Welcome to our Alternative Disney Series. In this series, we review various entertainment options outside of Disney Parks that you might enjoy. We begin with a look at Six Flags Over Georgia’s Christmas Event – Holiday in the Park.
This past week, our team experienced Six Flags Over Georgia’s annual Christmas event Holiday in the Park. It had been roughly 10 years since we last visited the park and we were anxious to see all of the changes. Not only that, we were pretty excited to experience the park decked out in its Christmas attire.
At the moment, Six Flags Over Georgia has a lot going on. Beyond the start of Holiday at the Park, Six Flags recently opened the thrill attraction Pandemonium. For 2020, two new Gotham City attractions and a revamped food / shopping district are in the works.
To orient, Six Flags Over Georgia is located just outside of downtown Atlanta in Austell, Georgia. The park originally opened way back in 1967 following the success of Six Flags Over Texas.
Running November 24 – January 5, Holiday in the Park is essentially Six Flags Over Georgia’s version of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The park opens on select afternoons for a Christmas-themed event that includes special decor, shows, treats, and select attractions. Single day tickets to the event are in the $50 range. Upgrading to an annual pass gets you unlimited access to Holiday in the Park. Event times vary, so be sure to check the calendar.
What We Liked…
First Impression: Entering the parking area, you’ll be greeted by the soaring hills of the the Goliath hyper-coaster and the 200 ft drop tower, Acrophobia. Closer to the the entry plaza, you’ll find a Main Street-esque motif that extends throughout much of this area. Here you’ll find the standard assortment of shops, dining, and guest services.
Holiday in the Park adds a layer of festive atmosphere to this area with lighting, decor, and Christmas carolers. You can catch the carolers performing throughout the night in this location. The nearby Peppermint Plaza and S’more Village keep the holiday mood alive as you embark deeper into the park.
Holiday Decor: The holiday decor on display for Holiday in the Park is nothing short of impressive. Our team was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of holiday decor and lighting throughout the park. Highlights for us include the SteamPunk, Gotham City (pictured above), and North Pole areas of the park. High marks all around go to the special events decorating team.
Shows: Six Flags Over Georgia’s premier entertainment venue, The Crystal Pistol, has always put on quality shows. Holiday in the Park’s “Step into Christmas” continues this tradition. Centered around bringing the family together for the holidays, “Step into Christmas” is a non-stop entertainment.”Bad Bob Humbug”, performed at the Dare Devil Dive Stage, is a well-executed slapstick comedy show with a dash of Christmas spirit thrown in. We caught this in passing a few times and came away smiling.
While It would be easy for Six Flags Over Georgia to phone in the entertainment portion of Holiday in the Park, it’s great to see quality offerings like the ones mentioned above offered at the event.
Attraction Lines: If you attend Holiday in the Park solely to experience short attraction lines, you’re making a solid decision. For the date we attended, we didn’t see more than an approximate 10 minute wait for any attraction – including the headliner “Goliath”. Expect this to continue until (potentially) the Christmas week dates. One important note – the classic Blue Hawk and Great American Scream Machine do not operate for Holiday in the Park. With so many other attractions in the park’s roster, however, you’ll hardly be missing out on much.
Stepping away from Holiday in the Park, let’s touch on a few additional items that made an impression on us.
Maintenance: As seen throughout the theme park industry, Six Flags Over Georgia has upped their game in the theming department. It’s clear that management cares about the park’s aesthetics in a way that we haven’t seen in the past. Whether through building design, landscaping, or atmospheric music, Six Flags Over Georgia does a solid job of invoking each area’s theme.
Cast Members: Staff quality can be an often overlooked aspect when evaluating a park experience. Like other regional theme parks, Six Flags Over Georgia sometimes struggles to keep a healthy roster of quality park staff. Fortunately though, the cast members we encountered on this trip were nothing but helpful and exuded enthusiasm for assisting guests.
Attractions: No theme park chain is more widely associated with thrill rides than Six Flags. Put simply, they are the primary reason you visit a Six Flags park. Some attraction highlights at Six Flags Over Georgia include:
- Georgia Scorcher: While not the most intense of coasters, this beautiful B&M stand-up, with its silky smooth ride and unique seating style, make it a lesser-known gem in the park.
- Mindbender: Located in the Gotham City area of the park, Mindbender is both a fun ride and early incarnation of what is now known as the modern steel coaster. Built by Anton Schwarzkopf, Mindbender has been designated Landmark status by ACE.
- Goliath: Towering over every other coaster in the park, Goliath literally lives up to its name. Like every other B&M hyper coaster, the ride offers sheer speed, air-time heavy camel back hills, and a super smooth (if windy) ride.
- Superman Ultimate Flight: Superman is B&M’s first U.S. attempt at a flying coaster. It’s a unique ride experience and one that would be copied to other Six Flags parks and precede B&M’s flying coaster at Sea World Orlando.
- Twisted Cyclone: RMC’s recent take on this park classic has created one of the most unique, action-packed RMC coasters I’ve ridden. Using the same layout as the previous Georgia Cyclone, Twisted Cyclone takes the previous incarnation, smooths the rough edges, and adds insane banking and elements.
- Monster Mansion: Brought back from the dead via an extensive refurbishment, Monster Mansion is Six Flags Over Georgia only family dark ride. Oddly enough, the ride contains more animatronic characters than any dark ride outside of a Disney park.
You’re mileage may vary…
Dining: There is simply no shortage of dining options at Six Flags. Whether you’re looking for snacks, quick service, or full service dining options, you’ll find it somewhere in the park. Be aware, however, that dining is still largely theme park dining (e.g. chicken finger, burgers, pizza). Your enjoyment of food in this realm will largely determine your view of food at Six Flags….and any other theme park. One really important note for Holiday in the Park – a majority of dining seating areas are located outside. Important because…
Weather: The same logic applies here as with crowds – your enjoyment of the park is going to be heavily determined by how comfortable you are navigating the park in the elements. Because Holiday in the Park occurs in the Winter, you’ll need to account for this…more-so than we did. Thankfully, for those really cold nights, we did see gas heating lamps stationed throughout the park for guests to stay warm. The S’more fires should assist as well. See Atlanta Historical Weather for more info.
Crowds: As we previously mentioned, crowds for our event date on Thanksgiving week were nearly non-existent. As always, however, we would never go to any theme park staking our enjoyment on encountering zero crowds. It’s not practical and is a recipe for expectation failure. The same applies here for Holiday in the Park. Again, expect some of the Christmas week dates to draw quite a crowd.
Value: This may be the most subjective part of the review as everyone has varying ways of assigning value. On the whole, we think Holiday in the Park is a good value for all the reasons we’ve already listed. Assuming you’re a theme park fan, your value assignment of the event will depend on crowds and weather. The greatest theme park visit imaginable can be compromised with extreme weather and crowds.
Making the Most of your Experience…
Arrive early: While sort of a no-brainer, we can’t stress how important it is to arrive early for the event. Holiday in the Park has so much to offer in the way of previously mentioned attractions that you’ll want the full event time to make the most of your visit.
Plan ahead: Glance at the Holiday in the Park event guide ahead and time and decide what you want to do. You’ve got a lot of entertainment options and won’t want to be planning your afternoon on park arrival.
Bring your own snacks: As any theme park veteran will tell you, food costs add up. If you’re budget-minded, bring along a few drinks and snacks to fill the gaps.
Buy tickets online: Unlike some other theme parks, Six Flags offers solid discounts when buy your tickets ahead of time. Take advantage.
Six Flags Over Georgia is a power-house regional theme park that deserves its reputation as a top-tier Six Flags park. If you’re planning an upcoming visit to the Atlanta area, we highly recommend visiting Six Flags on a Holiday in the Park date. The combination of a quality attractions combined with a well-executed holiday-themed event is simply too hard to pass up.
Special thanks to the Six Flags Over Georgia PR team for hosting us. They provided event tickets, parking, and dining.