Six Flags: What's your pick?

Edited: August 30, 2023, 10:04 PM

There has been a lot of discussion on the main page regarding Six Flags and it's new for 2024 lineup. Some seem to have very strong opinions one way or the other about the chain. My exposure to them is limited but I am curious...

I grew up and still live in the Denver area. For a time, our local downtown park was a branded Six Flags. Besides that, I know I've been to Magic Mountain and Six Flags over Texas as a kid but that's about it.

As someone who hasn't set foot in a Six Flags park in at least 20 years...what is your choice of park to visit if you were me? What's the best in the chain? Or what's your definitive ranking based on attraction lineup, upkeep, operations, and themeing?

Replies (11)

August 30, 2023, 7:12 PM

Magic Mountain is my home park, so it wins by default for me, haha.

August 30, 2023, 8:54 PM

If you had to pay for a trip to a park from Denver, I would highly recommend Six Flags Fiesta Texas. It is the most un-Six Flags park in the chain with solid theming, a great mix of rides, and generally excellent operations. Their food is not that great (even by SF standards), but the rest of the park is definitely the best in the chain.

August 30, 2023, 9:24 PM

Magic Mountain is my home Six Flags park, and highly recommended for any dedicated roller coaster fan who's reading this. But I would agree with Russell's recommendation of Six Flags Fiesta Texas for a casual theme park fan.

Russell posted some insightful reviews of SFFT and other Texas theme parks last summer, so I would suggest you use the site search to go read those for some fun research.

August 30, 2023, 11:20 PM

Yeah, I'd also echo that Fiesta Texas is an excellent park — particularly by Six Flags standards. If you just want to power through coasters, I'd recommend Magic Mountain and Great Adventure. I also, for whatever it's worth, enjoyed my visit to Great America pre-covid.

August 31, 2023, 11:18 AM

It's hard to rate SF parks because they are so inconsistent, some days/months/seasons a park can be ran fine and you can have a good day, and other days/months/seasons its a total sh*tshow. I've seen it happen where they will make a commitment "we are going to be good this year" and the first few months they are open the park is great, then after starting off with some bad weather and low attendance they pull a 180 and go "oh god we need to cut cut cut" and everything falls apart. Then there have been other seasons where they are way behind in the spring because lack of budget for offseason maintenance and the place is a **** show, then they catch up for summer and everything starts to run smoother.

In general i'd say Magic Mountain is my most hated big corporate park in the country, i've been there dozens of times and found it to be the most consistently bad. Its not just dirtiness or poor operations, its also that the place just has no soul and lacks atmosphere. There have been times i've gone to SFMM and I can ride as much as I want without lines and still find it to be depressing. TBH I haven't been there since 2012 because I just dislike the park so much I don't have a desire to go back.

Great America is one of the best parks in the country but i've heard reports its gone downhill (but once again see above). It has a really solid coaster lineup, great array of classic flats, good family rides with the train/sky trek/water rides, and is a big fleshed out park with decent theming. From what i've been hearing the place has had MAJOR problems though the past few years with lack of maintenance funds which has led to a lot of ride closures.

Great Adventure has been up and down, I hated the place after my first visit but more recent visits (late 2010s) its improved, but i've heard 2021/2022 were terrible but 2023 has been good. My biggest gripe with this park is the absolutely asinine locker policy...that is a major nickel and dime operation that really ruins the experience. Not sure if they still do it though (I think my last visit was 2018).

Personally I really like SFOG although it can get a bad rep (personally I find Atlanta ghetto to be not as bad as SFMM LA ghetto...maybe the southern hospitality culture haha). The operations are not great and it has the usual SF problems, but its a pretty park and has my second favorite B&M hyper in the world (Shambahla being #1) as well as a fun little RMC. Also I love their drop tower when its open. Maybe its just because I have low expectations of SF in general but i've always enjyoed my visits to SFOG and SFSTL (though don't go in the summer its called hotlanta for a reason). I feel much the same way about SFOT, its not ran great but I enjoyed it for what it was. I guess i'm willing to cut the smaller parks some slack just for being small.

SFNE is a beautiful park with an amazing 1-2 punch of Superman and Wicked Cyclone, but every time i've gone there the operations and maintenance have been GOD AWFUL (and this spans many visits over 25 years). I've had some of the consistently worst experiences with SFNE operations of any park.

September 1, 2023, 8:31 AM

While MM has probably the best selection of thrill rides and coasters, I agree that the theming is bad and layout suboptimal. Best park to me is Fiesta Texas. It is clean, easy to navigate, and the Iron Rattler is great. The first park, Over Texas, is horrific. It is like they don't even care. It is a shame, as there are some really good attractions, and the Texas Giant may be better than the Rattler, but the layout in the cliff on the Rattler is really neat.

September 1, 2023, 11:51 AM

Thanks for everyone's input. Sounds like Fiesta Texas would be the right pick for me. My wife is not a roller coaster or amusement park fan, so a little solo weekend trip might be in my future.

September 1, 2023, 12:34 PM

I'd have said Great America once but the place has sadly been facing more issues from rides going to down to overall service/conditions. A shame as still fantastic coaster selection.

Edited: September 1, 2023, 2:37 PM

Having visited every Six Flags park except Mexico, I'd rank the chain in roughly this order:

1. Great Adventure (last visit 2021): All around, this has been the best overall park in the chain in my experience. They've got a strong coaster lineup with some unique offerings and without anything I'd consider bad (though a couple are merely okay), as well as a few pretty cool non-coaster attractions, and when I've visited operations have consistently been great. Food quality is above average for the chain in my experience as well. The two main downsides are the park isn't the nicest appearance-wise and a lot of the coasters require lockers for everything in your pockets due to NJ state laws, but even with those annoyances I always have a great time here.

2. Magic Mountain (last visit 2023): My local Six Flags park, this one is all about coasters, and they have quite possibly the best collection of them in the country. Unfortunately, being a year round park, it is quite common to see a few of them down for maintenance on any particular visit, and one train operations aren't unusual as the maintenance shop simply doesn't have the capacity to keep up with maintenance schedules. The park is a bit strange thematically, as the areas that have been refurbished in the past decade look pretty nice, but other areas haven't really been touched since the park opened and are a bit shabby. The setting of this park is fantastic, as it's built on a hill and utilizes the terrain for several of the attractions. Be aware that this park definitely has the potential for long lines, so a Flash Pass is recommended if you've only got one day.

3. Over Texas (last visit 2023): The original Six Flags park, Over Texas still holds up as a quality offering. While admittedly one of the weaker coaster collections in the chain, they've got some fairly unique or historical rides, as well as a few other interesting attractions not found at other Six Flags parks. In fact, I'd say they've got one of the most rounded attraction selections in the chain. Operations have also been above average at this park every time I've visited, so I've never run into line issues here. Theming is above average too, with several areas still retaining the original country themes Six Flags used for this park.

4. Fiesta Texas (last visit 2023): A lot are surprised I rank this one outside my top three. I will say that this park does a lot of things right: high quality theming on quite a few attractions, a good mix of coaster and non-coaster offerings, a great setting in an old quarry. My problem here is inconsistency. Two of my three visits to the park have had at least one coaster down for the entire day, and two out of my three visits have seen single train operation on at least one of the headlining coasters. I've also experienced everything from quiet days where most rides were station waits to hour long queues for every coaster in the park. It's by no means a bad park, but I just can't name it among the top tier Six Flags properties due to having mixed experiences here.

5. Great America (last visit 2023): Appearance-wise, this might be the nicest park of the chain. Attraction-wise, while they don't have the best coasters, they've got a lot of good coasters, and they've also got a decent number of non-coaster rides as well. Operationally, they're a mixed bag, with some rides having fast ops while others run one train with a slow-moving queue (this is another one where I'd recommend Flash Pass or two days). If there's a jack of all trades Six Flags, it's probably this one, as they do a lot of things well but don't really do anything excellently.

6. Over Georgia (last visit 2022): Good park, poor management. Strong collection of good to great coasters, a couple really neat non-coaster attractions, nice location in a wooded hilly area, and some of the better theming in the chain, but also very inconsistent operations, employees that tend to seem uninterested in their job, and a few weird policies not present at other parks in the chain.

7. St. Louis (last visit 2023): The best of the smaller Six Flags parks in my opinion. They don't get capital investment as much as other parks, but they've still got a decent attraction selection. This one is also run very well, and while they often do one train operation on most coasters, they're fast about getting trains out and don't generally attract enough of a crowd to generate lengthy lines. The park looks and feels old, but it's got a certain charm that the other parks lack. Lastly, this is another park that uses natural terrain to its benefit.

8. Frontier City (only visit 2020): Not a true Six Flags park, but an enjoyable half day outing in Oklahoma City. No big rides, but good theming and low crowds.

9. New England (last visit 2021): I've always been torn on this one because they have two fantastic top 25 coasters, but aside from those it's a pretty lackluster park. Very little if any theming, and largely a collection of stock model coasters and flats. Operations are hit or miss here as well.

10. Discovery Kingdom (last visit 2021): With an attached zoo, this is probably the best Six Flags park for those who don't really enjoy thrill rides. For those that do, the rides they have are good, but can mostly be found at other, better parks in the chain. This one also has super inconsistent operations and some of the worst food service I've encountered in the chain.

11. America (only visit 2018): I enjoyed this park more than I expected when I visited, but it didn't really leave me wanting to return. The attraction selection was pretty meh, one train operation on every coaster, and the park didn't appear to be in great shape. On the plus side, crowds were low so I was able to ride everything I wanted with ease.

12. Darien Lake (last visit 2019): This one is basically Six Flags America lite. It's a bit nicer due to its setting and location and operations are a bit better, but the attraction selection is mediocre. It's also a pretty remote park, but being that it's a camping resort crowds can actually be higher than you'd expect.

13. La Ronde (only visit 2011): To put it bluntly, this park is a dump. Upkeep is seriously lacking throughout much of the park, and a majority of their rides are just straight up bad. I believe this is the Six Flags park that gets the least capital spending, so it kind of makes sense it's the way it is, but it's not one I'd recommend. Also, operations were so poor that even with a Flash Pass I missed out on two of the park's coasters (granted, I only had about 7 hours here instead of a full day, but still).

14. Great Escape (last visit 2019): Despite being ranked last, this is not objectively the worst Six Flags park, and it actually has some pretty cute theming. I rank it last instead because the park is not a thrill park and primarily caters to the family audience, hence it's not really a park that particularly draws me to visit. It doesn't feel Six Flags, which is definitely a benefit, but it's more the sort of place you visit if you're vacationing in the area then somewhere to seek out.

As for where I'd recommend going, I'd say this: If you're going just for the Six Flags park and nothing else, pick either Great Adventure or the Texas parks (you can do both Texas parks in one trip fairly easily). I'd also highly recommend Magic Mountain if you're a coaster fan, but particularly if you haven't been to California's other major parks, I'd save that for when you can take the time to do it all. Great America and Over Georgia are also solid picks if you're wanting to spend some time in Chicago or Atlanta, respectively, but aren't the best choices of Six Flags just for Six Flags. The other parks I'd say are only really worth adding on to a trip that brings you to the region for other purposes, and aren't worth traveling for on their own. Lastly, since you're in Denver, I'll add this: Every single Six Flags park outranks Elitch Gardens on my park list, so no matter which one you choose, you're going to get something better than you've got at home.

September 6, 2023, 11:07 AM

@AJ - Having lived in Montreal for many years I can confirm that La Ronde is definitely one of the worst. However the location of the park is probably one of the nicest! It sucks that La Ronde gets so little funding because being right across from downtown Montreal with over 4 million people nearby it should easily be able to get top attractions.

I will say though if you are ever in Montreal during the summer La Ronde hosts the best fireworks competition in the world. The grand prize at the end for the winning company is called the Jupiter trophy and it's like their Oscars for the pyrotechnic world. You can pay for stadium style seating at La Ronde overlooking the lake and its definitely worth it since the fireworks are sync with music and there's often small special effect over the lake which can't be seen from outside the park.

September 6, 2023, 1:10 PM

I agree La Ronde is Six Flags' biggest "epic fail" park. Such an amazing location in such an amazing city yet the park is awful in every way. I remember on the observation tower some of the windows were literally held on by duct tape (then the attraction was falling apart so much that they closed it, it just sat there for years, and was removed years after that). All of the ride operators were too busy looking at their phones to operate the rides and they had 10+ minute dispatches even with long lines, and there was garbage and graffiti everywhere. Went there once in 2008 and never went back. If I could pick one picture that represents everything about La Ronde its got to this one

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