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Mushroom

Getting aHEAD of myself
Advisory Panel
Feb 12, 2011
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That picture of the entrance area also made me realize how pretty SFA is at its core. It’s a shame the park isn’t managed nearly as well as its original design deserves.
 
Oct 7, 2011
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That picture of the entrance area also made me realize how pretty SFA is at its core. It’s a shame the park isn’t managed nearly as well as its original design deserves.
So, that entrance area didn't come into existence until many years after the park's "original design" was executed. I started going to Wild World in the early 80s, before Wild One had even been moved to the park. Wild World had no design to speak of. Just a fledgling water park, an open field with a couple of flats, and that was basically it. But it was the original amusement park design occupying that land (if not the original attraction), and its design is still fundamental to today's SFA.

The upgraded entry area came after the Six Flags branding, over a decade and a half later. Even then, the park had only two nice areas: that new entrance, and the theming in the Adventure World-era wild west dead end anchored by Mind Eraser. Just like today.

SFA is the major chain-owned park that, to my eye, is most clearly just a large field that has been haphazardly built out with rides etc. over the years. Little rhyme or reason to the layout, minimal sense of place. It's almost an anti-immersion experience. Surreal. And most surreal when crowds are larger and everything takes forever, as on some holidays.

Maybe it's just because I remember seeing the place when most of the currently used park area WAS just a field. But in my mind I can visually subtract out almost every capital improvement at SFA, and the place is literally just a large pasture bounded by trees. I can't shake that image when I visit.
 

b.mac

Indiana Beach Vibe
May 14, 2011
4,769
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BFE, Virginia
SFA is the major chain-owned park that, to my eye, is most clearly just a large field that has been haphazardly built out with rides etc. over the years. Little rhyme or reason to the layout, minimal sense of place. It's almost an anti-immersion experience. Surreal. And most surreal when crowds are larger and everything takes forever, as on some holidays.

Mostly because that's exactly what happened to the park when it had its rapid expansion in 1999-2000. It was pretty much the only way all of those rides would fit into the park without pissing off the county. It was such a haphazard expansion that it took them almost 20 years to finally add bathrooms back there.

Compared to what shape the park was in back in 2013 when I first visited to just last year when I visited a few times, SFA has come a long way in their guest experience and in the way the park looks as well. There was a specific reason why SFA's management was not shuffled around during the most recent Six Flags carousel spin back in 2017, they're doing good work with the park.
 
Oct 7, 2011
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Random SFA Memorial Day memory, from the old days.

Hey, remember the 90s? I bought a season pass to Adventure World during its last year of operation under that name. (Notably, though, under the same ownership it would continue to have once Premier Parks bought Six Flags.) As I recall, the fledgling consumer Internet played no role in the purchase. A paper voucher, printed only by the park, could be either mailed to the purchaser or picked up in person at the park. I bought as early as I could that year and told them to mail the voucher to me. Then I waited. And waited.

Weeks passed. My voucher never arrived.

I called the park about a half-dozen times over the following month or so, and nobody ever seemed to have any idea what was going on. First the voucher was in the mail; then it was on its way into the mail so I shouldn't go to the park, because I'd miss it; then nobody knew where it was, but they'd get back to me; then they never did.

I finally called back just before Memorial Day to demand a refund, at which point I somehow got a very nice and helpful person on the phone who said she would look for the voucher while I waited on the phone. As I recall, her name was Kristen. Maybe fifteen seconds after starting to look, she casually said "Oh, here it is. Right in the drawer beneath the season pass processing computer. Looks like it has been here a while." Over a month of confusion, resolved in less than half a minute.

It felt like maybe the other people I had spoken with hadn't tried very hard.

I drove to the park, and Kristen was still standing there at the same desk. She pulled the voucher out of the drawer, processing took about five minutes, and then I left. Looking at the parking lot, there was no way I was going into the park on that weekend. Packed.

That was over 20 years ago, but to this day I still imagine Kristen as the glue holding the whole park together.

Times being what they were, I then wrote an actual paper letter to the park to relate the story. For the younger reader, letters were basically slow analog Twitter with no followers, but there also was no character limit. The park sent a return letter with a free season pass for the following season. Not bad.

That setup a second Memorial Day story the next year, but maybe there should be a Random SFA Story thread for this sort of thing...
 
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