First LA trip, Day One: SFMM

Associated parks:
None

Thursday, April 15, 2004 12:13 AM
THE CAST: -T: 31 when the trip began, my livelyhood consists of buying, selling, and training horses, and being one half of the demonic geniuses behind Chicago's own Lunatic Wrestling Federation. As smart as I like to think I am, I was still never able to comprehend the story behind Sea World Orlando's Journey To Atlantis. -Carter: 24 year old woman, the only one I've ever found who would sit through my lengthy dissertations about why SFGAm's Iron Wolf is an important coaster in the whole scheme of things, even if it is a brain-scrambling chunk of trash. She also happens to be the best damn horsewoman I've ever encountered. -Sophie: 17 year old teacup Chihuahua, making her first road trip with us. I refer to her as "Apple-Skull", and she's fond of scrambled eggs.

"Y'KNOW WHAT THEY NEED? 'XTREME' TICKET WINDOWS..."

Saturday morning, after loading up on a complimentary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express, we headed off north on I-5 toward Six Flags Magic Mountain. A bad choice of spring rolls for dinner on Thursday resulted in food poisoning on Friday, and although my reverse peristalsis had ceased, I was still not operating at full capacity. I figured that my first run on X would cure that right up. Pulling up to the parking gate, I found myself wondering Six Flags "California" is prominently displayed. After all, Great America isn't referred to as Six Flags "Illinois". Little did we know that this was only the first of mind-boggling experiences in store for us today. The parking procedure was smooth, and after dropping Sophie off at the kennel, ("Dog House", gee, that looks classy) we headed for the ticket windows. Previous to this, my worst theme park line experience was in a shop at SFGAm, waiting 20 impatient minutes to buy a four dollar plush toy, while the woman in front of me demanded a "certificate of authenticity" for the super-collectible, clearance-priced, dead-eyed doll she had just purchased. That all changed that morning, as I found myself mired in a 40 minute session of torture waiting behind three fat people arguing about Fast Lane passes. The 16 year old kid behind the currency exchange-like glass window looked just as stunned as we did, although he never once suggested that the thundering trio move their theological discussion somewhere else, say...out of the line, perhaps? But no, she allowed them to prattle on, as time ticked on. Sweet freedom came at 9:50am, as we headed for the sizable throng waiting to enter the gates. Carter has never really understood the thrill of this time, stuck shoulder to shoulder with the teeming masses, but as a WDW veteran, I've come to love it over the years. Knifing in from the side, we slowly worked our way toward the gates, slipping past middle-aged housewives, hyperactive children, and a guy who wore a shirt proclaiming "Coaster Lovers Do It In The Front Seat", and smelled like either dirty bed sheets, or 1 o'clock at a toy convention. By the time we ceased our crowd advancement, we sat a mere 15 or so people from the gates. Only 15 people from our first entrance ever to Magic Mountain. I fully expected a scratchy 1940's version of the National Anthem, ala Six Flags St Louis, but it was not to be. Check the cell phone, it's 10am, and here we go. Or at least we should be going, it seems that every other turnstile is processing the gaggle of tourists, but ours seems to be at some sort of impasse. Why is this taking so long? Every few moments we may lurch forward slightly, but it really feels like we're getting nowhere. Did we randomly pick the only Vekoma turnstile in the park? As we get closer, the true horror is realized. Some sort of educational physics day is in effect, and all the children have a voucher. With their signature. That they have to sign again, at the turnstile. Excuse me if I'm out of line here, but wouldn't it be simpler to have 5000 children exchange their vouchers for tickets at say...the ticket window? At least they'd all know about Fast Lane.

"RANK IT!"

We're in! Scouring trip reports for weeks for tips on how to attack this park paid off, as we crossed the bridge to X. I couldn't wait to hop aboard this monster, and we headed for the second row. We had a three train wait, with the techno music starting just after the first train was dispatched. I found the restraints to be very comfortable, and then it was time to lean back, and challenge Arrow's prototype. The lift hill view is pretty nice, neither of us had become jaded with California, so we continued to gawk. (Man...look at those mountains!) The first rotation of the seats is head-swimmingly good, and the skydive drop was all I'd hoped it would be. A decent description of X after only one ride is a difficult task, and I'm not going to go into details for fear of looking foolish, but one thing stands clear; it may not be one of the best coasters, but it's one of the best coaster experiences. Carter was challenged to rank it, and she selected a decent 3, behind the Raging Bull and WDW's Rock n Roller Coaster. I also agreed, ranking it just behind Kraken and the Bull.

"THE KIDS HAVE SOME GUTS, I MEAN, THEY WORE THAT TO A THEME PARK..."

It's time to eat the rest of the coaster landscape, and our next selection was Goliath. En route, our path is blocked by a squad of cheerleaders...and two of them are male. Kelly green pants, and a green and white sweater complete the transformation. Carter begins telling me that in her high school, two male basketball players who were injured joined the cheerleading squad. I point out that one has cornrows, (kinda like I wore when Jensen, Maverick, and I faced off against Acid, Supreme, and Brawn The Lumberjack back in February 2000. Anyway, I digress.) and the other looks like an angry, red-headed, teen version of Tom Arnold. But laugh at them if you will, at least they had the stones to wear that to a theme park. That's gotta count for something. Goliath one train operation is a very frustrating situation, and the snail-like pace of the crew wasn't helping. But, hey, I'm in no hurry, and I certainly never feel like working hard first thing in the morning. 15 minutes later, we're out of the station of this Italian monster, and lemme tell ya, this rocks as hard as any hypercoaster out there. Great drop, solid banking, fairly consistent speed, and that helix nearly produced a grey-out, something I haven't suffered since I tried to maintain a high note for an entire circuit of Shockwave.

"NO, IT'S GOT THEMING...IT'S GOT A PARKING LOT THEME..."

Scream was next on the list, and I was curious to see what a floorless not filled with sand felt like. Kraken's the only one I've been on, and I have fallen pretty hard for the concept. We were surprised with walk-on front row, and headed for the lift hill. All and all, I have to say that it's a pretty close experience, and I can't get enough of the zero-g roll. Two things I take to task about Scream. First, I don't care if a ride is built over a parking lot, but not over a wholly unattractive one. C'mon, SF, dig up some pavement, plant some shrubs. Secondly, the graphic ad campaign for this coaster is horrific. SF ought to be ashamed for this pseudo-Andy Warhol monstrosity. But that matters little, as the green track ahead beckoned us further into the park.

"WHAT'S WITH THIS UNHEALTHY PREOCCUPATION WITH TECHNO?"

Riddler's Revenge loomed ahead, finally, a newer B&M standup than that accursed Iron Wolf! The queue is very Batmanesque, albeit all of the laser lights weren't working. The techno music returned, and appeared to be on some sort of 30 second repeat. The Riddler's queue house is quite capitalist, angling toward the station gates, the further ahead you want sit, the longer you're going to wait. And with one train operation, your wait will be considerable. As for the ride, maybe I'm just jaded by Iron Wolf, but standups really don't excite me that much. It's got a nice inclined loop, and is of decent duration, but just something about em...ah, well.

"YEAH...LOOK AT THE TIME...WE SHOULD PROBABLY GO..."

After stopping for a chicken finger lunch, (how much?!?) and a quick ride on the Gold Rusher, (gotta love a Mine Train) we headed past the inactive skeleton of Deja Vu, and hopped in line for Psyclone. In line, we had the usual discussion, about how she believes all wooden coasters could be improved with a few gallons of gasoline and a match. I counter with the fact that she's actually had a few good rides on SFGAm's Viper, and how this experience would be, as I put it, "similar". Let me say this about Psyclone. I really liked the B&M trains, of all the wood coaster experiences I've had, these were by far the best trains I've ridden. Now that I've got that out of my system, let me say that not only is Psyclone the absolute worst wooden coaster on the planet, it may take the cake for worst ride experience ever. Weeks later, as I sit here, I still cannot fathom why this coaster continues to exist. Don't get me wrong, I like a rough ride, something like a Vekoma SLC makes me pay attention. But this was above and beyond the call of duty. With turns akin to a paint-shaking machine, a general lack of speed, and just all around violent content, I hereby award Psyclone my personal merit of "Worst Ride Ever". Carter's looking a little green, and I fear I may have turned her off of wooden coasters for good. "Could we...go to the car for a bit?" she asked, and I nodded. "Yeah," I said, "I've got a few phone calls to make...want to get some video of the park..." "We should check on the dog." she rationalized. "Yeah, the dog." I reiterated, "That's a good idea...check on the dog." Needless to say, we grabbed the dog, and hit the road back to LA. The only thing I lamented not riding was Revolution, but we've got a Batman clone in GAm, and Viper looks a little too much like Shockwave for my liking. Besides, tomorrow we set off nice and early for Universal Studios Hollywood, and we've got to have our energy for the Animal Planet Live! show. *** Edited 4/15/2004 4:15:36 AM UTC by CMVenom***

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Thursday, April 15, 2004 1:43 AM
Batman the Ride at SFGAmer is the world first inverted coaster not a clone for your info. TWJ
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Thursday, April 15, 2004 11:26 AM
Oddly enough its the heavy B&M trains on Psyclone that are part of the reason the ride sucks so much. I hope you got to Knotts on your trip so you can experience what GOOD wood is like.

mOOSH

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Thursday, April 15, 2004 12:47 PM
You should have riden Viper. Much much much better than Shockwave. Viper is how Shockwave should have been built. There are no rough transitions and the ride is suprisingly smooth. I would have to step up and say that it is the smoothest Arrow Looper I have riden. I would say it is among the top coasters in the park IMHO.
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