Last year, I took the plunge for my family and purchased the top tier, Diamond Elite, of the relatively new Six Flags membership benefits plus a basic season dining pass for the four of us.
I wanted to see exactly what benefits we’d use most, whether those benefits would be worth it, and whether we’d continue to pay for the memberships and the dining pass.
Six Flags: Why I Wanted Membership Passes
First, a few things about why I wanted the membership. We live within twenty minutes of Six Flags New England, we usually go three to four times a year, and we usually eat while we’re in the park.
We love the rides, especially the roller coasters, and we generally have a great time while we’re there. This isn’t so much a review of the park as a review of what the benefits of membership can be for those who already enjoy Six Flags parks.
In the past, I’ve purchased season passes, which expire at the end of the operating year, but never a dining pass, and never The Flash passes, which provides quick access to the most popular rides at the Six Flags parks.
What I found with the season passes is that I’d have to make certain I had enough budget for food and any swag purchases, and while the season passes do come with free parking (it’s normally $20), the parking is in the same basic lot that everyone uses at Six Flags New England. That means either walking to the park or taking the tram but, more, it means sometimes hitting traffic going into the park or leaving the park, especially on days like the Fourth of July.
I hate traffic.
The season passes also didn’t cover Flash passes, which are a separate purchase at Six Flags parks. So I had to decide when was the best time to go for the minimum waiting time on the popular rides.
Note: for the record, the best time to go to avoid crowds is early in the season, particularly on a colder day, and right as the park opens.
When I saw memberships had become available, I noted a couple of benefits that could solve both the traffic and ride -waiting problems.
Six Flags Membership Benefits
Let’s get the cost out of the way first. Diamond Elite membership right now is available on Six Flags online sites for $17.99 per month. A regular Six Flags admission ticket ranges from $50-$70 depending in sales, coupons, and the whims of Six Flags marketing. If you go six times a year, you’re definitely ahead.
The basic season dining pass is currently $55.99 each, so that’s $17.99 plus $4.66 each month, which equals $22.65 per pass each month. Meaning, it cost me about $1000 for the 2019 year with dining. (The membership was cheaper last year than this year.) Overall, about $250 per person for my year. For this year, it would be $271.80 or $1087.20 total.
These memberships and the dining pass are good at any Six Flags location.
Crunching the numbers, six visits with $50 park admission for four people would cost $1200. Add a low estimate of $20 for food each visit per person and the total cost increases on $1680. We’ll leave out any souvenirs as a cost but also remember parking can cost $20 per visit as well.
If you’re only going a few times, the costs obviously slide in favor of day passes.
The main benefits of Diamond Elite membership include:
- Diamond Elite Priority Preferred Parking
- Skip two ride lines every visit
- Save up to 50 percent on almost everything
- Unlimited soft drinks every visit
- Waterpark Diamond area access
- Diamond bonuses, upgrades, and surprises
- Six Flags membership rewards.
The basic season dining pass includes a lunch and a snack each visit. What’s meant by lunch? It’s not specific menu items but rather a time limit: you have to buy the meal before 4 p.m.
I grabbed the Elite membership because of the first two items, the preferred parking, and the skip two lines each visit but I found it had other benefits I didn’t anticipate, such as the surprises. There are lower tier memberships that start at $6.49 per month.
The Six Flags Membership Benefits We Found Most Useful
We found once we had the memberships and pre-paid, it made going to Six Flags an easy decision. No more worrying about fitting in the budget that week, I’d already pre-budgeted. That was the first change: in our thinking.
This resulted in more park visits. I’d anticipated going at least six times, from Spring break to the summer, a waterpark visit, plus Fright Fest, plus Holiday Lights.
We ended up going 12 times in 12 months. That increased our savings a great deal. The main reason we went so often is that the membership benefits made it a much more mellow experience overall.
The Preferred Parking lot is location on the same side of the street as the main park entrance at Six Flags New England, and it’s a much shorter walk. It’s also much easier in and out than the vast main parking lot. The only catch is having to make a reservation for the parking space and that you can only make one reservation at a time per membership.
This is an advantage if you manage multiple passes, because you can make up to four different parking reservations at once.
We used this benefit every time. I loved it. It eliminated traffic. It made getting into the park easier. It made getting out easier. It eliminated the tram. It made it easier to dump souvenirs in the car rather than having to carry them around. (Or dump swimming gear after a day at the waterpark continued into the regular park.)
Rating: Total Win
Skip Two Lines Per Visit
When arriving at the park, we entered the Flash pass area, showed our passes, and received slips of paper that allowed us to use the Flash pass lines for a particular ride. Two rides, no lines, each visit. Meaning, we could keep going on old favorites or swap them up, so over the course of the season, we never had to wait for that one ride (or two rides) we really wanted that day.
It’s much easier to have patience waiting in a line after that.
When he went to the Six Flags in New Jersey on a weekend in the summer (not a good life decision!), the skip-a-line passes, which were handed out at a kiosk with a short line that day, saved us. Despite the crowds, we used them on two coveted rides–the Justice League Battle for Metropolis and Skull Mountain, making the stop, though short, worthwhile.
(Sadly, it didn’t mitigate the waiting for food. All food service places had mega-lines that day. As I said, the timing of a summer weekend was not a good life choice.)
Rating: Absolute win. Well worth the Elite level membership.
Saving 50 Percent on Retail Items
If you have never visited a Six Flags park, you might not be aware that they have THE BEST selection of DC Comics character clothing. More specifically, the best and most varied selection of Wonder Woman stuff anywhere.
Not to mention Batgirl, too. But there’s also Supergirl, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg, and lots of Justice League. I’m still bummed at the lack of Lois Lane and I could do with far less Joker, but let’s just say with the 50 percent off benefit, I might have bought a lot of geeky clothing this year and at reasonable prices.
I ended up with an awesome Green Lantern jacket as well as several Wonder Woman hats and a couple of sweatshirts. The Green Lantern jacket is so perfect that I’m going to use it as part of a GL cosplay this year.
Rating: Total win if you’re a clothing geek for DC Characters.
Surprises/Special Member Benefits
These were surprises to me that were bonuses. There are special ride times for members, particularly on new rides. We took advantage for the Cyborg ride (which we love), plus some of the early openings. Frequently, there’s even some free food/swag. Keep an eye on the membership newsletter for them.
One of my favorite perks, aside from the Cyborg ride, was the preferred admission to the winter show at Holiday Lights, which provide great seating. There are also some exclusive early opening and late closing times for members.
But my favorite unexpected benefit was for Fright Fest, which had a special member event that also offered the Fright Fest passes for admission to the special experiences for only $5 each.
Rating: Total win, depending on one’s schedule and availability.
The rest of the benefits were good to have but not in the “100% awesome” category.
The free soda was great, though I was less than thrilled at having to carry around the special Six Flags bottles all the time. Not to mention, it gets crowded at times and without many self-serve areas, it can take time to refill the bottles.
Six Flags New England has an attached waterpark, Hurricane Harbor, which is also fun but can be crowded.
The waterpark Diamond access passes were useful in that they provided guaranteed seating at tables with umbrellas, not easy on days the waterpark is busy. The downside is that the Diamond seating isn’t located right in front of a water area, meaning a parent can’t keep an eye on their kids from the Diamond areas. We had to drop our stuff (shoes, socks, etc.) to claim the seats, then head to the rides we wanted in the waterpark. We used the table/chairs for eating and I used them to mellow out as my teenagers (19) did the waterpark slide circuit, but families with little kids who need constant watching might not find the Diamond seating useful at all.
Plus, you have to cancel out the preferred seating pass for the waterpark, it has to be done 48 hours in advance. It’s impossible to cancel on that day. And failing to cancel can result in loss of the benefit altogether. So if your kid is sick or rain threatens, you still have to show up and at least claim the seating to preserve access to the benefit.
Some of the other special offers were fun too. During the Holiday Lights, we bought discounted game pass books for $14 each, $28 total, and ended up winning four stuffed animals, a holiday Wonder Woman hat, and a few small things, plus we had fun playing the games as well.
But special offers, like the superhero popcorn bucket, were only available at select dining locations, and not always in stock.
Six Flags: The Dining Pass
Here’s where I get more on the negative side. It’s not the food, which is about the fast food quality level that I’d expect at an amusement park, though I find the pizza is good and the sandwiches a level about Subway. (Really, it’s stuff like the fried dough that’s the best.)
No, it’s that the food service restaurants (and we tried them all at Six Flags New England) were invariably understaffed. The people working did the best that they could but there were times when being understaffed caused long, long waits. For instance, several times, one person was in charge of making all the shakes at the Johnny Rockets location. Those shakes take a few minutes each. Worse, there’s no self-service soda, so the same person doing the shakes is also filling soda orders.
You can imagine how that line gets backed up, enough that by the time drinks are obtained, sometimes the food is cold. (Or, if you’re nice to the rest of your party, your food is cold but their food was eaten by the time you arrive at the table.)
This happened at the place on Main Street too, where you can get great fried dough ice cream sundaes. At times, one girl was taking and making all the orders, leading to a nearly twenty minute wait. Again, employees were doing their best but they needed more staff.
In short, the monetary value of the food is fine. But ordering and receiving the food could be a frustrating experience.
I’ve kept my Six Flags memberships and the basic dining plan for this coming year as well. The convenience of the preferred parking and the skip a line passes is well worth the cost for me.
It’s obviously not worth the cost if you only plan on going once or twice but If you plan on visiting your local Six Flags more than four times per year, I would definitely recommend a Six Flags membership going forward. Once budgeted, it does save considerable money in the long run and makes going to be park a more relaxing experience.