We returned to Six Flags St Louis this morning in order to enjoy the park properly following our brief visit last night. The day on the whole was fun, despite the best efforts of the park staff, who seemed to be going out of their way to be awkward. The games began even before we'd gone through the gate; two of the entry queues started to move, but not the one most of the club was standing in. Moments later, after most members had changed, everything stopped; apparently we were not allowed in yet after all. Almost twenty minutes later, we watched a solemn group of costume characters saluting the flag to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner, and we were permitted to pass through the gate. We did not however make it far; park security had formed a new cordon to wait at, where everyone was held up for a further ten minutes.
Eventually we were released. Most of the club made a beeline for Mr Freeze (#152). Adam and I were third and fourth respectively into the front row queue. The staff told us the ride could not run until every seat was full, and that we should move to occupy any available row. Feigning deafness seemed the best idea in this situation, and indeed moments later every available row was filled anyway. The first train of the morning was dispatched and returned in due course. Then began the next piece of fun.
One of our club members was filming from the queue line as other members of the group were boarding the train. The ride operator came over to tell him that he was not allowed to do this, and that if he didn't turn his camera off and put it away he would not be allowed to ride the coaster at all. He decided to raise an objection to this with the full support of the rest of the group. As coaster enthusiasts we are well aware that cameras are not allowed on rides without the permission of the park, but there is no reason why somebody shouldn't be allowed to film their friends on a ride from the queue line. The operator decided to halt ride operations and call security.
Fifteen minutes later, with no sign of park security as yet, the operator decided that we'd be allowed ride after all but that security would be confiscating our cameras on the way off the ride. Apparently it was official policy that photography was not allowed, and better yet, that cameras were not permitted in the park. Somebody pointed out that there were vending machines selling the aforementioned articles, in clear violation of the apparent policy, but this didn't seem to phase the operator in the slightest.
Two friendly members of park security staff were indeed waiting for us at the exit. Initially they seemed to be nonplussed as to why they were there at all. They restated the standard no cameras on rides policy that we all knew about already, but when we explained that this wasn't what had happened we were given a very contrite apology. We were told that the park was quite happy for people to take personal photographs, and that the ride operator in question would be disciplined. Nevertheless, this whole charade put quite a damper on the morning.
The best way to recover the situation seemed to be picking up the remaining credits. River King Mine Train (#153) was a walk on thanks to two train operation. This ride opened with the park in 1971, and originally operated two tracks. The second was sold off in 1988 to Dollywood, who later sold it again to Magic Springs. It still operates there to this day under the name of Big Bad John. The removal of the second track means that the original duelling aspect has been lost, but the ride is still a lot of fun nonetheless.
One of the most irritating things about amusement parks in the United States is the number of children bouncing basket balls up and down in the queue lines. The continuous thumping noise is extremely annoying for those who have to suffer it. Six Flags management appears to have realised this problem, and have put up a sign on the game where these balls originate. Unfortunately, the patrons today didn't appear to be taking any notice of it whatsoever, though perhaps that's because it only apparently applies to a single guest.
Ninja (#154) was actually relatively smooth as Vekoma rides go, but it was still nevertheless a once is enough affair. It was quite amusing to see a Corn Nuts advertising sign at the queue entrance advising people to hold on to their ears. This advice may not have been necessary on the lift hill and indeed the first loop, but it was certainly pertinent in the corkscrew.
The only remaining credit for us was a classic wood coaster, in the guise of Screamin' Eagle (#155). This proved to be very rerideable; the only major bumps were in the turns, and since it was an out and back design there were only a handful of those.
Following a lunch break we decided on a more leisurely ride than usual. Scooby Doo's Ghost Blasters fit the bill there, being a target shooter attraction similar to that we'd ridden a few days before. There was one major difference in this version though, namely that the ride vehicles were in fact boats. This design allowed a few gentle water sprays to douse riders, albeit nothing too serious. Those who want to get wet would do better to ride the Thunder River Rapids without a poncho; Steven thought that'd be a good idea, and got well and truly soaked for his trouble!
At this stage we'd completed everything we wanted to, so we decided to go for another lap on Mr Freeze. This turned out to be a mistake; there was a three quarter hour wait due to very inefficient operating staff. Trains were going out about once every four minutes on average, though they did manage a best time of ninety seconds on one occasion, which was somewhat more impressive. With that done, we concluded our day with a last ride on The Boss, which probably wasn't the most intelligent thing to do. The ride had become even more jarring than yesterday evening, leaving me with a headache for the evening's coach journey.