QUEENSBURY - Great Escape will offer thrills -- and chills -- next year, as the amusement park adds both a new ride and a winter event.
"We're going to put a major, what I would call an iconic ride into this park -- one that's stunning from a thrill standpoint, one that's stunning visually," said Mark Shapiro, chief executive officer of Six Flags, which owns the Queensbury amusement park.
Shapiro, who spent part of Tuesday touring the park, wouldn't give any other details, but he said Six Flags will continue to invest in the Great Escape.
"This is one of our best-rated parks in the system -- highest guest service scores, ranging from cleanliness to speed and safety," he said. "You will not go a year here where we're not launching a new ride or attraction."
Historically, Shapiro said, decisions about larger rides are made in August or September, when staff can see what is working.
When asked if the new ride might be the Serial Thriller, Shapiro said "no comment." The Serial Thriller is a suspended, looping, roller-coaster, which came from the now-defunct Six Flags AstroWorld Theme Park in Houston. The coaster has been stored in pieces on the Great Escape property, visible from Route 9, since late 2005. In a previous interview with Scott Maupin, former president of the Great Escape properties, Maupin said an ongoing power infrastructure upgrade would allow for the coaster to be installed in the future.
"We're making a significant investment in the power system to be able to grow in 2008 and beyond," Maupin said last year.
Two additions in the past two years in Splashwater Kingdom, the water park portion of the theme park, have been great successes, Shapiro said. Two years ago, the Tornado was added, and this year, the Mega Wedgie has opened to help lure water park enthusiasts. Wiggles World, a children's attracted, debuted this year.
The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark, located across Route 9 from the outdoor amusement park, is a blueprint for what Shapiro said he'd like to do in the future. The indoor water park is the only one of its kind within the Six Flags family, he said.
Speaking to the rising cost of gas and a dragging economy, Shapiro said Six Flags has positioned itself to be a "value alternative." Six Flags, in general, is hopeful that customers will stay close to home because of the cost of flights and the hassles of flying, he said.
"We're very conscious of the economic climate and that's why we're focused on the value," Shapiro said. "We need to be empathetic to what's going on."
In recent years, prices at Great Flags have remained consistent while hours and days of operation have been lengthened, he said.
To add to the value, Shapiro said Great Escape will be the first Six Flags park on the East Coast to host a "Holiday in the Park" event, a celebration of the different winter holidays that will include a "monstrous Christmas tree" and several shows, Shapiro said.
A ride package will be available to patrons, as well as holiday cuisine and storytelling.
"It lends itself with all of the storytelling here," Shapiro said. "It lends itself like no other park to an event of that nature."
Shapiro said Johnny Rockets, the classic diner-style fast-food restaurant that replaced Trapper's Adirondack Grille, has been an immediate success.
"It's erased any memories of that restaurant," Shapiro said.
He also spoke about the norovirus strain that affected patrons of the indoor water park in the spring, and the efforts that were made by staff to prevent the spread of the stomach virus, including the installation of hand-sanitizing stations.
"It didn't have a negative impact on our business, for the most part," Shapiro said. "Fortunately, I think most of our patrons recognize that it did not originate in the lodge."
The state Department of Health, after investigating the indoor park, never determined the site of origin.
Within the Six Flags park system, a 17-year-old boy was killed in late June when a roller coaster struck him after he climbed over two fences at Six Flags Over Georgia theme park in Atlanta. Shapiro said he sends out thoughts and prayers to the boy's family, but he reiterated that the teenager did not follow signs warning patrons not to enter the area. The accident had no impact, one way or another, on Six Flags' business, he said.
Shapiro, a former ESPN executive who has been CEO of Six Flags for 2-1/2 years, is staying at the indoor water park with his family.
He said he will spend part of the day today enjoying some of Great Escape's attractions.
After that story was released, one of our members on GECentral.com asked a contact they have at the park, and they said its rumored that a tower type ride will be installed in Rainbows old spot. I will keep you guys updated on this story. The full post of the members conversation with the worker can be seen on our forums too.
I hope this Tower story comes true, because we truly need a thrilling ride at TGE!