1/10 - 1/12/03 Knott's/California Adventure (long)

Associated parks:

Monday, January 27, 2003 7:04 AM

Dates: Friday 1/10/03 - Sunday 1/12/03

Weather: Seasonably cool - high 60's - partly sunny

This trip was a birthday gift. Because it was a short weekend trip, we decided to keep ourselves on NY time - getting up early and staying up way past bedtime. However, we returned home and had zero jet lag on Monday!

I left NYC at 9AM and arrived LA at 12:30PM. We immediately headed for our hotel (Marriott Courtyard in Buena Park) and then went directly to Disney's California Adventure.

The area is pretty unspectacular until you get into Disney's Anaheim radius. This company has transformed an otherwise ugly semi-urban strip into a little vacation oasis. It seems they have tried to implement the WDW magic in an area they have less control over. The result is broad avenues lined with gorgeous palms and lush vegetation. Disney is nestled amongst this as are some holdover motels from its early days as well as a beautiful convention center.

We arrived at Disney around 3:00PM and were disappointed to find that a one-day park hopper pass was not available to anyone but Southern California residents. We paid the $47/per person ticket and headed in.

Let there be no mistake, for all the moanin' I here about the "exhorbitant ticket price", this park is an absolute jewel. Utilizingthemes from California natural and American history, Disney has developed another spectacularly themed park. The attention to detail is mind boggling and is only surpassed by the parks commitment to customer service.

We had 5 hours ahead of us and, although I'd have preferred more time, I think I got alot of bang for my bucks. Besides reviweing the two coasters, I must share two perfectly excuted special effects attractions: It's Tough To Be A Bug and Soarin' Over California. Neither should be missed. We headed into the perfectly themed new kiddie land Flik's Fun Fair, where the landscape is trainsformed into a forest of clovers lit by lightning bugs. Wonderful theming throughout - we especially loved the benches made of giant popsicle sticks.

Rising in the center of the park is Grizzly Peak. A recreation of California forest and what looked to be one of the most thrilling rafting rides in any park I've visited. The cool weather kept us from riding, but you had to look upon it with marvel.

The whole park is testament to the creativity of the imagineers, but the true excitement came as I saw Paradise Pier for the first time. If you have ever had a dream involving an amusement park, I imagine this is what a park of your dreams would look like. It wasn't particularly large, but thelay out was scrumptuous. California Screamin set a perfect roller coaster backdrop, while the Sun Wheel (a somewhat disappointing attempt to replicate Coney Island's Wonder Wheel) staked out the foreground - seeminly suspended in the lake reflecting every shimmer of light and color. To the right of the Wheel was the Orange Stinger, a great and ingenious set-up to the usual swing ride. We rode all those rides as well as the Mailboomer and Mulholland Madness.

Lines were non-existent and everything was no more than a ten minute wait. Overall I give the park a 9/10 - because I had to watch and just imagine what the park would belike with the new super-sized Tower of Terror being constructed in a whole new area of development.

The coasters:

California Screamin' (10/10) - I can't imagine any coaster enthusiast, whether a lover of steels or woodies, not LOVING this ride. From the moment you drop out of the station, the soundtrack plays through speakers between the seats. Out the first curve of the station, the train rolls to a track where waves are crashing and mist is rising. The design leaves you sitting there for a good build up to the LIM launch - waiting as the music plays omenously. The launch shoots you forward into the first blue and green neon lined tunnel and this doubleout and back NEVER let's up. It is an air-filled ride utilizing the best in woodie design elements, while ensuring the smoothness of steel. I can't even complain about the OTSR that seemed to be a bit excessive for the one inversion. It offered no problem dueto the smoothness of this ride. This is not the tallest or fastest, but I think Disney has created a "perfect" coaster.

Mulholland Madness (7/10) - Let's start off with the fact that I like a good Wild Mouse - and this is a good one. The theme - speeding cars being chased by police cars. Smooth ride, but I thought the theming could have been stronger. The operator's kept the ride and line moving like clockwork.

Hotel/Restaurant Note:
We ate at the Storytellers Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel located in the park. The lobby of this hotel is breathtaking. The dinner was great. $24.95 per person for a high-quality buffet in a nicely designed dining room.

Well, we certainly lucked out on this weekend. We became fast friends with our breakfast waitress who informed us that KBF was running a one day special: bring a can of food to the park for a local food drive and get in for $12.95 per adult. A nice savings from the usual $42/per adult.

Our hotel location afforded us the ability to walk to the park. We were there early and were amongst the first guests in the park. I was surprised by how the small footprint of the entire theme park was. The web-site says 160 acres, but the theme park itself seemed to be on a site a small fraction of that number.

The park was very clean and, again, customer service was extraordinary. The park opened on-time and we were off to the Boardwalk area to ride Xcelerator. We were the first ones on and rode the ride 5 consecutive times (four in the front seat) within the first twenty minutes of the park opening. We then went over to Supreme Scream - 254 feet up. I don't think I've been on a tower drop as tall or frightening. Once was enough. We headed to Boomerang, getting this overwith quickly for track record purposes. We were surprised to see the trademark parachute jump reduced to a kind of useless tower waiting to be dismantled.

We headed next to Fiesta Village where we climbed aboard Jaguar! I gotta say, this was a pretty good ride. Nice theming, a very long and varied track layout and...no line. We next headed to Montezooma's Revenge. A decent Intamin shuttle - but like Boomerang's I was riding this only for track record.

It was now 11:30 and we had ridden all the coasters except GhostRider. We headed over to Ghost town and join the queue, which moved nicely. For any seat it would've been 10-15 minutes, we wanted the front - so it was 5-10 minutes more. We rode this ride and rode it again and rode it again. Finally, deciding it was time for lunch. We headed to Ghost Town Grill.

We rode Ghostrider yet again and then headed to the Calico Mine Ride. This ride was the one of the first intricately themed rides and pre-dates Disneyland. It let's you see from where many Disney attractions are derived. It was slow loading, but surprisingly long and elaborate. Then it was back to GhostRider.

The park was beautiful, well maintained and friendly. It was an excellent day trip and, heck, easily worth $12.95. I expected more in theming but upon reflection it is the most heavily themed of any Cedar Fair Parks I've visited (CP, DP, MAdv). However, without Xcelerator and Ghostrider, I might have been disappointed. Overall I give the park 8/10.

The Coasters:
Ghostrider (10/10) - This ride lived up to its awesome reputation in every way. I enjoyedthe covered first drop and from there this ride never relented. It became particularly fierce and it's second run out after the first turn around. It makes a mean left turn and hauls. Parts of the ride reminded me of the velocity of Boulderdash and the end certainly rivaled the last third of The Texas Giant. If this coaster is #11 on the Wooden Internet Poll, you have to salivate to ride the top ten.

Xcelerator (10/10) - Having ridden PKD's Hypersonic XLC during its innaugural year, I can say that this ride has capitalized on the lessons of that introduction. The speed is there, but the track offers more time and elements to truly enjoy that great speed. The exhilaration is there and this baby flies.

Boomerang (4/10) - This being my 8th Boomerang. It is fair to say I am bored stiff by this seeming plague, yet obligated to ride each new one.

Jaguar! (6/10) - An easily enjoyable and well layed out family coaster.

Montezooma's Revenge (5/10) - LIM launched shuttle....Yawn.....

We passed this tiny kiddie park on the way to Disney the day before and, from the road, saw the Tree Topper coaster. We had recalled reading about this wild mouse transplanted from Australia. We got an ACE discount and entered the park for $5 each. Tiny park, that was packed. I guess this is where Disney workers take their kids. Park overall: (3/10)

The Coaster:
Tree Topper (5/10)
Funky ride with some nice head choppers. The cars were totally original. A hidden treat worth a stop for enthusiasts.

After Adventure City we drove to the coast. No use going to the west coast and not actually seeingthe coastline, eh? We arrived at Santa Monic Pier and found it to be a bit shabby, but still carnival-like in atmosphere. Lots of rides tightly packed and a nice urban mix of a crowd. Park overall: (4/10)

The Coaster:
The West Coaster (6/10) - A funky little design. It seemed to be purposely design to minimize thrills to reduce screams in a courtesy nod to the residential neighbors. Out of the station to a helix - a couple of bunny hills - a helix - back in the station - and away we go again. I gave it an extra point just for giving me two circuits for the price of one.

So 4 new parks for me and 9 new coaster in a three day trip three time zones away. It can be done!

Nothing like a big woodie first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night.


Monday, January 27, 2003 8:01 AM

Nice TR. I couldn't agree with you more that California Screamin' is the "perfect" coaster that has something for everyone. Grizzly River Run is an excellent rapids ride, though I sure wouldn't ride it if it wasn't warm outside. :)

I think that DCA is a good park, though I don't think its worth the admission price. But then again, I have lived in California all my life. Do you think the theme was more appealing to you as an out of state visitor?

Yay! Another good Knott's TR. The park must be doing a little better, as the last couple of trip reports have been quite positive. Glad you got to experience Xcelerator and Ghostrider, both are very cool rides. Did you go on the Log Ride (or was it not open when you were there)?

Anyway, glad you had a great trip to So Cal!

Xcelerator- Put the Pedal to the Metal!

Monday, January 27, 2003 8:05 AM
Mamoosh's avatar

Great TR! Glad you had a wonderful time and discovered some gems here in So Cal. I just want to make a few comments / corrections:

"We next headed to Montezooma's Revenge. A decent Intamin shuttle - but like Boomerang's I was riding this only for track record."

Monty is a Schwarzkopf shuttle, although Intamin may have had a hand in selling the ride to Knotts. You'll find that Monty, which is one of the last remaining Schwarzkopf shuttles, is a sentimental favorite among many enthusiasts.

"...Calico Mine Ride. This ride was the one of the first intricately themed rides and pre-dates Disneyland. It let's you see from where many Disney attractions are derived."

Actually Calico Mine Ride was built in the late 1960s and does not predate most of the classic Disney dark rides.

"Montezooma's Revenge (5/10) - LIM launched shuttle....Yawn....."

Monty is not LIM-launched, it is a catapult launch like Xcelerator, although it uses a flywheel instead of hydraulics. Not sure many would use "yawn" to describe it but to each his own ;)

Other than those minor corrections your report is spot-on. I agree that Adventure City, while catering to the little ones, is a hidden treasure when it comes to their mouse. And nothing can beat Dino's Wonder Wheel ;)

Thanks for the report!


Welcome to the New & Improved Coasterbuzz...tomfoolery allowed!

Monday, January 27, 2003 10:58 AM

California Adventure is simply my favorite park to visit right now. And I *love* the fact that the early reviews were less than stellar. This lowered everyone's usual Disney expectations, and allowed the park to *grow* on us, and boy did it. Only Disneyland tops CA in terms of efficiency, out of every single park I have been to. Disney just flattens every competitor to bits, still.

Knott's is running incredible! The park is smiling again and looking great. Whatever post-Perilous Plunge growing pains the park has been put through, it looks as though they have smoothed them out. Only PP's operations remain an embarrasment.

Now if we can only get SFMM up to par...

Monday, January 27, 2003 11:16 AM
Mamoosh's avatar DWeaver - Knotts has improved since last year but I wouldn't say its incredible yet. Let's see what happens at Solace.

Welcome to the New & Improved Coasterbuzz...now with 25% more tomfoolery!

Monday, January 27, 2003 11:29 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I didn't experience any water rides due to the cooler temps. I have no doubt that Grizzly Run at DCA is one of the top raft rides around.

I enjoyed the pace at Knott's. I was surprised by the small footprint of the park, but there still seems to be room to grow.

I see I got a lot of Montezooma stuff technically wrong, but I think it all comes down to the fact that I not a big fan of shuttles and I may be getting too old for loops. The combination of the two produced a ride I wasn't thrilled with - but that won't disappoint if you like these kind of coasters.

Monday, January 27, 2003 11:47 AM
Mamoosh's avatar No worries Brooklyn....I'm not an expert on coasters either but I know alot about Monty since its in my home park. Too bad you didn't come out this week...its been near 90* here...perfect for water rides ;)

Welcome to the New & Improved Coasterbuzz...now with 25% more tomfoolery!

Monday, January 27, 2003 12:09 PM

Mamoosh, I think you may have mis-understood. My last visit to Knott's was the best I have had in two years. I'm sure there is still room for improvements(there always are), but the park has done 180 degree turn for the better imo.

SFMM on the other hand, just the opposite... :(

Monday, January 27, 2003 12:13 PM
Mamoosh's avatar

DW - on my last two visits, especially the Dec 28th visit, I felt SFMM was doing much better than normal and my Jan 3rd visit to Knotts was a disaster.

I do agree...there is room for improvement at both parks.

Welcome to the New & Improved Coasterbuzz...now with 25% more tomfoolery!


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