Hey everyone, figured I'd get around to writing out some of my trip reports, so here is my first visit to SFMM from 6/17/2021.
I started my day at 2am in Denver to catch my 6am flight to LAX, and once getting there I immediately headed to get my car rental (via Midway Car Rental, would recommend for the cheap price). This was my first time in LA and essentially the first thing I really did here was get in a car and deal with it's infamous traffic, which fortunately wasn't too bad. Took about 50min to get to Valenica, where I ate breakfast and then joined the car line at about 9:45am. Got into the park itself about 10:20am, which was a breeze with the membership entrance, where I finally got my membership card (after having it for about 13 months), and was able to get my Platinum FP, dining plan, and member bottle set up before official opening at 10:30.
With such a fast-paced morning, I had to take a second just for the surreal reality of actually being at this park, after learning about it, playing it in RCT2, and seeing videos, trip reports, & footage on the internet over the last 15 years. Throughout my day I must say that I thought the park looked fairly nice, with no notable thoughts of trash or uncleanliness. Nothing was as well landscaped as say, BGW, but I certainly wasn't expecting that, and I thought just about everything at least looked presentable. Rides were all well staffed, whereas food stands were not, which resulted in reasonable ops for the former and 30-60min lines throughout the day for the latter. I ended up getting my meals from the dining plan at the very end of the day and still waited about 15min, and fortunately was able to get both at once, as I took one meal back to my hotel. Only ate my snack during the actual day, which were some average nachos, and I got them during a power outage that lasted about 40min in the afternoon (only took down the rides). The Flash Pass on my phone worked super well, arguably better than the watches, and I appreciated having a full minutes + seconds countdown. Even with Platinum level, I "only" got 28 rides in about 10.5 hours (compared to a best of 37 at SFFT in March), but I attribute that to it still being fairly busy, some rides still having a 15+min wait after even being merged in at the FP entrance, not stellar ops, and the park being so massive. Unfortunately, Apocalypse was closed, likely due to staffing as we discussed here.
As with my SWSA review a while back, I'll review the rides in the order which I rode them, and rate them via their rank in my current coaster count (which was nicely boosted after this visit):
Viper - 8x
Oh boy, y'all are in for an Arrow fanboy review (which you may recognize from reddit), so be prepared. Viper has been an icon of my growth as a roller coaster enthusiast since I got "into" coasters at eight years old, when I learned about it in the very first roller coaster book my family got me. I can still picture in my head the aerial photo of the ride, oddly opposite a description of the Coney Island Cyclone . It is arguably Arrow Dynamic's finest looping coaster, and with Arrow's significant legacy, as well as plenty of their rides I grew up with (ex. Silverwood's Corkscrew was my first inverting coaster), it's no shock I became an fanboy & that Viper has long been held by me as THE ride to get to. Having a recreation of the ride (and park) in RCT2, as well as growing up alongside footage of coasters on YouTube (of which TPR was the prominent channel), it all definitely promoted my interest in this ride. I watched as GASM & Vortex got torn down this past decade, leaving Viper as the last of its era, and at 31 years old, it's years are numbered. It's the main reason that drew me to finally get out to Magic Mountain as soon as I was able to, and fortunately my birthday this year worked fantastically.
For me, it definitely lived up to the hype. The sheer scale of this ride (188ft is nothing to scoff at even three decades later), it's presence with the wonderful Arrow anti-rollbacks on the lift, it's loud rumble, and how well it fits into it's desert-ish setting creates such an imposing atmosphere. That drop is steeper than it looks, and it just twists and plummets you towards the ground. It hold such much speed as it flies up into that first vertical loop, which provides plenty of positive G's while being super high off the ground at the same time. The first trim doesn't feel like it slows the train very much, and then you kind of clunk into the high bank and absolutely barrel around the 180° curve. The next two loops are just insane with the positive G's, and definitely keep your head back or the G's will do it for you. The rise and then leveling-off into the MCBR provided a strong airtime pop towards the front of the train, and a good floater pop even towards the back. From here, the system wasn't very consistent on how much it slowed the train, which provided very different experiences in the second half. If it slowed you down only a little, you belted around the following curves, with more positive G's in the batwing and even some in the corkscrews, and flew into the final breaks. If it slowed you a lot, you more leisurely traversed the remainder of the course, with hangtime in the inversions instead, and a more casual slide into the breaks.
In terms of smoothness, I benefit from being at a good height (6'0") where I both have my head above the restraints, but am not too tall to where I didn't fit comfortably into the seats. They're definitely more spacious cars than older versions, such as Sidewinder or Demon at CGA. It's not going to be a smooth ride, more clunky than anything, but if you thought it was unbearably rough, I implore you to ride literally anything at Elitches and get back to me, lol. There wasn't any huge jolts or jackhammering, things that are more present on rides like SLCs, and that's good news to me as those kinds of roughness aren't well fixed by vest restraints (in comparison to headbanging). I think if the park thought they could get more life out of the structure and decided to put the newer Vekoma trains on it, it'd ride very similarly to Blue Hawk at SFOG (rode last month so I have a decent idea how it feels), and would help shorter & taller riders enjoy it more too. I know Viper's current roughness is still too much for some people, but I definitely don't think it's dreadful as some have made it out to be.
Overall, I absolutely LOVE this ride. It's my Arrow fanboy dream finally realized, and I'm very happy I got to ride it. I'm unsure how much longer it has, but I'd say maybe even expect another 4-5 years out of it. I doubt SF is going to want to spend the money on a ride that can replace that plot for a few more years, and it's still decently popular. In what I heard from non-enthusiast guests around me, probably just as many people said they liked it (in terms of "insane" or "awesome") as people who complained it was rough, and some even did both, lol. I think part of the reason it has a short line, aside from being older/rougher than many of its park siblings, is that it's one of the easiest/fastest coasters to load, as seatbelts and more-complex harnesses really slowed down other rides in comparison during my visit. I'll be back in August for some more rides, and I'll be grateful for every one I get on Viper. #5 of 88.
New Revolution - 2x
I don't have as many Schwarzkopfs in my credit list as I'd like, and the world's first modern vertical looping coaster sure was a nice add. My two rides stemmed from the ops accidentally mis-parking the train somehow, in which the front car was jutted past where they could released the restraints, so literally had to go around again! This is such a simple & fun ride, and a great first looping coaster for anyone. Aside from the solid G's in the loop itself and the two harsh trim moments, I'd even call the ride relaxing. It's amazing how these Schwarzkopfs are still so smooth and provide that classic feel after so many decades. The powerful loop is clearly the best part, and I also appreciated the upward helix before it, as well as riding so close to the terrain in the turns after it. Those new trains are pretty comfy, and overall the ride was a pleasant experience. #64 or 88 [Don't worry, anything 70 and lower on my current list is where you get to actual "meh" rides]
Full Throttle - 1x
This ride was my first thrilling launch coaster that has a full, 0-to-Max-Speed launch (as opposed to a swing launch or Arrow shuttle loop launch), and I was very satisfied with getting some proper launch power. That loop has such fantastic hangtime and a great upside-down view, and then I loved being flinged up the hillside into that dive loop, which actually had some decent G's (my one ride was very back row). The reverse launch also had some kick and the dive loop backwards switched from good G's, to hangtime, & back to good G's, and the subsequent booster launch was more of a short shove. The top hat was cool with great airtime coming off of it into the breaks. I understand why people want this to have been longer, but it's still good for what it is, and definitely a smooth, short, intense ride. #27 of 88.
X2 - 1x
Probably my second most anticipated ride after Viper, I only wish I could have ridden more than once (Even Platinum is limited to one ride), but lucked out with a front-row placement. I took the inside seat, per most guest's recommendations, and thought the comfort of the trains wasn't bad. The surreal moment for this hit me on the lift when getting that fantastic view of the park, knowing what to expect but also about to experience it for the first time. I kinda thought the lift was gonna be longer then it actually was, and cresting the top & sliding up into the harness was such a precursor "oh sh*t" moment before the actual one..
Flipping to face that 215ft, essentially vertical drop, while looking straight down was absolutely the biggest "OOH SH*T" moment I've ever had on any coaster, and I'll have that view burned into my brain forever. Picking up speed going down, then flipping fully and pulling out at the base of the drop kinda blurred together with such speed and intensity. The first raven turn is so weird with the angle you're held at as you slow over the top, and then barrel downwards into a heck of back-flip-times-mid-sized-hill combo. Turning around in that giant 180* is definitely the only breather moment. Fly-to-lie was so cool and had the fire effect working, which you can feel that heat for sure! The final raven turn was so weird as the track just rotates out from underneath you, and then twisting into the brakes was one last blast of craziness to finish you off.
My ride wasn't very rough at all, but that of course benefited from my seating position, and I could tell that further back would probably be shakier along with crazier. Something I found amazing was how, in the front, you could tell the pure momentum those massive trains had as they pushed you along. X2 was truly berserk and I NEED to try it again when I go back. #3 of 88.
Tatsu - 2x
The original king of flying coasters was also highly anticipated, as I had just ridden S:UF at SFOG in May, but before that hadn't ridden a flying coaster in over a decade. This thing is so interesting as, overall, it absolutely puts the S:UF experience on steroids, yet the drop and first three elements of the ride are so graceful. That drop, first two inversions, and overbank are just prime flying coaster experience, with smooth transitions and incredible views. Then, the fast low turn after the overbank is like warning shot of what's to come, with a surprising jolt of intensity. Building up to the pretzel loop was yet another "Oh Sh*t" moment, and then front flipping into it turns this ride from a graceful experience to a downright scary one.
That pretzel loop is probably the most intense single element I've ever been through, with what felt like the most positive G's too. Even with knowing what it'd be like after S:UF, it almost freaked me out just how much more powerful this one felt. I barely remember the following inline-twist, and even the turn-around over the entrance plaza, as that was all just recovery from the loop. I'd almost say that this coaster may be one of the most wearing in the whole park with how I just needed to take it slow from that one moment of intensity, but of course I got right back through to ride again. Certainly a varied, but amazing, coaster. #13 of 88.
Gold Rusher - 1x
Not too much to say, other than a fun family attraction. Definitely 1971 jerky, but nothing too bad. I liked how much of terrain coaster it is, and it's the epitome of a 50 year old mine ride. I think it's clearly underwhelming to a lot of the park's thrill-focused clientele, but was such a good fit for the family market, and I'm glad their keeping this classic piece of their history around. #71 of 88.
Ninja - 1x
My first Arrow suspended coaster, and it was a very good time. I was impressed with how much you actually do feel the swinging. Throughout the long ride experience, it does keep a balance of casual swinging up higher on the hill, and then some more intense sweeping moments lower by the water. Another attraction that I'd say is really good for families, with this, Gold Rusher, and New Revolution being great larger rides for that market at this park. Need to get back on it for more. #51 of 88.
Superman: Escape from Krypton - 2x
I didn't expect to get two rides on this, but it actually had a very short wait, with my second ride essentially walking up to the rows inside. I know Full Throttle's first launch has more kick, but this definitely has my favorite launch so far. With how people rag on it, I didn't think it'd be as powerful as it was, and it is just crazy to be accelerating backwards faster and faster and faster.. then some good G's as you rip up the tower. Did third row & front row, and both were nuts with how high up you get looking straight down. Almost lost my membership lanyard when riding in the front with the combo of wind and then sustained zero-G! The car made it up into the red on basically every ride I rode or saw during my visit. Looking forward to trying the forwards side if that's open on my return! 18 of 88.
West Coast Racers - 1x
Though I still have a bit of a hard time figuring out exactly where this coaster fits into the park's lineup with already having Full Throttle and Twisted Colossus, it did provide a very different experience from those coasters and was an absolute blast. The high-five element on both sides provided great airtime, and the stall and subsequent hill on the white track were great. Yellow side at that portion didn't do too much but was cool on either side to be able to look up and see the other train above/below you. Booster launches felt very similar to Full Throttle's. Corkscrews were kinda graceful on either side, and I understood what people are saying when they say the following figure-eight helix was more intense on the yellow track. There's a tiny bit of float in the little bunny hop before the final corkscrew, and both sides end strong with some speed into the breaks.
I don't really have a preferred side, as I though the white track had the better first segment while the yellow track had the better latter segment, and both were a ton of fun. Doing both sides in the same ride helped it feel really complete. The "show" sequence while you wait between circuits is decent, and keeps the energy up until it - get this - just stops and goes silent after a certain period of time. I thought it was a bit weird that they didn't just loop it until the next dispatch, lol. "Comfort" callers weren't as noticeable on this as they are on Tempesto, and though I do think these Premier trains are pain to get into, they're not bad once you're finally sitting. WCR is a great ride and is very popular with the public, so I guess a win for the park in my book. #23 of 88.
Goliath - 1x
This imposing coaster, I thought, was a really good ride. The couple airtime-focused hypers I've ridden absolutely slam it in my rankings, but knowing what to expect here, I enjoyed my experience. I appreciate the huge scale of this coaster, and the views from its height are pretty (especially with the area's surrounding hills). The drop was decent being in the back car, trading off a steeper angle & airtime for an extended sensation of plummeting towards the ground. Ripping through the tunnel at 85mph was cool, and the height of the second hill is still crazy tall. The speed hill definitely had speed, as well as the teeny tiniest feeling of floater, as if they designed it to have 0.1G so you'd actually get zero-G if you were getting a fast ride, lol. Climbing into the MCBR slam went as expected, and fortunately we didn't come to a total stop.
The following swooping turns were fun, and then you get to that helix. Not as strong in feeling as Tatsu's pretzel loop, but definitely sustained, and I actually experienced a bit of "graying out" right in the last second of it. Then more sweeping turns into the breaks. What I really like about Goliath is still a certain fascination of it being a big a**, fast coaster, as well as nostalgia tied in from RCT2. One day I'd like to wait it out for front row, but not sure my next visit will be it. #35 of 88.
Twisted Colossus - 3x
My third RMC I-Box behind IRat and Twisted Cyclone, and it really is a top-tier coaster. What I gotta give props to this coaster over those and the raptors is the huge length of this ride (didn't realize it'd be my current second longest coaster behind Raging Bull), even in just talking about the prime sections. The bunny hops leading up to the lift, as well as both sides of the lift, are great anticipation builders. Both drops off the lifts are fantastic, and reminded me of slightly larger versions of Twisted Cyclone's drop, since all have that twist in the middle. The speed hills had a nice air pop but really lead into what I thought were the best, most sustained air moments of the ride, being the first hills of the big turnaround. Even in the back, these hills had such incredible sustained ejector. High-five element was fun, with of course the green track being better with the outwards twist, and I loved the air on the blue side's drop off the turnaround over the green's double down.
Blue's speed hill and sustained hill are great, and green's inverted stall was just STELLAR, being the first of those elements I'd done. Blue's zero-G roll is out-of-your-seat in renowned RMC fashion, with green getting another solid air pop underneath it. Both double ups are strong, and then blue's outer bank is very forceful, while green gets another pop into the breaks. This coaster, by a large margin, has the most airtime of any coaster I've ever been on, and my thighs certainly felt that with those RMC restraints. Probably should have had less stuff in my cargo pockets, lol. Twisted Colossus has firmly slotted into the second best coaster I've been on, behind Iron Rattler. As much as this coaster is longer and has more airtime, I found IRat's setting, comfort of the trains, drop, and sustained moments to edge it out. #2 of 88.
Riddler's Revenge - 2x
I hadn't been on a stand up since Iron Wolf (the namesake when I made this account in middle school) a decade ago. Unfortunately didn't get to ride Georgia Scorcher in my visit last month, so I'd all but forgotten what the experience was like, and I was excited to try it out again. Riddler's is a birth year twin of mine, having both of us turned 23 this year (me on the day I rode it, lol). I got both a front and back row ride, and I loved it. I found that if I can balance the narrow spot between slightly crouching and standing up straight (which was difficult with that long boarding process), I didn't experience any discomfort from the bike seat nor trying to be in that crouching position the whole ride. Definitely understand how hard it is to make that work and why people don't like it. The stand up position is interesting and fun due to the vulnerability of it, and if my feet didn't hurt so much from walking around all day already, I'd probably have really loved it.
As for the ride itself, it's a forceful B&M looper with a unique layout, so lots of good to appreciate. The tops of the first three inversions all had a bit of float in them, and the inclined loop was an odd angle for sure. Both corkscrews had some wonderful whip, and the hill following the first one had a slight bit of float in the front. I think this is a great ride as is, but personally may be even better as a floorless. Who knows, haven't been on Rougarou to see if that turned out well. Riddler's has a good long ride, fun inversions, decent themeing, and above all else, a killer B&M roar. #20 of 88.
Batman: The Ride - 1x
With just one ride, this is my favorite BTR. Don't know if it was just the tired and heat, but my one front row ride felt more powerful than the back on either of the San Antonio pair I rode in March. These are always good, solid rides with wonderful pacing, and with an SLC as my local invert, I'll never complain about coming across one of these. Didn't get to ride the one at SFOG & I hear these two are considered the most intense, and I'll be back at both parks in August, so I'll have to see how a back row ride on each compares. #29 of 88.
Scream! - 1x
While it's no Superman Krypton Coaster, I still really enjoyed my back row ride on Scream. It's rattly, it's a parking lot coaster, and it has no real theme, but it's still a large B&M floorless looper and better than anything we have in Denver. There's some good G's throughout the first half, a bit of float at the top of the dive loop, the zero-G roll is not far behind SKC's in terms of whip & float, and solid inversion-based coasters are always fun to me. It should probably be sent to another SF park, but in the mean time, I had a lot of fun. #36 of 88.
Lex Luthor - 1x
My favorite drop tower so far. 400ft up is no joke and the view is amazing. That drop definitely does on for a while and you can feel that crazy 90mph.
I thought I was going to add pictures, but this essay of a review is long enough, and lagging my poor internet browser. To really finish off, I had an unreal, fantastic time getting out to SFMM for the first time. Looking forward to going back, and hope you enjoyed my thoughts!