That means this is the opinion of one person, not a trip report or news article. Please keep that in mind as you are reading.
appy New Year. RD is back today with another great article, this time about his "Home" park Six Flags Over Georgia.
If you've been to this great park then you know that it's really one of the crown jewels in the Six Flags chain with a great mix of rides, scenery and fun for everybody. So it's hard to argue RD's points below. But I'm sure some of you will try. - Gregg
* Click on any of the photos below to see a full size version
Written by RD Sussman
As many people know, I'm a long-distance from my home parks. As I'm a jet-commuter (yes, it is a term!) from Phoenix, I can consider my two home parks to be 'distant' from where I am; the first is Disneyland - an hour flight from here, and the other is Six Flags Over Georgia (SFoG). Why? Simply put: SFoG schools every other SF park in the chain. It is simply that good.
So what makes SFoG so much better than every other SF park? It isn't one thing or another - but rather a combination of things that go beyond the standard SF operations. It is a park that has stayed ahead of the game for attractions, while not forgetting about their classics. It is a park which remains loyal to what Angus Wynne created 50 plus years ago, while keeping up with the times. And it is a park that I've yet to have a bad day in over the past 15 years.
Now that isn't to say that SFoG hasn't had its bad times: It has - and in spades. The 1990s were a rough time for the park, with Time Warner's control of the SF chain being obtrusive to the point where the park's ownership sued Time Warner. [Side note: SFoG isn't owned by Six Flags, inc - it is owned by a trust of people including the Wynne family, private banks & investors - and less than 20% of the voting holdings are Six Flags. It is the only park in the chain which has this ownership basis, and the Wynne family retains control over it.] Found guilty in 1996, Time Warner finally relented & provided improvements to the park under their duties as the park's oversight.
But I digress. During this period of turmoil, operations were not at their prime. SFoG was notorious for line jumping & well-known in park fights, guest service did the best that they could, but the park was a black eye. Even the worst of the SF parks surpassed how SFoG was viewed, and many people thought the park was not worth saving.
The 2000s were the turning point. Melinda Ashcraft took the helm, and worked magic across the board. Her guidance & leadership of the staff was astounding, and the park began to rise to the top. Training was emphasized. Clean was in. Operations improved, and the park hit its stride. Over the decade, the park recreated itself internally, with older attractions not scrapped, but rather lovingly restored & improved.
So what is it that really sets SFoG apart?
Let's look at the mix of rides in the park: Every single demograpic has an attraction that they can ride - from one of the earliest Mine Trains, all the way up to a rare US installation of a Gerstlauer Eurofighter. Coasters that stand out include the notable Goliath Hypercoaster, which winds around the front area of the park, to the standing coaster Georgia Scorcher. And just about everything in between (yes, even the rather painful Ninja...)
Flat rides range from the simple (A wave swinger) to the latest (A StarFlyer known as Sky Screamer). And the park's classic Log Jamboree is a wonderful log flume that when weighted correclty can drench people (Sorry about that Shawn.... hehehhehehee). Add in a two-stop in park train, a Sky Ride and plenty of slower family attractions, and you get a park that is nearly perfectly balanced.
SFoG has not lost sight of their older coasters either. Great American Scream Machine is one of the most beautiful & photogenic coasters, and runs wonderfully at 42 plus years of age. MindBender, the park's terrain build Schwarzkopf coaster stands out as one of the best rides on the planet. Monster Plantation shows that Disney does not have a monopoly on the ability to do a great ride-through attraction, and still retains a charm & class that very few parks in the world have in their attractions.
SFoG hasn't left the park to rot. Buildings are kept in excellent condition, painted & cleaned. Trees cover the park, providing plenty of shade for those notorious Georgia summer days. There are benches everywhere, particularly in the shaded areas, which allow those of us who like to rest some good space to people watch. And the park is immaculate.
Over the past few visits - at different times during the year no less - the park has been clean & well kept. Trash is almost non-existant, something I've had a hard time finding outside a Disney park. For the most part, the facilities are kept clean, including an area I tend to look at more closely - the restrooms. Dining establishments are continually checked for trays, trash & refuse, with garbage cans emptied regularly. This to me is an important thing all around, as nothing is more disgusting than an overflowing trash bin in a dining area.
What has impressed me most of all are the people: While every park has its fair share of 'I'm here because it is a job' types, and SFoG is no exception to this, SFoG's staff tend to be much friendlier than I've encountered at many other parks. Staff are more apt to go out of their way to help. And I saw more smiling staff there than any other park I've been to in the Six Flags chain. People were having FUN with their jobs. And they showed it.
Now the food follows the typical Six Flags model - I'll digress from that aspect except for one thing: At several private events I've attended, the fried fruit pies are NOT to be missed. They are astounding. Incredible. AND WONDERFUL!
SFoG has not forgotten what a theme park should be. You don't find an uber-attraction standing out like a sore thumb as you find in other parks. The rides all seem organic, and fit to where they belong; even mighty Goliath (Which sits in the very middle of the park) looks like it belongs there - and has for years. Attractions are spread out, and use the terrain were possible. They look as if the ground grew a mine train, or a looping coaster, or a log flume. Buildings are not obtrusive, but fit into the areas appropriately, blended into the scenery & the areas nicely. And there are signs. Lost? Follow the arrow. It is easier to negotiate SFoG than most every other park in the USA.
So while other parks are busting their seams with the biggest rides, SFoG keeps doing what they do best: A good park with a great feel & out shining everybody else. When I think of my next visit to a Six Flags park, I can assure you that I'm headed to Atlanta - and headed to the best Six Flags park in the country.
It should be noted that Six Flags Over Georgia's new "coaster" for 2015 is The Joker: Chaos Coaster coming in Spring 2015. Our feelings about this being a coaster aside, we are taking a wait and see approach with how these rides will fit into their respective parks.