DECoasterNerd wrote:I know everyone loves to trash SFA, but I think those that do haven't been there in the 2010/2011 season. The staff there is so friendly and so enthusiastic it shocks me as I grew up going to SFGAdv where the staff couldn't give two sh*ts about anything. They high-five you on the way into the park, and on many rides as well. Definitely helps contribute to the "all around park experience" which for the most part, CF and SF parks have completely lost (although CP ride operators are great!).
Agreed. Despite living only a couple hours away, I didn't visit SFA until 2008 due to its negative reputation. And it lived up to its reputation 100 percent--the park felt like a ghetto where someone had torn down a few tenament buildings and put up some roller coasters. The next year I took my now-wife, who grew up literally down the street from SFA, and we were both amazed at how much the place had changed for the better. By 2010, the park's speakers were blaring Taylor Swift rather than FloRida, and we were getting the high-fives you mentioned, along with tremendous ride operations and some of the friendliest staff I've encountered anywhere, Disney parks included.
The two comments I keep hearing from the coaster community are: "SFA is a ghetto park" and "They haven't added a new coaster in a decade, so I haven't bothered going back since then." Together, they kind of make sense; in 2001 (and even as of 2008), SFA was
a ghetto park. But you know, parks can change, and this one has. At SFA Preview Day this year, they spoke a little about how the Six Flags chain brought in a new management team for the park in 2009 with a mandate to clean it up and make it a place families would again want to visit. Based on the crowds and demographics (a huge
number of young families) I saw on opening weekend this year, I'd say they've been wildly successful.
Some on here have said that Whistlestop Park, nee Thomas Town, doesn't count for anything. Except it does. You don't retool your entire management team, invest $3 million to build a whole new land and start announcing new rides for a park you don't think is going to be around for awhile. And that's not even including the behind-the-scenes infrastructure stuff no one gets to see. Apparently, the park has undergone a large data and electrical wiring upgrade since 2008. It's a major investment... but it's not a roller coaster, so who cares?