Jump to content
silvermom05

Rolling Thunder Removal Discussion

Recommended Posts

I have a long history with Six Flags Great Adventure and Rolling Thunder in particular. Some of my fondest childhood memories were made at Great Adventure and now that I am grown some of my best times with my own family have been made there as well. Over 30 years of pure fun and smiles!

 

I even remember the days before I was tall enough for Rolling Thunder. I remember riding “Lil’ Thunder” in the Kiddie Kingdom, staring at Rolling Thunder looming next to it and counting the days until I would be tall enough to finally ride it like my parents. I remember my first ride on Rolling Thunder—it was a huge rite of passage for me. I will never forget the sound of this wooden ride—the slow clicking of the chain on the way up that huge hill and then the haunting roar during the rest of the ride…the wind in my hair…I was flying and it was pure magic. So began my love affair with Rolling Thunder and Great Adventure! Those who truly know me realize that this is not an exaggeration!

 

I have ridden Rolling Thunder in the morning, dark night, heat, windy cold, and even rode it backwards when it was Rednuht Gnillor! I have ridden it with my family and friends. I have ridden it/studied it with my high school physics class. I have ridden it on the left side and “raced” friends on the right side and vice versa. And I rode it with my Dad two days before my wedding—a very special memory that I cherish. And now, most significantly I ride it with my husband and two oldest children who are 6 and 8 and can’t get enough of it! They even construct their own versions of Rolling Thunder with their Kinex and dream about riding it in the wintertime. Our family has had season passes for years and we always look forward to our time together on our favorite ride.

 

A few weeks ago I took my two boys to Great Adventure and we were lucky enough to ride Rolling Thunder 4 times in a row (and on the left side too, my favorite side!) This was the first year that my boys could ride this ride together. I have been blessed to experience this through their eyes—sharing their anticipation as the train inches up the first hill, watching their little arms fly up in the air as we crest the top, hearing their cries of joy as we plummet down the first hill and seeing the beautiful glowing smiles on their faces after the ride. This particular day on Rolling Thunder with my children was just breathtaking and I remember thinking to myself, “I hope they NEVER tear this ride down!” I couldn’t have guessed that this would be the last time we would ever ride Rolling Thunder—I now feel like I am grieving the unexpected death of a life-long friend.

 

To read that Rolling Thunder is going to be torn down a week from now is not only a big shock, to me it feels like complete sacrilege. A great classic work of art/engineering is being demolished to make room for a pathway to a new ride which will take up very little new space. Would you paint over a great classic painting just to make room on the wall? What a travesty. Isn’t there a way to keep Rolling Thunder and somehow build this pathway around it? My children and I just want to know why this has to happen. And on behalf of countless other families who are terribly disappointed and hurt by this my small voice begs Six Flags to reconsider this decision.

 

Yes I realize that Rolling Thunder may be considered outdated (as I may be as well since I am now approaching 40) but this ride still has much to offer: a sense of nostalgia, and a great opportunity for children to “step up” to the other thrill rides they are not quite ready for, not to mention 100% pure fun! Rolling Thunder is for children, and the child in all of us and that alone is worth preserving.

So now not has my love affair with Rolling Thunder come to an end, but it seems so has my love affair with Six Flags Great Adventure. Six Flags seems to be more concerned with making money and being the tallest/fastest in the world and less concerned with putting smiles on the faces of people and especially, children. This is evidenced not only by the scheduled demolition of Rolling Thunder but also by the elitist attitude that Six Flags reeks of these days with “Flash Pass” and “Elite Parking”. The focus is on the fear of extremes, not the fun and certainly no longer on families. Now I see Great Adventure through the eyes of an adult and am not so “thrilled” with it after all. I guess this is part of growing older? When things that are still totally awesome in your eyes are regarded by the majority as outdated and passé and then are torn down to make room for things you have absolutely no interest in. The 415 foot “Drop of Doom”, which I probably will never ride, has stolen our thunder and broken our hearts.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I reiterate from the Zumanjaro thread, we are actually LUCKY to have until the 8th and this is something they didnt want to do.

 

 

We may be lucky to have until the 8th, but I actually wish we had more time to ride it, maybe say it in mid August, so we have almost a month, now, all we have is a week to ride. I am sad that I will most likely only get about one more ride on Rolling Thunder. It is upsetting, but we will all have to move on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Silvermom05, that was beautifully written and pretty much says it all about what is so wrong with this park over at least the last five years, if not longer. Unfortunately, as you may have read in my other posts regarding GA, I'm certain that decisions such as this are not being made at the park level, but by corporate which appears almost completely blind to any preservation of the park's greatness, uniqueness, natural beauty, or family atmosphere.

 

What kills me is that they really expect increased attendance AND per cap spending when all of their efforts to draw guests (of any kind) are directed at teenagers... The demographic that is the most fickle, least loyal, least likely to spend money in the park, and most likely to create problems with other guests.

 

Sadly, I really don't think Great Adventure will be around ten years from now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me just say this, and I'm going back to the late '80s and early '90s as my point of reference and the park's ability to turn-a-profit. Because of the shear size of Great Adventure and it's shorter operating season as a result of its Northeast U.S. location, combined with the fact that it's non-operating costs are significantly higher than any other theme park (largely because of 1,200 exotic animals that require food, medical, and reasonable shelter and staffing 365 days a year), it's minimum annual attendance (the lowest possible attendance at which the park breaks even) is much higher than ANY other U.S. theme park. In simple terms, while SFOT and every other SF park, Cedar Fair parks, and most likely, Busch (Virginia), probably turn at least a small profit with anywhere from 1.7 million to 2.0 million visitors annually, Great Adventure is NOT even close to being profitable with less than at least 2.2 million. And, with this minimum of 2.2 million visitors, their per capita in-park spending would need to be among the highest (if not, the highest) of any seasonal theme park for the park to show a profit. Basic math means that Great Adventure MUST bring in significantly more visitors than other seasonal theme parks before it turns a profit AND it must do so in a substantially shorter operating season (about 160 perfect weather operating days for GA as opposed to an average of 180 for most seasonal parks in the U.S.) AND it has to convince each of its guests to spend significantly more before it breaks even. And, for every percentage point that season pass visitors outnumber the paying daily guest, profitability becomes that much harder.

 

When Great Adventure is the company's "cash cow," as it was for most of the '80s (with attendance peaking in 1996), it is a VERY profitable park. But since 1996's peak of more than 4 million, the park has only reached 3 million or more about 6 times in the last 17 years. And, these significantly lower attendance levels have occurred with (on average) significantly higher annual capital investments. When it is profitable, it IS VERY Profitable! But, when it shows red ink, it is not bleeding, it is hemorraging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The park also gets monstrous tax breaks for those animals. Not only that, but the coaster wraps and advertisements on the parks top coasters actually bring in a large amount as well. The costs are not even close to being as bad as you think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the first I have ever heard of tax breaks for the animals... From the State of New Jersey or the IRS? And, under what provision? If this were true, I'd fully understand why the woman with the wild animals just West of the park on 537 continues to put up such battles for her animals. But, I think you're missing my basic point. Either way, there is no other seasonal theme park in the U.S. with even close to as much acreage (undeveloped), or shorter operating season, or larger year-round staff requiring the generation of much more money in a much shorter period of time. Much more difficult, period.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that things change over the years,and even Disney is willing to demolish classic rides(ex:Snow White),but I agree with Silvermom05:I feel like Great Adv. & myself have lost a friend.

Just hours ago I noticed that HALF THE RIDES I rode less than 15 years ago ARE NOW GONE:Viper,Chiller(which I count as 2 rides),GASM,SMFF,and now RT-as well as Poland Springs Plunge,Movietown Water Effect,Space Shuttle....is "out with the old,in with the newer,taller,faster" always the best way to go?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of those rides had major maintenance issues outside of the park's control, and removing them was the right move. With the exception of GASM and Viper, none of those rides were removed for for the next big thing.

Edited by DiveMachine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really like that Rolling Thunder is coming down, but I understand it. It would be silly to spend X millions of dollars to fix up a ride that already gets a bad rap from the GP. I just hope they use that space to its full potential and not turn it into another abandoned area like Movietown or Old Country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From another thread that I stated before ; As said we know, every coaster has its time.They are machines, they can't last forever and they become un-practical, and dated. I gave it a few more seasons, but didn't expect it around much longer. I have mixed feelings about this.

Obviously,the addition of the drop tower is an excuse to make the removal seem more neccessary than it really is. Rolling Thunder could easily have stayed even with the tower being added. I'm sure it all comes down to cost savings; Rolling Thunder requires a lot of attention is constantly in need of replacement parts to the structure and track. Along with this, there's not much sense in putting a lot of work and money into a coaster that anyone hardly rides anymore. It's popularity has plummeted and most guests complain of the roughness.

The downside here is our park will be without that 'classic' wooden coaster. Every park has one of these (Blue Streak at Cedar Point, Rebel Yell at King's Dominion, you get the idea) It's something that will be irreplaceable. Along with this, Rolling Thunder is in my opinion a great experience when both sides are operating. It will certainly rouse a few families like the original poster as well. But does the corporate big shots care? No, they will do what has been calculated to make more money. I will miss it, but if I had to choose which ride I'd rather? Give me that drop tower any day, I love drop towers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes rolling tunder was old and they didnt want to get rid of it. RIP rolling thunder we will all miss you but i cant wait for Zumanjaro and whats to come in that area in 2015!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, how do you even know they will put something in that area anytime soon? For all we know, it could be emply for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been coming to the park for 25 years now. Rolling Thunder has never been given the care and attention it deserves. It's no surprise they are ripping it out. I hate to see it leave, but I haven't ridden it for probably 4 years due to poor operations. If you don't maintain it and operate it properly then ridership is going to go down. Its a self fulfilling prophecy. The excuse that newer rides exist is weak at best. By that logic we should tear down all the classic woodies. I can point to hundreds of other wood roller coasters much older than Rolling Thunder. Wild One down at Six Flags America has been retracked and upgraded and runs great. Screamin Eagle (76) at SFStL has been upgraded several times. The good rides I have had on Rolling Thunder have been very fun. I don't see another woodie coming to Great Adventure if they tear Rolling Thunder down. Too much maintenance. The interaction of El Toro and Rolling Thunder is awesome and the racing aspect of Rolling Thunder is just plain fun. Problem is they never race or have both tracks open. This is a very short sighted decision like many others I have seen with the new management at top. Shows stink, several sections just closed, safari ride with 3 hr waits, .... I love the idea of a tall drop ride but would trade that for a major upgrade of Rolling Thunder. I know that doesn't provide the same buzz. Too many decisions made quickly without a concern for the long range plan.

 

I guess it's good-bye. I won't make it up from Baltimore in the next week. It didn't have to happen this way. There's way too many unused buildings and closed rides at SFGAdv. It's really starting to feel dirty and run down.

 

Sad. My guess is that half of the Rolling Thunder area will be the baboon habitat not an area for a new ride in 2015. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see a wing rider somewhere. Still not worth the loss of a racing woodie.

 

Jon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other great woodies need the same maintenance...And other wood coasters that are even older are great rides (I like Blue Streak at CP and LOVE Phoenix at Knoebles) Still wish they would just retrack it/refubish it.

 

I'm hoping there is a very good reason(s) for the removal. But SF's track record on ride removals (and even large sections of the park...Old Country and shows...too many to name) leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dorney has Thunder Hawk from the 1920s, and Hershey has the Comet since the 1940s and they can upkeep them just fine. Same harsh northeast climate too. It seems to be GADV should be able to maintain a wood coaster from the 1970s, if they can't then Six Flags itself has major problems.

 

My guess is GADV didn't maintain RL as well as Hershey and Dorney took care of their old timers. Letting RL decay much more than most other parks would have let it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The park also gets monstrous tax breaks for those animals. Not only that, but the coaster wraps and advertisements on the parks top coasters actually bring in a large amount as well. The costs are not even close to being as bad as you think.

 

You would be shocked, and so would the park, at how much business they loose due to all that obnoxious advertising. It probably costs them more in business than they make selling it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other Six Flags have old woodies. What about SFNE with Thunderbolt from 1941, SFA has The Wild One from 1986, SFMM has Colossus from 1978, SFOG has The Great American Scream Machine from 1973, and I'm sure there are others, so Six Flags does have old wooden coasters at other parks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My problem with the removal of Rolling Thunder is there is nothing coming to replace it, and nothing definitely planned to replace it.

 

Had they done this properly they would have done something like laying out a real long range plan and just explained while they are not ready to reveal the plans for the area now, this opens up space for new additions in the future. Unfortunately they have been claiming that they closed Old Country and Golden Kingdom "for future development" for YEARS now so it's hard for anyone to see this as anything but yet another ride being removed from the park with no real replacement. Instead people just see those areas sitting unused and remember what used to be there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's face some facts here. First, as I have said before, this is an extremely short sighted decision, similar to the removal of both the Super TeePee and Conestoga Wagon. Second, Rolling Thunder is NOT that old among wooden coasters. Third, it is NEVER necessary to close one attraction to create a path for a new attraction. Especially with GA having a pathetic history of building attractions in their parking lot while leaving the landscape of a parking lot prevalent all around you. Fourth, Six Flags seems to do all it can to turn-off families while catering to a teen demographic that alienates ever other, better able to pay, demographic. And, finally, the two parks NOT owned by Six Flags (over Texas and over Georgia), are closer to a family demographic and maintain more of their original charm because the owners of those parks care about their parks while the parks owned by Six Flags are tacky, dirty, teen thrill parks, whose sole purpose is to generate more revenue at the expense of everything else (including long-term viability). All of this is very, very sad!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was talking to some people while in line for rolling thunder on Saturday. We were thinking that there has to be more behind the story than just to make a path. Maybe its too expensive to rehab? Also I think they want the path not too close to kingda ka launch area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is exactly the problem, the COST of keeping RT running versus removing it. It needs extensive work. Also, the number of employees required for RT compared to what will be required for the drop tower (maintenance and operators).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...