Trip Report: Six Flags New England

Edited: August 13, 2018, 8:03 PM

We got to the park at exactly 10:30 but I had forgot to bring our season passes on the trip (d’oh), so I looked around the entrance plaza for the Guest Relations window but couldn’t find it, however they did have a building that said “ticket center” so we waited in line for that which was took about 30 minutes.

Luckily after a while they were able to find our pass on their computers though instead of printing new ones they made us download the app and pull it up on that, and if we wanted new real tickets we would have to go wait in line at Guest Relations and pay them a fee

OK so I was grateful that the kid was able to help us out although the Allegiant Airlines-like policy of downloading the app or going to wait in another line and paying a fee was crazy. These company’s executives are so obsessed with getting your data they don’t even empower their front-line employees to do anything, you got to download the app.

One thing I want to add is that at least a quarter of the people that waited in the line at the “ticket center” the employees said they couldn’t help them out and they had to go to GR. I found after going through the metal detectors that there was a GR window, which of course also had a really long line, but since I did look around the entrance plaza before (looking for a GR) and couldn’t find it I would have been real pissed if I had waited in that 30 minute line just to be told there is a GR on the other side of the metal detectors and had to go wait in that line now too because those people couldn’t help me.

Anyway we looked at the sign that had the list of attractions that were closed today, and DejaVu/Goliath was not on it, however I had been looking at the ride the whole time we were in the entrance plaza and did not see a single train cycle, so I was pretty sure it was closed. Sure enough even though it wasn’t on the list of rides that will be closed, it was closed all day with nobody there and looked like it has been closed for a long time.

So when we entered the park at 11:30 I figured everyone would want to go to Wicked Cyclone so we went to Superman first. On the way to Superman I noticed a ride called Kryptonite Kollider which was closed. Which was funny because I remember in that spot there used to be a ride called Nightwing but it was removed because (I think) it was too unreliable. I had been to SFNE twice before and Nightwing was closed both times, so it was funny to see its replacement closed as well.

We got in line for Superman which had about half the switchbacks full and we began waiting, then I noticed the line was moving really slow and we had only seen one train go by in 20 minutes or so. I was thinking, “they better be running two trains, I will be really pissed if they are running one train.”
We turned a corner in the queue where the storage track became visible and of course one train was sitting on the storage track. Not only that but the dispatch times were atrocious, I’m talking the one train that was running was taking 5+ minutes in the station to load every cycle. So after about 30 minutes of roasting in the sun and not moving I said F this and we got out of line. I’m pretty sure we would still be in line if we had stayed in it. When we were exiting I asked the greeter if they planned on adding the second train later and he said no its broken and has been broken for months.

So aside from the fact that we didn’t ride Superman because of their sh*tty operations I want to say that is not ok that their big marquee coaster has been running 1 train all summer, especially since one of the parks other biggest coasters has been closed all summer. I get it DejaVu is DejaVu, but still this is getting pathetic.

So at this point I’m pissed as I came all the way here, it took forever to get in, and we won’t be riding two of my favorite rides in the park. We decide to get in line for the Batman mouse coaster which I actually have ridden in Kentucky but it had a short wait and we still hadn’t been on any rides so we decided to ride it. I’d like to say there were no issues there, however somehow SFNE’s operations managed to mess this one up as well.

So first of all every group got their own car no matter how many people were in the group. So if there was a single rider they would tell that one person to ride alone even though there are four seats per car. Even when there was a group of two, and a group of two behind them, they would refuse to sit the people together in the same car. To make matters even more pathetic the people in line were getting pissed about this and were like “Hey, we will sit together with these people to make the line move faster” and the ride operators said no every group rides alone. WTF. We ended up telling the ride op that we had four (even though we were really two) and rode with the group that was in line in front of us. And when a group of 4 came up they did allow all 4 to ride together so its not like they were trying to keep the weight down on the cars or anything.

Also while we were waiting in line some people were standing on the grass next to the queue (on the other side of the ride, so it was not even remotely close to being in a restricted area, it was just a grassy lawn next to the queue) and the ride ops actually stopped operating the ride/doing their job and started yelling “no standing on the grass!” Then when the people couldn’t hear them they yelled to the Flashpass guy “Hey flashpass!! Tell those people to get off the grass!” So basically
1: They wouldn’t allow groups to ride together even when groups told them they wanted to ride together to make the line move faster.
2: They stopped the operation of the ride for like 2 minutes to yell at people who were waiting in line but not exactly where they wanted them to be waiting.
3: They yelled at the Flashpass person in front of everyone waiting in line.
We finally got on and sadly it sucked, it was extremely rough and the camelback hills were back-breakers.

*Also one quick unrelated side note I think it’s hilarious that this ride exists in its current location because I remember when The Dark Knight coaster was being built there, then the city found out they didn’t have the proper permits and cancelled the project then made the plot into an NFL football challenge for a few years. Eventually Mark Shapiro got the axe and the new CEO decided that SFNE needed a new family coaster, and the mouse coaster from Kentucky would fit in that spot…so years later they basically got same ride, themed to the same character, but outdoors instead of indoors. Now this is a Maurer not a Mack so it’s rougher, but a very similar ride nonetheless*

OK so at this point the park has officially made my sh*t list which was sad because I used to think it was a nice park. The next coaster we saw as we were walking was Catwoman and the line didn’t look long so we got in line for it. Two minutes later the ride goes down so we exit the queue along with everyone else.

So we walk through the old Wiggles World area which I believe is called Kidzopolis (unlike SFGADV which is called Safari Kids) to our next destination which is Batman Dark Knight. We walk by the Joker (no thanks), walk by the SLC (no thanks), and we also walk by the sign for their wave swinger called “Crime Wave .” I say we walked by the sign because we literally walked by the sign as the ride was not there…the sign was still there, but the ride was totally missing. OK so another closed ride to add to the list. Nice job SFNE.

So we made it to Batman and it was a Christmas miracle in August, the ride was running two trains and was a walk on! We finally got on a major coaster like two hours and a half hours after arriving. After Batman we continued our lap around the park and walked by the Larson Super Loop (no thanks), walked past the Boomerang (no thanks), walked past DejaVu (closed), and made it over to the Sky Screamer and Wicked Cyclones entrance. We decided to ride the Sky Screamer since it’s a big one and waited in line about 40 minutes once again due to pathetically slow operations. When we were two cycles away from getting on my wife said she was having really bad heat sickness and needed to get inside. So after 40 minutes we left the line and headed for first aid which was on the other side of the park.

After a while sitting in first aid we headed back around to the other side of the park and I sure as hell wasn’t waiting in that long line for Sky Screamer again so we get in line for Wicked Cyclone. A few minutes after we get in line believe it or not the ride goes down…at this point this park has become a joke so I told my wife let’s just wait 30 minutes or so and if it doesn’t come back up we will leave the park. Luckily after 20 minutes it came back up and we finally got to ride. The ride was awesome, no other way to put it other than a relentless kick a** RMC that takes you by the horns and never lets up. Its also an airtime machine but not the extremely painful airtime that we would experience later that night on El Toro. We decided to end our visit on that positive note and drive to GADV to end the night there since they closed at 10.

So yea we were at the park from 10:30 to 3:00pm and all we rode was Gotham City Gauntlet, Batman Dark Knight, and Wicked Cyclone. I hate to come across as a complainer because I used to like this park but to put it blatantly, this park sucked the big one in every way. They decided to go back to the Kirean Burke days where the only good thing about the park is new coaster and even that isn’t true because their two newest “coasters” are Joker and Super Loop: both of which are awful. If the park had decent maintenance and operations it would be fine. The one redeeming thing is Wicked Cyclone but I won’t go back to SFNE unless I know I can get on Superman and DejaVu.

We then went to GADV which consisted of 5 hours of brutal New York traffic. Seriously it was bumper to bumper almost the entire way from SFNE to SFGADV, but the park was slow which made it worth it. I had actually been to this park earlier this season so the goal was to get on Nitro and El Toro and anything else would be gravy.

A general thought about SFGADV is that its much like New York itself, it’s got some decent attractions but pretty much everything else about it is sh*tty. I think people in the north east are so used to things having that dumpy look that its pretty much what they expect when they visit Six Flags, so the place manages to stay in business.

We arrived at 8pm and walked over to Nitro and much to our surprise walked right onto the front row. Yes the queue and station look ridiculously ghetto and the cheesy techno Mortal Kombat theme playing over and over and over in the station is cringe-worthy, but the ride itself was absolutely fantastic. The floater airtime in the front was fantastic, the ride was smooth, and flying through the forest at dusk was a lot of fun.

We then were walking past the Dark Knight Coaster and decided what the hell, we did not ride it on our previous visit this year so may as well give it a go. Much to my surprise the pre-show was actually working, including special effects and sound effects. Sadly though pretty much none of the theming was working on the ride itself so that was a bit of a let down. As lame as the ride it is it was nice to get back on it. I don’t know what Mark Shapiro was thinking building a mouse, theming it to one of the greatest comic book movies of all time, and advertising it as a big new thrill ride. I get that the parks needed indoor family rides that would be good for families and also stay open in weather, but extremely poor theming choice for that kind of budget. His inexperience really showed on this one. The Justice League dark rides that have been built at all the parks recently have been much better executions of that plan (although we did not ride it this visit due to only being there a few hours and wanting to go on the bigger rides).

We then tried to walk past Cyborg to get back to the middle of the park but the path was closed for some reason with an a-frame stating the path closes at 8pm. So we walked back around the right side of the park again and eventually made our way to El Toro. Walking into El Toro’s entrance there was a security guy stationed there so I immediately knew there was going to be some sort of loose-article nazi policy going on. Sure enough “you need to put your cell phone in a locker.” My cell phone was in my pocket, so basically they either just assume everyone has a cell phone or they scan everyone’s crotch area as they walk into the ride. Of course the locker was not free, it was a $1 rental (I’m assuming they have an agreement with the locker company that the locker company makes a certain amount of the revenue per sale in exchange for owning and operating the lockers). Things like this really piss me off, if you’re going to mandate lockers they should be included with your admission…such a blatant cash grab.

Anyway of course I paid the $1 because I really wanted to ride El Toro. My wife has always hated El Toro but ever since it opened its unquestionably been one of the best coasters in the country so I made her ride it. I don’t know what was going on this particular night but holy cow it was rough as hell. The fast helixes taken at that high speed with that amount of roughness was extremely uncomfortable, and I don’t know if it was the seat we were in (first row of last car on train) but the airtime was extremely jarring and painful. I’ve always really liked El Toro but on this night it was extremely aggressive and awful, everyone on our train came off complaining that the ride sucked. Three nights later my wife is still says her neck hurts from it.

After that I felt bad and let her pick our last ride which was SUF. I always get a kick out of how ghetto and poorly maintained that queue is…but yea…it was SUF, a walk on and nice relaxing way to end the night.

You may be asking why we didn’t bother with Kingda Ka and that’s because it’s extremely rough and not a good ride at all. I rode it once in 2005 (it was already rough then) but then rode it again earlier this season in 2018 and it was unbearably rough, which is funny because I also rode Dragster earlier this season and thought it was not rough at all.

This is the conundrum of Six Flags: SFNE is a pretty-looking park with a few great coasters but the maintenance and operations were so horrible it totally ruined the park. SFGADV the operations were actually decent but the park is such a dump I can’t say it’s a good park. Believe it or not even though they are the biggest parks Magic Mountain and Great Adventure have always been my least favorite of the SF parks (up until this visit to SFNE)…sure they have the biggest coaster collections, but they are just so dumpy. SF has just never been able to get all the cogs working simultaneously in their parks, there are always things that have to be skimped on.

This is a scenario where you get what you pay for. At some point Six Flags figured out that they can be profitable by basically giving away season passes and having upsells and advertisements all over the place. They are still stuck in that vicious cycle where if they are always thinking short term because if they raise their prices their attendance will go down, and they don't have the financial wherewithal to take a hit short term to make big investments in fixing their parks up to make them better for the long term. Sadly in the past few years we've seen the parks go back to how they used to be in the early 2000s...crap holes.

Replies (3)

Edited: August 14, 2018, 9:43 AM

It sounds like you probably should have gone home after you realized you didn't have your passes - karma was not on your side. I would say that I actually like SF's policy of letting you use their app to pull up your pass. It's far more convenient and obviously cheaper than standing in line to get a physical pass reprinted. I learned long ago to always carry my season passes in my wallet, because I knew I would forget to grab the appropriate pass while traveling on business within reasonable range of a park. However, now with the ability to pull my pass up on the app, I don't have to worry about it (though I still keep my passes in my wallet since SF is still the only park that allows you to pull your pass up electronically). I do know some people that take photos of their passes to pull up on their phone, but I'm not sure if other parks would allow you to use a picture to enter through the gate.

If you have a Six Flags season pass, you know what their operations are like. It doesn't matter what park you're in, they all generally operate their rides at the lowest possible capacity, if at all. It's what you accept when walking through a SF gate, and an expectation I take with me regardless of what SF park I'm visiting. I have been pleasantly surprised with some operations, but by lowering my expectations, I'm mentally prepared to achieve a minimal amount of ride time - I'll never forget the first time we ever went to SFMM @15 years ago. I believe it was over a Holiday Weekend (Columbus Day if I recall), and the park was open from 10 AM until 6 PM. Over the course of the day, we got 8 coaster rides, including 2 on Scream! (the park's newest coaster at the time) since it was the ONLY coaster that didn't have much of a line and was running more than 1 train. It was the most disappointing visit to a theme park I had even experienced with probably a total of 30 minutes riding and the other 7.5 hours standing in lines (including over 2 hours for X and another 1.5 for Goliath, both single training).

It sounds like you were also willing to give up on things even though you had already made a significant time investment. If I've already waited for more than 30 minutes for a ride, I usually will stick it out unless it looks like the ride is not going to open anytime soon. I guess different people have different thresholds, but once I reach that 30 minute level, I'm committed to ride unless it looks like it's going to take over 2 hours. To bail on 2 different lines after waiting nearly 30 minutes each probably added to your frustration, but was somewhat your own doing. There's a level of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" about it, but I don't think complaining about is valid when you chose to wait in the queue and then voluntarily leave the line (honestly it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the lift hill on a coaster and see the same color train going over the top every 5-8 minutes to realize they're single training). The party splitting on the wild mouse is a bit annoying, but I do understand why some parks do this, particularly on rides where you are likely to make physical contact with other riders (I know you're in different rows, but some parks feel the need to isolate parties - had it happen at Valleyfair on their wild mouse).

I'm also not sure why you would try to do SFNE and SFGAdv on the same day. It sounds like you were deliberately setting yourself up for disappointment. I hope that at least you cobbled out some time the next day to properly tour SFGAdv instead of the 2-hour late evening zip-tour.

I don't think anyone would hold Six Flags up as a model for proper theme park operations, but I do have to say that they've been trying to improve, and are doing a decent job of keeping their top parks fresh while not completely ignoring their smaller parks (which is what Cedar Fair has done).

August 14, 2018, 10:31 AM

Interesting report .... my penciled in plan for next year is/was to visit a couple of SF parks, but I'm so used to Orlando and Cedar Fair parks, and how they are run, I wonder now if that's going to be the way I move forward. I may just stick to my original plan to visit SFoGA (I was also thinking about SFGAdv) but maybe not any more. It's always good to hear the not-so-good thoughts of TPI's contributors because, as we all know, the parks we visit don't always live up to expectations. Lot's of time between now and next June, but if I do leave out SFGAdv I could then do a road trip, and stick to VA, SC/NC and GA. Hmmmmmmm .....

Edited: August 14, 2018, 5:41 PM

For fairness I have visited all the SF parks many times and they usually aren't this bad, SFNE was a definitely seems to be a special kind of awful this year. That's why I made sure in the trip report to say it looks like Six Flags is going back to their early 2000's ways.

Russell its funny you bring up the Burke/Story era of SFMM as that was when I was visiting SF parks frequently as well. SFMM's were really terrible back then as they had recently built Superman, DejaVu, and X, all of which were huge maintenance nightmares so their new rides were eating up their entire maintenance budgets and the park was falling apart. Remember in 2008 when they facing bankruptcy SF actually put Magic Mountain up for sale but they got no bids. Apparently the park is profitable now but had to go through bankruptcy and take some rides out to make that happen.

The reason we did NE and GADV on the same day is because I have been to both parks enough to know I would only need half a day at SFNE and maybe an hour or two at GADV to do what I wanted to do. The only reason we went to GADV at all was because we were visiting people in the area.

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