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Photo TR: Non-German Tom's California Adventure


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For those who noticed that I have been absent the last two weeks or so, I've been in SoCal and Las Vegas, seeing the sights and the sounds, and scoring a few credits. Before I dive right into the trip report, I wanna say thanks to Jimmy for putting me up at his place for a night, thanks to Don and Monica for putting up with me, thanks to Robb, Elissa & Jahan for introducing me to the wonder that is Mexican food, and giving me the survival guide for Six Flags Magic Mountain.


This trip, I managed to visit Pacific Park, Six Flags Magic Mountain, SeaWorld San Diego, Belmont Park, Leogland California, Knott's Berry Farm, the Disneyland Resort Parks, Universal Studios Hollywood, the big Las Vegas coasters, Castle Park and Scandia Amusement Park. I didn't bother with Adventure City or a return visit to Six Flags Magic Mountain, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest.


Here's a lazy person's page of contents:

Page 1: Getting to California

Page 2: Six Flags Magic Mountain

Page 3: Sea World, Mission Bay and Pizza Port!

Page 4: Legoland California

Page 5: Knott's Berry Farm

Page 6: Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure

Page 7: Universal Studios Hollywood, Las Vegas, Castle Park & Scandia


I'm glad to say that I learned a lot on my travels, and I'll put a few pointers in to what I learned about my first 36 hours in the States right here:


1. 11 hour flights are not fun. Especially on a Thursday when flights are busier. Even less fun when a few minutes before final approach in LAX, the sky is paramount to telling you that you're about to enter Hell.


2. Don't ever use use Heathrow's internet service. That alone will compel me to buy a laptop, out of spite for how useless it was.


3. I had been forever warned about California drivers, but nothing prepared me for the insanity of the roads out there. The drivers can't drive, the freeways are made of what appears to be reformed concrete, and just like in the UK, the lane on the right of the carriageway is the fastest! But once you drive aggressivley, freeway dodgems becomes quite entertaining.


If photos are blurry, I was jetlagged. Or my camera sucks. And since I own the copyright to all these images, Barry can't use them in a caption competition. Ever.


On with the photos...


Mmm, floater airtime! And Magic Mountain is up next.


Go Santa Monica Westcoaster! I heard that a guy called Jim named a website after it.


Oh yeah! I managed to get a quick credit in before I went to bed again.


One Mexican thing for Elissa, one Mexican thing for KidTums.


Ahh, now I remember!


What the hell is stuff? And how did I get here?


I spent most of the next day asleep, until I found myself in this place. Apparently they do this food called "Mexican".


Finally, I got to the hotel after 18 hours on the go.


It's dark, blurry, the plane might have been going thru turbulence, but that's Las Vegas damnit!


Still more DVT to endure...


A lot of the flight looked like this. Following the sunset for 9 hours was tiring.


Greenland. False advertising on a national scale!


That's Manchester again. Didn't I just leave there?


Time for the long haul flight to LAX. One of those planes has got to be mine...


Mmm, Royale with Cheese. I guess it could be worse.


But I was more interested in this shop.


Heathrow has its own jolly-jolly old England shop.


The TPR Hotel from the first night makes a welcome return!


...and into Heathrow!


...fly around Knutsford (Robb's Hotel not pictured)...


Time to say goodbye to Manchester...


Now what was that signature move of Mr. Ruth again?


Mmm, Bitter. Now that's a good breakfast!


9AM. First stop, the Derek Ruth Tribute airport bar!

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Heathrow has its own jolly-jolly old England shop.


But I was more interested in this shop.


Loved the caption, made me question what I have for lunch next time... soup is never a good idea when reading TPR.


Awesome PTR so far. Can't wait for the rest of it. And while Baja Fresh can't really be considered true Mexican food, it is, IMHO, the BEST gosh-darned wannabe-Mexican food anywhere! And compared to what I've discovered out here in lovely rrrr-Kansas, Baja Fresh is as authentic as it can get!

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Divv, I actually think Aberdeen was still worse than this! The plane had Cars, Talladega Nights, and Pirates of the Carribean to keep me sane and the car had a radio from the middle ages!


Nikki, your space is already saved as long as you get Jer to fly!


Erik, I'll be up all night getting the next set of pics up. Just gotta get back from work in a few hours!


I'm sure the California drivers were more scared of you Tom.


No, they were pretty crazy. But I've not stopped driving aggressivelysince I got back, so I'm scaring all the British drivers!

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The plane had Cars, Talladega Nights, and Pirates of the Carribean to keep me sane and the car had a radio from the middle ages!


Lucky you. Flying London->Toronto after the UK trip we were treated to Failure to Launch, Casanova, and Pride and Prejudice. I figured Keira Knightley might make the last one more bearable, but it was still terrible. (even without sound).


Looks like you had fun. Looking forward to the rest of the TR.

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10:1 odds that this PTR gets finished by april...


...any takers?


Oh, and LOL at the Santa Clarita Super 8, if hell has budget motels that must surely be the gateway.


And WTH was Elissa eating at Baja Fresh? Were those two bowls of cheese? I didn't know they had those! -runs off to Baja Fresh-



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^LOL! This one wasn't bad!


It was the nicer one away from Six Flags Magic Mountain along the Sierra Highway. It was great because everytime I used my camera's flashg it set the sprinkler system off!


Paul, the in-flight entertainment on the way back was pretty poor. The only good film was Chocolat which kept me sweet for a couple before I stretched out and got some rest.

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Oh, and LOL at the Santa Clarita Super 8, if hell has budget motels that must surely be the gateway.


I stayed in some one star dive a few minutes from LAX once that probably would have fit better. Took forever to find it because it just looked like some housing projects.

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I'm sure the California drivers were more scared of you Tom.


No, they were pretty crazy. But I've not stopped driving aggressivelysince I got back, so I'm scaring all the British drivers!


No change there then... Did you enjoy staring at the Matterhorn?

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I'm sure the California drivers were more scared of you Tom.


No, they were pretty crazy. But I've not stopped driving aggressivelysince I got back, so I'm scaring all the British drivers!


No change there then... Did you enjoy staring at the Matterhorn?


No. Not as much as you enjoyed staring at the whole of California Adventure.

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OK, so this is the big one. Ladies, gentlemen and KidTums, prepare yourself for the amazing, wonderful, magical, brilliant photo trip report from...


























...International House of Pancakes!


Oh yeah, I went to this place called Magic Mountain afterwards. Now apparently it's been talked about by teenage Californians and know-it-all minors as the best park in the world.


You'd never guess they were all wrong. Very wrong. X-tremeley wrong!!!


If truth be told, I wasn't expecting great things from the park. But even I in my white-bread world of highly efficient parks run by Tussauds, Disney and the like was completely shocked by the manner at how this park was run. This wasn't my first experience of Six Flags, I'd visited Over Georgia in March, and had got the place done in 3 hours flat, with a relatively busy park and surprisingly good operations. Sure trains stacked, but for less than a minute in all cases, which didn't bother me in the slightest. The staff were cellphone free, and all looked like they wanted to be there.


Now I don't know how that place has been doing since Shapiro checked how bad the situation really was two months after his first season in charge began, but Jahan wasn't joking in his earlier reports about Magic Mountain. Ride-ops on cell phones, six minute dispatches, or whenever they felt like it, sending empty trains around to clean up the vomit instead of wiping it down (Yes, that really did happen!), I couldn't believe what I was seeing.


The problem isn't helped by teenage boyz from da 'hood jumping line like their feet were on fire. And none of it is Shapiro's fault in the slightest. It's not his fault he inherited a park that bought sucess before it had earned it. If Shapiro could deny entry to anyone that he didn't like the look of, build a world class resort and change the name of Walt Disney's Magical Mountain, I'm sure that he would. But if he is ever going to clean up the mess left over by Premier, it will be nothing short of miraculous.


Don't get me wrong, it's not all doom and gloom. The park is very pretty, and some of the rides are very good. There's a special mention to the ride op who works on Canyon Blaster, as he was the only one who currently fits Shapiro's image of the park a being a family friendly place to go. Granted he didn't have to deal with any wannabe gansters from South Central Los Angeles (there were several busloads of them lining up before I got to the gates), but he was funny, helpful, and above all good at his job. Just the kind of person the park needs.


But with more ailments than their problem solving (and money) can remedy, Six Flags Mountain is only going to get worse before it gets better. If it gets better.


So before the photos, here's what I have learned today.


1. If you go to one place in Santa Clarita, go to the IHOP on Soledad Canyon Road. If you go to two, and you're bored after breakfast, try that Six Flags park with all those (broken) coasters. Get there very early, at least 30 mins before it opens. Run to X/Tatsu if they're open. If not, run to Deja Vu. If that's broke, do Superman. If that's broke and it's not too cold, do Ninja. If that's broke or it's too cold, do Riddler's Revenge. If that's broke, do Scream before someone throws up on it. And if you're running out of ideas now, just go to Batman. That was the only B&M there that ran problem free all day, and had a relatively short line. Also, Flash Pass is a must if you're going to try and do everything in a day.


2. Call the park prior to visiting and try and find out if there are any large groups attending. This will help calculate the amount of time you'll spend queueing, and watching out for line jumpers.


3. If you are planning to ride Tatsu soon, you've probably got a fortnight. After disembarking from Superman, Jahan and I were informed that the ride may need to be closed, as it is having structural issues on the the land that it is built upon, to put it formally. In short, it's kind of slipping off the hill. So hurry up.


4. Despite not appearing in any photos, Jahan was actually there as well as the night before. Don't worry dude, you'll be included next time!


Well, at least I wasn't the biggest kid on the ride! More Magic Mountain after I get food...is Robb still possessing me?




Hello, I'm Hammerhead Robb. I have no bones, because I'm made of cartilage! But at least I don't have to ride Canyon Blaster and look like a tool in doing so!


I'm too tall for Goliath Jr, but I can still whore myself on this ride!


Having no seatbelts on a hypercoaster would be even better if had actually any airtime!


No dead spots here. Well to be truthful, the whole ride was a dead spot. Expect maybe for that helix of death at the end.


And before you start, black humour isn't racist! So here's another nice arty shot of the drop while you calm down a bit more.


OK, for all you who didn't appreciate that rather black humour, that last comment was a joke! So here's a nice shot of Goliath to look at while you calm yourselves down.


For all the unused parking spaces, Scream was actually a great ride with no dead spots! If Six Flags could have at least tried to theme it it could be really great.


B&M don't make parking lots, but if they did, they probably be the best parking lots in the world.


But we're now seeing clearly for the Cobra Roll.


Here's the same loop, in Derek-vision!


Complete with Vertical Loop goodness!


And now it's time to check out Magic Mountain's preferred parking lot!


But Psyclone gets a really bad photo because its a really bad ride. But it's still better than Coaster Express!


Goldrusher was a little less fast, but still fun.


Time for more credits. Ninja was fast and fun.


Why is this shot even in the report? They'll never get a train that high!


Woah, now that actually looks quite high up! But I can assure you it's not.


Even Superman was squinting to see where the train was.


But this is about as high as it got. If you could zoom out, it's about halfway up. The Pepsi Max Big One goes higher than this!


We let her rest, and Jahan and myself hit Superman The Escape, for my tallest coaster ever, sort of.


Robb, watch out for your fingers! Luckily he told me later that she's like this whenever you disturb her sleep.


Meanwhile, Mother Goose was nesting her eggs, and resting after a hard day of posting on Theme Park Review.


If you're wondering why Robb Alvey Syndrome has taken me over and is controlling my hands while I write these, it's because I met up with him (and Jahan) after my early credit running. He was on a quest to find suitable lighting to film the birth of KidTu


"Because it's open, sir!" And it has been for most of the season. That's 2 down, 2 to go.


"And for desert, we call this dish Deja Vu Surprise". "So why do you call it that?" I asked.


Excuse me waiter, can I get some toast soldiers with that egg turn?


Enough of being starved. I want my Tatsu raw!


Mmm, that pretzel loop looks good enough to eat! Shame that Tatsu broke down within 10 mins of opening before I could take a bite.


Tatsu: Fly at the speed of fear, queue at the speed of the I-5 in rush hour!


So I was off like a prom dress at a frat party to the first coaster of the day.


These big lines just 15 mins before opening don't bode well for today.


Oooh, I can smell the RCT2 in this place already!


For fifteen dollar, Six Flags better love me long time.


Hello, my name is X! I have no gearbox, because I'm made of stuff that was dug out of the ground in Colonial times! Better next luck next time, but say hello to my sister ride at my sister Japanese park for me!


You'd never believe it but, I spent hours perfecting this shot of the plaque so it looks just so. Because you'd never believe it, I don't how I got my camera in shot too. But it looks cool.


Magic Mountain on the horizon! How many closed rides can you spot here?


NGT 1, Pancakes Nil!


This one's for Nikki: Fruit goes down my neck, goes right into my body, and makes me feel good!


And here it is, in all it's glory!


...because I was shaking for my Rooty Tooty Fresh N Fruity.


The breakfast sides didn't last long...


...to the best breakfast in Santa Clarita!


Well let's check my badass reflection on the bumper, then get in the car and drive...


Gooooooooooood Mooorniiing Super 8! Where shall we go today?

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Mmm, more Mountain!


And Bye Bye Scream. Next time you can break down instead of Riddlers Revenge. Please!!!


Bye Bye "WOW" sign that shows how close most of us will actually get to X before it costs too much to rebuild it after Tatsu slides off the mountain into Viper causing a domino effect and toppling onto X from a great height...


Bye Bye Goliath train doing about 1mph over the lift hill just like the bad woodie below you...


Bye Bye Colossus (which I did ride, but that's the best photo I got)...


And with that, it's time to leave. Bye Bye broken Arrow ride...


...I'll just go and get my Season Pass: The Ride credit instead!


*sigh* Poor Flashback. Very much dead as a dodo...


Which is more than can be said for this particular member of staff.


I did the decent thing and rode a B&M that acutally worked.


Even the freakin' Freefall was testing! Stupid Riddlers Revenge! Why have you broken down?!?!?!


But it wasn't good news. The ride closed for the rest of the day, and the Riddler will have to wait another year.


What do you mean it's broken? I haven't come all this way not to stand up through six huge inversions!!!


The Dark Knight does his best shadow pose.


Irrespective of theming (or lack of), any Batman B&M clone is a good one.


It was getting late, so time to finish up and leave this last chance saloon.


Hey first drop, weren't you about a foot higher up the hill this morning?


I couldn't turn down the chance to ride Tatsu one more time.


Viper's loops may be high up, but this one is high up and huge!


And here's another!


Here's a signature shot you can all enjoy.


Hey, at least this Arrow coaster works!


Time to lose my Arrow multi-looper virginity!


World's first modern vertical looping coaster...(you know the rest!)


It's time for Six Flags Magic Fountain! It's probably more magical and less likely to subside than the mountain.

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Nice photos I personaly liked the Superman pictures. By the way the hammerhead shark cartalidge joke came from my talking shark toy I got in 2001. Funny how things last that long.


Aha! So that's wher it comes from. I think Robb called me up at 6AM British Time a while back and woke me up with that talking Hammerhead Shark!


Superman looks really imposing from anywhere you can see it, but as with a lot of rides at Magic Mountain, it's a shame that the ride can't be used to its full potential.

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"no dead spots"



That was bad, you could see the bleach stain in that photo and everything.


Wicked awesome comments. Hopefully the sliding Tatsu is a result of the earth opening up to swallow that horrible horrible park.




Can't wait for more pictures...hopefully of food.



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