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Greg Pogue December 16th, 2005 04:24 PM

Front Gate Memories
Aw, man! This topic brings up a whole flood of SFOT memories for me. Started as a ticket taker 'yellow tag' (15 year old) in about 1980, in the 10th grade. Got promoted the same season to ticket sales. Tickets were priced so that the ticket+sales tax would be an easily multiplied number ($10.50). The ticket machines were those old monstrosities like they had at movie theaters--The cashier would punch a button for the number of tickets to be dispensed, and they would feed off of a big roll of pre-printed tickets from below and a cutter would (in most cases) sheer off the strip of tickets. (Watch your fingers, if the little cover was missing!) I discovered that the motor could be activated by connecting two electrical contacts inside the machine with a coin, which was great fun, until...I connected the wrong two wires and blew a circuit breaker. The blown circuit breaker set off some sort of warning in Security or something, and there was a whole bunch of hoopla for a while. The girls in the booth with me just kept their mouths shut, though and shrugged when a blue tag asked if we knew why the power went off. On my VERY FIRST DAY of work at the park, I chased the plain-clothed Mike Apple (Director of Shows or something) up the steps of the Southern Palace shouting 'You can't go in there, the show's already started!) Later in the first season, a 'guest' returned about 20 minutes after she bought her ticket and claimed I shorted her $10. I explained that the till would have to be audited before I could just hand her a $10 bill, and she went bezerk. I guess it was her Mariner's Wharf money or something. I held my ground, and guest's escalating emotional outburst caught the attention of the General Manager, Mr. Williams, who kindly intervened and got our supervisor on it. (I recall that the till was actually $10 over when it was counted, so the guest was vindicated!)

I'll wait and see if others contribute to this topic before I add to many other stories. At the risk of slipping into a more philosophical mindset, I must say that I still think of SFOT as the best job I ever had. Why that is, well, I can't really say for sure. I made, I think, 3.25 per hour when I started, which was actually below minimum wage. There was no overtime, no benefits, no job security, little hope of significant promotion. We wore uncomfortable, hot uniforms and were obligated to wear those ridiculous looking, poorly made deck shoes. Calculated as an 'hourly' income, I make more than 20 times as much now, I have good insurance, and I am respected at my job. But I still miss the smell of hot pavement and the ratcheting sound of the roller coaster 'lifts' and the savor of hot chicken strips in the employees canteen. And there were friends, all kinds of friends. Funny, smart kids who weren't afraid of hard work. I'm sure I laughed more in those three yeas than I have in all the time that has passed since. It goes on and on...

rct247 December 17th, 2005 06:20 PM

wow...your story is so familiar to me. I am a front gate worker but at Hawaiian Falls Adventure Park, a small chain of waterparks in the metroplex.

No body understands why I would want to put up with all the people and the heat but I love it.

JStroop December 17th, 2005 09:44 PM

During my brief stint in security, I always hated to have to go to the front gate for opening... there's nothing I hated more than having to go through peoples' bags before they came into the park.

But before I started working and was a guest, the front gate symbolized the idealism of a day at Six Flags - what was I going to do that day? How many cute girls would I see and/or meet? Would I win a prize at the midway games then have to carry it around the park and take it home and never use it again? ... or even better, the days before the season started and we would go out to the park to get our season passes processed... the potential fun of the upcoming spring and summer was square in my radar... the end of school coming, and several months of no worries or responsibilities.

It sucks getting old.

Greg Pogue December 27th, 2005 04:44 PM

P.S. To My Above Post
When I started at Front Gate at age 15, I was not a "Yellow Tag" but an "Orange Tag", if any of you remember that strange animal. It designated an employee under age 16, who, by law, could not operate machinery. We debated whether the ticket dispensers in the ticket booths were 'machinery' but I think the law had been interpreted elsewhere to exempt things like cash registers and typewriters. This may seem a little wierd, but I kept a nametag from each season, and still have them: Orange--Black--Red(Label-Maker Tape)--Red (Engraved)--and finally, a Tan (Engraved) for Guest Marketing. I also somehow ended up with a raincoat and jacket from Wardrobe. I think I finally got rid of those. But from other posts, I gather that, to this day, I would be inelibible for rehire unless I paid what I owed them for those items. Anyhow, there have got to be other Front Gaters out there who have stories, too.

BogeyGirl December 27th, 2005 07:45 PM

I remember having to go up to the front gate on the days where the crowd was large and having to sell tickets out of a little apron/pouch thingy. There's no way you could get me to do that now. Geez, the cash I had on me on hand. We were supposed to go cash out every once in a while when we go too much money, but yeah, the ticket prices were so that all we had were a little cheat sheet and we just sold them left and right. I think Dan 'The man' Lennihan kept watch over us when we did that. And woe be it if our little apron/pouch thingies didn't come back with the exact amount we were supposed to have. That was also my first experience of someone coming up to me and saying 'Hi Sherry!' At first I was like, how do you know me, then I're wearing a nametag. Saw Bob Bennett (I think that was his name....head honcho of the whole park at the time) a lot when we were up there. My friend and I were goofing around as we were waiting to get our aprons and she made a silly comment to him as he went by. He just chuckled, but I turned to her and said, 'do you know who that was?'. She said she didn't, so I told her and boy did she turn red. I think they actually asked me to be up at Guest Services after I did that a few times and they realized that I was kind of good at the numbers thing. Who know that I'd grow up to work in accounting. Ah well.

Greg Pogue January 5th, 2006 02:18 PM

Apron Sales
Oh yeah! Do I remember that! It was in the spring and early summer when the park was really crowded. I remember going back into the little office next to what was then Guest Relations and Internal Security, where the Front Gate Foremans would hang out all of the time. When I did it, we didn't have individual tills for the aprons, just one community till. I can still see the supervisor (Larry Gentry) sitting on the floor with a couple of the red tags surrounded by tens of thousands of dollars worth of cash, which was counted and put into one of those drop safes that they borrowed from somewhere. Never occurred to me to actually STEAL from Six Flags! Remember "pickups" from the ticket booths? A cash control employee would come by with an inconspicuous looking sack and pick up wads of cash from each cashier under the watchful eye of a security guard. What would the 19 year old, unarmed guard do if some knowledgeable criminal would have walked up with a .38 and demanded all of the money? I used to have cash pickups of over $10,000, which was a lot of money back then. I had closing balances on tills back then of over $20K on occasion, which astounded me. Still does.

BogeyGirl January 5th, 2006 06:48 PM

Dude..... $10,000 is a lot of money now.

I remember seeing the guys in the office counting the money on the floor too! Gads.

Greg Pogue January 6th, 2006 02:07 PM

Hi, Sherry!
When I worked there, there were still a few kids who would wear shirts that had their names emblazoned on the back. For grins every now and then we would shout out a name we saw just to see the person turn around and look for who was summoning. Back then, you could also just shout out "Heather!" or "Brian!" behind a large crowd of unidentified kids and usually someone looked to see who was calling their name. It was also funny to shout something out of the little hole at the bottom of the window in the ticket booth when all of the blinds in the booth were closed. "Hey!" was a good standby, but "Shut up!" was a good alternative when a group of rowdy kids went by. One time a distraught mother complained at Guest Relations that, essentially, a rude ticket seller in a closed booth ruined her little children's whole experience and scarred them for life by shouting "Shut Up!" as they jubilantly passed by on their way out of the park.

A daring but fun activity to do while 'roaming' the park, away from your usual work area was to do or say something abnoxious to a young guest with your nametag obscured. This was best done as you were leaving the park for the day to minimize the risk of the guest spotting you at work later...

"Yeah, he was kind of skinny, with sort of brownish-blond hair. He had on a green shirt and pants."

"Tall, or short?"

"Kinda medium height. I dunno."

"Do you know where he was working?"

"I think he works at that place where you try to win one of those bears by throwing a hula hoop over it. That's where I saw him."

"Did you see his nametag?"

"He had a clipboard over it..."

Make sure the child's parents are not nearby and make sure your escape route is clear. A friend of mine didn't do his preliminary reconnaisance and was followed by a large family and got cornered up by the Front Gate area. The clever clan saw him heading that way and covered BOTH sides of the fountain, blocking him from melting back into the main part of the park. They kept searching and scanning the crowd for him. No way out, so he had to hole up in that little office behind the hand stamping exit and watch until they finished filing their complaint at G.R. and left the park. Only then was he able to slip out and high tail it to the 'compound'. But, since they never got his name, he got away with it.

Greg Pogue January 6th, 2006 02:42 PM

Sorry BogeyGirl and everyone else...This just goes on forever, but I just remembered this one: We used to write down the telephone numbers to the payphones next to the restrooms there in the entry mall, and call them from the ticket booths. It was amazing how many people would pick up and answer. It was always a special treat when the phone was answered by a person whose name was printed on his/her shirt...



"Uh, yeah. Who is this?"

"What are you doing at Six Flags? I've been tryin' to call you all morning."

"Who is this?"

"You know!"

"Who IS this?!!!" (Giggles, turns to friend, Amber, with confused look.)

"Well, if you don't know, I'm not gonna tell you."

"AMBER!" (Amber takes the reciever.)

"Hi, Amber."

"Who IS this?"

"Why won't Heather talk to me?"

"How do you know my name?"

(And on and on...)

BogeyGirl January 6th, 2006 07:18 PM

Dude....that is awesome! I love picking up payphones that are ringing, but usually I mess with the person who called. My normal MO is talking in an accent and then they ask for the person by name I say, 'I told you already, he died!' and hang up.

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