Monday, August 30, 2010

Our Great (Big, Fat) Escape

Not the only large round thing at the park.
So we went to the Great Escape yesterday for family day.  The weather was perfect and the boys are the ideal age for many of the attractions and the water park activities.  I think we were last there 2 years ago and there were a couple of new things my husband wanted to try - some water ride that looks like a huge striped toilet and a knock-off of Universal's Tower of Terror
elevator ride called the Sasquatch. 

Sweet ride, huh?
What?  But it looks so easy!

We arrived at 11 a.m., paid our $10 to park and then bought our way in to the tune of $137.  That was the price for three of us,  we had free admission tickets, carefully cut from cereal boxes, for our two younger boys.  Okay - let's have some fun!  First up was the antique car ride thing.  Insider tipIf you're looking for this ride it is really close to the smoking section that was so thoughtfully placed in close proximity to the children's rides.  The line was about 30 minutes long and would certainly have been shortened had the Great Escape folks repaired the 3 or 4 cars which were parked to the side seemingly out of commission.  No worries, the wait gave our middle son the opportunity to attempt climbing the rope ladder at an additional cost of $5.  

During all of this activity, the husband did laps between our location and the nearby Boomerang roller coaster, trying to get information about when that attraction would be running since it was not currently open.  The estimate was an hour, meaning 2+ hours after the park opened.  We moved on and headed over to the Ghost Town to give the log flume thing a whirl.

On our walk we couldn't help but notice how many of the park's visitors were overweight. I'm not talking about an extra 5 or 10 lbs, I'm talking about grossly, morbidly, tremendously obese - children as well as adults.  Unfortunately this condition only became more noticeable (unavoidable?) when we arrived at the Splashwater Kingdom area of the park.  I'm sorry.  I try to not be overly critical (although it is a part of my astrological make-up as a Virgo) but these people were hugely overweight and seeing children with stretchmarks just freaks me out.  Keep in mind that it was a hot day and it seemed as if the larger people were suffering in the heat even more than the folks of more moderate size. And, in all honesty, I was feeling a little angry at the clothing manufacturers who produce clothing items that reveal more than I want to see in a stranger.  I decided to relax and take a float in the Lazy River, however, there weren't nearly enough tubes for the number of people present, which annoyed me all over again.  If I were an emotional eater, I might have indulged myself in ice cream at this point, but I honestly don't know if I will ever be able to drop $4.99 for a small Ben & Jerry's.  Ever. 
It was really nice to cool off in the Lumberjack water area.  Too bad 2 of the 4 slides were unavailable.  I understand that staffing becomes an issue in late summer when many of the college student employees depart for campus, but, if you're giving me reduced attractions how about giving me a comparable reduction somewhere else?  We could start with the $36 for three orders of chicken tenders with (half-cooked) fries. We never made it into the Tidal Wave pool because each time we walked past it, they life guards didn't appear to be allowing anyone in.  It must have just been poor timing on our part, huh?

As the day wore on, we hit a couple of more rides before heading back to Albany for our date night at Cafe Capriccio, including the River Rapids, which was the perfect ride for our entire family, and the Ferris wheel.  It seemed like there were more rides that we didn't try than those we did manage to attempt and I completely lay the blame on the people who "run" this theme park.  The lines were ridiculous and I left with the pervasive feeling that there were not enough employees to supervise and maintain the attractions.  Period.  The next time Tom suggests we take the longer drive to Six Flags New England, I may actually acquiesce. 

I wished that I had thought to bring our trusty red wagon because I got tired of carrying all of our crap and lockers were not an option at these incredibly ridiculous prices.  Really? $16 to use a locker for the day?  Is that $480 a month?

You folks know that I will happily drop $300 on dinner for two, but paying $3.50 for a small water is offensive, in my opinion.  I also don't appreciate being solicited for vacation giveaways when I am arguably already "enjoying" leisure time.  That sense of being offended, unfortunately,  is what remains a day later.  That, and a deep regret that I agreed to return to the Great Escape in October for their Halloween Fright Fest.  Hopefully, the attractions and entertainment will manage to be more frightening than the park guests and prices.


  1. Ugh. I would have left that place feeling assaulted.

  2. The only way to make the Great Escape bearable is with season passes -- if you go twice, you get your money's worth -- and to bring your own food and water. And in the last couple of weeks of summer, all their college staff goes away so the waterpark is always understaffed, and the crowd is always angry about it.

    On prices, Six Flags New England is exactly the same experience.

  3. Complain to Guest Relations and mention specifics and they might send you some discounted tickets. They did for me a few years ago. Back in 1997 I worked there and it hasn't changed. They never have enough staffing for the water park after college starts, they never fix broken things, and they still charge the same if not MORE.

  4. Hi, hopped over here via the All over Albany link.

    We went on 8/21 for our company picnic. Been before a couple times for the same reason, or my daughter's school picnic. Don't think I'd pay for it though.

    I have the unique perspective of having worked as a lifeguard at Disneyworld's old River Country when I was younger. But still my observations are virtually the same as yours. I'll fess up to having 40 pounds or so I could do without, but there were a +lot+ of +really+ fat people at GEscape! Wow! The food offered (how about US$8.00 for that Ben and Jerry's milk shake) seemed like honey to the bees, if you know what I mean.

    Also noted many broken down rides, and buildings in general disrepair (lots of roofs looking pretty shabby). My daughter was really psyched to do that bungy jumping thing next to that rock wall but with only 4-5 kids ahead of her we were told it'd be an hour and a half wait, this at 5 in the afternoon! There were four units and only one functioning. I was told the maintenance guys (who generally aren't college students headed off to college) hadn't "made it down yet to fix them". This was across from that Alpine roller coaster ride which was closed for repairs, as it was two years ago when we were there.

    It should be noted that Six Flags has had some financial problems having recently recovered from a Chapter 11 filing, but one really has to wonder; did poor attendance cause dire financial straits and a poorly run and maintained experience, or do people realize what a One Flag experience it really is?

    BTW, here's a big plug for the Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge, NY. The one waterpark I gladly pay to go to.