Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Six Flags New England

So yesterday Anna and I went to Six Flags New England for the day. It had been a long planned trip, so despite the fact that I was still recovering from a stomach bug, we headed out the Mass Pike to Western Mass. My boss had taken his kids out there last year and came back raving about the merits of the Flash Pass... which is a little beeper like device that you can rent for the day that lets you wait in a "virtual line" on the big popular rides (like Superman, Batman, etc). You pick a ride from anywhere in the park, and when your wait time is up, the beeper will buzz and you can head over to the ride and go right up to the front of the line. The regular Flash Pass doesn't save you any time; you get what the expected wait is... you just can ride on the less popular rides or get food or whatever. You also don't have to go immediately when the buzzer goes off, it will hold your place indefinitely, so I suppose if you just wanted to make sure you got to ride Superman several times in one day, but weren't concerned about the others as much, you could use it exclusively to reserve a space on that ride while waiting in conventional lines otherwise. A basic unit that is good for one person will set you back $26, with each additional person adding $11 (while still having to pay for admission to the park which is about $30 a person... and parking which is $15).

However, that's only the Basic Flash Pass. You could spring for the GOLD Flash Pass which cuts your wait times by 75% (up to? not sure about the fine print)... which costs $56 for one person and $29 for each additional... so fairly ridiculous... but the GOLD Pass is what Anna and I did and I think our tickets, Pass, and parking came out to $160-$170 total. An expensive day, no doubt, but no worse than an super fancy dinner with three or four courses and a bottle of wine or two... in either case, not something we do more than once or twice a year, so I don't mind spending a little extra... and, in fact, I hadn't been to an amusement park since I was a teenager, so there was reason to go all out.

In addition, my feeling is that the absolute worst thing about these kind of places is waiting in line for two hours for two minutes of excitement. With the the fancy pass, the worst wait time I ever saw for a ride... on an extremely busy mid-August Monday... was 30 minutes(i.e. 2 hours for the plebes)... and most were more like 10 or 15(40-60 minutes), which is about the time it takes to walk across the park to it. Though I did sometimes see wait times of "?", which I'm not sure whether it was a glitch, temporary shutting down of the rides, or waits so long that they feared riots if Flash Pass users were seen jumping to the front.

Now, unfortunately, my stomach was still a bit dodgy, even on Monday... and I'm getting old... so I couldn't just ride Superman ten times in a row like your average 14 year old might... but even though we only got in about 5-6 rides over the course of our stay, we got to ride everything we wanted to... so I still say it was worth it.

picture by flickr user Joe Rollerfan used under a Creative Commons license

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