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Would You Book A Trip For A Not-Yet-Open Roller Coaster?

By on 05/06/2013

I just read an article on ThemeParkInsider.com titled “How not to plan a trip to a theme park: Iron Rattler edition” and it sounded very familiar. The basic premise is that the woman booked a non-refundable flight to Six Flags Fiesta Texas to ride the upcoming Iron Rattler roller coaster, even though an opening date for the ride had not yet been announced. Needless to say, the ride was not yet open when she arrived and she was very disappointed. I think we’ve all been in similar situations at one time or another.

With Full Throttle currently under construction here at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I’m constantly getting inquiries from people asking when it’s going to be open because they are “booking a trip” and want to be there the first weekend it’s open. Even though the park has never announced anything beyond “Opening Spring 2013” or “Opening Summer 2013,” many people think they know when the ride is going to open and plan their travel for that time. This seems like a very bad idea, in my humble opinion.

One of the primary reasons parks don’t advertise an opening date for a new roller coaster, at least in the early stages, is because they have been burned in the past. There are many variables in building a coaster and any number of things could go wrong during the construction that might make them miss their target. Manufacturing delays/mistakes, inclement weather, labor shortage/strike, technical glitches…the list is endless. If they announce an opening date, and they miss it, people get very upset, so they don’t do it.

Even after a new roller coaster opens to the public, I’m not sure that the first couple of weeks is the best time for you to be planning a trip to ride it. The crowds are typically very large and the wait for a single ride can be a few hours long. If it’s new technology, or has a heavy dependence on electronics, there is always a possibility that there may be technical issues that keep shutting it down. You might be better off postponing that trip until the crowds die down, the bugs have been worked out of the system, and the ride has been fine tuned.

I honestly can’t say that I’ve booked a trip to ride something new only to have it not be open when I got there, but I can understand the frustration. I have arrived at parks excited to ride an existing attraction only to find it down for the day. That’s disappointing, but not the end of the world. Like the woman in the article above explained, there are lots of other rides in a theme park. They may not be what you had your heart set on, but you can still have fun.

Let’s here from you. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Would you book a trip to ride a new roller coaster without knowing exactly when it’s supposed to be open? Would you book a non-refundable trip for the opening weekend even if they did announce an opening date?

30 Comments

  1. blake

    05/06/2013 at 7:53 pm

    when is opining day i know in summer but what day?and i really want to beta test to 😀

    • Eric

      05/06/2013 at 8:35 pm

      No opening date has been announced for Full Throttle, and I don’t even know if the park knows its exact opening date. There is still a lot to do—among which is testing.

  2. Jason

    05/06/2013 at 8:34 pm

    I’m headed to Cedar Point four days after Gate Keeper is scheduled to open. But it’s more coincidence, I have a business trip in the area and got lucky enough to have a free day. So that doesn’t count…haha.

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/07/2013 at 9:14 pm

      I try to do the same thing on my business trips. Why not, as long as you’re there, right?

  3. Dane. P

    05/06/2013 at 8:50 pm

    I had the same problem when Lex Luthor opened.

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/07/2013 at 9:17 pm

      I think a lot of people got burned on the last minute Lex Luthor delay. I had already taken the scheduled media off from work. It was a pain for me to reschedule the day off, but living just up the road from the park it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as having a non-refundable flight or hotel booking.

  4. Gregg

    05/06/2013 at 8:58 pm

    I’ve made trips to ride rides “Opening Season” but I’ll always schedule them for at least a month after anticipated opening. For example, for Full Throttle I’ve been telling people to plan trips in at least August. I’m going up to Bay Area in June, not to ride new rides but if they happen to be open then even better.
    If its a local ride then it’s obviously not a big deal.

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/07/2013 at 9:26 pm

      A month after the scheduled opening is probably pretty safe. We’re heading up to Santa Cruz for Memorial Day and I was hoping to ride Undertow. That’s not the reason for our trip, and I doubt it will be open by then, but there’s no reason we can’t stay optimistic about it.

  5. Candice

    05/06/2013 at 10:18 pm

    I remember when I went to SFMM opening weekend when they re-did X2. That was just pure craziness! Yes, it was opened when I went, but guess how long I waited in line for? 4.5 HOURS! The line backed up all the way to about the middle of the bridge. But, after the long wait, I still managed to snag front row seats 😉

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/07/2013 at 9:32 pm

      I’m sorry, but no roller coaster ride is worth me standing in line for 4 1/2 hours! If it was something I really wanted to ride badly, I wouldn’t plan my trip so close to the opening date. If I just happened to be at a park when their hot new roller coaster was opening, and it had a 4 1/2 hour wait, I’d probably pass on it and book another trip later after the crowds had died down. I think I heard stories of 6 hour lines when RSR opened at DCA. If true, that’s just nuts!!

  6. Eric

    05/06/2013 at 11:00 pm

    To answer the question, no. I want to make sure it’s open and that the bugs are worked out. Also, I don’t want to wait five hours or more to ride it. It’s not important for me to be “first.”

  7. Aaron

    05/07/2013 at 7:16 am

    I’m currently on a trip where, due to timing factors beyond our control, we’re just “hoping” that new coasters will open before we visit. The three in question are Gold Striker (looking likely to be open), GateKeeper (will almost definitely be open) and Full Throttle (looks unlikely at this point).

    Since I’ve never been to any of the respective parks before, it doesn’t really matter if a new ride is open or not since everything in the parks will be new anyway.

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/07/2013 at 9:33 pm

      With those three parks, you’re going to have a great time even if you don’t get on a single one of the new coasters.

  8. Jeff Wesson

    05/07/2013 at 7:34 am

    I took a trip a few years ago to Six Flags Great Adventure to ride Kingda Ka. It was at least 6 months after it opened, but when I got there it was closed for all 4 days I spent at the park. I was very disappointed, however I still got to ride El Toro 17 times while I was there! And, I’ve ridden Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was missing.

    • Mike

      05/08/2013 at 3:02 am

      Ha ha ha! This is just like what happened to me! I was on a business trip to DC, and my buddy and I drove up to Jersey to Six Flags primarily for the fastest coaster in the states but it closed about 30 mins after opening due to a fin issue someone said, but I got to ride many other rides except Nitro, and Medusa because of transformation to whatever it is now. Came back the next day and bad luck again because it decided to rain all day so basically nothing was open. I guess I have to make another trip from San Diego sometime but that sucked because I was really excited to ride them, but El Toro was amazing and the bonus of the trip.

  9. Anon

    05/07/2013 at 11:27 am

    Haha I totally agree with this article. I remember the working the week Lex Luthror DOD was suppose to open (the first date) the park was crowded!! A lot of people didn’t know the opening date was pushed back by a week. Opening day was not as crowded as it was on the original set date.

  10. Martin

    05/07/2013 at 11:57 am

    Oh Yes….TTD. Thinking it would be safe to allow a month after its opening date we flew to Cincinnati, rented a car and went to Kings Island and than the following day drove to Cedar Point to ride Top Thrill Dragster only to find out it had technical problems and would be closed indefinitely. At least I have been on the baby brother Accelerator.

    • Susan

      05/08/2013 at 11:15 pm

      I have ridden both Top Thrill Dragster (2007) & Xcelerator (2005) and I actually preferred Xcelerator. Not sure if it’s because I rode that one first but just really enjoyed it. Get another go at Top Thrill Dragster in June, with a Fast Lane Pass so may enjoy it more if we don’t have to wait so long to ride it – if it’s open!!

  11. JJJ

    05/07/2013 at 11:25 pm

    Off topic:

    Did you get the new survey? Naturally, I requested a log ride.

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/08/2013 at 5:59 am

      I did get the survey, but they wouldn’t let me take it. There’s a long discussion about this on my Facebook page.

    • Likegreenlantern

      05/08/2013 at 5:09 pm

      Your sworn to not reveal anything about the six flags surveys. Aren’t you?

      • The Coaster Guy

        05/08/2013 at 5:21 pm

        Sworn? No. There are some parts of some surveys that that do ask remain confidential, but I obviously didn’t get there with this survey.

  12. Susan

    05/08/2013 at 12:27 am

    Was just ‘googling’ to see if there’s an opening date for Full Throttle as we’ll be there on 8th June. Not too optimistic at this stage! Oh well, it’ll give us another excuse to come back to the USA. 😉 Do you think Undertow at Santa Cruz will be open by 6th June? GateKeeper at Cedar Point is looking good. We’re going to Kings Island now too, the opportunity to ride the longest wooden roller coaster in the world was too good to pass up!!

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/13/2013 at 10:04 pm

      Hi Susan, you’re probably going to miss riding Full Throttle. Very slim chance it’ll be open by June 8th. I’ve been trying to get an opening date for Undertow myself, but haven’t had any luck. I’ll be there in a couple of weeks. Have fun at King’s Island! I’m hoping to get there by the end of the year.

  13. Jack Curulicio

    05/08/2013 at 6:04 am

    When will testing begin on full throttle?

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/13/2013 at 10:04 pm

      No idea.

  14. Dylan

    05/08/2013 at 7:37 am

    I would only plan a trip if I knew the opening date. Oh and off topic but when will full throttle test??

  15. Likegreenlantern

    05/08/2013 at 5:14 pm

    About a week ago I almost went to Wisconsin Dells to look at the construction on Hades 360. Sadly I could not convince the driver of the car to go. When I got home I found out Mt Olympus opened about a week before.

  16. Roger Yoshida

    05/13/2013 at 5:40 pm

    Was on the East Coast for work, and drove to BG:Williamsburg, hoping to ride AC, during was the second season it was opened. When I got to the park, the place was a zoo. It was free Military/Police/Fireman day! Couldn’t even get near the ticket booths with out a long wait and they were trying to turn people away. Ended up giving up and going back to Norfolk and hitting a local Flippers McCoys(sp?).

    • The Coaster Guy

      05/13/2013 at 10:05 pm

      Free?? No wonder the place was completely jammed!!

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