August 14, 2013

Amusement Park Polish

As someone who has a sticker of the EPCOT Center symbol on her car, and is slowly filling up her walls with more and more EPCOT stuff, I think we can agree that I am not unbiased in what I am about to write, so we’ll just get that out of the way. But I feel I am that way for a reason, and I want to talk about said reason.

Yesterday, I went to Six Flags St. Louis. I hadn’t been there in years, and it was an interesting and fun time. I rode roller coasters and water slides. What more can you ask for, you know? But man, the whole time I was there, I just felt this feeling of desperation from the park. Like, it didn’t know what it was doing and was just throwing everything at the wall to try to make an extra buck. Ads were literally everywhere, and not for like… things happening in the park, but for candy, movies, hair products, electronic cigarettes… literally anything, posted all over the place. Every ride was plastered with advertisements for The Flash Pass, which was something else you could buy that was AS MUCH AS OR MORE THAN YOUR TICKET that could let you skip lines. It was just kind of gross. I mean, I rode a roller coaster in a coaster car covered in ads for hair gel. It was on the coaster “American Thunder.” I guess the ads are pretty American.

On top of that, the park was split into thematic areas. Well, it was in theory. Very few of the attractions had to do with the thematic areas at all. What does the previously-named “Tony Hawk’s Big Spin” and now “Pandemonium” have to do with Britannia, a Robin-Hood Themed Area? At least the big coaster in that area, The Boss, has some attempt to make it blend in to those surroundings, with a big archway that kinda fits the era it’s trying to put you in, but The Boss still doesn’t fit the theme as a title, and the coaster goes over a go-kart track. You know, like the go-karts Robin Hood and his merry men rode around on. The Studio Backlot area was all Tim Burton Batman themed (but nowhere near the DC Superhero area, starring Scooby Doo, your favorite DC Superhero, of course) except for The Ninja, and Panda Express, and things that have little to do with being a WB Studio Backlot. The music all over the park was this really crazy collection of hits a little out of date, really old songs, and strange selections from the 90’s.

The only area that really had a theme was Hurricane Harbor, which actually did a fairly good job. There were plaques telling the history of the harbor, and everything had fairly thematic names. But, of course, you could see Batman: The Ride from anywhere in Hurricane Harbor, looming over the whole thing, or the parking lot it was next to, so you could never really get too immersed.

Disney spoils me, I guess. Even when they go and build a “thrill ride” because something needs a thrill ride, they think hard about where it’s going to go and how it’s going to fit in there. They build an impressive mountain landscape and surrounding features for Expedition: Everest. They come up with the idea of teaching about aerodynamics and other vehicle-related science by letting you make your own car in Test Track. They build a gigantic mountain mine surrounded by all kinds of neat things in New Fantasyland. The most “just thrown in there” ride I experienced at Disney World during my last trip was the Primeval Whirl, but that was 100% by design, since it is placed inside of the thrown-together amusement park area of Dino-Rama. It was evoking that kind of feel.

Similarly, all the “ads” in Disney World are classy. They’re simply sponsorships. Sure, you exit Spaceship Earth into basically an advertisement for Siemens nowadays, but it’s done in a smart way, with games explaining how communication technology will continue to advance society in the future. It ties in to Spaceship Earth. It doesn’t feel out of place or gross.

It really just seems like Six Flags should stop half-assing it, I guess. If you aren’t going to go all the way to immerse me, it really just ends up being more terrible than if you hadn’t tried at all. Not trying to would be preferable. I went to Cedar Point a long time ago, and that is a place full of coasters. It has no themeing and no pretense. It’s just coasters. And it doesn’t invoke the same “this place is a mess” feelings because of it, you know? Six Flags should just tear down the rest of their themeing and just have a coaster park. Sure, still have the Looney Tunes and DC heroes and all that, but just get rid of the premise, you know? It would probably serve them well.

There is literally no way for Six Flags to fix their half-assed-ness at this point. It’s just garbage thrown together around some decent coasters.

Comment by Belabor — August 15, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

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