How many hours a week do you spend—waste, even—preparing your meals? Do you ever get tired of the endless drudgery of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and dishwashing, ad infinitum? Don’t you wish there was an easier, cheaper way to handle your need for daily sustenance? It turns out, there is: the Six Flags season pass. Just get the dining pass upgrade.
“It was a little under $200 total for everything,” said a man, who has since dubbed himself the “Six Flags Scoundrel,” in a TikTok that’s garnered more than two million views since mid-October. “The pass gives you two meals a day, one snack, and unlimited drinks, so that’s up to 400 meals and 200 snacks a year for $200. I live less than ten minutes from a Six Flags, so I decided to start doing it.”
That man is Cam, who communicated exclusively on Signal and declined to give VICE his last name or reveal his Six Flags location of choice, in the interest of keeping his “experiment” relatively private. Cam’s commitment to tracking his Six Flags dining experience is less dastardly than it is documentarian. He’s collecting data for every park visit, including time spent, transportation costs, meal value, and whether or not he gets in a rollercoaster ride sesh on his way to snag a foot-long hot dog combo.
Somehow, Cam is not the only person who’s caught on to this all-timer deal. Last week, a man named Dylan who lives in Santa Clarita, California, talked to MEL Magazine about cashing in on the Six Flags Magic Mountain meal plan for a truly shocking seven years and counting, and said he believes he’s had over 2,000 meals at the amusement park. So, what’s it like hinging your dining schedule on the whims of the world’s seventh-most popular theme park chain? We asked Cam what he’s been eating, what he learned so far, and maybe most importantly… why?
VICE: Hi Cam, thanks for agreeing to talk to me.
Cam: Thanks for contacting me.
So, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you’re launching this… I don’t know what to call it. Project?
Experiment, yeah. So I’ve always been interested in min-maxing—that’s videogame terminology for finding little efficiencies in games and exploiting them to your advantage. To me, this was like that. I broke down the math, and it just seemed too good to be true. We're looking at less than 50 cents per meal, and that's not even if I go every day. That’s the cost of two packs of ramen noodles—but we're talking two square meals and another half meal basically. It's just insane. The calorie to cost ratio is just unheard of.
I have an Excel spreadsheet that’s going to get huge. I’m tracking: the date, the total value of all the food, the total time it took, how many of the daily meals and snacks I got and what I got, how many calories in the meals and snacks, plus the cost of the meals and snacks separated out, the number of rides I rode, the number of steps I took in the park, traffic at the park to see when the best days and times are to go—I'm also going to try and rate each meal to determine if it's actually worth it or not. I'm really trying to be as efficient as possible.
But I don't know if I would have continued doing this if my first TikTok hadn't gotten so popular. People on TikTok suggested a bunch of other metrics that I could follow, and then the whole concept got a lot more interesting—stuff like total miles walked, weight from day to day to see if I gain or lose any weight, and all this stuff that just sounded really, really fun to track.
What was your relationship to Six Flags like before all of this?
Zero. I’d never even been to Six Flags. I had a friend come visit me, and they were doing this event for Halloween and she suggested we go to it. So we went, and it was so cheap. It was like $10 more than admission to get a whole season pass. If you go twice, it pays for itself, basically. So I got that.
I saw the price and I was thinking, I live pretty close, but how often would I actually go to Six Flags? So I looked at their calendar, and they’re actually open a lot more than I thought. They’re open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday pretty much for the rest of this year. Then, next year, they’re open for about 150 days straight. And then, I ended up getting hungry while we were there, so that's what got me looking into the dining pass to begin with. When I started seeing how many days I could actually use the dining pass, I was like, Damn, it could be interesting to see how much value I could actually get out of it.
The idea is that you’re going to be tracking this for a year, right? That’s how long the pass lasts?
The idea is to track it until the end of 2022, so, yeah.
Oh my god.
It’s gonna be an odyssey.
Are you committing to go every time it’s open?
No, no. I'm gonna go as often as I can for sure, but I travel for work and there's holidays, and I'll be on vacation for a couple weeks, so no. The season pass and dining pass combined was $174.88, so my goal is to get $2,000 retail worth of food out of it. That'll be more than 10 times what I paid for it. I'm setting the bar low and then I can increase it from there, but I'm trying to go to $2000.
Amusement parks or special venues usually have really expensive food, so I feel like it wouldn’t be that hard to rack up the 10-times figure…
Yeah, I could do that in about 60 days—not calendar days, but 60 visits total. But that’s another thing that inspired me to do this: How overpriced the food is. You walk by all the restaurants and they smell so good, you know, but there's there's a difference between something being expensive and something just being overpriced.
So, how’s the food?
It's really hit or miss. There are a lot of factors, even the same dish at the same restaurant can vary day to day. At first, my favorite thing was the smoked turkey legs because they're kind of novel and you only get them at certain times a year, like when the state fair is in town. But after my fourth or fifth smoked turkey leg, I kind of lost my taste for ‘em. My favorite place right now is this burrito place called Macho Nacho, where you build your own burrito. You can get a lot more variety that way and when I'm eating this stuff every weekend, variety is important.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
So, on the sixth day, I had to take this video down because I was afraid I was going to get an employee in trouble, but I got a Caesar salad, which was going to be one of my staples for healthy things to eat. But they make them with iceberg lettuce. Does that sound weird to you?
It sounds bad. I wouldn’t eat that.
Caesars are supposed to have romaine, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I got the Caesar salad and it’s all iceberg. It was terrible. I had like a bite of it and just threw it out. I’ll probably never get the salad again.
Also, the mac and cheese. The mac and cheese at Six Flags is probably the worst mac and cheese I've ever seen. I'm talking worse than school cafeteria mac and cheese, worse than fast food mac and cheese. There's no cheese. It's like this powdery pasty orange stuff covering noodles. I mean, it's freakish looking.
How is this changing your lifestyle? It seems like a lot of work to orient your schedule around regularly going to Six Flags.
I actually cook at home mostly and try to eat fruits and vegetables and avoid processed foods, so this has been a really big change for me. I do work full-time, and I don’t work on weekends, so since the park is only open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays right now, my weekends have been 50 percent… this.
Weekends are easy, because I can wake up and get there as soon as they open and then sprint to concessions at the back of the park before everybody else. But on Fridays, they don't open till 6pm. So everybody's off work. They want to do something so they go out and the park just gets slammed and there's these crazy lines. Sometimes it can be really efficient. Sometimes I can easily get in and out with my two meals plus the snack. But then one Friday, it took me six hours to get one meal. I was stuck just in my parking space for two full hours.
Next year, when it’s open full-time, I am hoping to be able to get there and be back before my lunch break is over and then go again for the other meal after work is over.
I'm hoping it doesn't consume my life, but I think it might. But I would definitely stop or alter my approach if I started seeing negative health effects. A lot of people on TikTok suggested that I get a baseline checkup with a cholesterol reading and stuff, so I'm probably going to do that, and maybe get a quarterly check up to make sure I’m not dying. I love Morgan Spurlock and Supersize Me was fascinating, but I think he needed more exercise—he didn’t live on fast food right. I'm trying to actually be somewhat healthy while doing the same thing.
Is there any part of you that’s worried about Six Flag catching on to your scheme?
Six Flags corporate? I don’t know—with the amount of money they take in per day, I can’t imagine they could care. Also, I feel like it’s gotta be good publicity for them, because the whole angle of the experiment is how valuable the pass is. To me, it's a decent amount of value, but to them I feel like I'm a drop in the bucket for what I'm getting out of this.
Have you ever done anything like this before—exploiting other loopholes?
I’m fascinated by extreme couponing. Whatever the part of your brain it is that loves that stuff, it’s in my brain. But on the spot, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s been other times in real life where I’ve exploited something like this. “Exploit” has a bad connotation, right? But it almost feels grimy to even go this far.
OK, last thing. Why did you make a TikTok about the fact that I requested to interview you?
I’m a pretty private person so this is all kind of foreign to me. I wanted to see what others thought. TikTok mostly said no, but my IRL friends on Facebook mostly said YOLO.