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PTR - larrygator's CaliforniVacation

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June 27th - SFDK (see below)

June 28th - California Great America

June 28th - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

June 29th - Travel Day Amtrak

June 30th - KBF

July 1st/2nd - SFMM

July 1st - Dodgers Stadium

July 4th - SeaWorld


The school year ended for NYC teachers last Tuesday afternoon, June 26th, so of course I'm off to visit amusement parks the next day. I tried to keep this trip on a budget so I did things a little different. I have season passes for SF, CF and SEAS, so those are the main parks. I had originally planned to include Disney with the last day of an old 10 day hopper, but DL no longer honors the Florida hoppers.


For this trip, I flew into SF and spent 2 days at parks. Then I took Amtrak to LA and stayed 3 nights before moving further south. I'm also using Air BnB for the first time on this trip.


On June 27th, I stopped at two small parks on the way to SF Discovery Kingdom. I did not take pictures at Pixieland or Sonoma Train Town, but I do recommend visiting the latter.


My ears usually take some time to recover from flying, so I did not plan to ride much at SFDK, just pick up some new credits since my last visit about 8 years ago. In the past I have always enjoyed the diversity of the rides at SFDK and the inclusion of the animals, but this time it was just about getting new credits.


V2 was down and Harley Quinn was still waiting to open. Those are the only two rides I want to try that I missed, but I did add to my credit count with Superman and Joker. I found Superman far superior in terms of comfort (and theming) to Tempest and while I enjoyed Joker, I found it to be the weakest RMC. Operation were also horrendous, with close to a 5 minute average between dispatches.


Harley Quinn is there to greet you.


But you will have to wait.


The entrance is engulfed by Wonder Woman and coasters that are front loaded in this park.


It was a cool evening and was surprised to see a bunch of kids start riding this as the sun was setting.


I found Superman much more comfortable (and therefore more enjoyable) than Tempesto


Fun ride, but the weakest of the RMCs I have ridden


Nope still not running yet


I actually took a roller coaster photo and included it in my PTR


I've only seen Big Belly Burgers in the DC Comics universe, including ads the the subway station at the end of Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. Then I saw this sign. 5 days later I saw a an open Big Belly Burger at SFMM. I like this development.

Edited by larrygator
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Glad to hear you (have?) had a good time here in California! I'll be waiting to hear more about why you recommend Sonoma Train Town, since I'm probably not too far away but haven't heard of it


You are right, it is probably not for everyone, but I love history and trains.

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We visited the San Francisco area last year with family, I wanted to check out Traintown but was vetoed and we went to Hess Winery/museum instead. The winery was cool, but I still want to see the darned trains!

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Amtrak and AirBnB? Adventurous. I remember Pixieland being adorable (coaster was a bit sketch), and TrainTown wasn't one of my better "amusement park visits," but it's always been a great stop for train lovers.

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Bummer to hear about more poor operations at SFDK. You're the second person to go in the last month to report this kind of crap operations. It's a shame as this used to be one of the best 'Six Flags' parks that acted more like a Busch park!

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The next park on the trip was one on my most anticipated for two reasons. First, it inches my closer to riding all the wooden coasters in the US. Second, their is new coaster that I really thought was getting too much hype when announced that appears to deserve the hype. That coaster is Railblazer and the park in California Great America.


My previous visit to CGA was a 50 minute stroll through the park to get the credits during a free hour I had in the middle of a softball tournament. On my previous visit, I don't recall any fun coasters outside of Top Gun (Flight Deck) and was sort of glad to be done in 50 minutes. But this time I had more time staying from opening to 3PM, before heading to SCBB for the evening.


All in all the park was more impressive than I remember, although the coaster department is still lacking. However, Rail Blazer is easily my favorite coaster in Northern California. If I heard to use one word to describe the coaster it is ZIPPY. When RMC announced the single rail concept it was a head scratcher for me, I couldn't understand the reason, besides maybe saving some space, but it delivers unique movements. Now if only I had known that the Fast Lane also served a dual purpose as a single rider line it would have made me day and allowed me more than two rides. As luck would have it my rides were in row 2 and row 8, and enjoyed each ride equally, which row 2 providing more hang time but row being zippier. I was disappointed in Gold Striker, it just wasn't very exciting and was bumpy at times. Patriot is much better as a sit down, but extremely boring for a sit down. Flight Deck stills delivers though.


This visit I was able to experience quite a few of the flats and love the old school ones still in use like the Calypso (Centifuge), Breakdance (Peanuts Pirates) and Beserker (Bayern Kurve). I even rode the SkyRide.


Food - I really enjoyed the layout of the Food Festival and kiosks really seemed to minimize the wait time for food preparation. As if I'm not mistaken their was one bathroom at the park that had individual hand dryers directly next to each sink, which I thought was brilliant.


Still one of my favorite sights at the front of a park, the double decker carousel.


A love the amount of shade the park provides in the games area with overhead tarps.


My first stop, I just I had gotten to the park right at opening (stupid Bay Area traffic)


Having more than one train running would have helped the situation.


But the other trains sat there all day


Then three days later, Jewy tells me that when he visited the next day single riders could use the Fast Lane line.


Most of the lines were very manageable so I got on a few flats, I love a good Calypso


I though this BreakDance ran a decent cycle, but later that day at SCBB I was reminded what a great BreakDance cycle feels like.


Not as intense as others, but always a bonus to find one operating.


The centralized ordering at kiosks seemed to help each restaurant deliver food to customers quicker.


Gold Striker did disappoint, but it was my 200th wooden roller coaster.



Levis Stadium



Single Rail Track = thumbs up in my book


RMC, you have proven me wrong.

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Great report!


Single train operations on one of the raptors is scary, but I'm glad you were able to ride it twice. It really is an awesome coaster. That's too bad Gold Striker has started to get bumpy. It was running like a dream when I was there all summer in 2014.

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Bummer to hear about more poor operations at SFDK. You're the second person to go in the last month to report this kind of crap operations. It's a shame as this used to be one of the best 'Six Flags' parks that acted more like a Busch park!


I'll 3rd it! Very Six Flags. Including an operator joking that Joker would be down all day with a station full of guests who could not exit because the ride operator at grouper said you had to exit through the train...which had airgates closed because the mechanics were working on the ride.

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Next up is a park that just has a great vibe to it, probably second only to Knoebels. By far my favorite seaside park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I was planning to arrive at 5PM to take advantage of a $15 ride all night promo in conjunction with Coke. The Boardwalk area was packed so I had to park about 3/4 mile north of the boardwalk in a cheap municipal lot. I bought the $15 wristband and spent $10 for unlimited rides on the upcharges, even though I only cared about FrightWalk. The park had a few new rides since my previous visit, but the sights, smells, and setting create a sensory overload and great overall experience.


Giant Dipper still delivers a great ride at almost 100 years old, The Haunted Castle had the longest wait but was well worth the wait, FrightWalk is the top walk through in the United States, Cave Train Adventure is well maintained and Wipeout shows that flats can be run properly in the USA.


The park is full of both nostalgia (in the form of Laughing Sal)


and the new (in the form of a huge indoor mini golf course)


I headed to FrightWalk first, as I wanted to do it again later in the night. Two woman were ahead of me and I soon caught up the them, they were happy to have someone to walk through with, but quite frankly their screams caused me to jump quite a few times.


There is the new credit for me, hiding behind the Disc-o.


I rode Giant Dipper twice to admire not just the ride but also the beautiful art deco station.


Both times I walked right past the entrance to the ride and had to double back.


I should have ridden this early when the line was short, I remember closely following the construction of this project and being extremely pissed when it was vandalized so soon after completion. I wish I had time to ride it twice.


Where did I stop to eat? Here?








or Beer?


This is a clue!


I ate here, I'm mystified be the machine the creates the potato twist.


It appears that the inside was spruced up recently.


Indoor Breakdance with lights run in Fast mode. EXCELLENT!


I even tried a game, since I've never seen this at an amusement park.


Classic 1911 Looff Carousel with a brass ring grab


My camera died just as the boardwalk was starting to light up.

Edited by larrygator
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Board Wok! Brilliant!


We've been to Santa Cruz a couple of times, but have never made it out to the Boardwalk for various reasons. Every TR on here that talks about this place shows me what an idiot I am for not insisting on including this in our itineraries.

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Now Mystery Spot I've been to, twice! It's definitely funky and happily it doesn't take itself too seriously. Somewhere in one of my old 1970's scrapbooks is a Mystery Spot bumper sticker. For awhile they were all the rage here in Oregon, like every station wagon had a Mystery Spot bumper sticker, I have no idea why.

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Great report so far, Larry!


CGA always seemed to be one of the more "incomplete" looking CF parks in the chain.


Disappointing to hear about SFDK as that is one of the few remaining SF parks on my bucket list. Hopefully they will get themselves straightened out before I visit (which likely won't be for a while).

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Thanks for your take on Rail Blazer, as I've been curious about whether it lives up to the hype.


I didn't think it would, but it totally did. Really quite an astounding experience if you can get past the fact that it's incredibly short.

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In the past I would have just kept a rental car for the drive to LA and returned in to SFO one my final but this would have created an extra 15 hours of driving and forced me to drive too much when tired (yes this is a thing that happens as you get older). I also considered leaving the rental car in LA and paying the one way charge. Amtrak was only $62, which would save over $250 versus driving. In the end I decided to relax on Amtrak and enjoy the ride, of course it is hard to enjoy the 10 hour ride knowing that your friends are in Japan traveling the same distance by train in only 3 hours.


On June 29th, after dropping my rental car off at SFO, I used BART and CalTrain to contact to the Amtrak station in San Jose, very easy to use to make the connections. Amtrak seats are spacious, recline far without interfering with others and make it easy to sleep or relax.


Here are some of the pictures I took from the train window, I was going to take some pictures from the viewing car, but was too lazy to move the three cars. The scenario is much nicer in person than viewed through my Samsung and a train window.


CalTrain from San Fran to San Jose


Desert and hills to the left of me


Water to the right of me


Elon Musk's SpaceX complex







View from the Dining Car


The cars are passing the train.


LA Union Station is beautiful architectually

Edited by larrygator
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Wonderful TR. . just getting caught up.


re: Railblazer

at SFFT, for the first couple of weeks on Wonder Woman, they also initially used the Flash Pass Line as a single rider line.

they've stopped doing that now, only allowing that line for Flash Pass (guess they got complaints that single riders were taking advantage of the shorter line. . . after all, by definition of this kind of coaster EVERYONE is a single rider).


Only speaking of the WW version, I've found the back seat to have extreme ejector air -- but the closer you get to the front of the car, it gets to be more floater air. The Texas version runs w/ no brakes at all, and since you defined Railblazer as "zippy" I'd assume that's true there too?


my legs hurt after multiple rides due to the seating configuration, but thanks for sharing your take on the ride. . love hearing other's opinions. . .especially since Railblazer is a mirror image.

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