Wednesday, August 23, 2006

GETTING THE SHAFT FROM AN OLD NEMESIS

On Monday I took my two kids, my nephew and a friend of my daughter’s to Six Flags in New Jersey. We left early in the morning, something kids have no problem doing provided they are getting up for something exciting for them. Apparently Six Flags met their approval.

We arrived at the park around 10 greeted by a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. Apparently queuing is something that was kicked to the curb during the planning stages of this park. Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.

And it felt like days before we were finally welcomed by a pleasantly cheerful legal alien who could barely explain the difference between regular parking and preferred parking. I looked to “Press 1 for English” but unfortunately there was no such button within reach.

Ah what the heck…I opted for preferred parking for an extra $5.00.

Before long we were on the rides. Well for me it was just a ride. During the 12 hours I was there, I only ventured on to one ride. Now mind you, I’m a big kid normally when it comes to these parks. Along with the kids, I’ll run from one line to the next.

But not on Monday! It was the equivalent of speeding from a 15 mile back up at the Bay Bridge to another back up at the 404/50 intersection. Why hurry up and wait?

The lines did nothing to curb the kids’ excitement. The day was perfect – clear skies, warm but not hot and a light breeze to boot.

As we ventured through the park, I saw this line for something called “Flash Pass” which is apparently the equivalent of EZ Pass at the McHenry Tunnel. Well not quite. The cost for this Flash Pass was another $31 on top of the super duper discounted internet special of $39.99 per person.

We looked at the line for Flash Pass. It was long – a living oxymoron. The estimated wait time for Flash Pass was nearly 3 hours. “What’s the point of that I thought?”

Soon I would find out.

The park’s featured attraction is the Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest (456 feet) and fastest (0-128 mph in 3.3 seconds) rollercoaster. Wow! Let’s go….

And so we did.

When we arrived at the line, I asked an employee what he estimated our wait time to be. “Two and a half hours, sir.”

I looked at the kids and the kids looked at me.

I told them if they wanted to stay in that line, feel free but there is no ride on this planet (well at least not at this park) that I would wait 2 ½ hours for…so off I went. That was at 4:10 PM.

At 7:30 I check back with the kids via cell phone. “Still in line?”

At 8:00 I walked back over there. They were at least within striking distance but still with at least 30 minutes of wait time to go. They looked at me with an expression that said, “We have to go now don’t we?”

To my amazement, they weren’t bored to tears. They still had the look of anticipation on their faces despite nearly 4 hours of tortuous waiting. How could I even consider pulling them from the line? And I didn’t.

Occupying my mind however, was a challenge at this point. I longed for my laptop and an internet connection. The one at the park made the speed of the U.S. Postal service seem like a high speed turbo fiber connection.

I looked at my cell phone and went through the directory, realizing all those people that I need to catch up with. I decided there was no better time than the present and started to dial. And then my battery zapped. So I went out to my car to charge it up because I was desperately awaiting that call from the kids.

So I lay back in my car and waited and waited and waited. I tried to take a nap but the guy next to me had his Marshall Tucker CD going at 100 watts and to make matters worse, he used the side door of his ’72 Maverick as a drum kit.

So much for the nap.

At 9:35 the call came through. They made it on to and survived the most awesome ride of their lives. After 325 minutes of waiting, they couldn’t say enough about their 36 seconds of pure exhilaration – a speed induced adrenalin rush.

I was happy for them. They thanked me and said they had a great time and that they wished I did but knew that I didn’t. Their collective acknowledgement of my misery seemed to make it go away and their genuine appreciation made a miserable day worthwhile.

We left the park without incident and despite the feeling that I had been royally hosed by Six Flags that day (particularly that $45 lunch that included 5 medium Cokes, 2 orders of cheese bread, 1 slice of pizza and 1 order of fries) I was happy to have done that for the kids mostly because I knew that they knew that I knew that they knew…you know?

And then it dawned on me – Six Flags owned by Daniel Snyder. Why should I be surprised that I was ripped off? After all he does have all those high priced coaches and free agents to pay for, right?

Now those parking lot woes made sense!

You know, I really hate the Redskins!

6 comments :

Jay said...

So....what is a flash pass after all?

Jay said...

Me too!

Tony Lombardi said...

Flash Pass is like the express checkout...it's a ticket to butt in line basically...to accelerate you past your competitors....just like all those free agents were supposed to help the Maryland Native Americans.

Crowbytes said...

Darn Funny! Great ending!! I can't wait for the sequal. NASCAR....oh wait...isn't that Joe Gibbs thing? Don't go Tony save yourself before its to late......


Crowbytes

Ravenwoman said...

Tony,

Next time take your kids to Hershey Park. It's closer, cheaper and the rides are probably just as thrilling.

Tony Lombardi said...

Hershey Park it will be next time. We've gone there several times and I've always enjoyed it. But my kids are now rollercoaster junkies and that one at Six Flags is a thriller! At least that's what they told me.

Been there now (Six Flags, NJ), done that...move on. No more aiding and abetting the enemy (Snyder).

Anyone going to the State Fair? Talk about a ripoff!