Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Six Flags Experience : A Review. (AKA: Why People Should Never Compare Six Flags to Disney World)

It's been a week since my first trip to Six Flags Over Texas in more than three years. I purposely put off the writing of my review of the experience in order to let my thoughts marinate for a while and now I'm ready to talk. The following are my observations from that day and some ideas for improvement.
Not only had I not been to Six Flags in many years, but in that time I was also a cast member at the greatest amusement resort in the world, Walt Disney World in Orlando. So I came to Six Flags with a much higher set of standards than I had ever had all the years growing up at Six Flags.

The moment I walked through the gate the differences in the parks and the apparent lack of standards at Six Flags quickly revealed themselves to me. At Magic Kingdom the first thing you see, besides a smiling face, is a lively and open Main Street USA leading you toward the hub in front of the majestic Cinderella Castle. At Six Flags, you must first pass through a metal detector before you're thrown into a large crowd of people and given the option of going right or left, with no real clear idea of where each option will lead you.
I quickly realized the genius behind Disneyland's design of having all sections of the park converge in one central location. At Six Flags Over Texas, areas of the park are not clearly marked and it is difficult to find a quick path to different sections of the park. It's just one huge maze of rides and buildings.
I will say that the new Tony Hawk's Big Spin was a great addition to the park. All the people I was with thoroughly enjoyed it. And I also liked the idea that you could buy a DVD of yourself riding the ride, as cameras in the cars are recording you on the ride from beginning to end. This could be a cool idea for interactive rides at Disney like Buzz Lightyear and the new Toy Story Midway Mania.

One area that Six Flags clearly struggles with is the use of the Warner Brothers characters. While I was waiting for a funnel cake I had to watch the attendant for Bugs Bunny, the park's biggest character, practically beg people to come and take pictures with him. There was never a line and most of the time Bugs was standing alone in his gazebo, barely moving at all. Coming from the Disney Parks' character department, this made me really sad. I've seen first hand how excited people get to meet even the most D-list of Disney characters (Stromboli and Gideon from Pinocchio anyone? Gideon, ironically voiced by Bugs's voice, Mel Blanc) yet Six Flags can't get but five people to take pictures with Bugs in a 30 minute set. One problem was that, from a mile away you could tell that Bugs had no energy and no character and therefore no one bothered to see him. The characters at Disney are one of the biggest draws of any attraction in the parks. It's sad to see Six Flags pass up that sort of opportunity.

There were many other things that bothered me about Six Flags that would be easily fixable. They also are so basic that they don't really need too much explanation so I will just quickly list them out:

  • A new paint job on ALL the property but especially Looney Toons Land (the faded paint looked like it hadn't been touched up ever) could help the overall impression given to guests at the park the moment they enter.
  • Having your employees smile EVER and look like they enjoy their job and have fun being a part of the entertaining of others.
  • Having some sort of themed costumes (outfits) for employees besides a bright neon yellow shirt that every person in the park wears listing park rules on the back.
  • Get rid of all the rip-off midway games. Seriously, do you make any money off those? They also kinda add to the trashy feel of the park.
  • And keep, the park, CLEAN. This is a big reason why people love Disney so much. IT'S CLEAN. (And the people are nice).
But one of the biggest, and must frustrating things of all about the park was this: for FOREVER you have been able to leave small bags (purses, backpacks, camera cases) in cubbies or large containers on the side of roller coasters while you ride them. But nooooooo more. Six Flags saw an opportunity to make a quick buck (or couple of bucks) off nearly every attendee to their parks. At the major rides: Titan, Mr. Freeze, Batman, and Texas Giant, bags of any sort are no long allowed AT ALL in line. Instead, you must purchase the use of a locker for a dollar while you ride the ride to store your stuff. Even the individual baskets on Mr. Freeze where each row of passengers could store their things during the ride (because the way the ride was engineered, no one could physically get to your belongings while you rode and therefore there was no worry of theft) were taken away and replaced with outside lockers (as seen above in the photo depicting the absence of baskets).

There is no such rule in Disney parks. You can take bags and purses on all the rides there and many times there is even a pouch within the ride vehicle to keep things you worry may come loose. I couldn't believe Six Flags would do something like this. How freaking cheap!

And don't think that "it's only a dollar" because, like I said earlier, the way the park is laid out, it's too far between rides to just leave your stuff in one locker and do all the rides at once. Most likely you'll be using several lockers at different locations throughout the day.

I know you're possibly struggling for cash, Six Flags, but seriously.

So overall, the park was just a bit of a disappointment, it completely lacks any sense of theme or "show," which Disney has mastered. I know that my beloved Six Flags will never reach the incredible heights of Disney World but good grief, just a little bit of effort out of them could bring it far beyond where it is now.

PS: Six Flags: If you read this, I would be more than happy to consult you and work together to improve your parks and make them a popular vacation destination for families across the country.


ADuckworth said...

I have a group of 6th grade students that are working on a class project. They would like to use your pictures from Six Flags in their presentation. Do we have your permission to use your pictures as a background in their video?

Alicia Duckworth
Nebbie Williams Elementary
Rockwall, TX