first-timer's visit to SFMM -- 6/13 (LONG)

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Friday, June 16, 2006 8:26 PM
I basically wrote this TR while I was on the plane flying back to the East coast. I hope you enjoy!

We started off the day leaving ourselves almost 2 hours to get to the park, as I wasn’t sure how long it would take because of the LA traffic. We actually got there about a half hour early, which was cool. I decided to walk to the gate instead of taking the tram, and it really wasn’t too far.

I didn’t realize that the park entrances were set up quite like they are. You basically go through the metal detectors and end up in a gathering square of sorts, with the entrance to Magic Mountain on the left and Hurricane Harbor on the right.

There was some girl sitting on a raised chair that was basically working the crowd until Bugs Bunny and crew came to open the park. Fortunately, I got into the season pass line, which moved faster than the normal ticket lines. After going through the gate, we headed directly for X.

Of course, X wasn’t open yet, so I headed for Viper, which also wasn’t open yet, so I headed for Tatsu, which (you guessed it) wasn’t open yet. What is it with this park and not having some of the rides open with the park? The only coaster that I heard running was Revolution. We waited for 30-40 minutes, and they finally opened Tatsu. We were directed to the left station (station 2), and we ended up on the first public train out of that station.

Hands down, Tatsu is the best flying coaster ever. The trains have a very nice, expensive, paint job with their flip-flop paint. The station is very nice, too. I like how they have 2 exits, and also how they have the photos and merch stand under the loading platforms. The lift hill is steep and comfortable—and scary. Definitely scarier than the Superman coasters, as you are higher from the ground. The views from this ride are great. The corkscrew and flips are also great. The worst part of the ride itself, to me, is the bottom portion of the pretzel loop. Now, I like the one on S:UF, but this one is over the top. It’s so strong, and the train shakes as it traverses the lower portion. My head was pressed against the headrest and was shaking, which was not comfortable. But overall, they have a wonderful coaster with this one. 2 train operation on this today.

After Tatsu, we walked down to Cyclone Bay, where I decided to hit Déjà Vu (which was actually running, thank God). The line moved slowly, but fortunately we didn’t have too long of a wait. I didn’t ride this in the front like I did the one at SFGAm, and I didn’t like it as much. It hurt me a little, but at least I got the credit.

Next up was Gold Rusher, as Psyclone wasn’t open yet. This is a fun little mine train that has a decent layout and length, though the ride could use some TLC (as could a fair amount of things at SFMM). This was just about a walk on for us, which was nice. 2 train operation on this today, which was decent considering it’s the oldest coaster there, and it’s just a mine train.

After this, we hit up Jet Stream. This is an Arrow Hydroflume that has had its bunny hill taken away and one of its drop chutes closed off. Why has Six Flags done this to some of their flumes, such as this one and SFGAdv’s Hydroflume? Also, this ride could really use some TLC—and good ride ops. The 2 guys that were standing there to let people on the ride were practically useless at their job at the time we boarded. They weren’t even telling us when to get on or which boat to board—I pretty much did that myself. And the boat that I boarded had a LOT of water in it that should have been drained. The ride itself has a nice layout and location on the side of the mountain, and it got us fairly wet.

I decided to head up the mountain to S:TE and Ninja. First we hit Ninja, which looked like it had seen better days. The ride itself was good—one of the better suspended coasters that I’ve done (which isn’t many—about 4 now, I think). It desperately needs a paint job, though. I’m not sure when the last time I’ve seen a big steel coaster need a paint job as bad as this one. One train operation here, which I wasn’t pleased with, but it hardly had a line, so I suppose that’s ok.

S:TE was next. 10 years after building it, we finally are able to ride it, though I don’t think they are even running it at 100 mph now. The station is well themed. Only one side was running today, but that’s ok, as the line was short. We took 2 rides on this one. Compared to some of the launched coasters we have back east, this is a tame ride. You don’t even have to put your head back on the launch, and the weightlessness wasn’t extremely impressive, but it’s a good ride nonetheless. It sounds like a hypersonic jet when it hits the pullout at the bottom of the tower.

After Superman was Riddler’s Revenge. The queue for this thing is HUGE! Fortunately, we walked all the way up to the station. It’s strange the way they have some of the queues at this park. This one divides before the station into 2 queues—one for the front part of the train, and the other for the back part. Also, the station is at an angle, so the closer you get to the front of the train, the longer the queue for your row. Weird, but I guess it works. The ride itself is good—probably the best standup that I’ve done. 2 train operation on this today. It’s also strange how they do the loading. They load a train, check the OSTRs, and then lock the vertical portions before dispatching. They don’t check AFTER locking the vertical portions, which seems a little strange. Also, when the train unlocks after returning to the station, they don’t allow very much time before releasing the vertical portions, and a bunch of people got goosed or hit by the seats as they shot up vertically.

We looked for lunch after this and were going to go to the Mooseburger Lodge, but it looked crowded in the store portion, so we didn’t go in. We then rode Log Jammer, where we discovered another not-so-great employee. She was at least doing something having to do with operating the ride, but she had her cell phone out part of the time and looked like she was texting someone. Also, while we were on the ride, we saw an employee by one of the drops that looked like he might have been asleep.

The ride is really good—one of the best log flumes that I’ve ever been on. I like the use of the terrain and how it goes so high up the mountain. It looked like it was in better shape than the Jet Stream, though it still could have used some better care. It’s also a long ride, so that’s nice, too.

We finally ended up eating at the food court next to Goliath. We didn’t have a long wait, and the food was at least halfway decent for park food, though it was pricey. It’s not a bad place to eat, and they have a fair amount of places to sit inside and eat in the cool.

After fueling, we queued for Goliath. This is where SFMM started to look even worse. On one of their signature rides, they were running ONE TRAIN. The line was crawling. Finally, while we were in line, they put a second one on. Why on Earth didn’t they have this thing up to at least decent capacity at park opening? The ride itself is decent and smooth, but nothing that totally blew me away. The infamous helix didn’t even cause me to grey out very much—I’ve greyed out more than that on SFA’s SROS and TF. And there were only about 2 instances of air, and they weren’t extremely impressive.

Next up was the mighty (or should I say lame) Colossus. The ride looks pretty good, but it rides somewhat crappy. 2 things—why Morgan trains, and why so many brakes? If they had 3-bench soft-padded PTCs and less brakes, I think it might be a more enjoyable ride. 2 train operation on 1 side today, which was fine, considering it wasn’t very crowded, thank God.

Scream was next. We have Medusa east back home, and this is just a mirror of that, so nothing majorly new here. The plaza looks ok, and I like the colors of the ride, but the parking lot placement is just lame. This is probably the worst parking lot installation of a coaster at a major theme park that I’ve ever seen (second worst being SFMW’s Medusa). Why did SF build 2 good floorless coasters in CA in ugly locations? At least tear up the asphalt and lay down some sod. The ride itself is decent and a tad better than Medusa, though that may change with time. 2 train operation, which was good. The line and the wait were fairly short.

We headed up front to Revolution. Here was another significant time of negativity for the park. They were only running 1 train, with at least 2 on the storage tracks. The trains only hold 20 people each as it is, and the ride is a decent length, so a short line wasn’t really a short wait. This thing also was severely not lining up with the gates in the station. The only parks that I’ve seen this being an issue with (that I think of right now) are SF parks. Why do they have an issue with trains lining up so much? At least the ride op was telling people to step to the right, so she was aware of it. This ride is SEVERELY over-restrained. There is no need for the OSTRs AND lapbars on this ride (though many of you already know this). Fortunately for me (in this case, since I’m tall), these OSTRs didn’t bother me much. My shoulders didn’t even touch them, and the springs are tight. My friend, on the other hand, didn’t have such a good ride. The ride for me was decent, though it could have been more enjoyable if Six Flags weren’t such lousy park operators.

Next was Viper. This was a straight walk-on. Here again was another instance of the queue dividing, only this time it was into 4 queues, each heading to a different part of the train—weird. The ride was running 2 trains, and it’s the best of the Arrow megaloopers that I’ve ridden.

We made it back to Psyclone after this, which was now running with 1 train. But this was ok, as it was a walk-on for us anyway since there were so few people riding it. These B&M trains are huge and comfortable—typical of B&M. Too bad the ride is lousy. They brake this thing so much, and it doesn’t track well throughout the ride. SFGAm’s Viper is WAY better than this, and they opened the same year. Why didn’t SFI use the same company to do both of these CI Cyclone clones? This ride was painful, and I think it was worse than Colossus.

We finally made it to Batman: The Ride. Having done the first 2 already (SFGAm and SFGAdv), it’s nothing new to us. I will say that SFMM did a very good job with this installation. It has the nicest queue and station out of all 3 that I’ve ridden. The inner station walls actually look like stone, and the giant Batman logo is mounted at an angle here. The one thing I like better about SFGAm’s version is the placement of the ride in the park—the pond that it goes over near the end and the trees nearby. SFGAdv’s is easily the worst one, though the ride itself is good. Another bad mark for SFMM here, though—1 train operation—on a B&M!

We were actually able to hit Canyon Blaster after this, and it was here that we encountered the nicest ride op of the day. She let us ride twice, and she was very friendly. We also got an extra coaster credit in!

Ok, tell me why SFMM STILL has Flashback on the map, and they haven’t run it in a long time? If you have NO plans of returning it to operation any time soon, please take it off the map and stop claiming it as a coaster for the park’s count. PKD took FoF off their map, so SFMM should do the same with Flashback.

It was finally time for X. The line wasn’t long, but it took a LONG TIME to get on the ride. They were only running 1 train on this, which was yet another negative mark for SFMM. The loading/unloading/ride cycle takes SO LONG on this thing. After about 1:20 or so, we were finally on the ride, and in 2 of the front seats (first ones to leave the station and head up the lift). Let me just say that this ride is INSANE! It surpassed my expectations of it this weekend, and it will probably end up on my top ten list. You feel like you don’t have enough restraints on this ride, and you are definitely flying out of your seat! This is one of those rides where you HAVE to experience it to get the full effect. It’s one of the craziest rides I’ve ever been on, and it was great! Oh, and we rode it at night!

We got to hit Tatsu once more--at night this time--and it was still a good ride. After stopping by the unmarked Flags store, we finally left the park and headed back to our hotel in Anaheim, which was literally right down the road from DCA (which we never hit).

Overall, I like this park. It has a wonderful location, and it has an amazing skyline and backdrop—the coasters and the mountains. I will admit, however, that I was doing a lot of Six Flags and Mark Shapiro slamming. This park has so much potential, and it has so much to offer. But there are plenty of things that they should get their act together on. I know that this year may be some sort of turning point, but they have a ways to go. 1 train operation on Batman, Goliath, Revolution, and X is ridiculous. There was a fair amount of line jumping going on at Goliath and X. Some of the employees seemed to be apathetic about certain things, like people sitting on the queue rails in line for X. They also need security in some of the queues to discourage line jumping. Some of the things around here could definitely use some maintenance and cleaning up. Did SFMM used to have a lousy maintenance budget? Was this regulated by Del Holland, or by SFI? There were definitely some unused buildings sitting in the park that should be reutilized. Why did they ever close down the monorail and Orient Express? This park could be such an amazing place; it could be the crown jewel of the Six Flags empire. I’m glad that I finally got to go and experience it for myself, but now I’ve seen firsthand some of the negative things about the place, and I see that it could be so much better. I hope Mark Shapiro is able to turn this place around, because it could use it.

Oh—I got to go up the Sky Tower, which looks like it’s been newly remodeled. It was nice, and the area around it was nice, too. Did they recently repaint it? Also, why does the elevator travel so slow? Is that the nature of the ride? PKD’s Eiffel Tower has a much faster elevator, though the ride doesn’t seem in as nice of shape as the Sky Tower.

Editor's note: I posted this with it formatted all nice and spaced, and CBuzz messed it up, so I had to go back an edit it. I hope people weren't thinking I did a lousy job of formatting this! *** Edited 6/17/2006 12:33:53 AM UTC by rablat5***

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Friday, June 16, 2006 8:29 PM
Nice trip report. But...how about splitting that mass of a post into paragraphs or sections so it's easier on the eyes and makes people actually want to sit through and read the whole thing? ;)
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Friday, June 16, 2006 8:34 PM
hehe -- see my edit above :)
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Friday, June 16, 2006 9:34 PM
Some comments on you TR...I whole-heartedly agree with you on Goliath. For a ride of such size, magnitude, and power, you would think you'd get off somewhat still out-of-breath and bewildered. It's just an "okay" ride to me; it's definitely not something that would make me jump up and down all the way down the exit ramp and get in line again.

Yes, Sky Tower did get a fresh coat of paint in April and the observation deck level did also get a remodeling with new carpeting, paint, and signage. The queue area for Sky Tower is also brand new. I really don't know why its elevator is slow though --- perhaps its due to all of its systems and parts dating back to 1969-1971.

Also, Superman The Escape does still run at 100 mph. A lot of people keep talking about how it only runs at reduced power now -- but that was years ago when California was in that power crisis and Magic Mountain reduced Superman's energy consumption by quite a bit. It's back up to full power now, but nowadays with rides like Kingda Ka and Dragster around, you can't immediately tell that you're going at 100 mph on Superman anymore. :)

I'm sorry to hear about the one-train operation on a good amount of their coasters. It's unacceptable considering how the summer season has kicked in. It's wild to me because I've been to the park on slow days where every coaster is at least operating with two trains - and busier days where a good many of them are in single train operation. The park just is not very consistent with operations. When you go to the park, you pretty much are gambling with what to expect. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't. :(

I too, hope Shapiro's changes will STAND OUT come 2007, when most capital improvements will go into infrastructure, expanding maintenance budgets, etc. I'm really hopeful. It takes awhile to turn a big ship around.

*** Edited 6/17/2006 1:38:32 AM UTC by kRaXLeRidAh***

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Saturday, June 17, 2006 3:57 AM
It seems like, with SFMM, the glass is half full or half empty, depending on your gaze.
If you compare what you describe to reports of the years past, it's almost "wow" - - I mean, you got to ride pretty much all coasters, X, Deja Vu, Riddler...
and your waiting times don't seem too impressive either.

There are certain things that certainly are due for improvement at the park: To open the coasters with the park, educate some operators, etc.

On the other hand, the laid back attitude that speaks from these incidents is also part of what I experienced as a general live-style down there in SoCal - people are just living in their own dream world most of the time.
They should make sure though that it doesn't affect safety in any way.

From what you describe, I would say the park is absolutely up and running at the moment - may Ninja need a new paint job or not.

And that's really good to hear!
*** Edited 6/17/2006 8:09:13 AM UTC by superman***

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Sunday, June 18, 2006 8:45 PM
I'm glad you had a good time, I consider this and SFGam the only "big parks" in the US I haven't been to. I guess that one day with three trains on Riddler this season was wishful thinking. You are right though, there is no excuse that Goliath and Revolution (also Scream, Viper, etc.) should only run one train, especially since they have three. IMO, they should run three on Goliath and Revolution and two on Scream if its not crowded. X also has three so there is no reason for only one. I can understand if one of Batman's was getting fixed, but other than that there is no excuse. And why is Tatsu down to two now?
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Sunday, June 18, 2006 8:59 PM
^ Two things here,

One: The Riddler's Revenge has operated with three trains this season. You just don't hear trip reports about these instances.

Two: Did you even read the trip report? Scream and Viper were in two train operation, not one.

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Monday, June 19, 2006 10:55 AM
I didn't realize S:TE runs at 100mph now. It certainly doesn't get very near the top of the tower, but did it ever? Did they only build the tower that high to take the record? Austraila's ToT is shorter in height and still hits 100mph.

So SoCal people tend to be more laid back? Seems more like apathetic to me, at least in the case of some of SFMM's employees. Most didn't even seem to care about loose articles being brought onto rides, except for S:TE.

If SFMM is much better than it used to be, then it must've really been doing crappy. I am thankful, however, that at least all the coasters were running, except for Flashback, which I still want to know why they haven't taken it off the map.

And yes, Ninja severly needs a paint job. Also of note, they have a bunch of trains for this thing--one of which looks to be used for spare parts now.

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Monday, June 19, 2006 12:14 PM
Hmmm.......I don't think S:TE runs at 100, unless it used to run at speeds over 100. I remember when it used to get near the top of the tower, and anymore it only makes it 2/3 of the way at most.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 8:37 AM
Good trip report, I want to ride X so bad. Hopefully I'll get out there one day!
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Friday, June 23, 2006 5:49 PM

kRaXLeRidAh said:
^ Two things here,

One: The Riddler's Revenge has operated with three trains this season. You just don't hear trip reports about these instances.

Two: Did you even read the trip report? Scream and Viper were in two train operation, not one.


1. Thanks for clearing it up about Riddler.

2. Yeah I did read the trip report, as I normally do with posts I comment on. Although my response wasn't incredibly clear, I meant that those coasters with three trains should have no excuse to not run AT LEAST two, I realize that Viper and Scream were on two train op that day. *** Edited 6/23/2006 9:51:43 PM UTC by Willh51***

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