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Photo TR: A few days in the L.A. Area! Santa Monica, KBF, and SFMM.

Trip Report Posted!

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EDIT:  Trip reports are done!

1. Flight out, Santa Monica Beach and Exploration.
2. Knott's Berry Farm
3. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Flight Home
 

*****

Original Post:

So, now that I'm all COVax'd up, I may have an opportunity to get the most out of my CF Platinum Pass with all-park Fast Lane and my SF Season Pass with a trip out to the LA area, December 8-11.  My itinerary would be as follows:

Wednesday, 12/8: Fly in to Burbank airport, hit the Santa Monica Pier before checking in to my hotel near Knotts, and then check out the bar scene at night.
Thursday, 12/9: Full day at Knott's Berry Farm
Friday, 12/10: Full day at SF Magic Mountain
Saturday, 12/11: Fly back home.

I cannot vary the start and end dates at all, and given the park hours for this week this seems to be the best way to try to tackle all three.  And though I may be able to do the trip around New Years, I figure this is the better time to go for crowds.  Of course, I have a few questions:

1. I'm correct in my belief that flying in and out of Burbank would be much less of a headache than going through LAX, right?  It doesn't hurt that flights are substantially cheaper.

2. The hours for Knott's on Thursday are 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM.  I presume this is enough time to hit all of the coasters, dark rides, and the flume with a Fast Lane?  I know I'll likely be missing out on Xcelerator.  Any general tips on ride order or cool things not to miss?

3. The hours for SFMM on Friday are 10:30 AM - 8:00 PM.  Will this be enough time to hit all of the coasters (and flume if its open) with a Platinum Flash Pass?  Or would Gold be enough (Platinum is only $40 more)?  Any general tips on ride order or cool things not to miss?

4. Any suggestion on cool/unique bars to check out in the area, particularly of the LGBT-focused variety?  I'm not much of a foodie so I don't really care about that, but always appreciate a well done bar.

5. Any other general tips for surviving a few days in LA for an East-Coast-er who is generally predisposed to not like anything about California?

Thanks in advance!

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Can't be to much help on the parks since I  either haven't been ever or in a real long time.

Heard good things about the Knott's Wild West Stunt Show and Ghost Town Alive (if they are running those), and heard nothing but amazing things about Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

In general though, LA is known for its famously gnarly traffic and there are no toll roads/lanes that I know of. I think doing both Knott's and Magic Mountain is certainly achievable (especially if you do them on separate days like you have them), just be prepared for driving and at least some traffic.

The beaches are also cool of you like that kind of thing, even the ones without roller coasters.

Have fun on you trip!

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If you're doing fastlanes, all day should be plenty of time for both parks.  While Knott's is a small park, there's a lot to see and do if you include shows and food (you must have the chicken, which is really only sold outside the park at the Marketplace... sit down option is the classic Chicken Dinner Restaurant, and if you have the time, do it.  If you're more pressed for time, the Chicken To Go will do as a substitute.

As for the various SFMM Flash Pass levels, it really just depends on how badly you want to ride FT, X2, and WCR.  X2 and FT still get pretty long, slow moving lines.  WCR can get long, but shouldn't be too bad on the day you're going--most kids are still in school that day, so it should be relatively dead all day.  One caveat:  if X2 is in single train ops, I'd maybe get one, even on a slow day.  Either that, or run to it first.

Burbank airport is generally much easier, though it's a bit of a drive from their to Santa Monica... expect some traffic and parking issues.  There's a parking garage, which isn't free, but it's really your best option.  If you're already going to the pier, definitely also walk around the famous 3rd Street Promenade.

Most of the well known gay bars will be in West Hollywood.  While it's not necessarily LGBTQ, The Edison in downtown LA is a very unique experience... it's set in an old abandoned underground power plant, and they left a lot of the equipment still there.  Note it does have a dress code last time I went.  Also, if it's open by the time you arrive, Clifton's Criteria (also downtown) is another incredibility unique experience, complete with a literally "hidden" tiki bar (you have to push a certain mirrored wall to find it).  It's great, but it's also been closed due to COVID for a while.  Supposed to have reopened in October, but I still don't think it's open yet--might be by the time you arrive.  Other gay landmarks, I suggest this site:  https://www.laconservancy.org/explore-lgbtq-los-angeles

Traffic is going to be inevitable, so I load up on podcasts to listen to to make the time pass.  There's always a lot of unique and interesting happenings and events going on all the time.  I recommend sites like welikela.com to find out current happenings.  EatlerLA also gives a lot of unique food options.

 

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1. I have never been to Burbank airport, but I cannot imagine anything being worse than LAX. Good decision.

2. You should have no issue getting on every coaster at Knott's in a single day with Fast Lane. I would still recommend getting to the park as early as possible (before opening) and hit GhostRider immediately. Then go to the back of the park for HangTime, Coast Rider, and usually Xcelerator too if it's open. The Boardwalk typically stays relatively empty for the first hour or two of opening. You should then have no problem getting on the rest of the coasters and re-rides on your favorites with Fast Lane. Knott's is a very small park acreage-wise. It is very easy to get from one side to the other. Everything is so compact and close together.

3. As opposed to Knott's, SFMM is a very large park with tons of elevation change and long distances between rides. With a Flash Pass you should still be able to get on everything at least once. If you're looking for strategy, I would recommend getting there before opening and going to either X2 or Full Throttle immediately first, since these are both single-reservation rides on Flash Pass and both get insane lines very quickly. Whichever you decide, afterwards go up the hill to Superman since that isn't on any Flash Pass. I would then go down the other side of the hill to West Coast Racers (also single reservation, so ride it at this point and use your reservation later after the line builds, like with X2/FT) . After that you can pretty much do whatever you want. I have never found the Platinum to be any more useful than Gold, but during the extremely busy holiday season it very well could make a difference. I'm sure you're aware but Tatsu will be closed for its repaint, and Batman is also closed for WW construction.

I'll let others comment on 4.

5. Traffic, traffic, traffic. So many people and so much traffic. At least there are no tolls out west though. Driving from Knott's to SFMM is roughly 45-60 minutes but could very well be more with traffic.

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This. Whether you hit the restaurant, or not.

IMG_0860.JPG.00717f41e76acaabec1e73dab30ac6aa.JPG

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These are 2019 prices, by the way.

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And if you're on your own, these suggestions will probably be good for you.

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And right next door, is Knott's Bakery, with awesome boysenberry tarts to buy for a great dessert.

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Thanks everyone for the tips!  My time off from work was approved, so the trip is booked!  I was able to get a hotel cheap enough right in Santa Monica, a block off and a half the beach, so yeah totally excited.

Final Itinerary:
-Arrive at Burbank Airport on Wednesday, 12/8 at 12:45
-Check in to hotel, then check out the "Boardwalk," Pier and 3rd Street Promenade.
-Back to the hotel to get changed into proper nightlife close, check out bars.
-Thursday, 12/9, full day at Knotts Berry Farm (Fast Lane included on my Platinum Pass)
-Friday, 12/10, full day at SFMM (Platinum Flash Pass purchased)
-Fly out at 9:00 AM on Saturday, 12/9.

One new question: Any idea how many of the kiddie coaster credits I can get at these parks, or do they all require a child?

 

On 11/21/2021 at 12:27 PM, swfan1988 said:

In general though, LA is known for its famously gnarly traffic and there are no toll roads/lanes that I know of. I think doing both Knott's and Magic Mountain is certainly achievable (especially if you do them on separate days like you have them), just be prepared for driving and at least some traffic.

The beaches are also cool of you like that kind of thing, even the ones without roller coasters.

Yeah, I've heard about the traffic issue.  At least there's no non-EZ-Pass tolls like down in Florida.

I do love me a good beach, and will bring my beach gear, but it's only supposed to hit 60 degrees on the days I'll be there so I'm not entirely sure if that's beach weather haha.

23 hours ago, ryder said:

Burbank airport is generally much easier, though it's a bit of a drive from their to Santa Monica... expect some traffic and parking issues.  There's a parking garage, which isn't free, but it's really your best option.  If you're already going to the pier, definitely also walk around the famous 3rd Street Promenade.

Most of the well known gay bars will be in West Hollywood.  While it's not necessarily LGBTQ, The Edison in downtown LA is a very unique experience... it's set in an old abandoned underground power plant, and they left a lot of the equipment still there.  Note it does have a dress code last time I went.  Also, if it's open by the time you arrive, Clifton's Criteria (also downtown) is another incredibility unique experience, complete with a literally "hidden" tiki bar (you have to push a certain mirrored wall to find it).  It's great, but it's also been closed due to COVID for a while.  Supposed to have reopened in October, but I still don't think it's open yet--might be by the time you arrive.  Other gay landmarks, I suggest this site:  https://www.laconservancy.org/explore-lgbtq-los-angeles

 

Thanks a lot of the bar recommendations!  I've really only got one "night out" but I'll try to hit as a many as I can.  I'll definitely check out the 3rd Street Promenade too.

17 hours ago, thrillseeker4552 said:

5. Traffic, traffic, traffic. So many people and so much traffic. At least there are no tolls out west though. Driving from Knott's to SFMM is roughly 45-60 minutes but could very well be more with traffic.

Thanks, I'll definitely plan ahead.  I'm used to getting to parks super-early anyway haha.

15 hours ago, Nrthwnd said:

This. Whether you hit the restaurant, or not.

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Normally I'm not a big chicken person, but with all of you recomending it how can I pass it up?

Thanks again, everyone!

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Fortunately, you shouldn't hit too much traffic going from Santa Monica to Valencia on Friday morning, as commuter traffic will be going the other direction. The only typical trouble spot is where the NB 405 meets the 101. Same thing heading back to Santa Monica - although traffic should die down by park closing.

Going to Knott's, you will be traveling with commuter traffic. If you get on the road either before 6:00 AM or after 10:00 AM, it should take you 35-50 minutes, but - during the worst part of traffic - it should take you a little over an hour. Again, traffic heading back north should mostly die down by park closing.

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My bar suggestion is ..... get up to the West Hollywood area.

"Used to be" .... during my visits there, there were a lot of bars in just that area. All within walking, too.

But - that was then. There may be a few bars in the Anaheim/Buena Park area too. Google it, and you'll find out.

 

It's so f-ing easy to find bars and such places, nowadays. Compared to "my bar days back then". Rant over.

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On 11/22/2021 at 2:47 PM, Mike240SX said:

One new question: Any idea how many of the kiddie coaster credits I can get at these parks, or do they all require a child?

The kiddie coaster at Knott's, Timberline Twister, has a hard height limit of 69", and one of them at Magic Mountain, Magic Flyer, has a height limit of 54", so depending upon your size, you may be out of luck for at least one if not both of those. The other three kiddie coasters at Magic Mountain (Canyon Blaster, Road Runner Express, Speedy Gonzales Hot Rod Racers) don't have any upper limits, and it honestly depends upon the ride ops in charge on the day you visit. On my first visit I was able to get on all three of them, on a repeat visit I was not allowed to ride Canyon Blaster by myself (ironically, the largest of the three) but had no problems with the other two.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Please do let us know. I have a trip planned for December 26-January 2. The plan was to do KBF, SFMM, CGA, and SFDK. Then my daughter's school was announced for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on the 28th. She's over the moon that we are going to that. It really mucked up the plan, but I think all four parks are still doable with less sightseeing.

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2 hours ago, hoppedup said:

Please do let us know. I have a trip planned for December 26-January 2. The plan was to do KBF, SFMM, CGA, and SFDK. Then my daughter's school was announced for the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on the 28th. She's over the moon that we are going to that. It really mucked up the plan, but I think all four parks are still doable with less sightseeing.

I can't speak for the NorCal parks, but I wouldn't go anywhere near SFMM or KBF that week. It is one of the most crowded weeks of the year at both of those parks. SFMM sometimes hits capacity during that week - which doesn't even happen during the summer. If you do decide to go, definitely plan on Flash Passes / Fast Lane. Food lines will be insane, as well, so plan on eating outside the parks.

SFMM will also be enforcing the vaccine/test mandate that week, so be sure to bring either your vaccine card or a negative test result with you. They will have a testing station set up outside the park, but - for your own sanity - don't plan on waiting in that line.

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Well, I got in to CA yesterday and hit up the Santa Monica Pier and their coaster. Unfortunately I was dead tired after that and went right to bed, sleeping 13 hours. Now at KBF a little early ..IMG_20211209_090309014_HDR.thumb.jpg.2ec6395c7604883bd9c2bf6f1908c1b9.jpg

I didn't hit as much traffic as expected driving down from Santa Monica LOL.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I guess it's about time I posted this report LOL.  So here we go, my first time to California, December 8-11, 2021.

Day 1:  The Flight Out and Santa Monica

My flight out was mostly uneventful, but I do have a few notes:

-Flying out of BWI (Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport) was quite nice compared to Philadelphia.  Might help that I was there super-early in the morning, but I didn't encounter much of any security line and the airport itself is laid out well.  Parking was slightly cheaper (but you did have to take a bus to the airport), and plenty of outdoor smoking zones.  Unfortunately, for me, there are about $15 dollars in tolls round-trip, so it only makes fiscal sense to fly out of there (compared to PHL) if the trip is 5 days or more.
-I had a 45 minute layover in Chicago Midway, which is kinda close to Soldier's Field, for anyone who is really into overhead views of football stadiums:

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-That 45 minutes was barely enough time to get off the first plane, hit the bathroom, and get in line for the second plane's boarding.  I don't know how people make change-plane layovers shorter than that.
-Hollywood Burbank Airport was something else.  Super-tiny (only one story), and there aren't even any sky-bridges - you have to board/depart the aircraft on an outdoor ramp - and extremely limited food and beverage options.  On the plus side, everything in there is "street priced," meaning no typical airport markup.

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-Hertz left something to be desired.  Yeah, I get it, there's a rental car shortage, but that doesn't mean the screen for Gold members has to be down nor that a Gold member should have to wait in a 30-minute line.  By the time I was approached by an agent and directed to the cars, I had only one choice:  a Ford Fiesta.

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-The car was nice enough I guess...drove straight and got 35mpg on my trip; a little light on power and the satellite radio wasn't hooked up, though.

Anyway, after a quick pit stop at a supermarket for enough Red Bulls to get me through the trip, I began my drive to my hotel.  Holy crap is gas expensive out here!  I saw everything from $4.25 to $5.25 for regular; back in Delaware it's around $3.30.  Good thing I got an economical car, I guess.

My hotel was the Sea Shore Motel, around a block and a half off the beach in Santa Monica.  Sadly, I neglected to grab any pictures, but the place was decent for what I paid.  It reminded me a lot of the beach-town motels from NJ.  WiFi was kinda spotty, and the AC unit was super loud, but at least the beds were hard (as I prefer).

After getting settled in, I made my way down to the beach.  Man, was it pretty.

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Though it was a bit too cold to actually lay out or go in the water (around 65 degrees), I did of course stick my toes in the Pacific Ocean just to say I did.  I continued my walk northbound towards the pier...there it is!

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Is there where I go up?

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Apparently not....the only way on to the pier from beach level were the stairs on the south side, about halfway down.  I took in the street performers and vendors, and marveled at the amount of homeless people just chilling, and made my way to the official park entrance.

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I had a good idea of what was here, so I didn't really need to walk around, but here's two pictures of the ride prices, which honestly don't make much sense to me.  "I'm not paying that much to go on Scrambler 1!"IMG_20211208_152130431_HDR.thumb.jpg.6d71d585f7d6bad2785238438ce20051.jpgIMG_20211208_152132941_HDR.thumb.jpg.f82dfd9b11f8643eb915d732e97a02bd.jpg

Anyway, I bought a rides card with $10 of credits, and made my way over to my whole reason for being here:

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Nerd shots:

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Seriously though, who makes these trains?  They had restraints like Morgans but something about them just felt off.

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Anyway, what did I think of the smallest, most-boring, Morgan "hyper" layout ever?  Surprisingly I had a couple of pops of air in the back row, but yeah, it's a kiddie coaster disguised as an adult ride.  Got two laps, at least.

Ferris Wheel? Psh, the one in Grand Theft Auto 5 looks better.

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On that note, I was very much expecting a plethora of shops to line the beach/boardwalk area, as is seen in GTA5's rendition of Santa Monica, and was sorely disappointed.  Anyway, I took a walk up to street level to grab a picture of the famous sign...

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...and then grabbed some food and made my way back to my hotel via one of those awesome app-rental electric scooters like I had first experienced in Indianapolis.  Seriously, every city needs these.

Once I got back to my hotel, I pretty much passed right out.  I had been awake for something close to 20 hours, and was definitely feeling it.

Bonus: 3rd Street Promenade

This actually didn't happen until the second night of my trip, but while I'm talking about the city I might as well talk about this here.

Thanks to the recommendation of @ryder, I spent some time walking around this open-air shopping plaza.  Plenty of street performers here too, including one awesome female vocalist on a guitar that I had to drop $10 into the case for.  Surprisingly, a ton of homeless here too - I would've expected the local constabulary to keep the tourist area free of them.  Most of the shops were well out of my price range, but it was cool to see.  Here's two pictures:

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I didn't make it up to the West Hollywood area during my trip (sorry @ryderand @Nrthwnd), but did pop in to Rick's Tavern on Main and Circle Bar for some quick adult beverages.  Amusingly enough, I didn't have to show my COVax card or wear a mask in any of these places.  This really surprised me for the LA-Area of California, especially given that most of my bars in Philly have been requiring vaccination for months now.  Do they just assume everyone has gotten the jab?

Anyway, that about does it for city exploration.  I wish I had more time to explore the area and check things out, but it just wasn't to be on this trip.

Next up:  Knott's Berry Farm

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  • Mike240SX changed the title to Photo TR: A few days in the L.A. Area! Santa Monica, KBF, and SFMM.

Day 2: Knott's Berry Farm

So on the advice of many, I hit the road super-early to avoid any major traffic.  It mostly worked, resulting in my arrival at KBF at around 8:30 for a 10:00 opening.  Oh well, plenty of time for pictures!

My parking spot, with a little something in the background.

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Cool fountain out in the Marketplace area.

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Main entrance.

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Historical plaque.

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And chickens!  Yes, these chickens were just wandering around, going into shops...quite amusing.

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At opening, I made my way inside (grabbing my Fast Lane band from the ticket checker guy? Odd) and bee-lined it for the whole reason this trip existed:  Montezooma's Revenge.  I wasn't sure what the weather was going to do later in the day, and I had no idea about its downtime record, so I wanted to get it out of the way.  On the way, I passed by a cute and very old Ferris wheel (not operating):

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Finally, I had arrived:

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Montezooma's Revenge: What did I think of the last operating Schwarzkopf shuttle loop in the US?  Honestly a little underwhelming.  The launch wasn't as forceful as I thought it would be, but you do pull some serious Gs through the loop, and how can you not love that classic Schwarzkopf sound?  My first ride was in the front row, and later in the day I'd grab a ride in row 11 to close out the day.  Both were walk-ons with FL.  7/10.

I then made my way over to the longest family coaster I've ever been on, Jaguar!.  Which you couldn't tell the name from the building aside from that super-tiny sign:

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But I guess you could from the exit?

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Jaguar!: Why is there an exclamation point in this ride's name LOL?  Fun little ride...no real airtime even in the back, but decent laterals.  Two lift hills, super-long ride.  Walk-on.  5/10.

Continuing my walk around, I came across a big ol' "nope" machine right here:

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But I am surprised that more parks don't have these; the only other one I've ever seen was at Carowinds.

I then grabbed a ride on Silver Bullet, and took a TON of pictures of it.  Here are a few:

 

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Silver Bullet: Okay, I get the story.  But why is the only part of the coaster that's silver the supports?  Wouldn't it make more sense for the train, or track, to be silver?  Whatever haha.  A solid B&M invert with snappy transitions.  Walk-on ride for the back row initially, with a two-train wait for the front row later in the day.  Unlike most B&Ms, I actually preferred this in the front. 8/10.

Next coaster up was Pony Express, with these wonky seats/restraints:

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Pony Express: This was my first time on one of these, and it was pretty fun!  I expected the seats/restraints to be uncomfortable (as most Zamperlas are), but there was no discomfort at all!  Way too short, but something like this would be a great fit for smaller parks like Dorney or Morey's.  Walk-on for the front row.  7/10.

Next up was Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair.

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KBF: RttF: Note that I have obviously never been on the old version of this.  I dug the fact that the whole front of the car slides to act as the restraint.  I did not dig the inaccurate gun, odd shooting mechanism (pulling on the thing on the back), or heavily screen-based nature of the ride.  That said, it was cute and a fun diversion.  I scored 138,000, and noted the best all-time score at the end was over 1 million, so yeah.  Two car wait. 6/10.

Making my way around the boardwalk area, I then came across HangTime.

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HangTime: It's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of these Gerstualer coasters.  That said, despite some vibration, it was a fun ride.  I have to say though, the dive-drop on B&Ms is a lot better than the slanted-hold-drop of these.  Walk-on for the back row. 7/10.

Sorry, Chance fans, but Wipeout was MIA:

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I then hopped on Coast Rider: Whatever, it's a mouse.  Entertainingly, they actually allow multiple cars out on the track at once - I didn't think Cedar Fair was allowed to do that LOL.  Walk-on.  4/10.

I then snapped a bunch of pictures of the paint work on Xcelerator, but I guess the recent posts in the KBF thread took care of that, so I'll spare you.

After that, I jumped on the Timber Mountain Log Ride: Great long flume with nice scenes, but I did get quite wet, which is never very fun unless it's 80+ degrees out, which it most certainly was not. Walk-on. 7/10.

Next up was the Calico Mine Ride.  A ride that actually has a true operator!  Here's their control station:

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Calico Mine Ride: This was really, really cool.  Nice and long, great animatronics, and the fact that it was a dark ride with an actual driver just blew my mind.  About a 10 minute wait (they were only using one train). 9/10.

Next up was a lap on the Calico Railroad: This is a full-scale steam train, something you don't see in many parks.  Fun fact:  When I was a little kid, I was absolutely enamored with steam trains.  This was just so cool to me.  The actors who interact with the passengers were great too.  Only thing that could have made it better was some more scenery/props along the route. 9/10.  And some nerd pictures!

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It was Merry Farm, but you'd generally be hard pressed to tell during the day.  Maybe it's just because it wasn't dark, but I didn't notice anywhere near the level of decoration that Kings Dominion does.

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Some rain had started to come through, which of course closed almost all the major rides.  With this downtime, I took a lap on the Grand Sierra Railroad: This is a kiddie-train, smaller in scale, but still a real steam engine, which is always nice.  Some cute stationary Snoopy props that told a story, even if the audio came on about 30 seconds after passing the scene it described.  5/10.

Once the rain had stopped, I took advantage of my shortness and got a ride on the Timberline Twister: A classic kiddie coaster, but a kiddie coaster none the less.  Couple of extremely minor pops of air, but otherwise meh.  15 minute wait for the back row.  4/10.

With everything now running again, I made my way over to GhostRider.  No pictures, unfortunately (even though it is super-easy to get shots of).  WOW!  Half-train waits for both front and back row.  Insane laterals, smooth ride, nice airtime, tons of speed.  I really wasn't expecting this to be as good as it is, but it's a new #4 wooden coaster for me.  11/10.

I was still kinda tired, so I grabbed my second rides on Silver Bullet and Montezooma.  Here's a video of the entire cycle:

To truly close out the day, I grabbed another lap on the Grand Sierra Railroad for the sole purpose of taking some more pictures of Montezooma.  Enjoy.

Yes, that's the flywheel mechanism behind the fence!  So old school cool!

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And the loop.  Something about the way these Schwarzkopf loops look just screams out to me.IMG_20211209_155754996.thumb.jpg.0124fc7bf09ac8b283c7691e0e7ccd82.jpgIMG_20211209_155756535_HDR.thumb.jpg.76e049db08cf43ef588a9d8e82f8f665.jpgIMG_20211209_155758097_HDR.thumb.jpg.153a17a0657b56b8f2e8b516ad480742.jpg

After that, I headed out and made the drive back to my hotel, took a shower, and then went out for the night in Santa Monica (see above).

All in all, Knott's was a very fun park without many standout rides.  Aside from GhostRider, nothing really blew me out of the water.  The Ghost Town area was cool but not really my scene.  None of the typical shows were running (entirely Christmas programming).  I am definitely glad I came though, and will be back...I need those credits on Xcelerator and Sierra Sidewinder (which was down for maintenance almost the entire time I was here).  Hopefully Montezooma is still around whenever that happens.

Now that I've added another CF park to my repertoire, here are my updated rankings (out of the one's I've been to):

1. Kings Island
2. Cedar Point
3. Kings Dominion
4. Carowinds
5. Knott's Berry Farm
6. Dorney Park
7. Michigan's Adventure

Next Up:  Six Flags Magic Mountain

EDIT: Sorry everyone, but I did not try the chicken....it's just not something I regularly eat.  I did try the mac & cheese and biscuits from the Chicken-to-Go place, but was rather disappointed in both.

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With all the hoopla and stuff in the Disney parks, I love Knott's for (yes) it's GhostTown and general ambiance through-out the park. Much easier to deal with, than Disney, every time. And staying at the Knott's Hotel is an extra plus IMhO. Will always stay there in future trips.

Another great TR of your visit!

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^ I thought Sierra Sidewinder was one of The Best Spinners I'd ever been on!

(Of the spinners I have been on to this date).

I think I rode it five times during our last visit in Sept.2019!

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Day 3: Six Flags Magic Mountain

Friday morning, I made the drive up to Valencia for my final park of this trip, Six Flags Magic Mountain.  I have to say this:  Why is there zero radio station reception in between LA and Valencia?  It made the car ride quite boring.

Anyway, I arrived around 10:00 and was maybe the 20th car in the lot.  As with SFoG, you get a nice look at part of the coaster collection from the lot:

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"Sorry folks, the moose out front shoulda told you."

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Anyway, I grabbed my Flash Pass and proceeded to X2 at the recommendation of pretty much everyone.

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Yep, that's one "unit" operating - this would be par for the course today, with almost every coaster only running one train.

X2: Listen, I'm proud to say on got on the coaster that put Arrow out of business.  Absolutely insane and not in a good way.  Rattly, janky, the cars had some free rotation to them which I'm pretty sure they weren't supposed to have.  Just bleh.  How can this be in some people's top 10 lists, I'll never understand. Walk-on for the front row.  2/10 just for the uniqueness.  And how typical Six Flags for them to leave one of the parking tracks painted the old colors:

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Viper wasn't running yet, or I would have grabbed it while I was in the area, so instead I headed back the way I came to...

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Full Throttle: (Side note, I seriously miss the word filters the old forum used to have).  Anyway, this one was a decent ride.  Hang time was nice, the launch was weak, and the brakes on the down side of the camelback grab way too hard.  But it wasn't terrible?  Two train wait for row 2.  5/10.

Next up was the wave of the kiddie coasters.  I got on Canyon Blaster, Speedy Gonzales' Hot Rod Racers, and Road Runner Express. Magic Flyer was no dice for me, with it's hard height limit of 54 inches - I'm short but not that short LOL. None of them warrant further mentioning or ratings.

Next on the agenda of proper adult rides was Goliath, with its comically large sign and weird-ass trains.

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Goliath: My first Giovanola, a decent ride with some floater air and great positive Gs in the helix.  But WHY does the MCBR bring the train to a complete halt when there's only one train on the track?  22 minute, three train wait, for back row (with Flash Pass!).  6/10.  At least here's a picture of the helix, buried behind the mess of supports:

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Onward to Twisted Colossus: A coaster actually running multiple trains, gasp!  And amazingly, I got a race for the first half of the course too (most of the time they were missing the mark).  It's a decent RMC, but I'd rank it pretty far down the list of ones I've been on, despite its length.  Two train wait for back row. 8/10.

Right next door was Scream!: At least the exclamation point makes sense here haha. Entertaining enough, not a lot of rattle, but nothing really notable except that no-longer-the-worlds-biggest loop.  Half-train wait for the back row. 7/10.  Here's a shot of that giant loop at least:

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Up next was Riddler's Revenge: Probably the 2nd best B&M stand up I've been on (after Mantis), but that's not saying much.  I don't mind these as much as most people, because I know how to ride them, but still not my preferred riding position.  One train wait for back row. 6/10.

I then grabbed a lap on Goldrusher: Your standard Arrow mine train.  Notably, it still had the skid brakes, which was cool to actually see (they were long gone from SFGAdv's mine train by the time I was coaster-riding age).  I liked how it interacted with the landscape and the rides around it.   One train wait for the front row.  5/10.

Working my way around the back half of the park to its corner, I then rode Apocolypse:  Easily the worst GCI I've been on.  No air, insanely rough...just WTF.  As bad as Roar at SFA.  Burn it down.  That said, the station flyby was cool (which I didn't get a picture of because, y'know, one train).  I'd say they should add seats to the old audio equipment car at the back of the train, but that would just permit more people to experience this pile of trash. 10 minute wait for row 7. 0/10.

Next up was West Coast Racers: The only thing I recorded in my post-ride notes video was "meh."  That should say everything.  Comfort collars weren't uncomfortable for me, but they serve no purpose. This ride is the definition of mediocrity. 5/10.

Making my way up the hill to Ninja, I spotted this:

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Sweet, I would get to ride Tatsu today!  This trip was prior to the announcement that the painting had been put on pause, so this was a great surprise.

Ninja:  Pretty good, quite long, lots of cool dives down by the water, and a lift hill at the end of the ride is always entertaining.  Walk on for back row.  7/10.  I totally love how this interacts with the flume:

Does anyone know what this building next to the tower was formerly used for?  I couldn't figure it out.

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And this would be as close as I could get to Superman today, which was quite a bummer:

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Made my way down the other side of the hill next to Tatsu: Easily the best flyer I've ever been on, and I'm not usually a fan of these.  Great forces in the pretzel loop, very unique layout.  I even rank it higher than Manta at SWO.  Three train way for back row (only one train running). 8/10.

Second to last here was Viper, with it's old-school Arrow-ness, awesome station, and super-high-in-the-air loop: IMG_20211210_151635306_HDR.thumb.jpg.085d4435c462dbdca417e1ab1de7ce0f.jpgIMG_20211210_150349796_HDR.thumb.jpg.d0474b76e8e57244c08ca85421a09ba9.jpg

Viper: This has held up very well for its age.  Slightly headache afterwards, of course, but still a good ride.  I like this layout a lot more than Great American Scream Machine had at SFGAdv; not going into the MCBR at a 45 degree angle makes all the difference.  And it's certainly better than Anaconda.  15 minute, three-train wait for the front row (again, one train). 6/10.

Last up on the agenda here was something I knew would be great, the classic Revolution.  Note that every other sign I saw except this one still called it "New Revolution" from the failed VR experiment.

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Revolution: Such an awesome solid Schwarzkopf.  Despite the new trains and being a bit too heavy on the trim brakes, this was great.  The gentle slope down to the loop is so unassuming...you don't realize you're picking up speed until the entry to the loop, and then BOOM 4+ Gs. Front row, two train wait.  8/10.  Here's a bunch of pictures of this classic ride:

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After that, I made my way out of the park at around 4:00 to get back to my hotel so I could get to bed for my early flight out.

As a whole, this park just screams Six Flags...there's a whole bunch of coasters, a bunch of kids rides, and not much else.  Note that I did skip out on the funicular, despite how cool I think they are...looking at one was enough for today.  I also skipped the flume, as I didn't want a repeat of the wetness I got on the one at KBF, and Superman and Batman were closed.  Is having the record for most coasters in one park really anything if most of them aren't great?

My Six Flags park rankings now stand as such:

1. over Georgia
2. Great America
3. New England
4. Great Adventure
5. Magic Mountain
6. America

And that about wraps up this trip.  My flight home the next day was pretty uneventful, but I do have to say holy hell is the Salt Lake City airport (where I had a 2 hour layover) a horrible design:  from my gate to the exit for a smoke break was easily a 30 minute walk each way.  It was also pouring when we were pulling in to land at Baltimore, resulting in this awesome out-the-window view:

 

Thanks for reading, everyone!

 

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I seem to remember, that the "oriental themed" bldg. you were asking about ...used to be an Asian-style eating spot?

Just my memory of .... I'm sure some one more local could tell you.

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Nope, you're thinking of the Four Winds/The Laughing Dragon, which was behind it.  That particular building was originally a dual station as a terminal point for two different skyway systems (Eagle's Flight) that met there.  The building is now used as a haunt space for FF, but they have to build around the enormous concrete footer that's right in the middle of it.

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^There was, it's the building by Superman.  You can actually see the "The Laughing Dragon" name still painted in the pic on this post.

One unique piece of trivia about the Sol Spin (Mondial Space Roller) at Knott's... it's the only one to have 6 across seating.  They normally only have 5.  This is because it sits on the footprint originally used for Windseeker, which got really bad press when it stalled out for like 3 hours at a high spot.  It was removed and sent to I believe Worlds of Fun, and Mondial offered to put in the space roller using the old Windseeker footer, but the standard model was too small for the space... so they customized it just for Knotts.

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