We live about thirty minutes from Six Flags New England and have visited several times but last December, I finally took the plunge and bought season tickets for the 2012 season.
I bought a four-pack of tickets, one for myself and for my three youngest children, ages seventeen, thirteen, and thirteen. Four season tickets at $50 each meant a $200 initial investment. The four-pack also came with free parking for the season. Parking is normally $20 per visit.
Overall, I’m glad we did but there were some distinct advantages and disadvantages.
1. The park admission price is a good value.
We made six trips as a group and my eldest son made two more visits with his friends. That’s a little more than $8 a visit, less for my eldest son. An extremely good value especially with the free parking.
2. Special celebrations.
This included the Fourth of July fireworks shown above and the Halloween-themed Fright Fest. The fireworks lasted for approximately 45 minutes and went far higher in the sky than they look in the photograph, as they were set off from the lower end of the park. Fright Fest offered some truly scary setups for Halloween that even scared my cynical zombie-loving sons.
There were also picnics scheduled for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Memorial and Labor Day Weekends. Their cost was $12 each for an all-you-can-eat buffet.
3. Special values for season ticket holders.
Each season ticket came with one free daily admission ticket, so my husband and eldest daughter were able to accompany us twice. The tickets also came with coupons books for food and, additionally, a season pass was good for a special discount on any gift shop items. There were also special ride times for some of the larger coasters, including the new Goliath.
4. Roller coasters, particularly Goliath and Bizarro.
For our family, it tends to be all about the coasters. Bizarro remains the longest and coolest ride I’ve ever had on a coaster. Goliath, however, is, well, insane. It’s a free fall forward for twenty stories, some brain twisting turns, and then another free fall from the same height backwards.
For me, it slightly crossed the line into scary rather than fun, especially the part where passengers are vertical to the ground, staring direction down from that height. The boys, 17 and 13, however, loved it and rode it twice in a row. Maybe I’m just getting old. But this is a coaster that must be ridden at least once.
5. Hurricane Harbor.
With season tickets, we could devote a visit to just the water park, instead of rushing to split the day. This made the water park a great break on a hot summer day instead of something to squeeze in before the rides.
6. Consideration for Special Needs Children.
One of my children is autistic, so lines are a serious issue when we visit amusement parks. However, Six Flags guest relations will provide wristbands that allow kids like him to skip the lines, even on popular coasters like Goliath. And it’s good for up to three other riders with the child.
1. Added Costs.
Expect to pay at least $40 per visit for food. Visitors aren’t allowed to bring food into the park and the prices for food are accordingly high, with at least $9 per meal for each person, even when buying a family meal. Selection is also limited, as only one location seemed to even try for something healthy like a salad. Drinks tend to be pricey too, up to $4 for a large size. This can be mitigated somewhat by paying $12.99 for a special Six Flags cup. That’s good for free refills for that day plus .99 cent refills for the reason of the season at the park.
Lockers at Hurricane Harbor, a must for storing clothing, money or other valuables, will run another $20 or more per visit depending on size.
Fright Fest was great fun but the three special scare events cost an extra $13 per person for all three or $7 each.
2. The Long Line for Season Passes
The way the system works, season passes can be pre-purchased online or by phone but the final step is processing them at the park. Each person must have their photo taken and, if there’s a parking pass, that has to be processed and included on the season pass too.
The park wasn’t equipped to deal with the number of season ticket holders who need to be processed for the first several weeks the park was open. Those in charge may have even made it worse by shuffling people around, as we were standing in line near the front entrance offices to get our tickets processed but then were directed to shorter lines elsewhere in the park down at the Hall of Justice. That was a good ten minute walk and the lines there were just as long. It not only made my kids cranky, I became very frustrated after it took over ninety minutes.
These lines continued the entire day were we at the park and I noticed them even on the next visit in the early summer. Even buying season tickets the last day the park was open, in October, wouldn’t help. I noticed long lines again at the front entrance office during Fright Fest too with people trying to process those tickets before the park closed for the winter.
This is not a good system.
3. Lines in General.
The only way to avoid the huge and busy lines on the big coasters is to purchase a Flash Pass. The prices rang from $45 to $95 each though adding additional people is slightly less expensive. That’s another additional cost.
There are ways to mitigate the waiting, such as showing up at opening and hitting the coasters first. Hurricane Harbor is also less busy at their opening time. But not on Goliath. That was packed all summer long.
4. Lack of Atmosphere
The Disney parks are designed not just to push visitors towards rides and food but to create the illusion of visiting an entirely separate world. That doesn’t happen at Six Flags. It’s basically like a big carnival except for a few, not very good, attempts to create theme areas such as the one for superheroes with Bizarro (based on Superman), the Hall of Justice with costumed heroes, and the Looney Tunes Movie Town. These are mainly decorations and never rise to more than interesting stuff in the background.
One exception: the various zombies who stalked people in the park during Fright Fest. That was very well done.
For us, obviously, the pros outweighed the cons. I’m considering buying the same number of passes next year, especially as we celebrated the twins’ birthday at Six Flags this summer and it was a big hit with them and their friends.