I had the pleasure of riding one of those self-controlled top spins at IAAPA, back in 2012. It was bonkers! If I'm remembering correctly, it was made by Moser. I'd love to see one of those at every FEC in the country.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom should be one of the best parks in the Six Flags chain. This park is one half zoo and one half thrill park. As a thrill park, it has a solid steel coaster lineup. As a zoo, it has a wonderful mix of sea creatures, land critters, and shows.
But this park has a major Achilles heel. And that's the operations. This is easily the worst run park in the Six Flags chain.
I'll let the photos below do the talking.
Your eyes do not deceive you. Flash Vertical Velocity, one of the most notoriously unreliable coasters out there, was one of only two rides to open with the park.
Medusa joined Kong in the one train club.
One train on Kong is one too many.
Joker was already donning a facemask before it was cool.
Thankfully every major ride did open by mid-afternoon except the water rides (closed due to the season) and Harley Quinn (closed because it's a piece of junk).
I wasn't mad. The park was much quieter with this thing sitting idle.
And the highlight for me was undoubtedly getting some more rides on Joker. Yes it was running one train, but dispatches were much faster than my last visit even with them periodically wiping down the train. On average, I think I waited 20 or so minutes per ride. And the park was happy to honor my request for the back row since that's the money seat on Joker.
I know Joker isn't the most beloved RMC, but I really like it. I'd consider it a mid-tier RMC. I think it has one of the best first drops of any coaster. The ejector airtime and laterals combo reminds me of Expedition GeForce. The inversions have an incredible amount of hangtime, particularly the zero-G stall. And the airtime hills all seem to give stronger than average airtime for a RMC. Really the only issue with this coaster are the overbanks being throwaway elements, but it's otherwise perfect. 9 out of 10
One of the most underrated coaster drops out there in my opinion.
Look at Joker roar through Roar's old course.
This is a contender for my favorite inversion on any coaster.
One of the surprises for me was being able to ride Flash Vertical Velocity. This unique Intamin impulse coaster rarely runs, which is a shame because it's quite fun. I know the 45 degree stall/barrel roll spike was not the original intention, but I love the sensations this element provides.
On the partial ascents, you get incredible hangtime. On the full ascents, you get some solid whip through the element. This unique element is why this is my favorite impulse coaster except the rare few with a holding brake. 6.5 out of 10
The fastest man alive is fittingly the fastest ride in the park (with Medusa).
If that net weren't there, I'm sure there'd be a shower of coins.
But I personally prefer the other compact launch coaster nearby in Superman Ultimate Flight. I hadn't ridden the coaster since 2014, but I believe the seatbelts were a new addition. So is Lake Compounce's Phobia the last remaining one without either seatbelts or comfort collars?
Ultimately, I find the Sky Rocket II's all ride identically (for me at least) regardless of the restraints or number of cars. And that's fine by me since they're action-packed rides with decent launches, 2 powerful spots of ejector airtime, and great hangtime on the inversion. 7.5 out of 10
The obligatory Superman ride. The ride takes many names and forms, but usually has the same logo.
The park's newest coaster, Batman the Ride, was crammed into the same section of the park as the previous two rides. This one was of course a S&S free spin. While I'd prefer the awesome B&M invert with the same name, I do enjoy the free spins and the ride is a great use of the tiny plot of land where it was placed.
This one has an indoor section of the queue similar to the original one at Fiesta Texas, but unfortunately the flipping is more on par with the others in the Six Flags chain rather than wilder original or Arashi. 6.5 out of 10
Six Flags does not make it easy to keep track of all the Superman, Batman, and Joker rides.
This crammed section of the park also got rethemed to DC Universe when Batman was added.
I also made sure to ride Medusa several times, as it's one of my favorite floorless coasters. I think the only floorless coaster I prefer is Superman Krypton Coaster, and that's because of the quarry wall. In terms of forces and smoothness, the coasters are comparable.
I especially love the straight drop since it gives some rare airtime for a B&M looper. The vertical loop, dive loop, and zero-G roll are nice and floaty, but the final two corkscrews are quite snappy since the mid-course barely trims the train at all. 8 out of 10
Everyone craps on SFMM for Scream being a parking lot coaster, but Medusa is quietly one as well.
Every floorless coaster should have a zero-G roll. It should be a mandate.
As for the other rides I experienced, I rode a few flats such as Hammerhead Shark and Thrilla Gorilla. Hammerhead Shark has no force on the downswings, but it does give good hangtime (6 out of 10). Meanwhile Thrilla Gorilla may look like a kid's ride, but it has some deceptively strong laterals since it's one of those non-swinging himalayas and it reaches an impressive top speed (8 out of 10).
I like the subtle animal touches on some of the standard flats.
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom has as many King Kong rides as Universal.
And I also made sure to check out all of the park's animal exhibits. This is one of the things that makes Six Flags Discovery Kingdom unique compared to the rest of the chain. Those familiar with the park's history know this started as a zoo and when it became a ride park, the former parking lot became home to all the coasters. That's why all the coasters are crammed at the front of the park and the current parking lot is such an obnoxious walk to the main entrance.
The Tiger King.
Last but not least, I also caught a glimpse of the site for Sidewinder Safari being prepped. I didn't see any ride pieces nor vertical construction, and it is rumored that the ride has been potentially postponed since the link to the ride was mysteriously removed when the park closures started, but I imagine it will eventually be built. And it would be a much needed family coaster for this park that has no adult coasters without inversions.
These compact spinners go up fast, so I imagine it will be built fast when parts arrive.
So despite a slow start due to staggered openings, I ended up having a pleasant day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. The park has a solid collection of coasters and some wonderful animal exhibits. And if this park ever gets solid operations, it would be one of the best parks in the entire chain.
Since I had some time to kill on the way back to the airport, I decided to stop at Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I'm a bit ashamed of myself that I spent a whole summer in the Bay Area and never visited this picturesque vantage point since the views were incredible.
But you guys probably enjoy skyline views like this more.
"Since I had some time to kill on the way back to the airport, I decided to stop at Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I'm a bit ashamed of myself that I spent a whole summer in the Bay Area and never visited this picturesque vantage point since the views were incredible."
This comment had me cracking up, until I saw the actual pictures below it. Here's where my brain went:
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