2011 Vacation: Days Fifteen and Sixteen: Six Flags New England and Hom

Our second-to-last day of vacation was spent in Six Flags New England.  The kids really wanted to ride some “intense” roller coasters.  Six Flags New England had ten roller coasters, including one called “Bizarro,” which has been rated the number one steel roller coaster in the world for the last five or six years.  It was really excellent.

Some musings on amusement parks in general:

In Star Wars (before George Lucas produced crapisodes I-III) Obi Wan Kenobi says of Moss Isley, “A greater den of thieves and villainy you’ll not find in the galaxy.”  I have to say of amusement parks, “A greater collection of rude, uncouth, smelly, large, slutty, and inconsiderate people you’ll not find in the galaxy.”  I was amazed at the number of folks who just didn’t care how they looked or acted.  Wow!  I say again, wow.  At one point we were behind a woman who smelled so bad we thought we had passed a dumpster.

I enjoy roller coasters as much as I ever did; however, I find that I can’t ride them back to back to back any more without getting unpleasantly motion sick for the rest of the day.  I have to space them out.  At a “regular” amusement park, like a Six Flags, it’s all about roller coasters, things that drop you, or things that spin you.  There seem to be few other activities to pass time while waiting for my stomach to settle.  When I think of Walt Disney’s idea of a place where the whole family to play together, Six Flags  isn’t it unless you’ve got a stronger middle-age stomach than I apparently have any more.

Some impressions of Six Flags New England:

The Six Flags franchise does not live up to the standards of Busch, Disney, or Universal parks in almost every dimension.  When we first arrived at the park, a few minutes BEFORE opening, the bathrooms already reeked.  The workers were largely uncommunicative, unhelpful, and unhappy.  They did NOT portray an impression that they were happy to be there or that they cared if you were happy to be there.

Before lunch time, all the credit card machines and all but one of the ATMs in the park died.  They didn’t bother to put signs at the BEGINNING of the food lines to tell people they could only use cash.  I typically don’t travel with much cash and planned to put lunch on a card.  Surprise!  So most of my cash — including cash to pay all those east coast highway tolls to get home — went to lunch.  The good news was that you couldn’t get cash, because the ATMs were also down.  When I did find the ONE ATM in the park that worked, there was a $4 fee.  It seems to me that if you’re bone-headed enough to let all your credit card machines to fail on a Saturday at meal time during peak season, the least you could do for customer good will is waive or comp the ATM fees.  Nope.  Not these guys.  Not so much as an apology for the inconvenience.  So we’ve got a back up at check out from lunch that stretched all the way to Tarre Haute because the products of our degenerate educational system couldn’t total bills in their heads — or on paper — or make change without the machine performing simple arithmetic for them.  I even had one woman refuse to give me two quarters for five dimes so I could squash a penny for one of the kids unless I bought something first.  Apparently, they don’t teach their checkout people how to do a “no-sale” operation on their cash registers.

Everything was gouge, gouge, gouge.  There was a price to get in the park, an additional price to go to the head of the ride lines, and yet another price to sit in the front car of a roller coaster.  There were even rides that REQUIRED you to put all your gear into a locker — for a fee.

The food lacked selection, but at least it was crazy expensive.  I really don’t want to hear people complain about Disney prices.  Six Flags was at last as high, but the quality was poor, so we had that going for us.

Their processes for food service and getting people on and off rides was TERRIBLE.  They could certainly use some Lean Six Sigma analysis.  Actually the processes were so poor that two 12-year-old Justin Bieber fans could improve their systems with little analysis between commercial breaks of Hannah Montana.  For the wooden coasters in particular, getting people off and on took about three times longer than it needed to.

Six Flags Atlanta used to have some really tremendous live entertainment.  What little live entertainment existed at Six Flags New England was poor.  There were virtually no options for entertainment between roller coasters or for me to do while the kids were riding 9-G Twising, Spinning, Flipping, Nightmare Coaster of Doom for the fourth time.

They have a really nice attraction themed around Houdini.  It uses some illusions to give the impression that you are sitting in seats that are revolving around a room.  In fact, the seats don’t move; although, they do tilt forward and backward.  The illusion is aided by the fact that the walls move.  It was an interesting attraction.

Having said all that, Six Flags New England had some tremendous roller coasters.  In that regard, the day met the kids’ objective, and they had a great time.

We had done all the roller coasters and a few other rides/attractions by 2000.  We decided to leave the park early and go to Red Robin (which was right next to our hotel) for dinner.  The cost was a bit more than dinner in the park, but was better food.  After showering up and watching a couple of episodes of Johnny Quest, we hit the sack to prepare for our drive home.

We got up early on Sunday to beat some of the back-from-the-Jersey-Shroe crowd at all the toll booths along 95 and to get home by mid-day to unpack and relax a bit before going back to work on Monday.

It was a great vacation.  Since 99% of my Email is on classified networks I cannot access while on leave, it was relatively easy for me to forget about work for a change.  We’re beginning to think about next year’s vacation, which will likely include Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, perhaps Nebraska, and Montana to see Glacier National Park.

Back to work.  🙁

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