Coasting through reading rewards

17 Aug

My son read a lot of books last year and was rewarded with a “free” ticket to Six Flags.  This was neither a reward nor free for me.  As a kid, I loooved Six Flags.  I couldn’t get there enough and even had a season’s pass.  By age eleven, my mother would drop me off alone at the gates before lunch with a crisp $20 and pick me up during the fireworks just before closing.  But, I haven’t “done” the park since I was nineteen and had no desire to ever revisit it.  Big Daddy was adamant in his refusal to be the parent to take Hot Tub to redeem his award and celebrate his literacy.  Snake Bite is terrified of “anything carnival”, so it was up to me alone to dust off my Mother of the Year sash and be “fun mommy” for the day.  I knew that Buford the Buzzard was no more, but what else would be different?  And, mon dieu, what would be the same?

There was no Great Gasp, no Highland Swing, no Drunken Barrells nor Jolly Rogers Island…R.I.P.  The Chevy Show, Dolphin show and petting zoo…buh-bye.  The Hanson Cars had moved.  Skee ball at every turn?  Nope.  And while I saw no one walking an invisible dog, I did see a few kids on leashes.  Squirm.  Free Fall was replaced with a diabolical contraption that had me breaking my rule about not praying in public.  No, it wasn’t the same at all.  And that isn’t a bad thing.  And most of the artifacts that I was familiar with, had been updated in someway.

In 1978, The Mind Bender was THE new ride.  You stood in line forever, avoiding being pushed into “the gum tree” that was most certainly a breeding ground for all strains of hepatitis.  And for what?  To be thrust along some rickety sounding rails that flipped you upside down three times.  Now there are lots of roller coasters that go upside down and The Mind Bender seems a little retro.  And the gum tree?  They now swathe and staple the trees in a burlap condom, and when it is full of sticky, gnat pocked infected gum, they just take it off and put on a new one.  A new trend has also emerged with gumming the landscape boulders as well.  I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.

It blew my mind though that with all of the advances in rollercoaster building and amusement engineering, the bumper cars are still as unreliable and junky as they were in the 1970s.  Technology has by-passed them.  They still get stuck, having to be manually unstuck, and are still powered by a flat piece of metal rubbing and snagging along the bottom of a volted chicken wire ceiling.  I thought that for sure by now they would have been able to get the kinks worked out of that.  Six Flags has tried to keep up with the times and be respectable.  The park now has a “code of conduct” that does not allow smoking outside of dedicated corners and even purports to ask patrons to leave if they are using loud profanity.  It seems a bit unlikely, but it was quite a nice change to not be standing in line with hickey coated teenagers with dangling cigarettes from their lips while screaming the f-word, s-word, or any other words that would have made my grandmother blush.  So while that turned out to be a non-issue, I did have to explain the verbage on a lot of neck tattoos.

And Six Flags also says that they have “healthy choices” for park goers’ dining options.  For lunch we went to Dee Jay’s, one of the restaurants tagged as having “healthy choices.”  I couldn’t actually figure out what the “healthy choice” was.  I think it was the “fried chicken tender salad” that I got.  It was three large fried chicken fillets on iceberg lettuce with four cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers and two packets of Ranch dressing that each had 17g of fat apiece.  My other options were bleu cheese or Italian.

Being respectable and healthy has gotten the park on the roll to adopt a more natural look.  For instance, that water that used to course through all to the flume rides and ponds…remember it was the aqua blue color of your high school head cheerleader’s eye contacts (that she insisted were her real eye color).  Well, it’s been ditched in favor of normal-color water.  And they are trying to recycle…starting with the staff wearing collared shirts made out of melted plastic fabric.  Signs were posted about their low flow toilets and hand dryers replacing towels in the restrooms.  I’m all for conservation, but I just don’t think that low-flow is the way to go in a park full of out-of shape patrons who’ve been eating funnel cakes and hot dogs in 97 degree heat.  Thoughts?

So, I rode every roller coaster the boy wanted to ride.  I got soaked in Thunder River.  I stood in lines that harkened to Soviet Russia bread distribution.  I bought $9 diluted lemonade.  I cheered as the boy won a basketball.  I finished off a bottle of hand sanitizer.  I ate things that probably wouldn’t decompose if left in a forest for a year.  And on the way home, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” was playing on the radio.  I had always thought that was a song aimed at disgruntled teens about getting through uphill battles and feeling kicked around by the man.  It’s not.  I am pretty sure Bill Berry or Michael Stipe wrote if after turning forty and being jostled on roller coasters.  The “hold on” refrain is a reference not to perseverance, but to actually holding on to ice packs and stair railings.




5 Responses to “Coasting through reading rewards”

  1. jenn Weyand August 17, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    You should have called me. David Wolf and I would have taken Hot Tub — and not had to fake it.

  2. Laurel August 17, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Excellent review of the park in its current manifestation. We dodged having to go this year but I don’t think we’ll make it through another whole summer without having to face it.

  3. shannon August 17, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    Hysterical trip down Six Flags of Georgia memory lane. Interesting factoid – my grandmother broke her neck on The Mindbender. She laughed the whole way to the hospital saying what a great ride it was. (I always told her she should have sued, but her southern grace would never of allowed it.)

  4. Andy Seabolt January 11, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi! I loved this. Do you happen to remember standing in the scream machine queue with the weird CCTV insult comic? I’ve been wracking my brain and googling overtime

    • Hot damn, Charlotte Ann! October 13, 2017 at 7:44 am #

      Are you thinking about Beaufort /Buford the Buzzard? He also did scheduled crowd interactive shows in that area by the Monster Plantation, the gravity house and the Crystal Palace!

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