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Photo TR: BACT in the Bay Area


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Seems like a new tradition that every year over Labor Day we head out to California. Last year we went to San Diego and had an awesome time, and this year we expected the same by going out to the Bay Area. Of course, we went out mainly for the beer (see the beer thread for that), as none of the coasters or parks seemed that exciting, but we did need some coaster credits afterall.


After arriving on Saturday, our first stop (after beer) was Gilroy Gardens, what used to be known as Bonfante Gardens until Cedar Fair decided to change the name. I wasn't expecting much from the park, but it's really freaking beautiful. It's probably as close to a European park as you can get in America; beautiful gardens, winding paths, and just overall relaxing rides for the family.


and I'll leave you with more waterfalls. As you can probably see, this is just a really cool little park, not super thrilling, but very laid back and fun. It's as close to a European park as Americans can get without trying to get a passport! Next stop, Santa Cruz...


another circus tree


Giant Shroom Swing!


very European, a spinning raft ride, just mellow and wandering around with different topiaries to look at. This turned out to be the longest line of the visit!


Spinning garlic ride!!


another Circus Tree


Spinning artichoke ride!


Heath and Kim enjoy the tranquil sounds of Bonfante Falls


another Circus Tree, this one actually molded around the kids play structure


both the monorail and the train also go thru the building


we didn't see any butterflies, but there were plenty of pretty flowers, water gardens, and benches to just relax on


part of the park path requires you to walk thru the butterfly exhibit


and some crazy rascals of raccoons playing with TNT


That coaster being a Morgan mine train, Quicksilver Express; now with video onride


Heath's all "yo, help me find the exit, we got another coaster to ride here!"


I crawl thru a tunnel in search of the exit from the maze


Very Europeanish, a Rock Maze


Lots of kids chilling out on the lake in their swans


This be a Circus Tree, it's all modeled and stuff




With nobody around, we decided to take the front seat. (we're usually nice credit whores and save that for the kiddies)


First ride of the trip, Timber Twister, just a medium sized Tivoli with a big ole snake


There are trash cans, but they don't have CF logos on them, and there aren't 600000 of them either, there are just enough


But walking inside it already has become beautiful. Trees everywhere, even coming out of the bridges. Are you sure this is a Cedar Fair park??


The entrance plaza isn't that fancy, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot


Welcome to the newly named Gilroy Gardens, home of garlic and Circus trees

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Much like Hersheypark, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is celebrating the big 100 this year. I kept hearing how great this place was, but then again, some Californians claim SFMM and Knotts are great, so I usually take that with a grain of salt. Turns out they were right this time around! The park has a great feel to it, has 2 ok coasters and 1 fantastic one, a few cool darkrides, other classic things, and some modern stuff too. This is one time I definitely agree with the Golden Ticket Awards, as this really is the best seaside park out there. Just such a different feel from the stuff in Maryland and New Jersey.


and I'll leave you with one final shot of Giant Dipper. Day 2 coming soon


SCBB also has a carousel in which you can grab the rings. Even though the outside horses moved up and down, the thing went so slow you could grab like 3 rings at a time. And no brass ring, the object was to get it in the clowns mouth. And the thing went half empty every cycle because everyone only wanted to ride on the outside horses. Give me Knoebels anyday!


Heath's a big Sally fanboy


Ghost Blasters was one of them Sally shooting darkrides, and this one also was really done up nicely. I found it easier to hit the targets than on some of their other ones


Cave Train was really neat, with excellently done scenes. Much better than the junk at Wildwood or that horrid Garfield's Nightmare at Kennywood. Just plain fun and cute




Final credit of the day, Sea Serpent


We didn't have time to go on the log flume, but it looked really long and fun


Fireball, sweet!


After a fun tunnel, a trainful of happy riders gets ready to take the plunge


Totally different design from Belmont Park's Giant Dipper, this one is awesome


Even though it has the evil Morgan trains, this ride is filled with thrills, fun, and airtime. The only thing odd was the loading/unloading


Giant Dipper, the best woodie in California, IMO


Heath and Kim enjoyed it, especially the cameo from Emperor Palpatine


I've never heard anything about this darkride, but it was really nicely themed all throughout


Overall not a bad ride, love that 2nd drop of twisting doom


Here I am, rock you like a Hurricane!


Parts of the pier and the Double Shot (which you can hardly see because it blends in with the sky so well) :p


There be the Pacific Ocean


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, celebrating 100 years

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Great America was the last Paramount park that we had to visit, and we kept putting off coming here figuring that the following year they'd add some amazing new coaster. Well, that never happened, so we finally said "screw it, let's go!" So when a new coaster sprouts up next year, you have us to thank


Great America wasn't a bad park, but it's really funny when you compare it to SFGAm. Years ago they were pretty much identical, but yet they got separated. One chain realized the parks potential and built it up to be one of the best in the chain, the other constantly neglected it and treated it like it's red-headed step child, just throwing in mediocrity here and there. It would kind of like be having twins where both parents died, one child went to live with a rich aunt who always wanted to have children and treated him with love and money, where the other child went to live with Uncle Cletus and Aunt Sally Jo at the trailer park and their 8 children and treated him as just another mouth to feed when he whined enough. It's really sad when the most popular and best coaster at the park was added 14 years ago and enthusiasts in the area are so desperate for a coaster that they start counting flatrides.


Local BACT members Rick, Gwyndolyn, and Kevin would meet up with us for the day to make sure we had fun.


Goodbye old Stealth area. Next up, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom!


If the chicken is so famous, why haven't we heard about it before??


another cool ride I didn't know they still had, a Bayern Curve, inside a barn!


Time 12:43 I don't know if it's the trains or what, but this thing was beyond slow, boring, and painful. The only redeeming quality the ride had was the shaded trees inside the structure we could sit at to wait for the rest of our party


Time 12:38 ;)


Time 12:34...


So odd how it's a mirror image of Kings Dominions, yet it's so terrible and slow!


Heath and Kim say "we're scared Rick, we don't wanna ride the Grizzly"


finally, we saw it running. Time to ride one of the worst woodies on the planet! We're so excited!


Oooh! flyers, another ride I forgot they had


We decided to take the skyride and got this shot of Vortex. Would have been better with a train in the shot, but either people were smart enough to not ride, or they were taking forever to load and dispatch


The finally over the lake was actually really neat


Zero G roll!


What is up with Great America and having no coverings over any of their stations??


This coaster is just lots of turns and height changes, though it's short. What Top Gun has to do with New Orleans, I have no idea...but then again, what does Superman have to do with New Orleans either!


mmmm, loop. Sadly the ride only has 3 inversions, but at least it's old school and has forces


Best ride in the park, Top Gun


We were going to ride Delirium, until we realized it was just the Chance Morgan Revolution and not a Huss Giant Frisbee


Spongebob themed breakdance! The park had quite a few old style flats still, that was pretty cool


Bubba and I get ready to ride. Bubba says "I used to fit much more comfortably when this was my first coaster ride ever"


It actually had a pretty cool layout for a kiddie coaster, with great effects on the first drop


Best Intamin coaster in the park!


Runaway Reptar, a kiddie coaster adults can actually ride without a kid


Moving on to one of the kiddie areas, we pause until the geyser stops shooting out anti-Dan spray


Everyone is baffled by Arrow finally using banked turns on a ride that shouldn't have banking


Back to whoring, next up the Psycho Mouse, still no wait yet on one of Arrow's last designs


Drop Zone was running great. Perfect height to actually enjoy it. The skyride was running too, I didn't even know they had one.


The men do their best to show who is a survivor. I think I won because I had the Eye of the Tiger (and lots of beer, tacos, and bbq the night before)


Funny how at Kings Island it's a kids ride, but here it's an extreme thrill ride


Rick tried to explain what was supposed to happen, but I don't think it did. We spun a lot and got airtime, it was fun, but NOT A COASTER


It's one of those Zamperla super disko things with a bunny hill


We took some time off of credit whoring to ride their newest ride, Survivor


Obligatory loop shot. I think I'm getting looped out


Invertigo was operating (supposedly a rarity) and had no line, so we made our way over there. Not too hard when it's right across from Demon


Grizzly in all it's infamy would have to wait, it wouldn't open until 12.


It was cool how they had the music on in the tunnel before the lift, but I was sad the lights didn't work in the tunnels. Love the headchoppers entering into the corkscrews though!


2nd ride of the day was credit 666 for me, what better choice than Demon


The airtime before the corkscrew was the most painful for the boys


It's old school B&M standup, meaning it's kinda brutal


First ride of the day would be Vortex, right at the front of the park


This seems familiar, now Paramountless


The entrance plaza is nice and big, and bravo for them setting up the metal detectors BEFORE you give your ticket to get in


Here we are at Great America, still Paramounting at the front

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Our final park on the trip was one I visited last year while out for a conference in San Francisco, only this year it got a new name and some new theming as Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. While it may appear the park is trying to be more animal driven, it really didn't seem any different this year than last year as Six Flags Marine World. Sadly, this would also be the first Six Flags park we've been to this year that was acting more like the old Six Flags we all remember. The park was supposed to open at 10:30, but didn't really open until 10:40 because they made us stand and watch the opening ceremonies. Why they couldn't start this at 10:20, I have no idea. Then upon opening, the only coaster that was running was Medusa. Kong and Roar wouldn't open until 11:30, V2 until 12, and the Boomerang until like 12:15. I guess they really want you to go to the whale show and stuff! Still, we managed to get everything done in a timely manner, and we were pleased with what animal stuff we saw.


and I'll finish this off with a shot of the screwed up but very cool V2.1. No more updates, post away!


Fairwell good Roar, I'll be sure to say hi to your older twin and other siblings back East


The front stage was pretty cool, they'd bring out different animals from time to time and talk about them. Here's a porcupine


Score, it's running. Time to ride it and run!


Back to "The Land" to see if we can ride the Boomerang yet


Heath checks out the guide to Six Flags rides. Kinda cool for enthusiasts who travel, showing all the rides in the chain, not just the coasters


Lamest splash ever! But at least it was running on this hot day, unlike the rapids!


For killing Steve Irwin, you will spend the remainder of your life at Six Flags.

"Nooo!!! I didn't mean it, it was an accident, I swear! Please don't sentence me so harshly"


"Jahan, where are you?"


Dolphins chilling in the pool


I just love these rides!

Heath and Kim be riding in row 2


Oooh, V2.1 is running now too, score!


This one is so much better than the one at SFA, and I think it's all because of the trains, sorry PTC


The gang enjoys their ride on the first Millennium Flyer trains


Yay, Roar is running with people. Time to ride the 2nd best woodie in California


New signs to the "sea" section of the park. Why the whale and dolphin stadiums aren't in the Sea area, I have no idea.


Coolest themed flat ever, so says SharkTums


yay, turtle!


and a long line formed for the unopened Boomerang, but Kim and Gwyn inspected it, and there were no ops in the station, so we left for now


Shouka be the whale's name


me: "Um, Rick, I know Heath and Kim need this credit, but why are WE riding it?"

Rick: "because we're good friends, or because if we ride this again, we can pretend we rode it at Opryland and count it again?"

Me: "sounds good to me!"


Still, we saw them doing testing on it, so we figured we'd wait it out now instead of actually having to wait for an SLC


Kong, with its new entrance also being the exit, but being closed for the moment


speaking of cobras


World's only Sea Serpent element, kinda cool and not as jarring as cobra rolls


um, yeah, loop. Tallest in the world??? I think not


I'll give it to the crew this time, they were actually hustling, unlike last year's visit


Down the drop into the parking lot theming


Greek temple with snakes, seems much more fitting to me!


Medusa, with appropriate theming, not some dumb story about being locked up in a mine in the old west


This update brought to you by cameltoe


Some work going on over at V2, maybe it'll run today for Heath and Kim


Medusa completes its morning testing as a giraffe awaits Wes' visit


Hello old Zonga station, maybe next year you'll be used for a spinner!


a look at the park from the parking lot across the lake.


The newly named Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's new entrance sign

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I've barely seen pictures of Gilroy Gardens. It seems awesome in terms of family parks and those Circus Trees have to be the craziest trees I've ever seen. It's like what Cypress Gardens wishes to be, only with landscaping instead of carny rides.


ParaKnott's Great America, still a pretty decent park, just needs a "real" new coaster (Survivor doesn't count).


Six Flags Discovery Kingdom still looks like a wonderful Six Flags park, despite your report of the park operating like the old Six Flags. Looks like you and your crew had an awesome time still.


Great pictures.

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Very nice TR man! I get to relive my NorCal trip (I was up there for my birthday). Some of my friends and I hit the Boardwalk and SFDK on the 27th and 28th of August. I have to agree with you on the Boardwalk, its just awesome! Giant Dipper has by far exceeded my expectations. SFDK was a nice surprise for us and Roar! is pretty kick ass as well. Glad your buddies got the V2.1 credit. I didn't when I went, but all the more reason to go back.

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Great overview, Derek.


While at the west coast Great America for the first time in 2000, it was an almost spooky experience as I too had visited the Gurnee version many times prior to that. Everywhere I looked, I kept trying to compare the two parks. Funny that even under different management, they got lots of similar rides (B&M inverted, B&M stand up, Vekoma inverted boomerangs in different sizes, etc.)


Perhaps the biggest bonehead move made at Great America was the removal of their train. As you probably saw, the front berm where the hometown square station is at SFGAm was leveled and is now home to the Zierer Wave Swinger (which came from Carowinds).


Many of the park's coasters had custom supports incorporated into their designs to allow for the train tracks to pass under them. Your photo of Vortex from the skyride illustrates this perfectly, as you can see the old trackbed under the ride. Even Stealth had funky custom supports to allow the train to pass underneath, and less than 3 years later, both rides were no longer at the park! The supports can still be seen on Borg at Carowinds.


Biggest factors that have held back development/new coasters at Great America are:


a)Low height restrictions in most areas of the park due to the San Jose Airport being down the road.


b)Nasty corporate neighbours who the city of Santa Clara have to bend over to make sure are happy. The city of Santa Clara still owns the land that GA sits on, and leases it to the park operator (long term lease, and something in it that says the property *must* be used as a theme park). Without that guarantee, you know the park would have been swallowed up by the tech boom that was pretty much born out of the surrounding Silicon Valley. Heck, if not for Santa Clara stepping in to buy the park after Marriott got out in the mid '80s (they had no problem selling the Gurnee park), the west coast Great America would have bitten the dust long ago.



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It's not only that they are near the San Jose airport but also Moffett Air base. So basically they have an airport within a couple of miles to the north and south.


Didn't Great America actually get approval to build a 220ft Intamin hyper called rebel rocket (or something like that) seven or so years ago, only to have the Paramount chain decide against it at the last moment.


Talk about a rumor from the past...


Great TR, I'm glad to see you finally visited Nor Cal's best amusement park (SCBB) and hope that next time you come to visit there will be something more here.

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It's not only that they are near the San Jose airport but also Moffett Air base. So basically they have an airport within a couple of miles to the north and south.


Didn't Great America actually get approval to build a 220ft Intamin hyper called rebel rocket (or something like that) seven or so years ago, only to have the Paramount chain decide against it at the last moment.


I'm not so sure the Intamin coaster was anything more than rumor. It is for sure, however, that the original S&S Thrust Air launch coaster was slated to open at PGA in 2001, but for unconfirmed reasons (corporate neighbours IMO), Paramount opted to put the ride into PKD last second. Because the spot PKD chose for the ride was not able to accomodate the original configuration, S&S had to make last second changes to the ride's layout (actually shortening the track leading to the awkward track layout that Hypersonic has today).


Seems the Great America has pretty much free reign to do what they want on the eastern edge. It's the western edge (Grizzly-Demon-Whitewater Falls) side that borders those office buildings that the park has the hardest time working with (where the S&S coaster was slated to go).



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Ahoy! It was fun meeting up with you at the once promising and now declining Great America. The last time I rode Runaway Reptar was when it was called the Green Slime Mine Cart Coaster, and before that, when I originally rode it as my first roller coaster ever when I was like 8, it was the Smurf Coaster. Does that count as 3 credits?


I was interested to see how you liked the other parks you went to and I am glad you enjoyed them for the most part. When I asked you about Giant Dipper you kinda shrugged it off, but now I see that you liked it more than you led on. Yeah, I know, being the best woodie in California isn't saying much, but still, it's good! I also agree with SCBB being the best seaside park, though I haven't been to many... It just has a great atmosphere to it that can't really be explained on paper, but you guys really should have walked down the pier and stopped in at Marini's!


So you like Roar better than Ghostrider then? That makes me hopeful because when I was at KBF earlier this year I didn't like it much at all. It was quite rough and didn't have any airtime at all, we even gave it multiple chances from several different spots on the train at several different times of day. Oh well. I can't believe the golden tickets put it like #17 for best wooden coaster???

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I'm not so sure the Intamin coaster was anything more than rumor. It is for sure, however, that the original S&S Thrust Air launch coaster was slated to open at PGA in 2001, but for unconfirmed reasons (corporate neighbours IMO), Paramount opted to put the ride into PKD last second. Because the spot PKD chose for the ride was not able to accomodate the original configuration, S&S had to make last second changes to the ride's layout (actually shortening the track leading to the awkward track layout that Hypersonic has today).


Which is why PGA removed the train. Hypersonic was supposed to fly right over the old train station. I still remember the 2000 map that had a giant arrow pointing at that location and saying "Look for more thrills here in 2001!" Then I was all disappointed when it didn't happen. So in a scramble to do something with the County Fair station, they used it for the que for Psycho Mouse. They also now use the tunnel over by Demon for ride storage.


I've heard this before, but I don't know if it's true. See the circular plants? I've heard that those were going to be where the big footers were to be planted, but were changed to plants when the ride fell through. But I don't know that for a fact. It is in the right place.


PGA's Celebration Plaza

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Nice PTR Derek! I embarrasingly havn't been to the NorCal parks in over 5 years now (Zonga was new when I last went up there ), but I pretty much smack-dab agree with your views. Giant Dipper really is the best woodie in CA.


Thanks for the photos. I really should make it a priority to get up there sometime. Damn their bloody offseason!



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This was a great Photo TR. Last time I went to Discovery Kingdom was probably 4 or 5 years ago (when it was still Marine World). It's strange to see how much can change in a couple of years. I'd like to make a trip up to Vallejo some time. But still my homepark will always be Great America.


I agree with many other people on here that Great America needs a new "big coaster." With the "same ol, same ol," I'm starting to question whether I should get a season pass next year. I don't really care if it's gigantic or average sized, just something that's intense, and isn't family oriented like Survivor. Don't get me wrong. I love Survivor the Ride, but I want a coaster as thrilling as Top Gun.

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Didn't Great America actually get approval to build a 220ft Intamin hyper called rebel rocket (or something like that) seven or so years ago, only to have the Paramount chain decide against it at the last moment.


I remember that rumor. People started saying that it was originally going to be Hypersonic. If I remember clearly I believe screamscape's "sources" said it was going to be an Intamin rocket coaster and it was going to include a Stengel Dive similar to Goliath at Walibi World.


IMO that would've been awesome! Too bad it didn't happen.


Nice Photo TR BTW!

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I really am impressed with the selection of older rides at Great America.


And they stole our (Carowinds) swings too.


I'd give them back Borg to get our swings back.




Send it back immediately, put it in the footprint after they demolish Grizzly...

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