this party sucks

okay, i really wanted to entitle this why six flags america sucks, but as i like to keep my titles thematically consistent (hey, you hadn’t noticed by now that in 2008, they’re all song titles?) AND, well, any excuse to mention the slickee boys

anyway, for the past few years, we’ve bought annual passes to six flags. going once pretty much pays for it, and going more than once makes it more cost-effective… cost-effective until you buy items at the park, like food, water, and anything else. but that’s life in amusement park land, of course. i don’t mind when it’s a special day; and every summer, i take one day and take BC to the park alone, and i take jools to the park alone on another. we only go either on weekends early or late in the season or weekdays in the summer; this helps to combat massive crowds. this year, i have already taken both kids to the park, and i am more than underwhelmed. in fact, i can safely state that the park has gone to hell in a handcart. here’s why, in no particular order:

1. all those signs that tell people to keep it clean because employees’ families attend the park, too? how about some employees respecting MY family once in awhile? like not saying the word shit in front of my five year old? okay, so i’m a potty mouth, albeit a judicious one; i just don’t expect that sort of thing in regular conversation by a service employee who is in uniform and on the job.

2. gum. on my shoe. every time.

3. wave pool doesn’t open on time. ever. something to do with training lifeguards. hello? the pool is supposed to open at 11. it gives you a couple of hours to train them prior to park opening. oh, you mean it’s too cold to swim before then? you’re a lifeguard; get over yourself.

4. wave pool closes for 15 minutes every hour.

5. way too many unsupervised kids in wave pool, kids who don’t seem to care about whether they ride over someone on a raft. why do they even allow rafts in the wave pool?

6. way too many unsupervised kids in crocodile cal’s beach house. lifeguards circle the area, but i finally had to step in when my five year old was getting continually mowed down by other kids while waiting his turn for slides.

7. ditto for the baby pool area. there is an EXTREMELY thin yet high staircase to the top of the big slide there. it is covered in netting, which my son was able to move to a dangerous degree. and once on top, he was actually pushed around by boys and girls who were about 12. at least.

8. sylvester’s bounce and pounce? not open in the morning.

9. kiddy bumper cars? not open in the morning.

10. flume ride? not open at opening.

11. renegade rapids? not open til noon.

12. there’s one coaster that has never been open in the four or five years i have had season passes. looks like it would be fun, but i’ll never know.

13. why is the train only available to picnicking business groups? do you have any earthly idea how many little kids want to ride the choo choo?

14. 30 minutes to get two slices of cheese pizza. 30. minutes. with. a. hungry. five. year. old. boy. oh, and this wasn’t at peak time: this was at 2 pm on a monday afternoon.

15. witnessed female employee (princess was her name; and if she moved any slower, she would be moving backwards. the other lady, karouselle, lived up to her name, moving in circles) at papa johns (aforementioned pizza experience) actually give away another person’s whole pizza.

16. no manager present to discuss pizza situation.

17. at register, mentioned the issue to cashier. sorry, he said, we’re short-staffed. ultimately, he gave me a 20% discount on my two slices for my trouble. thus apparently, 30 minutes of my-special-day-with-my-boy-sucked-up-into-a-papajohns-vortex-of-doom = $2.60. whee.

18. no more pesky service staff at locker center near the front. sadly, when the computerized locker failed to work, there were no more pesky service staff to help us. nine year old daughter actually had to flag down passing employee, who radioed for help. help came 15 minutes later when daughter recognized the computer logo on a man passing by. daughter snagged said man and brought him over. (note to self: who needs assertiveness training classes for BC? send her to six flags and let her loose to find any employee who might actually help her in a situation.)

19. $1 off skill games coupon in six flags season pass coupon book apparently not applicable for the water-gun game this week. funny, it was applicable two weeks ago when BC played at the same booth, but now, water squirting is apparently no longer a skill, unlike what six flags itself says on its website:


Ready for a little friendly competition? Come out to the park and show us what you’ve got. Step right up for long-range basketball, skee-ball, water gun races­­-real games of skill. Team up with your group or go head-to-head. You might just win a prize for someone special.

shooting basketballs and skeeball apparently is. who knew?

20. as BS pointed out, if the water gun race is not a game of skill, then it is a game of chance, which is illegal, if i am not mistaken, in prince georges county.

21. two people must play in order for someone to win a prize in aforementioned non-game-of-skill. thus, you are paying $6 for a stuffed item made in china.

22. aforementioned stuffed item made in china has a GAPING hole in it, much like the gaping hole in identical item BC won a few weeks ago. wondering whether there was a child laborer stowed away in item. hope he or she was able to find freedom here.

23. on summer weekdays, it appears that every elementary through high school aged child in the county is present without any parents, in full bling and pushing past other kids who might actually be in front of them in line for anything.

24. have the balls in the looney toons prop warehouse ever been cleaned? has the looney toons prop warehouse ever been cleaned? i had the pleasure of sitting next to an opened bottle of orange soda today, spillage and all, and we were among the first people in the place.

and, finally,

25. the bathrooms? i’ll refrain from TMI, but in a word, EWWW.

i’m not entirely sure whether this is the case in all six flags. i had thought about taking the kids to six flags great adventure next week, but after our experiences so far this year, i am wondering whether the entire corporation is going kerflooey. there are so many amusement parks that do things well — disney, of course, and hersheypark, for two — so i have to wonder whether six flags simply cannot handle things.

i think this may be our last year for season passes.


12 Responses to “this party sucks”

  1. Its been quite a few years before I was at Great Adventure, and I can say that I remember a very similar experience to what you describe. I think this is a major problem with many amusement parks in America today. The issue, I think, is two fold. One the only people they can get to work there are teenagers and two, they don’t train the kids nearly as well as they should. Even if they do try to train, teenagers today are almost untrainable.

    Another major amusement park chain is the Anheuser Busch chain (Busch Gardens, Sesame Place, Sea World). They seem to at least have it one up on Six Flags. They too use teenagers, but they seem to know how to train their staff. We have taken the kids to Sesame Place numerous times in the past few years (we had season passes for a few of them). Never had a bad time there.

    Of course the mega kings of amusement parks, Disney, always gets it right. Look at the staff there. True, they do have some teenagers, but there are also many adults and if you look closely enough, you will see that the younger ones are always supervised by the adults.

    Anyway, I may be biased as we LOVE Disney, but I think most people will agree. 6 weeks until our trip to Disneyworld!

  2. jillbraunstein Says:

    OMG. That is unbelievable. Never going there. Thanks for the heads-sup.

  3. My corporate entity will be picnicking in September at Six Flags for a private Saturday event. You want to come along and see how the upper-crust does it? On previous years, the park has been clean, there are no lines, free food everywhere, and the bathrooms have been sanitized. However, even with a season pass, non-employee-guests may still need to buy a $$ ticket for the splendour (and free lunch/booze/sodas throughout the park). AND WE RIDE THE TRAIN!!!

    Akio has NEVER done the water park with me. I may want someone along who will go across the tracks with me!

  4. Went to Six Flags last summer for husbands blowout corporate picnic. His firm rented the park for the day. It was appalling. We could not believe how bad it was. Over an hour wait for food. Dirty. On 2 rides, employees tried to separate me from my 4 year old. On another, the ride operator told me to supervise someone else’s kid who could evidently not go on the ride with both of her children. Um…no. Oh, and the train, one train every half hour for tens of thousands of people to go to and from the food service area. We walked.

    Won’t be going to any six flags any time soon. And would NEVER pay to go, EVER.

  5. I am totally on board with your characterization of Six Flags. We went once last year, and the experience was HORRIBLE (similar to yours). Not to mention that half the rides were closed.

    I think we will schlep down to Kings Dominion once this summer. The ride is much longer, but it’s worth it.

  6. all amusement parks suck. dirty. nasty. too many people. overpriced. germ-city. wet. hot. screaming kids. yuck. yuck. yuck.

  7. Oy, the only worthwhile thing about 6 Flags was that you got a laser-etched, rage-honed blog post out of it. I’m sure you would’ve rather had the fun theme park experience. Ah well.

    I did perk up at your mention of the Slickee Boys. They played our Walt Whitman HS Sadie Hawkins dance, and as a student government geek who helped arrange these things, I overhead our possibly-closeted but extremely nice principal referred to them as the “Silky Boys.” Freudian slip, perhaps?

  8. Um, excuse me, but PG County was ALWAYS geographically undesirable. As for the other complaints, fire up that dander and send off a letter to Six Flags corporate and tell them what a dump the place is. How else will they know?

    Do I see King’s Dominion in your future???

  9. […] temporarily somewhere around harrisburg, but getting back on track eventually.) i love hersheypark. it’s everything six flags is not: clean, friendly, full of helpful employees. there’s even a kosher restaurant there. […]

  10. You Need To Know Says:

    I just returned from six flags in NJ. (07/2009) I will never go there again. I am requesting a refund. My family had the worst experience at this park. People were cutting lines with no way to stop them. This happened on almost every ride. A lot of rides were closed. There is no visible management overseeing the running of the park. One of the gates to a ride nearly crushed my son’s hand as it slammed shut. They promote that you can bring your own food and eat it in a picnic area, however there are only 6 tables in this area to accommodate thousands of guests. We had to eat on the rock covered ground making a sandwich in our hands. The park is so poorly run and has a bad element running through the park with no visible security we the patrons can go to if needed. The people ( teens ) running the rides seemed to want to keep it going fast that safety was sacrificed. We did not feel safe at all. We had a horrible time and left so mad. My son is 12 years old and he wanted to leave the park early. There is nothing like waiting an hour and a half on line to be cut again and again. Also, they are checking for weapons coming into the park, but when you get a stamp and re-enter you do not check. Makes no sense to us. Water was almost 4 dollars a bottle. Food prices were so high as well. They charge almost the same price for fast pass as a regular ticket. Fast pass is nothing like Disney ( free at Disney ). You have to pay extra for some rides. They are having money issues and we the patrons are paying for it. Shame on you six flags it was really a no flags day for us.

  11. ugh — how awful!!! i was thinking of visiting great adventure (i am old enough to remember when it was built, and that’s what it was called) with the kids next week, but after hearing of your experience, i think i’ll pass. so sorry that happened to you!

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for this post. It was a very useful read.


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