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Dave And Mary Go To SFMM


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So in our continuing LA adventures from a few weeks ago, we continue our park journey with a visit to SFMM. Other than Hersheypark, SFMM is the park that I’ve visited the most times in my life. We used to visit almost every week when we lived in Glendale in the ‘90’s, so I’m very familiar with this park and its ups and downs. This place doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation, though I’ve always thought of it as an “OK” park. They’ve got some decent rides, but the way they handle crowds and other operational issues can be a problem. Since my last visit in January 2001, the park had added three coasters, including X, which I was curious to ride, and Déjà Vu, which I figured I would actually see operate…

 

We decided to go to SFMM on Saturday afternoon, since the park now sells passes for the same price as admission, making a getting a pass a no-brainer, but at the same time no doubt greatly increasing the pass processing time. After getting to the park and seeing the missing overflow parking lot, we headed up to the front. We were slightly delayed at the ticket booth as the two individuals in front of us didn’t have enough money to buy their tickets. I gave them fifty cents, not out of any sort of civic duty, but more to keep the line moving! Pass slip now in hand, we head to the pass processing center, and were surprised to find the line only reasonably short, but the folks inside pretty efficient. The photographer guy, though, was bemused and confused by the shirts Mare and I were wearing (she, Enchant. I, Edguy. Count on us to promote our obscure bands!).

 

We didn’t plan to really ride anything, but decided to take a lap around the park. The place looked pretty much the same as I remembered it, likely a bit worse for wear, but still seemed pretty familiar, unlike Knott’s, which had really changed in four years. The park was very busy and packed with cheerleaders, so the lines were pretty long. We eventually got to Déjà Vu, and I got to see what I had sort of expected: It was not running. In fact, the train and a section of track were gone, so there’s no way it was going to run any time soon. Actually, I was sort of happy about this, as I had now achieved the feat of seeing all the DV’s in the country not operating. I vowed to have my picture taking in front of it tomorrow to capture the honor…

 

We eventually found ourselves over by Scream, and with Fastlane tickets in hand, headed towards the ride. The line was damn long, so the Fastlane tickets were very useful. We sat in the back, and after watching all sorts of screwing around by the operators and guests (There was some sort of VIP crowd that seemed to take over about three trains and involved a lot of switching of seats for some random reason) we were off. Scream is an OK ride. Not horrible, not great. It’s Medusa, without the hot monkey car destruction action like you’d get at SFGAdv. It is kind of weak that SFMM couldn’t be bothered to at least paint over the parking lot where they plopped down the ride almost RCT-style, but it’s not a huge distraction. This is the sort of ride I’d get on if the line was very short, but wouldn’t wait more than ten minutes for it.

 

We headed out of the park after that, and enjoyed an evening of Mario Party and In And Out food. Mary is the burger connoisseur (I keep telling her she should start burgermeister-meisterburger.com and review them), and she enjoyed her first taste of In & Out, though we agree that the fries are ass.

 

Anyway, bright and early next morning we find ourselves back in front of SFMM. Not long after arrival, we meet up with Mr. Six and his cousin Wendy, and DaBear and his friend. We also meet the Supercrack family. Gregg, Kristi and their kids are really cool, and Gregg was wearing a Rush t-shirt, showing that some other folks can have decent taste in music…;) Not long after that, Gregg got into a wrestling match with his clothing, and seemed to defeat it after a mighty struggle…;)

 

Now, I was witness to something I had NEVER seen at SFMM: the park opened the gates 20 minutes early! I had never seen that before, but it gave me a chance to join the mad run to X early. And I do mean run, as that’s what everyone does (OK, at my age the run quickly devolved into a really fast walk). You apparently have to run, as if you’re not at the front of the line, you’ll have quite the lengthy wait. I found it odd that park security didn’t seem to care that people were running like madmen through their park, as this usually seems to be a pretty big deal at other parks. But anyway, we soon gathered near the bridge to X (minus Mary, as since X spins there’s no way she was going to ride it) and waited for the ride to open. Not long after that, I noticed something else I have never seen at SFMM: rides running with people before 10! Yes, Viper and Revolution were both giving rides fifteen minutes or so before the park opened. Very shocking! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Six Flags park running rides early, so this was indeed unusual.

 

Right at 10, the gate across the bridge is opened, and again a mad dash is made to the ride. Again, I’m shocked that no one at SFMM seems to care that people are running across a bridge and pushing past each other, as you’d think this would be a prime area for guest injury. Perhaps I’m just odd in thinking about this stuff, but I wonder how many people do get hurt here. Anyway, we make our way into the ride (after laughing at people that ran past the entrance! Dumbasses!), and Elissa and I end up the first people in line for the last seat on the train. I have taunted Elissa for years about having to ride X with me, but I never thought she’d actually do it! Considering the face she made four years ago when it was suggested that she should ride with me, she has certainly gotten a lot braver…anyway, about a minute or so later, we’re loading, and a bit after that, we’re off.

 

I had heard all sorts of stories about X, including how rough it is and how it will yank out your spine and beat you to death with it and all that. I had seen video, watched it in action, but still didn’t really “know” the layout. The ride up the lift seems to take forever, but once you’re over the top, I experienced probably the most disorienting ride I’ve ever had on a coaster. And not the most comfortable. It’s not totally brutal, but I did get bounced around a lot, especially my legs, which were bouncing all over the place and taking a good pounding. The ride ends at about the time I was thinking “OK, I’ve had enough” and we exit. I remember saying afterwards I’d never ride it again, but that’s probably not true. I would NEVER wait in a 4 hour line for it, that’s for sure. Not even an hour. X is an interesting idea, but it’s not exactly comfortable, and it might be better with the restraints used on the flying coasters, and maybe with some way to brace your legs better. It was indeed an unique experience, though it certainly would need some design changes if they were going to build more of them.

 

With another credit out of the way (Yay!), we headed into the park, and ran into Eric “EBL” and his daughter and her friend. It was nice to meet someone close to my own age…;). They accompanied us on our journey to DV for my picture. I now have my picture in front of all three non-operating Déjà Vu coasters. Woot! Go Vekoma! That task accomplished, we headed over towards Riddler’s and Batman, but noticing no line at Goldrusher, stopped there for a ride. This is still a fun ride, and it would be a shame if they took it out as rumored for their new “xtreme” coaster or whatever the hell they’re going to build. I was looking for random dirt scrapings, spilled paint, broken sticks or randomly scattered trash cans indicating construction, but was unsuccessful. Riddler’s Revenge was next, and it was still running well, and other than the Georgia Scorcher, is the only stand up coaster I like. Not totally forceless, and still pretty smooth. Mary can’t quite get her brain around a stand up coaster, so she skipped this one.

 

Batman was next, and after the near-forceless Silver Bullet the day before, this really seemed to pack a punch. Really, it’s the difference between a ride that offers a smooth graceful experience, and one that kicks your ass and laughs at you while it does it. The Batman rides are still among the best B&M coasters out there, and it’s a shame they don’t build them like this any more.

 

We were going to ride Colossus, but it was down. We thought about heading to Goliath, but it also appeared to be down, so we took another Scream ride. Still miss the monkeys. Maybe they could put a monkey colony in the middle of the ride and let them dismantle Déjà Vu trains. Goliath was running again, so we took a ride near the front. It’s now the tallest coaster Mary has been on, though she and I both laughed when it came to an almost dead stop on the brake run. The Helix Of Death was still pretty intense, though this ride would have been so much better with some bunny hops after it. The ride still doesn’t feel like a “complete” hypercoaster to me.

 

At this point, after a trip through Bugs Bunny land (or whatever it’s called) and getting out picture taken with some characters, we called it a day. It wasn’t a bad visit to SFMM, we had a good time, though more due to the fact that the people we were with than the park. The place just seems sad and a bit run down. The park was pretty dead even though it was a nice day, which contributed to the amount of rides we got on. I’m glad I rode X, and hey, perhaps some day I’ll actually get on a Déjà Vu, or at least see one run with people…

 

We had a great time on our LA visit, though we had just as much fun (if not more) just hanging out and playing video games and stuff as we did at the parks. I missed out on two credits, but then again, have already gotten three times as many as I did all last year. Thanks to everyone we hung out with, especially Robb and Elissa for putting up with us for two days…

 

Next stop for us: Orlando

 

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