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Photo TR: California Dreamin' Round 2

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Back in 2014, I had an internship in California. Like any good coaster enthusiast, I used the internship as an opportunity to visit all the major parks in California (2014 Photo TR). My favorites were down in Southern California with Disneyland being one of my favorite parks ever. In 2015, I was able to make a return trip to Disneyland since I had a work trip nearby, but had to miss Knott's and Magic Mountain. In 2016, I planned a return trip spurred by free Disneyland tickets. Back in 2015, I booked bus tickets on the Disneyland Express bus to take me from LAX to Disneyland. At the time my bus was supposed to pick me up, a short white bus came saying they were the Disneyland Express. Turns out they were a counterfeit service but thankfully they brought me to the park (just charged a tip). I found out when I got to Disneyland the real bus was full-sized and covered in Disney characters. I let Disneyland know (primarily to save tourists like me who didn't look at the bus beforehand) and they were appreciate and provided free park tickets to return.



Flash forward to 2016 and I was back at Disneyland with my sister. It was her first time there (she had been to Walt Disney World 3 times) and she loved it as well. We went at the end of June during the 100 degree heat wave, but the boon of indoor attractions made the heat less of a concern.


After experiencing the Magic Bands at Walt Disney World in 2015, I have to say that having the paper fastpasses was a nice change. Since Disneyland has more rides per park, it was nice being able to stockpile fastpasses faster. I was able to use my favorite strategy where I got a Fastpass at Disneyland, grab one at California Adventure, use the Disneyland Fastpass, use the California Adventure Fastpass, and repeat. I like both systems, but think the paper ones are better for Disneyland since my visits are shorter (2 days versus a week at Disney World). For Disney World, the bands work well since the rides are scattered across 4 parks instead of 2.


What was new for my visit? The two biggest things were the 60th anniversary theming and Hyperspace Mountain. I thought the castle looked great with the banner. But the bigger addition was Hyperspace Mountain. I enjoyed the experience since it was definitely different than the normal Space Mountain with the well-timed video screens, Star Wars music, and an actual story line. Would I take it over the regular Space Mountain. Personally, no. I really like Michael Giacchino's score (one of my most played songs on my iPod) and the added darkness of the standard ride, but both versions are highly enjoyable.


I spent the rest of the day hitting my favorites:


- Indiana Jones (amazing theming, wild ride, kills Dinosaur)

- Splash Mountain (prefer WDW for the theming, but the steeper drop is better in California)

- Big Thunder Mountain (love the finale and glass smooth)

- Matterhorn (historical and still a lot of fun)

- Buzz Lightyear (thank you for having free-guns instead of mounted ones like WDW)

- All the Dark Rides (Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Mr. Toad, love them all except it's a small world)


Unfortunately Fantasmic wasn't open for the 2nd time in my three visits, but there was more than enough to do during my visit. Onto the photos!


Continuing the tour de mountain, here's Big Thunder.


I love the finale on this one.


The castle looks big from this angle! Despite it's small size, the castle does look quite nice.


Oooh pretty lights.


Hyperspace Mountain was a cool overlay to experience, but I personally like the standard version better. Both are great though.


Ok this shirt is pretty awesome!


I love nothing on this one.


Hi Captain Jack. I still can't believe how long this ride is.


This may be the best parade float ever.


There's something special walking through Tomorrowland at night.


Splash Mountain is great as always. I like the drop on this one better than WDW's.

Edited by Canobie Coaster
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Looks great so far! I am heading to Disneyland in the march break, but am hoping that the space mountain returns to normal (I like star wars and all but the original space mountain should be kept). Also, I heard that the tower of terror is being converted to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride, will that be done before the march break? The original tower of terror was my favorite ride...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Disney's California Adventure


While not as awesome as Walt's original park, I really do like California Adventure. I was never there before the billion dollar overhaul so I can't comment on the park back then, but I really like the oddball mix of rides and attractions that this park has. The park is very top-heavy in its attractions and a good compliment to the park across the street.


There were three new things for me during my visit- Grizzly River Rapids, Soarin' Around the World, and Olaf. When I visited the park in May 2014 and March 2015, Grizzly River Rapids was closed both times despite temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. Now I know rides have off-season maintenance schedules, but coming from New England where 90 degree days constitute a heat wave, it's still baffling to me to see a water ride like that closed with those temperatures. Anyway what did I think now that I got to actually ride it? I really did like Grizzly River Rapids. The ride was very well landscaped around the mountain and the two drops were great, especially the last one with the spinners. The two drops combined with the array of rapids basically guaranteed everyone would get wet and at least half soaked. Compare that to Kali River Rapids where only the 2 people who go down the drop backwards get wet. I used the single rider line several times to ride this with temperatures in triple digits.


I was also there for the first weekend of Soarin' Around the World. That wasn't intentional, rather it just happened that way. For someone who doesn't ride Soarin' too too often, I didn't notice all that big of a change. The ride was great, but I can see the change much more refreshing for someone who has ridden it nonstop since the ride opened. If you liked the original Soarin', you'd definitely like the new one as well.


Then seeing a full-size Olaf character was nice since I enjoy the movie Frozen and hadn't seen the character before. Thankfully Olaf didn't melt in the heat and Frozen fever wasn't in full force, so the line was only 5 minutes.


Other than that, I rode my favorites. I got several rides on the Tower of Terror (RIP Twilight Zone), California Screamin', and Radiator Springs Racers. All three are great and it's hard to pick a favorite among them.


Onto the photos, many of which were taken from the Ferris wheel and had the bars cropped out (which is why they're all sized differently).


California Screamin' is surprisingly hard to photograph from the ground.


The coaster runs right up next to the path and over buildings which obstruct a lot of shots.


Scream shields.


I don't seem to see any hair time here, though this ride legitimately does have some airtime.


Let's begin the Ferris wheel shots. The beautiful Cars Land doesn't seem to look right with the city behind it.


Artsy shot of the entry fountain.


The spinning drop was excellent. No one knew who would get soaked.


Much better than Kali River Rapids. This one had more than just a single drop.


Finally it's open during one of my visits! Only took temperatures over 100 degrees...


Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle. But put me in summer and I'll be a...happy snowman. Yup he does look happy.


Radiator Springs Racers is awesome, but it just reminded me Cars 3 is coming out soon which isn't awesome.


Tower of Terror is going to look so weird when it reopens later this year.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Six Flags Magic Mountain


Considered the flagship park of Six Flags, Magic Mountain was a definite on my return trip to California. I had a pleasant, albeit short, visit in 2014 due to the park having reduced hours on a May weekday. This time, I was there on a Saturday in June so I had a full day to ride everything. A Saturday in June was also more crowded than my first visit, which is why I splurged for a Flash Pass and it definitely came in handy. I just wasn't a fan of how the park made X2 an extra upcharge and only allowed 1 ride each on Full Throttle and Twisted Colossus.


As mentioned in the Disneyland reports, the weather was over 100. Magic Mountain already is a pretty grueling park to get around, so the heat certainly didn't help. Despite the heat, I was able to have a good time and added a few new coaster credits along the way. The only bummer of the day was the RMC Recall of June 2016. After I got my one and only ride on Twisted Colossus, the ride was closed. Originally I thought it was the standard Six Flags temporary shut down, but I saw on the forums here that there was a recall of RMC parts. This kept the ride closed for a good chunk of the day. I only saw that it had reopened after I got back to my car in the parking lot.


Twisted Colossus- Best of the RMCs that I've been on. I didn't mind the second lift halfway through the ride since the first drop was amazing and worth experiencing twice. Every element is taking in rapid fire succession with ejector airtime. I got my one ride in the back, but unfortunately it didn't duel. 10 out of 10


X2- A bit bumpier than I remember, but the uniqueness and intensity is matched by few coasters. 10 out of 10


Tatsu- Love the setting and the layout poops all over the Superman clones. The pretzel loop is unbelievably intense and tried to rip my shorts off. Then the other inversions high above the ground are a lot of fun. 10 out of 10


Full Throttle- I was lucky enough to get a front seat ride. The launches are fun, but the highlights are the crazy hangtime in the vertical loop and the airtime when the brakes engage. The latter is one of the weirdest and most intense airtime moments out there. 10 out of 10


Batman the Ride- A new credit for me since it kept breaking down in my 2014 visit. Loved the blue color scheme and the ride was intense as always. 9 out of 10


Superman: Escape from Krypton- Not on the Gold Flash Pass, I was lucky enough to only find a 5 minute wait since it had been broken down a good chunk of the day. I love the launch and the view going in reverse up the tower is pretty amazing. 8 out of 10


New Revolution- I didn't experience the VR and I'm glad I didn't since the ride's setting is excellent. The first few drops had some nice pops of air and the loop is really intense. Best of all, the OSTRs were gone. 8 out of 10


Goliath- I wouldn't have thought a coaster this tall could be so subpar. The first drop and airtime hill are good, but I'm not a fan of the second half. The helixes are powerful, but that's not what I ride a hyper coaster for. 7 out of 10


Viper- Reasonably smooth and the vertical loops are intense. Enjoyable ride despite its age. 7 out of 10


Scream- Awful setting but a pretty fun ride. Honestly prefer Viper though. 7 out of 10


Apocalypse- This was a 9/10 ride back in 2014, but it has gotten quite rough since then. The speed and pops of airtime were still there, but it gave me a good rattling. 6 out of 10


Ninja- I wish there were more suspended coasters. Some good swinging towards the end of the ride, but the lack of trees this time around was a bummer. 6 out of 10


Riddler's Revenge- With my glasses off, I didn't come off quite as beat up. Forceful, but the standing position isn't the most comfortable. One ride was enough. 5 out of 10


Green Lantern- I tried to love this ride, but my car flipped upside down and stayed in that position for the second half of the ride. Not the most comfortable. I love the drops though. 5 out of 10


Gold Rusher- Nice setting but pretty tame ride. 5 out of 10


Road Runner Express- A roller skater. Better than your average kiddie coaster, but nothing special. 3 out of 10


Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers- Yes I was a credit whore. 1 out of 10


Batman was also new for me since it was closed in 2014. Great as always.


I made sure to photograph the water park too.


The original Wally World.


I actually got a good ride on Riddler's Revenge this year!


A rare photo inside the park!


I only got one ride due to the RMC recall panic of June 18, 2016 but it sure was amazing.


Alan Schilke is a mad genius.


Twisted Colossus was the highlight of my trip and as evidenced by my signature, it delivered.


I'm going to apologize for the lack of photos inside the park; I was too busy riding.


A view that'll make all but Cedar Point fanboys cream.

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Timely post as I'll be visiting Magic Mountain in a little over a week for the first time in 17 years! Great to read about the park and what you liked or didn't like. I didn't realize that only some of the rides allow re-rides even with a Flash Pass. That's kind of a bummer. Glad you had a good time!

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I've been wanting to go to SFMM ever since I first played RCT2 (even though that version was kind of unrealistic as Metro, Flashback, X, and Deja Vu were all operating)


I loved that stage. I'd always make the most unrealistic hyper/gigacoasters over the mountain.


Twisted Colossus is a very good coaster when it doesn't duel, and a great one when it does.


I thought it was great without dueling so I need to reride it someday when it is



Great updates! I really need to get back to the SoCal parks.


Disneyland & Six Flags Magic Mountain are one of the best 1-2 punches since you get one of the top themed parks with one of the top thrill parks. Then there's Knott's which takes the middle ground.


Timely post as I'll be visiting Magic Mountain in a little over a week for the first time in 17 years! Great to read about the park and what you liked or didn't like. I didn't realize that only some of the rides allow re-rides even with a Flash Pass. That's kind of a bummer. Glad you had a good time!


Hope you enjoy it! Yeah I was shocked that on any level, you could only ride Twisted Colossus or Full Throttle once. It's a shame since they're two of the park's best coasters.

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Yeah I was not happy either when I found out you could only get 1 time Flash pass usage on X2, Full throttle and Twisted Colossus. Pretty shitty after paying all that money. That is why I prefer Cedar Fair parks front of the line access upcharge better. No restrictions!!! Unlimited. Do any of the other SF parks do this? Or is it just SFMM??

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Since we will only be there for 1 day and they close at 8pm we'll be getting the Platinum FP in order to make sure we get on everything. We will be driving from Las Vegas so getting up at o'dark thirty to be there for park opening. Learning that they only allow a single ride all day on 5 coasters and X2 is an uncharge does leave a sour taste in my mouth but at least I know beforehand. A friend who works at Universal (where I'll be going the following day) said it's spring break the weekend I'll be there so I'm expecting huge crowds as it'll be a Saturday and then Sunday at Universal, but maybe the coaster gods will be on my side at MM.


At Great Adventure they have The Joker 4D coaster available only on Platinum. Not sure if it's a single ride all day like MM or if you can re-reserve it but there are no upcharges for any rides. If you get the Platinum pass though you don't get to ride twice in a row without getting up on Zumanjaro and Kingda Ka due to low capacity, however you can just re-reserve it and walk around to ride it again. Everything else you can ride as much as you want. We only did Platinum once at Halloween, otherwise have made out very well with Gold. Driving all the way up from DC 1-2x/yr we try to make it worth the trip and tolls lol.

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Yeah I was not happy either when I found out you could only get 1 time Flash pass usage on X2, YOLOcoaster and Twisted Colossus. Pretty shitty after paying all that money. That is why I prefer Cedar Fair parks front of the line access upcharge better. No restrictions!!! Unlimited. Do any of the other SF parks do this? Or is it just SFMM??


Six Flags Over Georgia had an upcharge on Dare Devil Dive, but other than that I haven't seen any other 1 time only or upcharges at Six Flags. The more common thing they do is not allowing platinum rerides, which they do on SFNE's Superman and Wicked Cyclone.

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Knott's Berry Farm


The last visit of the trip was to Knott's Berry Farm. Since I needed to catch an evening flight back home, I only had a half day at the park but it was enough to get one ride on all the major rides. The real reason for my return visit was to try the newly renovated GhostRider. When I visited in 2014, GhostRider was closed for offseason maintenance and by most accounts, it was a rough and uncomfortable coaster. The GCI retracking worked wonders for this coaster.


GhostRider- GhostRider was closed all morning and by the time it opened, I could only get one ride since it had a 90 minute wait. I got one ride in the backseat and came away very impressed with the coaster. I loved the layout and how well the ride maintained its speed all through the course. Most of the drops gave pops of air with the taller ones in the first half being particularly noteworthy. The ride was also glass smooth. I really wish I could have gotten a night ride or a second ride, but the rest of the park knew how well the ride was running. 9 out of 10


Xcelerator- The first Intamin accelerator coaster is arguably the most intense. I've been on Top Thrill Dragster, Kingda Ka, and Storm Runner, but Xcelerator's launch beats them all. The force from that launch causes a stomach dropping sensation the others can't match. The top hat provides excellent air-time and the final two turns are fast and fun. 9 out of 10


Silver Bullet- The worst of the B&M inverts is still a very good ride. The layout is pretty funky compared to other inverts, but the ride is glass smooth and includes some great parts such as the zero-G roll, overbanked turn, and finale over the water. I just wish the ride wasn't such an eyesore at the front of the park. 8 out of 10


Sierra Sidewinder- This ride really took me by surprise in my 2014 visit and I was eager to reride it. Sierra Sidewinder was still awesome. Despite its unassuming looks, this coaster is a really intense little ride. The spinning pulls some serious Gs and keeps the whole layout pretty disorienting. I would love to see more of these coasters pop up. 8 out of 10


Montezooma's Revenge- This is still one of the funniest names for a coaster since it can also describe my bowel movements after eating food at Six Flags. I don't care that this coaster is short since its a great ride with the launch and forceful loop. I hope Knott's keeps this coaster around. 8 out of 10


Timberline Twister- I thought I was being a credit whore going on this coaster, but it was actually a surprisingly good coaster. Despite only being like 15-20 feet tall, it provided more coaster than a certain hyper coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. All of the little hills had some really good airtime. Sure the vehicles were a little tight to get into, but I found this coaster to be a real surprise. 7 out of 10


Jaguar- I enjoy this coaster's layout and how it tours the front of the park. Relatively tame but a good since it never seems to have a line. 6 out of 10


I missed out on a Pony Express reride since it was closed. I skipped Boomerang and Coast Rider since I already rode them in 2014.


Other than the coasters, I went on the Timber Mountain Log Flume (still the best non-Disney or Universal flume), Voyage to the Iron Reef (fun but would prefer practical sets), and the Calico Mine Ride (just ok but glad they had it open this time).


No visit to Knott's is complete without a visit to the fried chicken restaurant.


I only got one ride due to a 90 minute wait, but the ride was excellent. Fast and smooth with solid floater air on most hills. I loved the layout.


Hello newly renovated GhostRider.


The entrance makes me miss Legends of the Hidden Temple.


Tame but a nice coaster to tour the front section of the park.


Sierra Sidewinder is much better than it looks. The spinning pulls some serious Gs.


I'm sorry but Silver Bullet is an eyesore in my opinion.


Weakest B&M invert I've been on, but it's still a very good ride.


The park's other star attraction, Xcelerator.


Xcelerator's launch feels more intense than its taller brothers.


I can only imagine how intense Dodonpa's launch must feel.

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I wonder of FT will allow unlimited reservations on the gold pass when Justic League opens. Seems the fair thing to do but, we all know that SF MM ain't the fairest park when it comes to their fast pass options.

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I wonder of FT will allow unlimited reservations on the gold pass when Justic League opens. Seems the fair thing to do but, we all know that SF MM ain't the fairest park when it comes to their fast pass options.


When I visited SFGAm last summer, I got a Platinum FP and I was allowed 2 reservations on JL. (It was the only ride in the whole park that had a reservation limit.) Given SFMM's track record with new rides, I would expect some kind of FP limitation for JL. In fact, I would bet that JL reservations would be limited to Platinum FPs for the first year like they did with Yolo and TC.

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I agree that Knott's log ride is best one out there--I like it more than the Splash Mountain rides. I found Voyage to the Iron Reef to be a pleasant surprise (better than I'd anticipated).

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I wonder of FT will allow unlimited reservations on the gold pass when Justic League opens. Seems the fair thing to do but, we all know that SF MM ain't the fairest park when it comes to their fast pass options.


I visited SFOG last week and even though JL isn't open yet, it was still on the flash pass and it was good for only one reservation.

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I agree that Knott's log ride is best one out there--I like it more than the Splash Mountain rides. I found Voyage to the Iron Reef to be a pleasant surprise (better than I'd anticipated).


While I prefer physical props for shooters, the one positive about the video is that all of the "targets" worked. A few of the ones I rode this past year (Lake Compounce's, Kings Island's, Carowinds) had a lot of targets that weren't responding.

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