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I got a summer internship near San Francisco, so I will have an opportunity to visit several of California's best parks this summer. I had previously never left the Eastern time zone, so this was an entirely new experience for me.

Disneyland - Page 1

Disney's California Adventure - Page 1

Knott's Berry Farm - Page 1

Six Flags Magic Mountain - Page 1

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - Page 2

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - Page 2

California's Great America - Page 3

Alameda County Fair - Page 3

Waterworld California - Page 4

SeaWorld San Diego - Page 4

Belmont Park - Page 4

 

Since my internship didn't start until the day after Memorial Day, I decided to kick summer off with a tour of the southern California parks. My trip included Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. I'm going to begin with Disneyland. The Happiest Place of Earth definitely lived up to its billing and it turned out to be one of my favorite parks anywhere. The wonderful theming of the attractions combined with the difficult to describe Disney magic made my time at Disneyland memorable. The park had some amazing rides such as Indiana Jones, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain and all of the employees were extremely friendly. My lone criticism was how narrow and congested the pathways were, but I realize that the park doesn't really have the option to expand them. I was at Disneyland for two full days (a Wednesday and a Friday during their 24 hour celebration) and crowds were large, but manageable.

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This is one of the most iconic theme park entrances anywhere.

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The Indiana Jones Adventure turned out to be my favorite ride at the entire resort. I had high expectations since Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie and it didn't let me down.

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Indiana Jones used the same ride system as Dinosaur, but the ride seemed far smoother while still being wild and exciting. I especially loved the finale!

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I preferred the Orlando version due to the superior story, but this one was still one of the best flumes anywhere.

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Many coasters can trace their lineage to the Matterhorn. While old, the coaster was fast and quite wild. I preferred the Tomorrowland side since that one was faster and had a few more drops.

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I really wish I could have experienced Autopia before the guide rails were added since the layout was extremely long.

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The Mad Tea Party's cups were harder to spin than its Florida counterpart, but the ride was still fairly dizzying.

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Florida's Mr. Toad was one of my favorite rides when I was younger. I was eager to get behind the wheel of this one and it didn't let me down. The ride is far more intense than the typical dark ride thanks to the speedier turns and darker scenes.

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The Haunted Mansion is one of the best dark rides around. While it isn't scary, it is an extremely immersive and enjoyable experience.

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Walt appears taller than the castle...

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Big Thunder is the best mine train coaster I've been on. It has great turns and the finale is breathtaking.

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Best Disney characters ever.

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit is one of my favorite movies, so I really enjoyed Toontown.

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Basically everyone thought Gadget's Go Coaster was themed to Inspector Gadget. How can people not know about Gadget from Chip "n" Dale's Rescue Rangers?

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And the dark ride was very well done. The scenes were fantastic and being able to spin the cars was a nice feature. I just wish Judge Doom was present in the attraction.

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In a moment of weakness, I decided to ride this.

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I really enjoyed all of the Marvel exhibits inside Innoventions.

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Space Mountain was the busiest of all of Disneyland's attractions and for good reason.

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I preferred this version of Buzz to the Florida one since the guns weren't mounted directly to the cars.

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The new and improved Star Tours was way better than the former version that I experienced in Florida. The different story lines really increased the rerideability.

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I enjoyed this version of Space Mountain more than Florida's. It felt faster and the soundtrack was outstanding.

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What is a visit to Disneyland without a visit to Disney California Adventure? Since the park opened in 2001, California Adventure has seen many changes to help boost attendance. While I still preferred Disneyland to California Adventure, the park was fantastic and definitely had more thrill rides.

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I forget where I am.

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Radiator Springs Racers was breathtaking! The theming was incredibly immersive and crowds ate this ride up. Lines approached 2 hours throughout the day.

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Cars Land finished the major overhaul to California Adventure.

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While not as fast as Test Track, the ride was better. The show scenes were significantly better and the layout was more varied.

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Steering by shifting my weight was cool, but the ride's capacity certainly wasn't.

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This was a very cool and unique spinning ride, though hearing Larry the Cable guy signing is going to haunt me.

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While not as good as Florida's version, this is still better than basically every other drop tower on the planet.

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I preferred this to the version at EPCOT for some reason even though I think they are identical. Also I couldn't keep a straight face watching the preshow for whatever reason.

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Looks open.

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I would like to nominate myself.

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Paradise Pier!

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Get ready to scream!

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I loved this coaster. The combination of the launch, drops, inversion, turns, and music made this one of the most diverse coasters I have ever been on.

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So long and satisfying.

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That's what she said.

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I love this ride! But my elbow doesn't.

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World of Color was amazing! It was like a double rainbow but better.

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I didn't know the mouse was a pyro.

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And I'll end with a night shot of Paradise Pier.

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Nice TR!

 

Yeah...Disneyland is certainly compact (as you mentioned the congested pathways), but I like that better than the insane sprawl that is WDW. (One of many reasons why I unfortunately haven't been there yet...)

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I preferred Disneyland since all of the attractions were confined to two close by parks. Having said that, I would still prefer the larger pathways of Disney World. It also helps the different lands feel more separated.

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Along with Disneyland, I also had two other parks on my agenda: Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Knott's Bery Farm was my fourth Cedar Fair park (Dorney Park, Kings Dominion, and Canada's Wonderland being my first three) and I enjoyed my visit. Most rides were 10-20 minute waits and I really liked what the park had to offer. There was some great theming in Camp Snoopy and the Ghost Town areas of the park and the park had a great collection of rides. Xcelerator's launch was unbelievable and it made my top 10 list. The log ride was amazing and my favorite non-Disney or Universal flume. Plus the park had a really solid flat ride lineup anchored by Supreme Scream.

 

Also, don't forget to visit Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. I loved it! The chicken was delicious and the biscuits were addictive.

 

Onto the pictures!

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Well someone had to be first.

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This was the surprise hit of my visit. Despite its small size, the coaster was a rush from start to finish and quite disorienting.

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I was going to wait for a train, but I didn't so the sign is all you get.

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The Revolution! Who needs Google Translate?

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I like them big and long. Supreme Scream was satisfying.

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This coaster was an amazing rush.

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When anyone else hears the world tophat, do they think of Sir Topham Hatt from Thomas the Tank Engine or is that just me?

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Look at those curves.

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Ouch. That is all.

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Man, this section of the park felt like an oven.

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I was blown away by this flume. The theming was almost on par with Disney and the drops were excellent as well.

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So a lot of people said that this ride was pointless. I disagree, it kept younger kids away from the better attractions.

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I think this kid knew I was snapping photos. I hope he doesn't think I'm a creep.

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So many rides in California have scream in their name.

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Where's the train?

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Oh...so that's why they're only running one train.

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GhostRider was down for rehab. I missed it by 3 days. At least I have the Nicholas Cage movie to console me.

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Who am I kidding, that movie sucked. And the sequel made Batman and Robin look like Ben Hur.

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I also made sure to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain, the self proclaimed "thrill capital of the world." I really enjoyed the park. While it lacked much outside of roller coasters, the roller coasters were excellent and very varied. X2 immediately became on of my favorite coasters anywhere thanks to its sheer intensity. I also really enjoyed Tatsu, Full Throttle, Goliath, Apocalypse, and Lex Luthor.

 

Of the Six Flags parks I have visited, this one was my favorite. The atmosphere of the park was great and the crowds were pretty minimal. My lone complaints were the one train operations on Full Throttle and Riddler's Revenge and all of the technical issues that the park was having with Batman (I ended up missing that one since it got stuck on the lift and broke down another time when I was in line). Not only did I have a great day, but I got a good workout as well. Onto the pictures.

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Wally World! I didn't see Marty Moose, but at least it was open.

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YOLO!

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It's really hard to explain what happens during this drop. After getting copious floater air going over the crest of the hill, you are shot out of your seat even further during the descent.

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No bomber in sight. George Segal must be happy.

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So Six Flags has V2 and X2. Is Y2 next?

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Indiana Jones would be scared of this coaster.

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One loop, two loop, one corkscrew, two corkscrew. That doesn't sound right. It also has three vertical loops so it's inaccurate too.

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Superman: Ultimate Flight was the bunny slope and Tatsu was the black diamond slope.

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The only pretzel better than Wetzel's.

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Ninja must have used its blackbelt to defeat most of the suspended coasters around the world. I really wish there were more suspended coasters around.

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Take the tunnel!

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The ride was relentless from start to finish and had a great mix of laterals, changes in direction, and air-time.

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Riddle me this, riddle me that. What ride is green and sucks? This one.

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I'm just not a fan of the B&M stand-ups. I honestly find the Togo ones smoother and more enjoyable.

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Much better than the movie! While often maligned, I found this to be one heck of an intense little coaster.

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"If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit."

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Doc Brown was right. This thing made me see some serious doodoo in my pants. What a rush!

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Goliath looks like David next to Lex Luthor and Superman.

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Thanks! Yeah I love it out here. It's so much different than the East Coast and all of these amusement parks are certainly an added bonus. I'm looking forward to Discovery Kingdom, Great America, and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as well.

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Nice trip report. I did the same thing this past summer. Trust me you don't want to ride the ghost rider. It was one of the most bumpy rickety coasters I've been on. Unfortunately when i was at sfmm my sister wasn't feeling well when there so we left early i only got to ride drop of doom, X2,green lantern, Goliath, revolution and Tatsu.

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What company did you get an internship with?

 

I'm at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. I needed to make sure I do everything in California this summer. I started with Southern California since it's a bit of a trip using public transit.

 

Nice trip report. I did the same thing this past summer. Trust me you don't want to ride the ghost rider. It was one of the most bumpy rickety coasters I've been on. Unfortunately when i was at sfmm my sister wasn't feeling well when there so we left early i only got to ride drop of doom, X2,green lantern, Goliath, revolution and Tatsu.

 

I've heard it's rough, but I still wanted to try it since I can tolerate aggressive woodies like Hershey's Wildcat pre-Millennium Flyers. At least you got on most of the park's best rides. The one amazing one you missed was Apocalypse.

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I rode GhostRider yesterday, in the center of the train, and it was actually running pretty well. A little rough at the bottom of the drops but nothing too uncomfortable.

 

The only real 'SMH' moment is when they stop you before 'the' drop. It's wildly depressing every time.

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I rode GhostRider yesterday, in the center of the train, and it was actually running pretty well. A little rough at the bottom of the drops but nothing too uncomfortable.

 

The only real 'SMH' moment is when they stop you before 'the' drop. It's wildly depressing every time.

 

I remember seeing that for the first time in a POV and thinking my Internet went down. That's crazy.

 

Sorry it has been a while since my last update, but here's Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! I loved this park. It had an outstanding ride lineup and the park's location is perfect right along the beach. The Giant Dipper was just as good as advertised and the classic carousel with the rings was a hoot. I will definitely be making another visit there by the end of summer. Onto the photos!

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What a beautiful day to go to the beach! And when I say the beach, I mean Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

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That's more awards than the Titanic.

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Kate Winslet has nothing on those curves.

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And there's Leonardo...

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The Giant Dipper was the perfect classic wooden coaster. There was some really good air in the back and wild laterals. To top it off, she is still smooth after all these years.

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It's the new kid on the block, and I don't mean Donnie Wahlburg.

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I love Mauer Sohne spinners. They are very rerideable.

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I was very impressed by how the park had a flume with a custom layout instead of the cookie cutter version I see at my local carnivals.

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The park really crams a ton of rides in. There are multiple layers to the boardwalk much like a classic deep dish pizza (aka not Uno).

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This was the surprise hit of my visit. The indoor breakdance was extremely disorienting.

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Whoever told me not to play with fire was wrong.

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Resist urge to make a phallic joke. Resist urge to make a phallic joke.

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I couldn't...

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These rings > Green Lantern's ring

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Who needs an organ when you have an iPhone?

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You're gonna die clown!

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This park just loves to name rides after storms.

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This had a very weird cycle. It went super fast forwards. To my amazement it started going backwards, but it never picked up much speed and was over very quickly. What a tease.

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I can explain. I needed to ride this in order to reach credit 200 when I went to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

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I was a credit whore for the greater good.

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That's a creative way to fill empty seats.

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They see me rolling. I saw this contraption driving to the park. It cost the guy $5,000!

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So in California, people don't jaywalk but they will do this.

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Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was a decent experience. It took me almost 4 hours to get there due to Vallejo's awful public transit, but I was still able to get to the park before opening. The park's theming was pretty good towards the back of the park and most of the employees were friendly. In terms of rides, Superman and Medusa were excellent but the rest of the park wasn't all that special in my opinion.

 

My theme of the day was my quest for my 200th credit. Entering the day, I had counted 193 credits. I wanted either Superman or Medusa as my 200th coaster. I decided to make it Medusa since I anticipated (correctly) that Superman's line would be terrible come the afternoon. I rode Superman 3 times without any wait as soon as the park opened and loved it. Medusa was my 7th coaster of the day and what I believed was my 200th credit...but then I realized that I had forgotten to include Six Flags New England's Gotham City Gauntlet in my credit list later that night so Kong became my 200th credit. That ride was painful in so many ways, but I guess I deserve it for being a credit whore. Onto the pictures!

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This is like the ugly duckling of impulse coasters yet it hangs above the main entrance.

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I wish I was Aquaman so I could talk to you. Wait no I don't. That would mean that I would have to be Aquaman.

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So much better than Superman Returns.

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It even has the constipated Bizarro cutout from Six Flags New England!

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Superman was my favorite ride in the park. It was a rush from start to finish and had incredible air-time going over the drop and down the twisting drop.

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Roar's operator was singing "Happy Birthday" to random people in line. Then they boarded the coaster and got their birthday beatings.

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V2! Because U2 was already taken.

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Boomerang was a necessary evil to reach credit 200.

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The rest of the park guests were smart.

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This made me feel like I was sitting on a vibrator.

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And they can torture me?

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I gave the park my fingerprint, but now I am their prisoner?

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My 200th credit that wasn't.

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Medusa is my new favorite floorless. The first drop was outstanding and I loved the sequence of inversions.

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The area around Sky Screamer is a great place to get some photos of Medusa.

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I wish more B&Ms had straight drops.

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Just as I was about to board, the ride broke down.

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Was I going to be denied Medusa as my 200th credit? Well yes and no. I was able to ride it after, but past laziness came back to bite me.

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I would like to say that I rode this to help me reach credit 200, but I rode it afterwards because I could. Mock me accordingly.

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The park had some decent non-coasters too. I really liked the custom design of the Hammerhead Shark.

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And Thrilla Gorilla.

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And Monkey Business.

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I wanted to ride this, but I didn't feel like waiting an hour. So I found alternatives.

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Perfect!

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Tsunami Soaker was a major hit among families. The ride was a lot of fun and I can see a lot of other Six Flags parks adding these.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been to Santa Cruz, although that was a long time ago, but I've only driven by Discovery Kingdom (always in the off season). Thanks for the photos.

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Thanks for the great trip report from the Boardwalk (and other parks)!

 

I was very impressed by how the park had a flume with a custom layout instead of the cookie cutter version I see at my local carnivals.

If only the park could have gone with a custom layout for Undertow, too.

Lucky for us, I've been told Logger's Revenge will remain at the park for a long time. If they ever wanted to replace it with something different, the park would have to deal with approvals, height restrictions, and they wouldn't be able to build a ride that goes over the railroad tracks like Logger's does.

 

 

This had a very weird cycle. It went super fast forwards. To my amazement it started going backwards, but it never picked up much speed and was over very quickly. What a tease.

Yeah, the backwards cycle is really short and slow. I think it's because when the ride slows down after going backwards, the cars rock very high (not exactly sure why). Going backwards any faster would cause a lot of out-of-control cars...

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I've been to Santa Cruz, although that was a long time ago, but I've only driven by Discovery Kingdom (always in the off season). Thanks for the photos.

 

Discovery Kingdom is definitely worth visiting. Superman and Medusa are a great 1-2 punch. I just recommend that you get there right at opening to avoid lines.

 

If only the park could have gone with a custom layout for Undertow, too.

 

I really like the Mauer-Sohne spinning layout. It's compact but provides a little of everything. I do want to try the largest versions in Europe someday like Winjas and Dragon's Fury.

 

You have done a great job with our theme parks. I look forward to your CGA report.

 

Wait no longer! I really enjoyed California's Great America. The park was clean, all the employees were friendly, the food was decent, and the ride lineup was great. Flight Deck and Gold Striker were wonderful as promised and the park also had a nice flat ride lineup.

 

One last note, if anyone is in the area, I highly recommend the House of Bagels across the street. They are definitely the best bagels I've had since coming out to California.

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All of the former Paramount parks have really nice entrances, Great America included.

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The park struck gold with this coaster. It had the park's longest line all day.

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Gold Striker was a fantastic GCI and the second best wooden coaster in California after Apocalypse.

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Top G...Flight Deck was my favorite ride at the park.

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It was short, but intense.

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Vortex, Apocalypse, Green Lantern, and Riddler's Revenge are my four least favorite B&M's. Notice a theme?

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The second I sat down on the raft I had an inkling that I would get soaked. Then I saw the waterfall.

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This park has a mouse just like Disneyland.

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And more of a dog than Goofy.

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I liked the slightly banked turns on this wild mouse. Honestly, it was the best standard mouse coaster I've been on.

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Grizzly failed to live up to its reputation. It wasn't even the worst coaster in the park (I'm looking at you Vortex). It was smooth but didn't have much excitement.

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Demon was like an old man at a bar with game. You wouldn't expect it to be smooth, but it was.

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I didn't stoop this low.

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But I did stoop this low.

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Drop Tower packed a serious punch. I wish all of the S&S towers could transfigure into Intamin drop towers.

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I thought this was called Firefall.

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That's more like it.

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How I came off this dry, I do not know.

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Double dip!

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Planet Snoopy was quite big and had a nice mix of rides for all ages.

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You need to bring me your torch. Survivor the Ride, your tribe has spoken.

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The park also had a small water park that got pretty crowded come mid-afternoon.

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Always remember, YOLO.

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I agree that Grizzly is simply boring. There are worse wooden coasters in California that simply beat the crap out of you (I'm looking at you Ghostrider).

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