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Six Flags New England report - 6/4/17


dougdrummer
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On the way home from a family wedding in Boston yesterday, we stopped on the way at Six Flags New England. Unfortunately we could only stay for 3 hours, but since my wife and I had season park passes and food plans, we figured why not.

The first thing we noticed upon arrival is that the main parking lot is on the opposite side of the major highway from the park (preferred parking is on the same side). So you have to walk up and down a long hill from the parking lot (or take the shuttle bus, which we felt wasn't worth waiting for). Then when you get to the highway, you have to go up a tall set of steps, across the pedestrian bridge, and then back down into the park. It was a little inconvenient, but not too bad.
While there seemed to be a lot of cars and some buses in the lot, we got right through the gate into the parking lot, and then right through security (they didn't make me take my belt off). Then there was no line for accessing the park, and the finger print security scan seemed to work a lot faster at this SF park. We think the crowds may have been less because it was scheduled to start raining around 4 pm. We got there at around 11 am and left around 2 pm.

Our first impression of the park is that it didn't seem as congested as SFGA, especially at Main Street where the fountain is. Part of it might be that there is quite a bit of topo elevation change as you walk through the park down towards the Connecticut River, and part of it might have been the lack of crowds. At SFGA it seems like it can be wall-to-wall people in many areas you try to navigate.

SFNE is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The topo change helps in that respect, as does the styling of some of the buildings. While it shares much in common with SFGA, this park has more of a Disney Movie Studio park feel because of the themed buildings, and a Busch Gardens Williamsburg feeling because of the hills. Ironically you can't really see the river unless you ride one of the tall coasters next to it. While the park is over a hundred years old, I could not find any areas that looked dated or run down. SF did a great job after they bought this park. To me, parts of SFGA, specifically the boardwalk area, appear outdated.

The use of our passes was seamless for parking, entering the gate and for food. We immediately filled up our bottles and at lunch. Now while I compliment SFNE for many things, they still suffer from the same problem SFGA does. The kids they hire at the food outlets have no idea what they are doing and there is no sense of urgency. For lunch my wife wanted a Caesar salad and I was going to get a cuban sandwich. The place had no visible signing or queue indications as to where to go to order or where to pay. After screwing around for nearly 20 minutes, I finally got my order placed and paid for. Comically, when I order the salad, the employee asked if I wanted a side salad or the meal-size salad. When I told her the meal-size one, she took two side salads in separate containers, opened them both up and dumped the contents into a bigger container. And then she couldn't get the lid on it, so she just handed my the lid when I picked up the food. At least the food tasted good.

When we first filled up our bottles with soda, we went to a Coke station and the girl proceeded to pour the soda - out of a bottle. I guess their fountain wasn't working? Later when we got a soft ice cream cone for a snack, nothing happened for about 5 minutes. Then 4 employees stood around and watched someone make the cones for us. The woman in front of us almost had a complete meltdown, as she has been waiting 20 minutes for chicken fingers. She started yelling at the manager, and then walked away and made her kid wait for the order, which was probably a good thing. At least the two cones we got were HUGE, and tasted great.

As I said, we didn't have a ton of time to spend at this park, but I did manage to ride three coasters:
First up was Pandemonium, which is a small Mouse-type coaster but with swiveling cars that hold 4 people. I waited maybe 5 minutes to get to the platform, and then an employee told me I could have just come up a separate queue line for singles. Hey Six Flags, if you are reading this, GET THIS COASTER AT GA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! The ride was awesome and silky smooth. More then half the time I was facing backwards, so I could not see what curves and dips were upcoming, which adds to the experience. It's a relatively small footprint coaster that would be a real hit in NJ.

Second was an old smaller woody called Thunderbolt. I expected it to be as jerky as others, but the horizontal curves were fairly smooth, although there were some vertical jolts on some of the hills. I'd compare this to the woody at Dutch Wonderland. It's relatively small, but still decently entertaining. It's a real shame that SFGA does not have a coaster like this. The only real downside was that despite maybe 50 people total in the queue, it took over 20 minutes to get boarded. They were only running one train (not sure they can run two due to the size), and the staff was SO slow getting the trains unboarded and boarded. Again, no sense of urgency - I can't imagine what this is like when there are peak crowds.

Third was Superman The Ride, which is their version of Nitro. Although I love Nitro, I actually thought Superman was slightly better. The drops and turns were amazing, and it had misting rings active, as well as two low points that go underground (one on a turn!). Those definitely add to the experience, as well as the location right next to the river. Again, the ride was silky smooth with no jerking whatsoever. I literally walked right onto the ride. That was after I figured out how to negotiated what seems like miles of a winding queue area. It's funny because it is much more obvious when there are hundreds of people waiting in the line. I felt like a mouse in a maze trying to find the cheese. Finally some girls behind me just cut under some queue fences, so I followed them. LOL

Unfortunately we had to get back on the road, but did walk through Hurricane Harbor (which is not a separate park) on the way out, and I was amazed at how huge it was for an add-on to the park. I would even go as far as to say that it is as big as SFGA HH or maybe even bigger!

Other notes:

I expected SFNE to be much smaller than SFGA, but it really isn't. They've obviously sunk a lot of investment into this park over the last few years. Their motto is "Coaster Capital of New England", and they are right, as I think the number and variety of coasters there is comparable to SFGA, which is quite an accomplishment.

Apparently they just opened The Joker this year, and surprise, it was not running, as was a couple of other coasters.
In closing I will say that SF has done a great job of standardizing its theme parks without making each a total copycat of the other. For example, SFGA has a sky ride and the safari, while SFNE has Pandemonium, small woody and an out-and-back coaster called Flashback. The ride rotation program probably helps with that. The ticketing system is awesome, and seamless to use. So far I've been to SFGA 5 times and now SFNE 1 time this year. I would love to return to SFNE and spend more time there, but I have to say the drive home was somewhat of a nightmare with lots of traffic delays and rain (ironically the highways in NJ were the best). But if you are going to be up in that area, I highly recommend this park. Hopefully I can get down to the SF park in Maryland sometime later this year. Unfortunately I didn't take a whole lot of photos yesterday, but I'll see if I can download a couple and post them later.

 

If you have been to this park in the past, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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I do find food service at Great Adventure to be decent. The service at Hurricane Harbor NJ though is a nightmare. It's good that SFNE does a good job with landscaping and not let it look outdated or run down. I'll visit the park this summer so I'll try to get my opinion on it.

 

And for Six Flags America in Maryland, operations for everything from rides to food are very slow but you can have a good day and be able to ride all the major coasters there any time you visit. The employees are very nice if you get to talk to them. Six Flags America I'd say is very similar to Dorney Park. Also try to avoid Route 3 in Maryland, it's a local and heavily congested road that takes about a half hour to get to Routes 50/301 from I-97 which is about 10 miles long.

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I do find food service at Great Adventure to be decent. The service at Hurricane Harbor NJ though is a nightmare. It's good that SFNE does a good job with landscaping and not let it look outdated or run down. I'll visit the park this summer so I'll try to get my opinion on it.

 

And for Six Flags America in Maryland, operations for everything from rides to food are very slow but you can have a good day and be able to ride all the major coasters there any time you visit. The employees are very nice if you get to talk to them. Six Flags America I'd say is very similar to Dorney Park. Also try to avoid Route 3 in Maryland, it's a local and heavily congested road that takes about a half hour to get to Routes 50/301 from I-97 which is about 10 miles long.

great advice - thanks!

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Took my daughter last year to SFNE on a Saturday in September and we loved it. Waiting for food took forever like you said but we did love the mix of rides and was able to ride every coaster except for the one kiddie coaster.

 

Would definitely go again this September when my daughter goes back to college. St Johns University in Staten Island is along the way to SFNE.

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