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  1. #1
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    Default New appreciation for Disney theme parks

    My sister and I took our kids to Six Flags Great America (outside Chicago) yesterday and all we could do all day long was compare our experience to going to Disney parks. Despite complaints about costs, we still feel like we get a great vacation when we go Disney.

    Not so yesterday at Six Flags. In a nutshell, it was the worst time we've had going to Great America, and we've been going since it opened in the 70s.

    First, we laughed at signs all over saying it was the "cleanest theme park in America." Maybe near the front gates, but that was it. Tables and bathrooms were especially filthy.

    Second, almost every single line was an hour wait or longer. They didn't have enough people working there to load the rides efficiently, so people waited and waited. On one kiddy ride, there was no line control, so once you got to the loading area, people bunched in all over the place and some tried to push their way through to other areas. It was awful. Lines even to fill refillable drinks were up to a half-hour long, no exaggeration.

    Third, because they hire mostly high-school and college-aged workers, everyone goes back to school at this time of year. Thus, they close the water park in mid-August on weekdays. Temps were in the upper 80s yesterday and plenty of people would have filtered over to the water park if it had been open. If they would hire older workers, they wouldn't have this problem.

    Fourth, rides broke down and people stuck on rides were only offered free FlashPasses (similar to Disney's FastPasses, only you have to pay for them) for the rest of the day, with only a couple of hours of park opening left. One family who was split up said the half who had been waiting for the next roller coaster train weren't offered FlashPasses -- only the ones who were actually on the ride were given them. Not much good when only half your party can use them.

    Last, everything just looked bad. The characters' costumes were saggy and looked like the ones you could get at a rental place. The flowers and landscaping was pitiful. Next to the queue of the river raft ride, marks covered the concrete wall and tickets/passes littered the water. In one dying grassy area next to a queue, a metal pipe stuck out straight in the air, attached to nothing.

    We paid a little less per person than we would have paid per day for a Disney park hopper. I actually felt scammed.

    I wish now that I would have just saved the money we spent there for our next Disney trip. It gave me a new appreciation for everything that Disney does in their parks.
    Many visits over 35+ years!
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  3. #2
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    I completely agree. When my kids earned their tickets through a reading program at school we decided to go. It was such a bad experience my kids don't even want to get the free tickets any more. They do the reading but don't bother with the ticket because it is a terrible way to use a summer day. I will add to the OPs list of reasons not to go and that is the food. It is the worst food ever and costs 2x as much. Also, I was amazed at how they allow their employees to dress, it is nasty! We decided to save our money to put towards our Disney trip too.

  4. #3
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    Nothing makes you appreciate Disney more than going to another theme park!!!
    23 times since 1993 and still counting

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aurora View Post
    On one kiddy ride, there was no line control, so once you got to the loading area, people bunched in all over the place ... It was awful.
    Funny- this description reminds me of the Haunted Mansion queue...
    Carrie

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  6. #5
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    My story is sort of the reverse of the story posted. My first them park was the old Six Flags park in Houston...Astroworld. Well it was HOT!!! It seemed like they took all the cooling elements out of the water founts so you would have to go by the water from the vendors... The park was extrememly dirty... and we stood in line for The Ultra Twister (a coaster) for 2-1/2 hours and didnt get halfway though the que... needless to say I was miserable. Then DW suggested we go to Disneyworld for our honeymoon. Well I was not in favor at first due to my experience at Astroworld... boy was I ever in for a surprise Still think it is overpriced, but compaired to what I faced at Astroworld... I dont mind paying extra for all the good stuff Disney world does.
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  7. #6
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    Looks like only people from the Chicago area are responding to this one (so far)! I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and I, too, have been going to Great America since I was a kid. I was there earlier this summer and have been favorably impressed over the past decade, give-or-take -- they have really cleaned it up and have substantially improved customer service and friendliness. Still, notwithstanding their efforts, there is no comparison to Disney.

    The example I most often point out is theming. At Great America, you go on rides. At Disney, you enter a park with themed lands that tells a story from the entrance of the park throughout all of its lands. Each attraction has its own story and is fully themed to that story, including sights, sounds, and sometimes even scents. The queue for each attraction is a themed introduction to the attraction itself. I never feel like I am waiting in line at Disney because I am not -- the queue itself is an important part of each attraction. In fact, although it is nice to be able to skip the queue using FastPass, I always feel like I am missing something when I do so. I would never feel that way at Great America. It would give me pleasure to avoid a dull, boring, and hot line. And even the rides themselves have no theming at Great America -- the roller coasters are large metal structures, nothing more, nothing less. (One is even in the parking lot! We all know that HM and PoTC are outside of the berm at MK, but would you ever notice while on those attractions? While on the roller coaster in the parking lot at Great America, I can see my car!)
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  8. #7
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    I've never been there but I will comment on people complaining about Disney's prices. Yes, its expensive but you pay for what you get. We've found that when you add the individual components up at other places you pay just as much as you would at Disney without half the attractions and fun.


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  9. #8
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    Couldn't agree more with all the prevoius posters. I've made those same comments to my husband and daughter. No theming, unclean, horrible and expensive food, boring queues.
    Jodie

  10. #9
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    Default Hm...

    See - I agree with much of what's been said, but I do like Canada's Wonderland. It's clean, well maintained and entertaining. Thing is, it's known as a roller coaster park - like HihoKermit says, it's the themeing that makes the difference. Canada's Wonderland is a perfectly fine amusement park. Food is decent, waterpark is a hoot. But for the immersive experience, the sense of stepping into another world and leaving reality behind, the Disney parks can't be beat.
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  11. #10
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    We went to Carowinds in NC a few years back and said all the same things!

    People were rude, employees were uninterested, the park was dirty, the rides were thoughtless, the grounds needed work and the "characters" were sad. And the food good lord don't get me started on the over priced, frozen awful food.

    We save our theme park trips for Disney now..
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  12. #11
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    We went to Disneyland a couple of years ago, and my husband and kids rented a car and ventured over the Six Flags. I had no interest, and hung out with a friend. They DID enjoy the more "exciting" thrill rides, but otherwise gave it a huge thumbs down. Many of the same complaints as you, but what really struck them was that it was a "concrete jungle". It was so hot - and there was NO relief from it - that the soles of my daughter's cheap shoes actually melted right off!! Meanwhile, I was riding Storyland Canal (or whatever they call it) and eating Dole Whip

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fanofdisney View Post
    Also, I was amazed at how they allow their employees to dress, it is nasty! We decided to save our money to put towards our Disney trip too.
    The employees had on bright green shirts -- looked like it was a uniform update, so no complaints there. But you should have seen the clientele's outfits. My sister pointed out one girl who had a bikini bottom on with her shorts over them but completely unzipped and open. A pregnant woman wore a snug-fitting crop top with no shirt over her well-along belly. Another woman had a backless top with her bra completely showing in back. It was like a giant "what not to wear" festival.
    Many visits over 35+ years!
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  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiHoKermitTheFrogHere View Post
    Looks like only people from the Chicago area are responding to this one (so far)! I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and I, too, have been going to Great America since I was a kid. I was there earlier this summer and have been favorably impressed over the past decade, give-or-take -- they have really cleaned it up and have substantially improved customer service and friendliness. Still, notwithstanding their efforts, there is no comparison to Disney.
    I had no complaints about the employees -- they were generally friendly and doing their best. In fact I even felt sorry they had to work in that environment. It's the management I blame. I even talked to one of the onsite managers about the situation and he suggested I write a letter to the company, which I intend to do.
    Many visits over 35+ years!
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  15. #14
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    Six Flags in Denver is just as bad. We went once and will never go back. It was just awful!

  16. #15
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    Im very fortunate to live in Ohio...2 of the best non disney theme parks in the USA.
    Kings Island, Was actually designed (or helped) by Roy Disney.
    The lay out of the park is the hub and wheel...and it has International street with eiffel tower instead of main street and castle. It is no Disney though...but a GREAT park. Very clean.
    It always amazes me reading posts on here from all the debbie downers that say Disney isnt what it used to be. It is and better!
    WDW/DLR is spotless and we are always amazed at the immense level of cleanliness and landscaping...etc.
    But, Kings Island...a great choice for a day or 2 getaway.
    Cedar Point is the other..Both Cedar Fair.

  17. #16
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    Disney is better, of course! That said, it ought to be better considering I can get into the local Six Flags (with a coupon) for $40. MK costs $90+. At more than double the price, Disney should be more than twice as good. I'd say it's pretty close on whether they achieve that or not.
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  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by vicster View Post
    Nothing makes you appreciate Disney more than going to another theme park!!!
    Well said!
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  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiHoKermitTheFrogHere View Post
    Looks like only people from the Chicago area are responding to this one (so far)! I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago and I, too, have been going to Great America since I was a kid. I was there earlier this summer and have been favorably impressed over the past decade, give-or-take -- they have really cleaned it up and have substantially improved customer service and friendliness. Still, notwithstanding their efforts, there is no comparison to Disney.

    The example I most often point out is theming. At Great America, you go on rides. At Disney, you enter a park with themed lands that tells a story from the entrance of the park throughout all of its lands. Each attraction has its own story and is fully themed to that story, including sights, sounds, and sometimes even scents. The queue for each attraction is a themed introduction to the attraction itself. I never feel like I am waiting in line at Disney because I am not -- the queue itself is an important part of each attraction. In fact, although it is nice to be able to skip the queue using FastPass, I always feel like I am missing something when I do so. I would never feel that way at Great America. It would give me pleasure to avoid a dull, boring, and hot line. And even the rides themselves have no theming at Great America -- the roller coasters are large metal structures, nothing more, nothing less. (One is even in the parking lot! We all know that HM and PoTC are outside of the berm at MK, but would you ever notice while on those attractions? While on the roller coaster in the parking lot at Great America, I can see my car!)
    I'm another northshorer. Grew up in Northbrook, in fact! Been going to SFGAm all my life.

    I always tell people that you CANNOT compare the parks. They're in two different realms, and offer completely different experiences. Six Flags is for the thrill seeker, although management is trying to make the parks more family oriented.

    I've gone to cover a bunch of the media events for SFGAm, and management has always been top notch.

    Do I wish it was closer to the Marriott days? Absolutely. But it's still a fun park to spend a day at, and GAm has one of the BEST roller coaster collections in the country.

    Quote Originally Posted by mom2morgan View Post
    We went to Disneyland a couple of years ago, and my husband and kids rented a car and ventured over the Six Flags. I had no interest, and hung out with a friend. They DID enjoy the more "exciting" thrill rides, but otherwise gave it a huge thumbs down. Many of the same complaints as you, but what really struck them was that it was a "concrete jungle". It was so hot - and there was NO relief from it - that the soles of my daughter's cheap shoes actually melted right off!! Meanwhile, I was riding Storyland Canal (or whatever they call it) and eating Dole Whip
    Magic Mountain is a mess, and has been for years. It had a slight resurgence a few years back, but they moved management around again, and it's slipping again.


    As for wardrobe.....I'll be honest, I saw some pretty awful stuff at Disney World last week when we went. Butt cheeks hanging out of shorts, visible bras, pregnant bellies hanging loose, etc. Basically every thing that was listed earlier.
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  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Opus X View Post
    Im very fortunate to live in Ohio...2 of the best non disney theme parks in the USA.
    Kings Island, Was actually designed (or helped) by Roy Disney.
    The lay out of the park is the hub and wheel...and it has International street with eiffel tower instead of main street and castle. It is no Disney though...but a GREAT park. Very clean.
    It always amazes me reading posts on here from all the debbie downers that say Disney isnt what it used to be. It is and better!
    WDW/DLR is spotless and we are always amazed at the immense level of cleanliness and landscaping...etc.
    But, Kings Island...a great choice for a day or 2 getaway.
    Cedar Point is the other..Both Cedar Fair.
    Kings Island, prior to Cedar Fair operation was a little bit better. Son of Beast was a disaster investment, and it has set back development a bit.

    As far as the park itself, it tends to be clean, has shaded areas, and is put together the right way. It was one of the theme parks I grew up going to along with Cedar Point and now defunct Georgia Lake(greedy Cedar Fair tragedy). The food is locally inspired at least instead of being generic. The theming is now a bit weird without the Paramount involvement, but is a good alternative for the day.

    I think even with a properly run park, these "concrete jungle" types of one day amusement parks will always be that. I think despite it's shortcomings Disney and closely following Universal really do make their best effort to get you there for as long as possible as destination resorts.
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  21. #20
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    The Six Flags in Jersey is great for coasters if you want to stand in line for 1+ hours. The food is horrible and very expensive. The people are rude and very disrespectful. I know Disney has some of the same people. I liked Cedar Point- went in the off-season so wasn't as crowded. No theme for the park and once again food was bad and very expensive.

    We have also been to Busch Gardens which does have a great theme(both) food was once again expensive, but tasted a little better. Love the fact they are trying to help animals in both parks, plus have some good roller coasters too. Also was pretty clean too.

    Still love Disney. There is always a choice- don't have to spend your money at certain parks if you don't want to.

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