August 28, 2006

Head of the Class

I have been spoiled. Going to an amusement park will never be the same.

This past Sunday, my friends Brian and Alison invited me to Six Flags Great America. They received some free passes courtesy of their neighbors and offered one to me. Being a slight rollercoaster enthusiast, I jumped at the chance to go. I literally could not remember the last time I had ridden a rollercoaster, so I figured I was overdue for a coaster ride or two.

Without the free passes our admission to the park would have been upwards of $50 a piece, so we were feeling pretty good as we strolled through the entrance gate with our comp tickets in hand.

We were all first timers, so we meandered aimlessly through the park, our eyes searching the skies for the tallest and fastest coasters. The first we happened upon was the Superman ride. It was tall, it was fast, and it fit the bill. We walked in line and were greeted by a most unwelcoming sign. “The wait is 60 minutes from this point.” Ugh. I don’t like waiting in lines anymore. I have war stories of going to Cedar Point as a teenager and waiting in line, in the rain for three hours just to get on the front of the newest ride. That was then. I would like to think that I’ve matured past such silliness. That or I’m getting old and hate the idea of standing for that long. Either way, I wasn’t happy about the wait.

We got in line and saw a different entrance off to the right for the Fast Pass users. That is when Brian informed me of passes you can buy that will get you to the front of lines. It seemed a little wrong. In a sense, it is paying to cut in line. However, the officials of the park who would normally reprimand patrons for such activities now have deemed it ok - for a small fee, of course. We stood in line for all of one minute before deciding to go check out these passes.

And we bought them - $15 for four tickets that got us to the front on one of any seven of the most popular rides. For us, having spent nothing to get in, this was a no-brainer. We happily coughed up the dough and walked on down to the Raging Bull.

As we made our way down the aisle set aside for the Fast Pass users, it was hard to ignore the crowd of people snaking betwen the zigzagging gates. That short walk to the front I say represented at least 45 minutes of wait time we avoided. When we got toward the front, the 12-year-old standing guard took our tickets, and we hopped in line. As a child (and well still today), I always was a play by the rules kind of girl. Cutting in line felt a little unnatural, even though the park condoned it for the sake of its bottom line. I immediately could feel the glaring stares of the people in line directly behind us. I kept trying to overhear their conversation to ensure they weren’t talking about jumping us in line for taking their spots. But then before I knew it we were waiting to board. I didn’t have time to care any longer. We were about to go on the ride. I instantly felt better about our actions as were exiting the ride and on our way to the next. And I can tell you by the fourth and final fast pass I used, I didn’t care. I was strutting to the front like I owned the freaking park, singing “Fast Passes are worth the money.”

So as I say, I have been spoiled. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go to another park and wait in long lines. Or if I do, I can guarantee I’ll spend the majority of my time waiting in line talking about that one day at Six Flags when I never had to wait.

Lesson learned: Always buy a Fast Pass.

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