August, 2018 TR: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
About a month ago, my GF and I were invited to a wedding up in NorCal and decided to squeeze in some coasters while we were up there. I hadn't yet visited any of the NorCal parks (or any other Six Flags parks besides Magic Mountain), so I was excited to check this place out.
On a Thursday morning in mid-August, we hopped a plane from Burbank up to San Jose, rented a car, and took off to ride some coasters. We planned on visiting SFDK and CGA on this trip; since only SFDK was open on that Thursday, it was easy to decide which park to visit that day.
We arrived at the park around noon, and the first thing we noticed was how clean and well-organized the parking lot is. SFMM's parking lot is a mess of potholes, trash, and people driving the wrong way down one-way streets to try and grab a good parking spot. SFDK's lot was wide open, clean, and well-maintained. Like SFMM, this park also had shuttles running between the lot and the park, but with it being a sunny, 75-degree day, we decided to walk... which led to the second thing we noticed - how long it takes to walk from the lot to the park. I believe it took around 20 minutes to walk from our parking spot to the park, but we did stop to take a few pictures of the lake. Still, it's odd that they have you walk around a lake and half of the park to reach the entrance.
The inside of the park was really clean, as well. This cool fountain greets guests as they enter the main plaza.
After checking out the front of the park, we grabbed some lunch - at which point we realized that the only food items this park offers are burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, and hot dogs, though the chili dog and chicken nuggets we had were pretty tasty. They make up with this with the fact that there's NO BEER JAIL. Yes, you're allowed to buy a beer and walk around the park with it! That's unheard of at SFMM.
After lunch, we headed over to the east side of the park to check out the coasters. The premier ride of the trip was the park's Premier Ride - Superman Ultimate Flight (which I just realized I neglected to take a picture of). This was my first Sky Rocket II, and I have to say it blew me away. It didn't look like much in the POV, but it's more intimidating in person. Since we visited this park on a Thursday while school was in session, we walked right on.
The ride ops are quite pushy at this park - which I didn't mind, because it really sped up operations. After we quickly grabbed seats in the back row, the ride ops ran down the line and checked restraints for all 5 people on the train.
The first launch was the scariest part of the ride, IMO. It takes you about 1/3 of the way up the front spike, where you start to wonder how the train will even make it to the very top. But before you finish that thought, you're launched backward up a dive loop - which gives some great hangtime on the way up. Finally, you're blasted all the way up the front spike; this part is really super, man. Front-seat riders get a decent dose of ejector airtime at the top. After a slow roll, you're dropped and twisted around a couple of times before being dropped back into the station.
Overall, I really enjoyed this ride and am glad to see more parks installing these. 9/10
Next, we headed over to the park's star attraction - The Joker.
This was the only ride that had more than a 1-train wait that day, but the line was still contained inside the station. Still, with the park's stellar operations, we were quickly on the train and out of the station. After a 180-degree left turn and hopping over a few of RMC's signature pre-lift bunny hills, we were headed up the lift. As many of you know, this coaster has an odd, curved drop. It doesn't offer the same ejector as RMC's typical straight drops, but the steep angle of the top half of the drop still gives a good snap over the top of the lift hill for those sitting in the back. This coaster's layout is basically a spaghetti bowl - it's like several helixes, spiced up with inversions and bunny hills. Its first inversion was a top gun stall, which is one of my favorite moments on Twisted Colossus. After that is a circular airtime buffet.
Out of the 3 RMCs I've ridden (the other two being Twisted Colossus and Steel Vengeance), I'd rank this one third - but that's not to say I didn't like it. Its pacing felt like TC, but given the lack of racing and weaker first drop, I prefer TC. SV is in a category of its own, but that's another TR (that I started writing about 2 months ago and never finished).
I have an All-Season Picture Pass from Magic Mountain, but discovered that it doesn't work here. Apparently, SFDK and SFMM use two different companies for their on-ride cameras, and the picture passes from the two parks are incompatible. So, I only left here with one on-ride photo from the day.
After riding these two fantastic coasters, we glanced over at Harley Quinn, which was down. We decided to skip it and possibly come back to it later (spoiler: we didn't).
We started heading west, when we passed V2, which was unfortunately down. I rode Wicked Twister at Cedar Point last June and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to trying this unique version.
I stopped by the park's giant frisbee, Wonder Woman. With CraZanity opening at SFMM this year and quickly becoming my favorite flat ride, I got in line to try this one out. The ride ops were cleaning up a protein spill off of one of the seats. After waiting in line for 10 minutes or so, I decided to skip it and go check out the west side of the park.
Before hitting the coasters, I decided to swing by SkyScreamer. I'd ridden two Windseekers, but no SkyScreamers at this point. The fact that the chairs are suspended by chains instead of steel rods was slightly nerve-wracking, but its max height of 150' made it a little lackluster. It still gives a great view of the park and the surrounding neighborhoods.
I took 1-1/2 rides on this, as some woman pulled out her phone about halfway up, and the ride op stopped the ride and kicked her off.
After SkyScreamer, we were ready to get back on some coasters, so we walked across the midway and jumped on this one.
Ugh... what a terrible ride. Typically, I love vertical loops on coasters - especially loops that give some hangtime. The hangtime here was fun at first, but the ride op left us hanging at the top of the loop for 5-10 seconds at a time, every go-round; we came off the ride with splitting headaches. If this park ever decides to dismantle this ride, I'll volunteer to operate the bulldozer. 2/10
Speaking of headaches, the SLC here was closed. I have yet to ride an SLC and was hoping to ride it to see how bad it really is, but some work was being done on the lift hill.
Before heading up the hill, we took a spin on the floorless coaster, Medusa. Ho-ly cow, what a ride. The pre-drop, followed by a straight first drop, gives some great ejector air in the back. It goes through a variety of fast, forceful elements - though the experience is oddly quiet, as this coaster doesn't have the typical old-school B&M roar, due to there being houses a 1/4-mile away. Though I typically prefer floorless coasters in the front, this one is definitely a back-seat ride and my new favorite floorless. 10/10
We then headed up the hill to check out a few more rides and the animals. The pathway leading up the hill feels like a weird combination of a zoo and Six Flags. There's plenty of shady trees, animal enclosures, and jungle music, but there are still ads everywhere you look - the M&M staircase, the ad with a picture of Goliath at SFMM going upside down, the talking ice cream bars, etc.
The only coaster on the hill is Boomerang - which seems to be staple of smaller Six Flags parks. The only other Boomerang I'd ridden was the one at Knott's, but since my GF had never ridden one before, we took a spin on it. I'm not sure if this one was rougher than the one at Knott's, or if it just seemed that way because my head was simultaneously pounding and spinning from my ride on the Super Loop. Either way, it was a one-and-done for me. 5/10
By that point, the park was about an hour away from closing, so after taking a quick spin on the swinging ship, we walked around and looked at animals the rest of the day.
After grabbing another round of chicken nuggets on the way out, it was time to hit the road. I really enjoyed this park, and hope to make it back again soon.