Well under pressure from my friends, I decided to shell out $59.99 at Ralphs yesterday to get the "Play Pass" for Six Flags Magic Mountain so we could go to the park over spring break and through the summer (mostly out of excitement for Tatsu, but I'm getting ahead of myself).
So we went to the park today, arriving at about 9:30 or so. Oh my, the security woes. Ready for the story? Ok. I heard about the metal detectors they make you go through, but that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was when they checked my backpack. I packed myself a sack lunch because honestly I can't stand amusement park food, the quality nor the price, and I do it at DL all the time. When security searched my backpack he said I couldn't bring any food into the park. I couldn't believe it! He said I had to keep it in my car, but we had been dropped off and our driver had already left. I asked him if there were any lockers I could use, and he said there were lockers in the park but I couldn't use them to store any food. I just stood there. It made me feel like I was a criminal! Finally I just said "screw it!" and left it, what other choice did I have? Oh yeah, I'm gonna eat it outside while my friends go off without me in the park.
Really I don't care much about the food (although I made a darned good ham sandwitch), it just made me mad that there isn't some way I can avoid paying ten dollars for a meager portion of a burger and fries! At least at DL they have a small but available picnic area, with brand new lockers and everything! I can just see Six Flags Security eating my lunch. Ugh. It didn't make matters any better that, while waiting for the park to open, the lousy Six Flags people chatting away at the main gate were going on about all the food options there are to choose from. Yeah, I was not in the mood to celebrate their stupid 45th Anniversary "celebration."
So, I can honestly say that I lost my lunch at Six Flags. Just not the way you would expect me to lose it.
Later on in the day, in silent rebellion, I survived off of a water bottle they didn't manage to take away from me and some leftover french fries from my friends' lunches. Beforehand I had planned to buy some Dippin' Dots but needless to say I did without. I ended up spending no money. Ha! Take that, Security!!
One of the reasons I relented and bought the Play Pass was that I have been hearing about how, under new management, Six Flags is sprucing up the park and introducing a more family-oriented environment. Well, either they haven't started it yet or I was thinking of another park, because it looks almost exactly as I remember it being last summer. One word: PAINT! Holy crap, it needs paint. The sun ain't good to that place. Plus most of the buildings are color-schemed in this light pastel stuff that I hate to begin with and looks even worse when it gets faded. The buildings are all there, they just don't look fresh at all! As far as the coasters go, you can totally tell how old/new it is based on the paint. You'd swear they never painted it after it opened! Tatsu, still fresh out of the plastic, looks sparkling and new, while Ninja right next to it is oily and rusty and yuck! Luckily, I did notice two paint jobs, one being the sky tower, still orange/red but it looks much better (maybe they'll open it now?), and the Revolution, being closed for Tatsu construction, is repainted in the more prominent places and looks gorgeous white again, and off in the trees the goodness cuts off where they haven't painted yet. I hope the whole thing gets a new coat before the Revolution reopens.
While I'm talking about upkeep, let's talk about operation. I can't tell you how many times I saw signs that said something like "pardon our dust, construction in the works for new thrills," must have been a dozen of 'em or more. Around Tatsu, like the Revolution and Orient Express closures, I can understand. What I cannot tolerate are the areas of the park that have been closed off forrrrreverrrrr. Flashback has always been closed every single visit for six years, and so has the Sky Tower and the Monorail. The Freefall Tower was not operating. Spin Out, a favorite within my group of friends, was also closed. Something called the Circus Wheel in the Colossus County Fair has not seen the light of day for years. Superman the Escape was doing sporadic test run-throughs but did not open until we were ready to leave. There was virtually no entertainment (to be expected on a Tuesday, but it's spring break!), not that I care much anyway, but still. Worst of all, however, was the so-called Cyclone Bay. It was Ghost-town Bay! Deja-Vu, Psyclone, and Thrill Shot were all just sitting there! Deja-Vu, the only ride I care about in the area, had a crane sticking out of it. I still have not ridden the d*** thing because it was closed last visit too!
The rides that were open were hanging on by a thread. After a horrific experience on a previous visit, we wisened up and headed for X straightaway at park opening. Good thing - there was only ONE train operating on the freakin' thing! We got there early and rode immediately, and then we got right back in line and waited for two hours! Do the math - one train, 28 passengers (assuming every seat is filled, usually not the case), six minutes cycle time. That's only 280 riders an hour. That makes Dumbo look efficient! Viper, on the other hand, survived on one train only because people hate that ride anyway. Colossus held you up for a long time because there was just one track, one train. The other long line in the park, Goliath, was because only one train was operating, although luckily when we finally got to the boarding station we watched some head-honchos take over the control panel, and not long after a second train was dispatched, and the line went much faster after that. Seriously, the park was not crowded at all today! The paths were sparse and hardly anyone was around, yet the lines took forever because of hindered capacity! In comparison, coasters that had two trains running (Ninja, Batman, Riddler, Scream) were very nearly walk-ons. I can only imagine what Superman was like.
This park needs some serious work before I'll stop calling it Sucks Flags Tragic Mountain. To review:
1) Either let guests bring in food or provide lockers as a picnic option.
2) Paint everything! It needs it!
3) Keep the attractions open, and keep them running efficiently.
One more thing - the park maps have too many ads, it's confusing, and the paper tears way too easily. Looking through the park map to make this post, I managed to tear it clear in half.