How The West Was Fun (Part 5) (SFMM)

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Friday, February 21, 2003 5:17 PM
“Five! There are only five of us!”

Part 5 – SFMM (2/10/02) (very long)

I could tell from the second I woke up that today was going to be a very fun day. I have to give a BIG thanks to Chris Murray for letting us stay at his place. Chris had just lost his father a few days before I arrived out in California so I was expecting him to tell us he needed to be alone for a while. This is not what happened. Chris insisted that Jeff and I stay with him. He sounded like he could have used the company at this difficult time so Jeff and I went with our plans to stay with him. This just goes to show you how cool Chris is. He is a great guy and I am glad I have him as a friend.

Chris lives just a few miles from Six Flags Magic Mountain so we didn’t have to get up very early to be there when the gates opened. Once we did arrive at the park, we met up with Sean Winder. We were expecting to see Ivan Hurtado (who was on my coach on the Europe tour) also but he decided to not go to the park this day. What a shame as hanging out with Ivan was a blast in Europe, and anywhere else for that matter.

Chris was also searching for a friend that was going to meet us at the front gate. I could tell from the small crown out front of the gates that today was going to be a light day. Once we purchased our tickets Chris went searching for his friend. At the ticket booth we were standing at was a sign of rides that were not going to be open. Among the closed rides were Flashback, Psyclone, Collossus and Ninja. I expected Flashback and Psyclone to be closed so that wasn’t a big surprise, Ninja on the other hand I was looking forward to riding again but I wasn’t ticked that it was closed. I have heard the coaster rollsback during cooler temperatures so I can understand the closure because it was chilly out. A family behind me didn’t understand and made it very clear that they were upset that “Ninja is closed again.” Colossus was down for rehab from the looks of it.

Once we met back up with Chris, he had a friend with him. As it turns out, Chris’s friend was the same younger enthusiasts that Jeff and I talked with a bit at Knott’s during my first night of this trip. His name is Josh Baker and he posts in this forum (including a couple of replies to the first parts of this series). Once we met up with Josh, it was time to enter the park and head straight to what I was looking forward to riding the most.


As we arrived at the entrance, we were told by an employee that X would be opening in one hour. We decided to wait it out because we know how long the lines can be for this monster. A few minutes later we were told that it would be another hour. We decided to leave and try again later. From here on, we just walked around riding rides as we would come to them.


I hadn’t ridden this since 1995. Every other time I have been to the park, I have passed on riding it because my last ride on it wasn’t all that great. Sean Winder suggested I try a front seat ride because there was no wait at all. Soon, we were cresting the lift hill and checking out the amazing view of X, and zoomed down the first drop. Sean said that sitting in the front provides a better sense of speed on that ride and he wasn’t lying. I was surprised at how fast the coaster felt while riding in the front. That first loop remains one of my favorite inversions.

---Superman: The Escape---

Call me crazy but I honestly love this ride. I hear a lot of people complain about this ride. Some say it is too short. Other say it is just boring. I find it to be just right. While the launch isn’t the strongest, it sill impresses me. The floatage is what makes this ride so great for me. Every time I have ridden this coaster, I have had to wait more than 30 minutes for it. It was a nice surprise to arrive at the ride with NO wait at all.

For our first ride, we had a full load. Even with all that weight, we made it slightly past half on the tower. After our first ride, we just continued to ride over and over. On our 5th ride, I noticed that the launch felt a bit stronger. So much in fact that my arms were slowly being pulled back as we went down the launch track and it was getting harder to keep them up. Just as we started to climb vertical, I look over at Chris as he is shouting that there are only 5 of us in the car. What does that mean? We certainly can’t go far up the tower as I have heard people tell me in the past that getting near the top NEVER happens anymore.

Well, guess what? It does happen.

We were so far up on the tower that from where I was sitting in the front, I couldn’t see the safety brakes at the top. I am not sure if we tapped them or not but we were damh high. As we slowed at the top, I turned around to glance down at the ground, far, far, below. I guess I wanted to get a similar idea of what the view from Top Thrill Dragster would look like. Man! I can’t believe that thing is going to be even taller. That still freaks me out1 Just from the height we were at was enough to get a small idea of what to expect. That is a long way down.

After our 5th ride we were going to go to the back of the park, but decided to head back to X even though we didn’t see it testing. We didn’t have to wait long before we were told it would be just a few minutes before X would open. Within 5 minutes, we were walking to the loading station.


Both of my rides on X last year were on the same side of the train. My first ride was in the front. My second, in the back. I loved my first ride but my second wasn’t as good because I had too much room in my restraint and got tossed around quite a bit.

However, this time I decided to ride the other side of the train to see how it felt. Jeff and I waited for the back. Due to one train operation, we were expecting the line to grow rapidly by the time we were on the coaster. As we departed the station and made our way up the lift, we could tell there wasn’t a line at all. This meant we would be back for re-rides in just a minute or so.

The first drop was as crazy as I remembered it. The rest of the layout was confusing as ever. I could not stop laughing while I was riding. The added evacuation platforms didn’t take away from my ride at all. Sitting on the other side of the train provided a much different feeling. Especially through the two “half and half” elements. What a great ride!

Just as I was hoping, I enjoyed my ride. I did notice the rocking movement was a bit more violent than last year, but that might just be because I was riding in the outside seat. I learned that the best way to ride this is to have the restraint as snug against your body as possible. I was eager to get another ride so Josh and I decided to wait for the front. Jeff didn’t feel like waiting so he would find a seat anywhere there was a single rider. He ended up with two more rides before Josh and I got our front seat ride. Josh pointed out to me the different levels of height of each seat as it was sitting in the unload station. That was pretty bizarre to see. I guess the forces on this ride really are that strong!

As Jeff was getting ready to get another ride, he spotted a guy that was clearly having second thoughts about riding. Jeff explained to him that he would like his ride. Josh and I joined in on the conversation and told the man that if he rode it only once, it would be something special he wouldn’t forget anytime soon. As we were talking with the man, a single rider in front of us boarded the train. This left an open seat that we told the man to take. He hopped in and was clearly nervous. Once he left the station, he seemed like he was really freaked out as he tried to grab every thing he could get his hand on. He ended up loving his ride but said he needed a break before he would attempt to ride again.

On my next ride, Josh told me to look out to the mountains as we were going down the first drop so I could see the rotation of the skyline. This was a very cool thing to see and once again, made me start laughing non stop until we hit the final brakes. Phew!

By this time the line was getting longer but still was barely out of the station. We decided to go to the back of the park and ride what we could because we knew most everyone in the park would be heading to X. This was a smart move because almost everything we rode was a walk-on.

----Déjà vu----

Chris expected this to have a half hour wait because, well, this isn’t exactly a high capactiy coaster. We all were surprised to find only a two train wait to ride this . To make things even better, there was no assigned seating!! We could sit where we wanted. Jeff had never ridden in the front seat so we decided to give it a try. The last time I had ridden this coaster was a year ago and I didn’t care for it at all. I think it was just too cold out because the train was crawling, resulting in a very violent ride. I had ridden the SFOG version and had a great ride.

As luck would have it, I ended up getting a good ride on the SFMM version. I guess the front seat is what it’s about for me on those Super Invertigos. If the rumors about a new seat configuration are true, I think that will improve the ride even more as I think the current strange seat configuration confuses people and in result, takes longer to load.

----Riddler’s Revenge----

Next to Oblivion, I think this is one of the worst lines to stand in. As with Superman, every time I have ridden this, I have waited for at least 45 minutes. Both times I rode were in the back. Today, there was only a two train wait for the front so we decided to wait it out. This B&M stand-up is about as graceful as they come. I really like the layout of this ride as it intertwines with itself quite a bit, but does so without a lot of intensity. Yea, I loved the pre-brake days of Mantis where my legs would be numb after just one ride, but it is nice to know that B&M can design a even larger stand-up and do so with grace.

----Batman: The Ride----

I rode this in 1995, when it was just one year old. As with all the other Batmen I have ridden, this still remains one of the most intense rides I have ridden. The ride still feels new to me. I don’t think I will ever get tired of this layout. After a quick bite to eat, it was time for a park classic.

----Gold Rusher----

This ride is the perfect example of how to use terrain. Yea, it may be old and sometimes slow, but this is the perfect coaster to introduce kids to the larger thrills not found on the Goliath Jr. or the other kiddie coaster. Even with one train operation, we walked right on.


For some reason, this was running with two trains, but the crew was only running one. Forgive me for asking this, but why do they do that? I never understood that concept. Perhaps someone can shed some light on that for me.
As for the ride, it was just as I remembered. This is one intense machine. It’s got a nice moment of air, but most of it is crushing positive gs which I really love. Sean and I rode in the back. The train we were in looked like it was due for rehab as it was scratched up quite a bit, but it was still comfortable. As we were going up the lift hill, we got a nice view of the construction site that is Scream! All indications I have seen point to a mirror clone of Medusa East, which, in my book, is a damn good thing as I love that ride.

After our Goliath rides, our group headed out of the park to get our season passes processed. Out of all the Six Flags passes I have gotten, they certainly wouldn’t win any awards for picture quality. This time however set a new low. I am not the palest person in the world by any means, but I am very white. After looking at my new season pass photo, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. You can barely even see my face because it was so over exposed. Jeff’s was the same way. Sean took one look at our photos and asked if his photo could be darker, but they ended up darkening it too much so you can barely even make out Sean. Someone asked if we could get our photos taken over but we were declined. Pretty funny now that I think about it. Next time you are around me at a park, ask me to show my pass to you “ so YOU too can laugh out loud!!”

Once we had our passes, Sean got a call on his cell. He ended up having to leave the park. It’s too bad he didn’t get to stick around as I know he would have enjoyed the rest of the day. I am sure I will run into him sometime soon though as I usually see Ivan and him when I least expect it. Time to go ride some more.


Yet another ride I hadn’t ridden since 1995. I know a lot of people that aren’t fans of this ride due to the restraints. I will admit, I didn’t have a bit of trouble riding this. I do find the restraints to be very awkward and I could easily see how they could ruin the ride for some people, but my head never touched them one time. Not once. Of course, I had my head sticking way out to avoid them, but that seemed to work for me. I can only imagine what this ride would be like with only lap bars.

After a quick look around at the gift shop, we went back to Superman and rode 7 more times. Since there was no wait, and we were told to walk around every time, we would get on every other shot out. While we got in a lot of rides, it seemed that we always missed the “shot back” rides. This happened 3 times while we were at this ride. It only took about 15 minutes to reset so the wait wasn’t that bad, but it seemed like almost every time we would arrive back to the loading area from walking around, we would miss our chance to “miss the station.”

Once we were finished here, we noticed that Ninja was running. We found this to be strange as it was listed as one of the rides being closed. With no wait once again, we hopped right on and took a quick ride. When we arrived back into the station, we were told we didn’t have to get out of our seats if we didn’t want to because no one was waiting to ride. Needless to say, we took another ride. This is a great ride that doesn’t seem to let up until the final lift.

At around 4:45pm, we started to head back towards X. The park was only open to 6:00pm and we knew we wanted to get at least one more ride. On the way, I stopped in an arcade and played a DDR USA (7th and final machine of the trip) machine. This was one of the better older machines I have played. If I wasn’t tired enough from walking that hilly terrain, this game did it for me. By the time we reached X, I was pooped.

For our third ride, we decided to ride the other side of the train. We decided to ride in the middle of the train. Even though the line never left the loading station, we still had a 45 minute wait. By the time we got on, it was 6:00pm and dark out. This was my first dark ride on X. I thought the orange lights going up the lift were a nice touch. I don’t remember too much about the actual ride at night other than it was confusing and I was laughing uncontrollably again.

With our last ride, we departed the park after another stop at a gift shop, and headed back to Chris’s. Josh followed us. Once back at Chris’s, we ordered a couple of pizzas. Former regional rep, Ric Turner dropped by and we spent the rest of the evening watching videos. I showed my “Lost In Germany Video” while Ric showed some of his always excellent vids. The night ended with another showing of “Road To Nowhere 2”. I believe this was Josh and Ric’s first time seeing it. I am not sure if Ric cared for some of the humor, but he did think it was well done. Jeff and I were in tears from watching certain segments of the video. I think Josh lost it a few times as well. I had a great time getting to talk with Ric and Josh. They are both fun to be around.

After the video, Josh, Jeff, and Ric left and I soon fell asleep. I set my watch to wake me up at 7:00am. I had to be at the airport to check in by 10:30am, and I would my flight would be leaving at around noon. I had no trouble going to sleep that night but I did feel like I had a cold coming on.

I woke up before alarm went off. I grabbed my watch and looked at it.

“WHAT????? 10:00???????””

Oh boy! Well, it looks like I was going to miss my flight. What happened? There was no way I was going to get to Ontario from Valencia in an hour and a half, during morning rush hour.

“Wait a second….”

I look at a wall clock. It reads 7:00am.

Stupid me. You see, the whole time on this trip, I decided to not reset my watch to match the time zone because I knew we were going to be going back and forth between two zones within in a day of each other so I just decided to leave my watch on Eastern time and to subtract hours depending on what time zone I was in. This worked out well for the entire trip with the exception of this good up. Duh! I had nothing to worry about. Next time I will reset my watch like I usually do and won’t be as lazy.

Chris was to take me to the airport. As we were loading up his SUV, it started to rain. He claimed that this was the first rain he has seen since early December. Must be nice. He also told me that traffic would be very heavy so we should leave as soon as possible. He was correct about the traffic as we were stopped on and off for many, many miles. We saw two nasty wrecks. To show you just how nasty the traffic was, we left Chris’s place at 7:30am and arrived at the Ontario airport at 10:30am. Yep, 3 hours of traffic!

Check in was very easy and I soon found myself at the very last gate in the building. There was no doubt in my mind that I had a nasty cold coming on so I drank a lot of orange juice and took a couple cold pills. I had to fly to Phoenix first (3rd time on this trip), switch planes, and then fly back to Columbus. On the flight to Columbus from Phoenix, there were only 15 people or so onboard so everyone got their own row. I tried to get as comfortable as possible but my cold started to really bother me. One of the last views I saw before we went above the clouds was the surrounding desert area of Phoenix. The next thing I saw as we were landing in Columbus was snow, and a lot of it. Reality sucks! Snow and a vicious cold. Welcome home!

I guess 12 rides on Superman in chilly weather can wear a person out. =;^)

I really need to thank Chris and Jeff for making this trip possible for me. Chris is a great friend and I always enjoy his company. He knows his way around the parks in his area and provided me with some good info. I am so glad I got to see his video also. I know he is proud of it. Even when Chris and his brother Tim were going through a very rough time, they were in great spirits and I never saw them frown. I can’t wait to hang out with them again.

Jeff. What can I say that hasn’t been said? He has some sick ideas, but I mean that in a good way. Just when you think you have a trip planned, Jeff comes along and changes everything about it. I really needed this trip more than anyone can understand. I was going through a tough time with losing 2 of my friends, and almost losing a third. Jeff said he would make sure I would have a good time when I came out there and he didn’t disappoint. I always dig traveling with him and I know he has a couple more insane ideas planned this year and I hope to take part in at least a few of them. You da’ man dude!

Well, that’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed reading these.

Thanks for reading,

-Sean (who is kicking himself in the rear right now because he didn’t go to see his favorite band play last night only 10 miles away) F.

Friday, February 21, 2003 5:34 PM
Once again, an interesting and well written report. You have to be at the top of a long list of people I'd love to hang out with at a park. No "enthusiatrics", just someone who loves to ride and have a good time. Glad you had a great time! :)

"Oh tell me why, do we build castles in the sky, oh tell me why, all the castles way up high".

Saturday, February 22, 2003 3:07 AM
Reading your trip report made me feel like I was back at SFMM *sigh* You should scan your SF Season Pass pic for us :)
Saturday, February 22, 2003 5:01 AM
Great TR's Sean! SFMM sounds fun. Lost In Germany is a good video. I wish I could see Road to Nowhere 2 though.
*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN 2/22/2003 10:06:15 AM ***
Saturday, February 22, 2003 9:09 PM
Glad ya had fun Sean, I know I did! It was cool hangin with ya and Sean W, Jeff and Murray are always cool to hang with too. It was pretty freaky on Ninja, that thing clearly should have been closed. It was cold to the point where we damn near vallied in 3 different spots! :)

I had a blast back at Chris's house! All the vids were great (obviously Ric just owns everyone editing wise), and Road to Nowhere was an absolute riot! Thats some good stuff, too bad there probably won't be any public exhibitions of the vid ;)

BTW, just booked my flight to Detroit in May, we're hitting KI on Sunday the 18th if you wanna meet up. We're doing a pantented "Sean F/ Jeff J" trip, about 30 hours of driving in 5 days ;) (CP, WoA, PKI, Back to CP, Holiday, SFGAm, IB and Mich Adv) I know you have the funky work schedule, but you're free to join us (me and CoasterFanMatt, KBF ride op) at any of the parks if you're off.
*** This post was edited by ThePhantomLives 2/23/2003 2:13:47 AM ***

Sunday, February 23, 2003 6:42 PM

Thanks dude! I am sure I will run into you at some point. To be honest, I don't think I know too many Buzzers from the Cali area.

I am not sure a lot of people would ever recover if they saw the brightness of that photo. =:^)


Yea, it might be difficult to get to view the video. I can understand why they want don't want to sell it though. There is a trailer available for download someplace online though.


Thanks for the heads up on your trip. I will probably be at PKI on May 18th and might just meet up with you guys at CP as I believe I have that day off as well (16th?)

-Sean (who is craving more of that Superman air) Fl

Sunday, February 23, 2003 7:27 PM
Yeah, we'll be at CP the 16th and 19th, I'll get back to ya once the date gets closer.
Thursday, February 27, 2003 3:11 AM

Chris expected this to have a half hour wait because, well, this isn’t exactly a high capactiy coaster. We all were surprised to find only a two train wait to ride this . To make things even better, there was no assigned seating!! We could sit where we wanted.

How lucky are you, I wish it was like this when I went as it was assigned seating, prehaps they let you sit where you want on quiet days???????I must admit I was close to getting the front seats, but got the second best thing, A BACK SEAT RIDE and yes it was very good.

For some reason, this was running with two trains, but the crew was only running one. Forgive me for asking this, but why do they do that? I never understood that concept. Perhaps someone can shed some light on that for me.

I wish I knew too, as this was happening when I went to the park, I remember on Batman and Ninja they were running 2 trains yet only one might be filled up. I tryed to get a answer from a member of staff on batman but gave me a bizarre answer of "The Train needs to run for a while for the wheels to warm up and also said that it was'nt busy enough to fill it anyway. Needless to say the bizarre operation on Batman continued all day so why did they bother running the 2nd train anyway. At least on Ninja the second train was being filled when crowds picked up a little bit but then it went back to one train filled, 1 train empty.

Once we were finished here, we noticed that Ninja was running. We found this to be strange as it was listed as one of the rides being closed. With no wait once again, we hopped right on and took a quick ride. When we arrived back into the station, we were told we didn’t have to get out of our seats if we didn’t want to because no one was waiting to ride. Needless to say, we took another ride. This is a great ride that doesn’t seem to let up until the final lift.

Its a SUPERB ride isnt it, however its still not quite my favourite suspeded(Big Bad Wolf takes that title, but only just) however I would put Ninja in my top 3 suspended list :)

Thursday, February 27, 2003 12:30 PM
It's not just Batman & Ninja they do the one train full, one train empty thing on, they also do it regularly on Goliath and Viper, and I've even seen them do it on Riddler's Revenge as well. It seems like they'll only put people on the second train if they can a) fill it up with people and b) still have a few left waiting for the next train. I've been in line for Goliath when there's two people in every row, but nobody behind them, and still have to wait for the first train while the second is dispatched empty.

Just like you, I've asked the ride-ops, but you got more of an answer out of them than I ever answers are generally along the lines of "because we're supposed to."


While I do enjoy SFMM and my many visits there, the ride ops aren't always the friendliest folks :) The only place I've consistently gotten them to be nice is at the fork in the queue at the base of X's station...if you ask to go to one side of the station while everyone else is getting sent to the other, they've always let me go the direction that I wanted with no argument whatsoever.


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