Shortened Last Call Fall Festival at Six Flags Great America

On Saturday, I visited the inaugural Last Call Fall Festival at Six Flags Great America. While I expected to spend the entire day at the park, my stay was cut short — four hours short.

Warning: this post contains some ranting.

Six Flags Great America seems to hold a sizable crowd regardless of the circumstances. Severe thunderstorms in the forecast? Crowded. Cubs in the World Series? Crowded. Granted, even though I visit this park more than any other, I’m sure there are days when the park is one walk-on ride after another.

Well, Saturday was one of those days.

Saturday was the kickoff of Six Flags Great America’s Last Call Fall Festival, the first time (in recent memory) the park has been open well past the end of Fright Fest.

Last Call Fall Festival at Six Flags Great America

The park is open from noon until 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through November 19, 2017.

Well, it was supposed to be open until 8 p.m.

The day was gross, at least in the the morning hours before the park opened. There was a steady misty-to-light rain with chilly temps in the mid 40s.

But by 1 p.m., the mist had tapered significantly. The chill remained, but as it climbed toward 50, it really wasn’t that bothersome. This is the Midwest in November, after all.

Lines were nonexistent. I walked on Goliath, V2, American Eagle, the list goes on. The park was dead.

It took me a while to remember that the Last Call Fall Festival was happening.

The event features live music, a few small outdoor stage shows and two groups of food and craft beer stands — one in Yukon Territory and the other in Southwest Territory.

The fall decorations were nicer than I expected. Of course, don’t expect a Dollywood harvest, but the sprinkling of pumpkins and other Thanksgiving table-destined decorations throughout the park was a nice touch from Six Flags.

So here’s how the food and beer tastings at Last Call Fall Festival work.

Each food and drink item — all of which are a reasonable sampling of a dish or drink — requires 2-5 “credits.”

Credits can only be purchased in quantities of 15 via the “Last Call Passport” for $30.

Below are the food items available at Six Flags Great America’s Last Call Fall Festival (as of this posting):

Southwest Territory Food Items

German Taste

  • Grilled Bratwurst
  • Currywurst

Hearty Bites

  • Korean BBQ Meatballs
  • Steak Shish Kabobettes

Southwest Cravings

  • Chili in a Bread Bowl
  • Jalapeño Poppers with Beer Sauce
  • Potaco (potato taco)

Yukon Territory Food Options

Chicago Bites

  • Italian Beef Slider
  • Pulled Pork Slider

Midwest Delights

  • Breaded Cheese Curds
  • Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
  • Fried Mac & Cheese Bites

Sugar Rush

  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Hot Apple Conewich
  • Roasted Bavarian Nuts

The craft beer and wine samples can be paid for with credits or cash for a taste or a full serving.

I think the $30 price tag for a handful of food and drink samples is a little steep. But I was going to go for it (for the sake of Coaster101, of course).

But then…

I was happily darting from coaster to coaster just after 2 when I heard the following announcement blast over the PA system: due to the inclement weather, the park would close at 4 p.m. — four hours earlier than scheduled.

I was surprised and confused. Perhaps a storm was looming, I thought. A weather radar check confirmed that was a negative — there was no rain forecast for the remainder of the day.

There was no inclement weather. Unless a 50-degree, cloudy day now constitutes “inclement.” I hate cold weather — it’s the only thing keeping me from moving to Chicago — and I was doing just fine.

A note about the early closing was posted on the park’s website, but I was shocked that there was zero mention of it on social media. In fact, a (probably scheduled) tweet was posted just as the early closure announcement was made:

As you can imagine, a similar post on the park’s Facebook page was full of comments from unhappy guests, some of whom traveled over an hour and booked hotel rooms for the event.

I’m guessing that the park cut its operating day in half due to the low attendance.

Maybe the weather scared people away. Maybe people weren’t aware that the park had extended its season.

Regardless, I see it as a slap in the face to your customers — season pass holders or not. It’s the same as closing the line to a ride before the park closes (which a ride supervisor also tried to pull on me at Goliath until I showed him the 3:58 time on my phone — just call me Petty McBetty).

I was at the park to activate my 2018 season pass by the November 19 deadline. I would be fuming if I had traveled the 7+ hours to be turned away at the gate.

Now that my rant is over…

The park’s King Chaos ride is on its way out to make room for the “world’s largest loop coaster” in 2018.

I was surprised the ride was still in the park, but I can understand waiting until the season officially ends before making that large of a move.

I guess a couple of guests weren’t quite ready for it to go.

The park’s Lobster ride, formerly known as the East River Crawler in Yankee Harbor, has reopened in its new home in Hometown Square:

It originally opened with the park in 1976.

Six Flags Great America has always done a pretty good job preserving and giving some TLC to its diverse array of flat rides.

Despite my disappointment at the early closure, I have to give the park kudos for its ride operations.

  

As dismal as the crowds were, most of the coasters were running two trains, and ops were hustling to get those trains out of the station.

I was very impressed.

I would guesstimate that one-half to two-thirds of the park’s food stands and restaurants were open. I had no problem finding a bite to eat or a drink refill.

Thankfully, I was at the park just after noon and got about four hours of no-wait coaster rides under my belt. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to sample the food and beer offered.

I wish the park the best with the remainder of its Last Call Fall Festival. Better weather and perhaps better marketing should help with the crowds.

I have a hunch that this event may be a test run for a possible Holiday in the Park, which has spread to so many Six Flags parks. But with the unpredictability of Decembers in Chicago and the park’s apparent intolerance of low crowds, I question a Christmas event’s feasibility.

My advice to anyone consider going: check the park’s website or call before you leave the house.

Have you visited Six Flags Great America’s Last Call Fall Festival yet? Share your thoughts about the new event in the comments section below.

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3 Responses

  1. Alex says:

    I was there both Saturday and Sunday. Even though the park closed early Saturday, I was able to ride plenty and try plenty of the food offerings. Sunday the crowds were only slightly higher, so most coasters were walk-ons, but they were sending full trains at least, and remained open until 8:00.

  2. Mike says:

    We drove 5 hours (from Detroit) and booked a hotel room over the weekend so that we could activate our memberships, and to partake in the 8 hour scheduled day. We spent (wasted) around an hour trying to find a competent employee to answer questions on the all season dining only to make it up to the front of the park to hear from guest services that the park was closing at 4 and we wouldn’t be able to use our about to be purchased dining plans.

    I was dismayed having driven longer the night before than the hours the park was open. Sunday was better and we enjoyed ourselves, but we’ve already decided our memberships will be cancelled next year.

  3. Zachary says:

    I went on Sunday with some friends and family, and the longest line I waited in was 15 minutes. Unless you count Dare Devil Dive. Rides where only 10 dollars per person, so lots of people where riding it.

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