDC) and offers little to differentiate itself from other run-of-the-mill iron ride parks like nearby Worlds of Fun.

However, I have relatives in O'Fallon who I visit at least once a year (this year we went to the St Louis Zoo, the Arch, and the Cahokia Mounds - all awesome destinations worthy of your time), but next year I will probably return to the park to update my review. While a few things (like the lousy food) will probably not improve, perhaps some of the maintenance/cleanliness issues have been corrected?

Heck, maybe I can combine a visit to SFSTL with a jaunt over to Holiday World to check out their new water coaster next year!

We'll see....

From James Rao
Posted August 16, 2009 at 4:47 AM
BTW, Fright Fest at SFSTL was indeed a detriment to the experience, as you stated, however, Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun is an awesome event. If you want to have a fun time at an amusement park during Halloween, you owe it to yourself to visit WOF.

Click on this link for my trip report from last year: Halloween Haunt.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:10 AM
Oh, James, you might have some tips. I'm going to SFstL for the first time this saturday. any help?

From Jake Jones
Posted August 16, 2009 at 6:49 AM
Actually I was thinking of going next Saturday with a few friends (though its not written in stone or anything). I'm 15, so you guys, assuming your older, probably would not want to hang out us. Any questions you have, I can answer for you.

From Ben James
Posted August 16, 2009 at 7:57 AM
We should organize a group of TPI'ers to go to SFSTL. I have a season pass.

For what its worth. Age is nothing when your meeting friends. I don't have any issue with meeting the people whom I discuss parks with on here.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 16, 2009 at 8:03 PM
Oh, i put james, not jake. Sorry :D wait did you mean this saturday? Because that's when I'm going. I'm actually 13, almost 14, and my brother just turned 17. I almost went by myself, but my aunt (who lives in St. Louis and is driving me out and dropping me off there) didn't want me there alone, so my brother is happily coming along. So I think it would just be us two... thanks though. either way, we can work it out. Even if we were to see eachother, we wouldn't really hang out at all, probably. Maybe you can just tell us what to do and in what order and stuff.

From James Rao
Posted August 17, 2009 at 3:08 AM
So, Eli, you're just going to forget about all the info Ben and I already gave you, huh? To trust some new guy? Jeez... no respect, no respect! ;)

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 17, 2009 at 7:21 AM
haha no james, I think you no what I mean. Just if he has any extra tips that could help. And I forget if I told you guys, but I'm going with my brother, and I've decided NOT to go up the arch.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 17, 2009 at 3:20 PM
Oh no! On SFstL's site, it says that Superman Power of Tower is temporarily closed! I was really looking forward to that because I love drop towers! (Keep in mind, James, I have NOT ridden ToT...) Oh, and I have a chance at getting the flash pass, but it only gets you on about half the rides... and only half of the good ones!

From Jake Jones
Posted August 17, 2009 at 4:07 PM
I see James did give you his opinion from the link he gave. He wrote:

"As for Xcalibur, if you followed the links I provided and looked at my review, I wrote: "This Bussink Evolution ride is a pretty intense midway experience...Xcalibur is worth a ride, but not if the wait is more than about 10 minutes." If there is little or no wait, then definitely ride it.

As for Superman, once you ride the Tower of Terror, all other drop rides will be blah.

As for the coasters at SFSTL, I rank them in this order:

1) EK (back gets the whip, front gets the view)
2) Ninja (can be bone jarring, so brace yourself, but I like the view from the front)
3) Batman (standard B&M invert - front row is by far the best because of the view)
4) Freeze (the ride is way too short - but I like the front)
5) Tony Hawk (put all the weight on one side to get some spinning action)
6) Boss (painful - sit in the middle to avoid injury)
7) Screamin' Eagle (VERY painful - but fun at night - ride in the middle to avoid paralysis)
8) River King Mine Train (good family fun, ride in front)."

I am just going to go through what he said and give my opinion.

Xcalibur- It is a pretty long cycle, so I would wait more than 10 minutes for the ride after you have hit every coaster. Its not good enough to warrant a trip before hitting each coaster.

Log Flume: Neither is themed, but if the second track is open, I would take a ride. This track ventures further back into the wooded area and comes back for a relatively small finale.

Thunder River Raft Ride: Will get you wet, but nothing special

Superman: TOP - It seems tall for a drop ride, but I guess it could be passed on if you have ridden other drop towers. I have personally never ridden it as whenever I have been there it has been broken down, long waits, or there are coasters I would rather ride.

Coasters (I rank by quality, so I cannot understand how Ninja would be in front of Batman or Mr. Freeze). In terms of uniqueness- then I could see why (but EK is apparently a clone as well), but here are my rankings by quality-

1) EK (back is better, especially on the first drop)

2)Mr. Freeze (I enjoy this ride alot more than James seems to, as the spike is great)

3)Batman: The Ride (fun but short)

4) Boss (intensity in first half of the ride makes up for the unnecessary pain in the second half.) I also have not ridden this since 2008 season.

5)Tony Hawk- (fun little ride, would be great if it was longer)

6) Mine Train (classic, does what its supposed to)

7)Ninja- (Headbanging has gotten less since brakes were added before the corkscrews, still beware of the final helix).

8)Screaming Eagle- (I have not rode this in 2009, and I heard some retracking was done. In 2008 and before, this was as bad as James makes it sound).

Waterpark: The speed slides and tornado slide are both fun. There is no water coaster to warrant a visit if you have time constraints.

James, one last thing I wanted to point out and question. You probably realize this, but the Boss really is not old, as it opened in 2000. It is just rough. Some say this is because of the Gerstlauer trains. Would this really make a difference for the whole ride?

Also, my dad and I will probably drive up to KC for Worlds of Fun before the season ends. Do think it would be reasonable to drive up on a Sunday, hit the park, and make it back by 10:00-11:00? I realize this would be sacrificing a night ride on the Prowler... but it seems my only option for this year. I am really looking forward to World's of Fun for my first ride on a hyper-coaster. Though I have ridden 42 coasters at 13 parks, I have never ridden a hyper. I know you have given advice on World's of Fun in your posts, but what specifically, about Mamba should I know? Which seat is the best to ride? Thanks

From James Rao
Posted August 17, 2009 at 4:40 PM
I like Ninja because I like loops. Most coasters seem to be moving away from good old inversions, so I guess the uniqueness factor drives me. It is a headbanger, but just brace yourself for the helix and you will be fine.

Mr. Freeze is simply too short. It is fun while it lasts, but clocking in at about 50 seconds of ride time, it does not justify any wait longer than about 10 - 15 minutes. If it had a few more elements, and a little more length, it would be awesome. Oh, by the way, remember to pull a few weeds while you are waiting in line for Freeze... if you don't no one else will! ;)

You're right about the Boss being relatively new, but SFSTL has not done a very good job of upkeep on any of their rides (except for the recent paint job of Freeze), so the Boss rides and looks older than it should. Whether it has something to do with the trains or not, I do not know. Regardless, once you ride EK a few times, the Boss is even worse.

Screamin' Eagle is old, and when I rode it last year (before the retracking) it was without a doubt the most painful wooden coaster I've ridden. Even worse than Timber Wolf at WoF. But, ride it at night, after the crowds die down, for the best experience. Just brace yourself or suffer the consequences.

Also, I cannot stress enough that as far as flat rides go, Xcalibur is one of the more intense. I like it, I really do. Sadly, it takes FOR-E-VER to load, ride, and unload, which drives me nuts. Most of the problem is due to slow-moving ride operators, but even with a good one, this attraction eats up a lot of touring time. If you get a Flashpass, Eli, ride this one early, before the crowds gather, then go back to your Flashpass rides.

Jake, I can accomplish everything I want to accomplish at Worlds of Fun in less than two hours on an average Sunday morning. Because honestly, other than Mamba, Patriot, and Prowler, everything else is very mediocre and skip-able. However, missing a night ride on Prowler is like eating cake without frosting. Anyway, if you are seriously planning a trip to WoF, let me know and I will give you all the advice you ever wanted! For starters, check out these two links, then let me know what other questions you have:
WoF Main Listing
WoF 2009 Updates.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 18, 2009 at 6:52 AM
Thanks james. What do you mean pull a weed out in the line for Mr. Freeze? I'm a kid, remember? You mean literally? I thought the station was indoors...

Anyway, like I said, the flashpass doesn't have very many of the good rides... Like you said, you don't really enjoy Freeze unless it has a short line, right? Well is it flashpass? Or is their site right? It doesn't have american eagle, tony hawk, OR even evel knievel! And no xcrabular or whatever!

From James Rao
Posted August 18, 2009 at 10:41 AM
What do you mean pull a weed out in the line for Mr. Freeze? I thought the station was indoors...
The path to the ride takes you through a maze of weeds to the loading area. Only the last part of the line is indoors (watch out for the cobwebs!). And, if they are only loading from one side of the platform, the line will get very long. So, while you are waiting pull some weeds and clean the place up! Six Flags isn't gonna do it, so you better!

EK is not listed as FP, but it has a FP machine, and is usually included, despite the signage. I don't promise that it will work, but it did when I went last year.

If you get the regular FP, it is pretty much the same as waiting in the regular line, you just don't have to stand there. So if the line for Freeze is mismanaged and long (as it usually is), then you will still have a long wait.

From Ben James
Posted August 18, 2009 at 11:45 AM
James and ELi,

I am currently working on my TR for the last 6 visits I took to SFSTL. The weed problem you speak of is no longer a problem at Mr. Freeze. In fact that problem at the queue lines has been taken care of through out the park.

From James Rao
Posted August 18, 2009 at 1:20 PM
Good news! Sounds like our very vocal trip reports had an impact!

See, if we don't voice our displeasure, nothing will ever change!

Kudos to SFSTL for listening to their customers and doing something about a major issue in the park!

From steve lee
Posted August 18, 2009 at 2:54 PM
Yeah, I didn't want to say anything but I didn't find the park to be nearly as ghetto as James was claiming. But by the time we got to Six Flags my attention span was incredibly low and I was too busy wiping sweat out of my eyes to notice weeds.

From James Rao
Posted August 18, 2009 at 6:47 PM
Remember, my report was from October 2008... SFSTL has had almost a full year (and one full off season) to clean up its act. If my report contributed to the positive changes, then I am especially glad I posted it.

I will hit SFSTL next season and see if it lives up to the hype. Maybe some of Shapiro's mandates are finally making it to the middle of America!

SFSTL is still a sucky park, but at least it will be a clean, sucky park according to these recent reports! ;)

From steve lee
Posted August 18, 2009 at 8:06 PM
It's also possible that park management realized they were going to have a ton of ACE fanboys there (the event at SFsL was only ten bucks and was the day after the con ended) and wanted to make sure no one got the plague...

From James Rao
Posted August 18, 2009 at 8:39 PM
I thought all ACE Fanboys already carried the Plague? Hmmmm....

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 18, 2009 at 9:23 PM
James, is EK the only one that is a flashpass atraction that's not on the list? Or do you also mean Mr. Freeze?

From James Rao
Posted August 19, 2009 at 2:53 AM
Listed FP attractions:

Batman: The Ride
Log Flume
Mr. Freeze
River King Mine Train
The Boss
Thunder River
Tidal Wave.

However, EK has a FP "box", and when I was there last year, it was in use as well - even though it was not listed anywhere on the web site or inside the park as a FP ride. I'm not saying it will be in use when you are there, but it worked for me.

Ben, any word from the guy who has actually visited this year?

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Oh, thanks James. I didn't see Mr. Freeze. But for a saturday when the kids are back in school, don't you think I should get one? If so, do I need the Gold one? Thanks!

From Ben James
Posted August 19, 2009 at 12:27 PM
I still stand by my statement before. Each visit I make to SFSTL I do not purchase the Flash Pass. its an expensive waste.

Yes, EK does have the FP box. However, until 2 weeks ago I never experienced more than a ten minute wait. Last time I had like a 20 or 25 minute wait. Not bad all things considered.

From James Rao
Posted August 19, 2009 at 12:54 PM
Freeze is definitely Flashpass. However, go with Ben's assessment - he visits far more often than I do - and skip the Flashpass for now. A weekend in September should not be as crowded as a weekend in October (when I went last). And, you can almost always purchase the Flashpass at the park if you need it.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 19, 2009 at 2:20 PM
Ben, do you not purchase the FP because they never have long lines, or because you go so often there's no reason to spend cash on rides you've ridden so many times? At SFA, it's the second choice for me on super crowded days. I really assume it's going to be packed that day, because it's a saturday in august with kids in school! Please help!

From Ben James
Posted August 19, 2009 at 2:58 PM
Once Kids go back to school, parents don't make the trip typically. Secondly, I do not purchase because the lines are tolerable.

Like James said. Once your there and you have hit a few rides you can make the assessment for yourself about whether or not to still purchase.

I have never seen a reason to purchase the pass at SFSTL. SFGrAm, yes. But not SFSTL.

From Jake Jones
Posted August 19, 2009 at 6:37 PM
Eli- people have given you more help and tips on your 1-day trip than you will need (when you say "please help," it seems as if no one as helped you yet). I'm not saying that I don't want to be helped when I have a question, but at SFSTL, no matter the lines, if you stay all day, you will be able to hit every coaster you want to! If its crowded-buy the FP, if its not- then don't (its really very simple). Would I buy it online before checking the crowds? No. In the end you will just have to play it by year and decide for yourself ...

From James Rao
Posted August 19, 2009 at 5:51 PM
Here's another way to look at it: if you do have the money to burn, then by all means, get the best Flashpass money can buy. Seriously, it will make your day nicer to cut in front of everyone in line - even if you don't need to! We are only suggesting you wait and see, because we are frugal, poor, and cheap (especially cheap). Actually, if you are loaded, then go ahead and splurge for the VIP Tour and you will have the best day of your life!

No matter what you decide, I don't want to read a single line in your trip report about how much you like that slop served at Panda Express! Save that kind of commentary for people with no taste buds!! ;)

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 20, 2009 at 4:07 AM
My bad, jake. It's just I wasn't sure if I was going to get to a computer between now and saturday. So I just needed this last little thing, and I "panicked". :D

James, I'll reserve a WHOLE PARAGRAPH for Panda express! ;) Yeah, I know "PE" isn't that great, but it's WAY better at the crap they attempt to make at my school that they call "orange chicken". (I love orange chicken, but only when it's actually good.)

Ok, I'm still not sure about a flash pass, but as you guys say, just see how it is. Still, I would like to bring the cash into the park that day, so I actually have a CHOICE.

From James Rao
Posted August 20, 2009 at 1:49 PM
I am not reading your trip report, Eli, unless it is Slop Free!

From Jake Jones
Posted August 20, 2009 at 4:11 PM
What was that James- you recommend Panda Express at Worlds of Fun?

From James Rao
Posted August 20, 2009 at 4:45 PM

I am deleting my WoF Touring Plan immediately!

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 21, 2009 at 5:26 AM
Yes, james ADORES Panda Express... :D

From James Rao
Posted August 21, 2009 at 6:19 AM
Yep, nothing better than a chain of Chinese food restaurants that use the meat of endangered giant pandas in all their recipes...


From Eli Katzman
Posted August 21, 2009 at 3:42 PM
Great! :D no, we might not eat there. And my aunt is giving my brother and I $35 each! :P And we are having dinner with her, not at the park.

From James Rao
Posted August 21, 2009 at 5:34 PM
Now you're talking, Eli. Good eats!

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 22, 2009 at 6:23 AM
Wish me luck with the crowds! (And the food :D)

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 23, 2009 at 9:49 AM
I'm going to post a trip report either later today (after I have some time with my parents) or tomorrow afternoon.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:28 AM
I posted it, and it never came up!

From James Rao
Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:29 AM
Send an email to Robert Niles, and see if he received it.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 26, 2009 at 4:32 AM
ok, I will. thx

From Ben James
Posted August 28, 2009 at 8:51 AM
Eli, any word on your trip report?

I decided that I am just going to do a park report and incorporate my experiences in it.

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 28, 2009 at 3:19 PM
Look @ my top ten thread for more info.

From James Rao
Posted August 28, 2009 at 4:19 PM
Yes, Ben, start a new thread, this one from 2008 needs to be retired! ;)

BTW, Eli, I saw your note in the Park Reviews for SFSTL that Tony Hawk no longer has the on-ride video option. Interesting. Ben, have you heard why they got rid of it? I presume it was because no one was buying?

Also, Eli, from your reviews I think we are pretty much in agreement about most of the coasters, though you were a little more enamored with Freeze and Boss than I was, and you liked Ninja less than me.

Question: did you end up getting Flashpass, or was the park not crowded? Also, what was your overall assessment of the park compared to Dorney, or Busch, or Kings Dominion, or Hershey? How does it rate comparatively in your opinion?

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 29, 2009 at 11:25 AM
Yeah, I was expecting a video, but the only coaster with even an onride camera was EK! Very interesting to me... SFA has 1,2... yeah, 2 cameras. Roar and Superman.

Yeah, I guess the boss retracking really payed off! But about mr. freeze, do you agree on the launch? That it's fast, but not much of an initial start? And I usually don't like Arrow coasters too much, so that might have given me a bad view. Well, it's half arrow half vekoma... and I think early vekoma sucked, too. Their flying dutchmen coasters were some of their only good coasters before the went bankrupt.

The park was a lot less crowded than expected, so I didn't need a flashpass. The only thing I had to do was know where the crowd goes. Here's my theory: As people start entering the park, from about 10:30-2:00, the close attractions to the entrance start to get crowded. As the day goes on, like maybe 1:00-5:00, everyone is pushed to the back of the park, so attractions like EK and Batman have a super small crowd (which is how I got 13 rides on batman in a row ;)...) As the day closes out, people start coming back towards the front. I noticed as I was leaving around 5:30, EK had a 45 minute wait! wow... Anyway, my longest waits were 35 minutes for my second ride on THBS, and 45 minutes for my second time on the Boss (my front ride, which was totally worth it) because they were bringing on the third train to the track, and 45 minutes for my first on Batman.

I'd say this was about as good as dorney (especially crowd wise), no where close to BGE ;), close to KD, and a little far from hershey. EK just couldn't match Lightning racer :D

Hope you see some part of how my trip went

From Jake Jones
Posted August 29, 2009 at 11:43 AM
13 in a row? They didn't make you walk or go around? And wow- 45 minutes for 1 ride on Batman and then 0 minutes for 13 rides. It seems you got alot done in 1 day, especially since you left at 5 30. The only thing you sort of missed was the parade, which is mainly for families, but still cool.

Close to KD and on par with Dorney- I feel proud someone would say that about SFSTL.

Did you check out Hurricane Harbor?

From James Rao
Posted August 29, 2009 at 3:19 PM
Thanks, Eli, for the info. I think the whole Mr. Freeze experience is a little disappointing. For me it is almost always too long of a wait for too short of a ride. But, yeah, the launch is not as good as some others (RnRC, Poltergeist/Flight of Fear, Hulk, Powderkeg, and even RotM). It may be a faster launch in some cases, it is just not as thrilling. It kind of reminds me of the launch to the Tidal Wave/Greezed Lightning: fun but not over the top fun. Don't get me wrong, Freeze is a decent ride, just not the end-all-be-all some folks make it out to be (it has a 9/10 rating on this website, which I think is way overrated).

I have never been to Dorney, but since it looks a lot like Worlds of Fun, I would tend to agree that is is probably on the same level as SFSTL. I have been to Kings Dominion, and I think it is quite a bit better than SFSTL, but mainly because it has more (and better) coasters. Busch Gardens is in a league with Disney and Universal, so no Six Flags park even comes close. And the last time I went to Hersheypark I was about 8 years old (30+ years ago), so I have no real memory of the event. Although, I view Hersheypark as a destination, and SFSTL as a stop on the way to a destination.

Eli, was the park fairly clean? And where did you end up eating?

And, Jake, SFSTL has a parade? ;)

From Jake Jones
Posted August 29, 2009 at 6:27 PM
Yeah, there were two additions for 2009. A 6 lane wide racing mat slide, and the 2.5 million dollar glow in the park parade (every night at 9:15 ish).


And my dad said he was not feeling to well right now... it could jeopardize the WOF trip tomorrow. I hope not though.

From Jake Jones
Posted August 29, 2009 at 6:44 PM
Also, Eli. How does SFSTL compare to Six Flags America (I think you said in a post that it was your home park)?

From Eli Katzman
Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:02 PM
Sorry it took so long, guys. My internet was down. In order from the posts:

Jake, no problem. It actually wasn't a bad park at all. And decently sized. not very small, but not too big to ruin the day, or whatever. Like SFOG is huge, but SFGAdv, SFGAm, and SFMM are all the biggest SF parks, and I think SFOG or Fiesta texas or something is number 4. No, I didn't check out Hurricane harbor. I don't know if you've seen in other threads, but I only check out waterparks when I have an extra day or something, when that water park is with an amusement park. Don't get me wrong, I love waterparks, but theme parks are just much more important to me. Like when I went to Williamsburg in '07, I wanted to go to Watercountry USA, but I wouldn't sacrafise ANY of my day from BGE to go over there.

James, I see why you don't like Mr. Freeze too much. I understand that. I put it as 8/10, when you probably did 5 or 6/10, correct? And I'd say that it's launch is BARELY more thrilling than BSC's (backlot stunt coaster) launch. Joker's jinx's (poltergeist) launch is more than 10 mph slower, but its launch is much more thrilling (still, not that great), and a lot louder. If you can ever take a trip to philley or wherever, go to Hershey! Try it! You'll like stormrunner alot more than mr. freeze, but it's only 34 seconds long. I timed it ;) Yeah, it was pretty clean. I saw some little plants sticking barely out into the que on mr. freeze, but no "weeds". Yes, I ate at panda express. :D yeah, i know, not the best food.

Jake, yeah, it's my home park. Just like with you guys, you always think lesser of your home park. Like superman RoS is an amazing ride there, but I feel like it's not that great because I've ridden it over 100 times, actually maybe way over. It feels more fun when I'm riding it with a friend that's never ridden it. Same with batwing. But besides that, my park sucks, especially because SFA wanted to save money when they bought roar, so they bought PTC trains, not GCI's, so now it's amazingly rough. I could definately tell the difference of roughness between the 3 years I've gone. With Wild one, it's weird, because in '07, it was cool, but rough. Last year, it was really fun. Now, it's not as rough as '07, but rougher than last year. Still enjoyable, but still not the best ride. I don't even ride Mind Eraser any more. I stopped last year. :P

Hope this helps, guys. I might shorten my trip report I'm writing! :D (I haven't started up yet)

From steve lee
Posted August 31, 2009 at 5:44 PM
James, I missed your comment earlier regarding the parade. The Glow in the Dark parade is actually really, really good. Like "this is at Six Flags?" good. I'll post video of it in a week or two (I've been meaning to get around to it).

From James Rao
Posted August 31, 2009 at 8:28 PM
Eli, I gave Freeze a 7/10 and that is all it deserves. Search your feelings, you know it to be true! Anyway, thanks for the follow up... now it is time for you to plan your trip to WDW so you can ride a good "drop" ride!

Steve, looking forward to your report... the only parade I ever saw at SFSTL was a Halloween parade and it was Gawd-awful.

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 1, 2009 at 3:26 PM
James, the only time I'll probably EVER go to Disney would be either in the next few years visiting my dad's college friend in tampa with my brother, or until college (where ever I go). Still, that way I can have fun with other rides! :D Does ToT only have one drop?

From James Rao
Posted September 1, 2009 at 5:23 PM
No, the TOT has many drops...and climbs. The action of the elevator is random. You never know where it is going to go...until the end, of course. And even then it is not unheard of for the ride to be settling down, then shoot back up for one last farewell to your lunch moment.

Honestly, Eli, the Tower of Terror rendered all other "elevators rides" obsolete.

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 2, 2009 at 3:14 PM
yeah, you've told me at least 15 times on this site before. :P until i ride it, I can still enjoy other drop rides!

From steve lee
Posted September 2, 2009 at 7:40 PM
James, here's the video of the Glow in the Park Parade. Wasn't as difficult to put together as I thought it would be - I didn't have to edit out too much to get it down to Youtube's 10 minute limitation (still had to compress it to get under 2 GB. Oh well). Now I just have to figure out what to do with the other 5 hours of footage from that Missouri trip...

From James Rao
Posted September 2, 2009 at 8:18 PM
Wow! Steve, I am shocked. I did not know Six Flags had it in them. I guess the old idiom is true: even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Kudos to Six Flags, keep up the good work!

And Eli, consider this the 16th time: DHS' Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is the greatest "drop/launch" space shot ride in the world. XOXOXOX!

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 3, 2009 at 6:32 PM
Oh, snap, steve, is that your youtube channel? should I sub to it?

From steve lee
Posted September 3, 2009 at 7:46 PM
It is, but I'm certainly not gonna tell you what you should/shouldn't do.

(but yeah, you totally should)

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 4, 2009 at 3:07 PM
haha ok i just did :D I'm zdarknes72

From James Rao
Posted September 28, 2009 at 8:30 PM
Intelligence allows for change, therefore I wish to submit two updates/corrections to my report (thanks to the folks at for noticing my errors when they dissected the you-know-what out of my report):

1) I always considered the Ninja to have three loops (standard, corkscrew, and sidewinder), however, the corkscrew actually is a double corkscrew, so the Ninja has four, not three, "loops." My review should read as follows: The Ninja...I love inversions, and the Ninja sports four of them.

2) Technically the "top hat" element on Mr. Freeze is an "inversion", but not a "loop". In my report I called it a loop. My bad.

Anyway, it is my belief that it is always better to be right than it is to be correct, but now I am both! ;)

Now, we can OFFICIALLY retire this TIRED, OLD THREAD!

From Jake Jones
Posted October 5, 2009 at 8:29 PM
Eli- not trying to pressure you, but did you post that first half of the SFSTL TR you said you saved?

BTW- Eli I am expecting a full SFGADV trip report by the time I go on Oct 16. jk (:

From Eli Katzman
Posted October 6, 2009 at 4:36 PM
haha I STILL haven't gotten around to it! :D

And yes, I'll have one! And you're going on a friday? Is it open fridays?

From Jake Jones
Posted October 6, 2009 at 6:33 PM
Yes, I have been told that we will be able to go that Friday night. It is only open 5-11 PM, and we would not stay the whole time. Plus, this is a Bar-Mitzvah weekend, so if something comes up and we are all invited to a cousin's house to see family, the trip could be canceled. Put it this way: I have researched the park and asked for opinions but have not printed out directions. My dad does seem fine about going because we have season passes, but family would take priority probably.

The reason I posted the WOF TR in peices was because I knew if I wrote it all at once, I would lose focus and by the end my park overview would have been complete crap. Plus, it was easy, spend 20 min per day writing instead of 2 hours writing on a single day. I understand though.

From James Rao
Posted October 7, 2009 at 2:46 AM
And the countdown begins...

...18 more posts until this thread is finally retired... has been fun, but I am tired of having to defend a 12 month old trip report, especially when I have just finally begun to come to terms on how bad that trip actually was!


From Bob Miller
Posted October 7, 2009 at 5:11 AM
I'll help you James!!!!!

From Ben James
Posted October 7, 2009 at 7:45 AM
Here Here

From Eli Katzman
Posted October 7, 2009 at 2:07 PM
#85... feels cool. Didn't expect it to be that way... :D

From James Rao
Posted October 7, 2009 at 6:24 PM
#86 feels even better. Wonder what #87 will be like?

From Jake Jones
Posted October 7, 2009 at 6:29 PM

James, since you post alot, you could give an empty threat that if anyone posted again, they would be kicked out of TPI.

Or we could get a real threat from Mr. Niles (:

Even easier, you could "lock" the thread, if that has ever happened, as I know it does on other sites.

From James Rao
Posted October 7, 2009 at 6:44 PM
I actually like all the posting, but we probably should have started a new thread about SFSTL a long time ago. This trip report, by all accounts, is no longer up-to-date. Apparently my criticisms, combined with those of many others, and the mandates of Mark Shapiro, all worked together to bring some much needed improvement to the beleaguered Six Flags park. I just hope they can keep up the good work and continue to make SFSTL a destination worthy of a four hour drive and an overnight stay at a Drury Inn. I would love to have a third viable option for theme park fun in Missouri (SDC, WOF, and supposedly, SFSTL).

On an unrelated note... the rides from the now closed Celebration City (in Branson) are being moved to the various Herschend parks across the nation. So far it has been confirmed that Wild Adventures (WA) is getting Jack Rabbit and some flats. Additionally, rumors abound that while the trains for the Ozark Wildcat were moved to WA, the coaster itself is headed to SDC (it must be a real pain in the a$$ to move a wooden coaster). We'll have to wait and see what else happens, but at least Herschend is not going to just let all those paid-for midway rides go to waste...

From Jake Jones
Posted October 7, 2009 at 6:43 PM
Next time I go to SFSTL (hopefully this year) I will post a TR and that can be a newer forum for the park. And IMHO, WOF of SFSTL are not worth 4 hour drives unless this is your first visit to the park, major improvements (new coaster) have not been made since your last visit, or you plan to do something else in the area. SFSTL+Zoo+Science Center+Arch+Busch Stadium+Botanical Garden is worth the 4 hour drive. WOF, Schiltterbahn, Barbacue, CBE are worth 4 hour drive.

From James Rao
Posted October 7, 2009 at 7:16 PM
Good idea... and good point. The two parks in and of themselves are not vacation destinations, but are a nice compliment to some of the other local attractions.

Honestly, though, I would drive four hours and stay the night just to visit the Saint Louis Zoo. That place is awesome. Too bad they won't build an Expedition Everest-like coaster and a Kilimanjaro Safari-type attraction at the zoo, then it would be PERFECT! ;)

From Jake Jones
Posted October 7, 2009 at 9:07 PM
About the St. Louis Zoo:
Honestly, with a 8 million dollar investment, you could get a top wooden roller coaster that cut through woods (like a Prowler, but woods are more dense near Forest Park), and with 5 million you could get a THBS/Spinning Dragons style spinning coaster, add in a few "used," but fun rides and it would take 15 million to make the St. Louis Zoo the Midwest's best attraction.

From James Rao
Posted October 8, 2009 at 2:45 AM
You've gotta have the Safari Adventure ride... it just fits the Zoo-theme too well. I am guessing at least $10 mil for a good one.

Plus the kiddie rides and Tony Hawk coaster should all be indoors to minimize the noise for the animals. As long as the GCI woodie does most of its work in the woods, away from the animals, it could benefit from the natural surroundings.

And a white water raft ride wouldn't hurt. $5 mil?

And some sort of omnimover ride with animal animatronics would be huge. Not sure at all on the cost.

Maybe about $40 - $50 mil, and the STL Zoo becomes a zoo destination second only to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

From Bob Miller
Posted October 8, 2009 at 5:33 AM
James, have you ever been to our National Zoo in Washington DC? I took my daughter there several times when she was younger. Someday, I'd like to take Zachary there too.

From Ben James
Posted October 8, 2009 at 11:13 AM
Bob, the StL Zoo is rated the #1 zoo in the country. Second, due to this funky Zoo-Museum District that St. Louis has the zoo, science center, history museum, art museum, and botanical garden are partially supported by tax dollars from residents of St. Louis City and St. Louis County. This district was voter approved decades ago as an attempt to culturalize St. Louis. Second and a little more important to note. This tax money amounts for less than 10% of the budget for these institutions. This is why the zoo, art museum, history museum, and science center can and do offer free admission.

Its amazing that with this provision the Zoo isi as good as it is. Additionally, The forest next to and surrounding the western part of the zoo is a protected national forest within the confines of Forest Park. Its' Kennedy National Forest.

From Bob Miller
Posted October 8, 2009 at 12:35 PM
Ben, thanks for the info, very enlightening, but that question was meant for James Rao. But Ben, the last time I was out that way was with my wife and others back in the 80's. After seeing the Arch, we had plans to go to the St Louis Zoo, but had to change them.

From Jake Jones
Posted October 8, 2009 at 4:35 PM
James, I think the Safari Adventure would be nice, but it just seems overdone. When I did in the Animal Kingdom, it did not feel so much better than walking through the Safari section of the Zoo. Then again, everyone else was "oohing and ahhing" so maybe it was just that we were used to our zoo.

From James Rao
Posted October 8, 2009 at 5:06 PM
Bob, I used to live in Annandale, VA, and frequenting all the free museums and the free zoo in DC was something our family did a lot. I liked the National Zoo, but it has been a few years, so I am not sure how it compares today. Back when I lived in Simi Valley, CA, I remember thinking the San Diego Zoo and the now defunct Lion Country Safari were pretty phenomenal too.

In the Midwest, the STL Zoo is tremendous, and the KC Zoo is on the rise. I would actually rate the Omaha Zoo in Nebraska a little higher than STL, but when they are that good, it is really just splitting hairs.

One thing that does kind of irk me is the notion that the STL Zoo is free. Ben was right when he wrote that "admission is free", but pretty much everything else costs money. If you choose to park in one of the provided parking lots you get dinged for $11 bucks. If you want to visit the kid's section of the zoo (after the first hour that the park is open) it costs. The rides cost, of course, and both the Sea Lion show (which is top notch) and the 3D movie cost as well. Don't get me wrong, the STL Zoo is very reasonably priced (the Safari Pass is a really good deal, especially if your local zoo participates in a reciprocal program and you are a season pass holder), and there are ways to experience most of the zoo completely free, but it is definitely not free if you want to experience everything it has to offer during a day long excursion.

From Ben James
Posted October 8, 2009 at 8:12 PM
Interesting that this thread has turned again. But I would like to point out again James. The tax base only supports less than 10% of the operating budget at each institution. With that said these institutions (one of which I work for) have to fill in the gap in their operating budgets.

So yes, at the Zoo you pay for extras, the sea lion show, train ride, 3-D movie, Childrens' Zoo, and the Sting Ray exhibit. Not to mention the Concessions and souvenirs; which are not a necessity of a visit. And of course parking (you could park in the zoo lot(s) or better yet take the bus from the metro-link line). However, there are over 400 species of animals that are on display for free and the free areas could take you over 3 hours to visit.

At the science center you do have to pay for the Omnimax Movie Theatre, Planetarium Space Show, Discovery Room (specialized Toddler area), or a special exhibition. The gift shops, parking, or concessions. Or you could just visit the over 750 FREE exhibits which could take you up to 5 hours.

At the History Museum or the Art Museum you only pay extra for the special exhibitions. But the galleries which each respectively have over 1000 items on display are FREE and could take you 4-6 hours each.

I challenge you James or any other person who visits this site to find a museum or zoo that offers free admission and doesn't provide extras at an additional cost(s) to cover their operating costs.

From James Rao
Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:35 AM
I would like to point out that I did write that the STL Zoo was fairly priced. And that it was a very good deal. Again, I just think it is a misnomer to call the place free.

From James Rao
Posted October 9, 2009 at 2:37 AM
And with that...this thread is officially retired.

Thank you all for playing. =)

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