QUEENSBURY — Pandemonium is officially approved to come to Great Escape this year, the planning board decided after a short discussion.
The approval process for Great Escape proposals has become streamlined, due to an agreement in 2001, with traffic and noise studies being completed every year regardless of what’s new at the amusement park.
That meant the effort to add a new high-speed spinning ride took just a few minutes at one meeting.
It was swiftly approved as proposed, with no alterations, at Tuesday night’s planning board meeting.
Six Flags officials have promised to try to bring new attractions to Great Escape every year. That won’t work well if each proposal is bogged down for months by complaints from neighbors about noise and traffic.
So Great Escape has handled the big issues. New rides are placed in existing development, not undermining green spaces, and trees and plants are always added to balance any vegetation that must be removed. Permeable pavers with a gravel bed underneath them are placed in areas that could have drainage problems. All parking is across the street, except for a limited number of handicapped parking spaces, and no customer drives through the gates.
In most commercial development, a major improvement would lead to lengthy discussion about whether the business needs more parking or traffic controls. But the 2011 agreement with Great Escape states that the town will not simply assume that one new ride would lead to a big increase in customers.
In the case of Pandemonium, park officials said the ride wouldn’t draw in more people.
“The new attraction is not expected to increase the number of visitors to the park but rather to keep the attractions at the park fresh in order to maintain existing attendance levels,” said C.T. Male project manager Francis Palumbo in a letter to the planning board.
If attendance hits certain levels that are already agreed upon, the park must take specific traffic mitigation measures. Creighton Manning also does traffic counts every year to test whether the park needs to work on traffic control.
The last count, on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, showed that the park hadn’t hit the next level of traffic congestion.
When Pandemonium is built at the park, it will not replace any existing ride. It will be built near Screamin’ Eagle and the Skillet Market. Workers will also add two new patio eating areas by the Skillet Market, where the existing few tables are often full.
The ride will not be the same as the Pandemonium ride at Six Flags New England, which is a mild roller coaster. The Great Escape version is somewhat like a ferris wheel that rotates while spinning rapidly. The ride is 25 feet tall.