Last minute So-Cal advice

I just booked a cheap three-day vacation for this weekend, hoping to get some good coaster days on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Tentative plan:
Saturday - (arrive at Ontario airport mid-morning) California Adventure (wine festival, coasters) and Disneyland in evening
Sunday - Six Flags Magic Mountain (must ride X, Superman, and Goliath)
Monday - Disneyland (leave for airport late-afternoon)

Riding X is #1 on my wife's 'must-do' list. Is Sunday the best day to attempt a ride? Any advice for first-timers?

I last visited DL 15 years ago. I'm not going to miss Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and the original Pirates of the Carribean. Any virtual-virgin Disneyland and really-really-virgin California Adventure advice?

FYI, Knott's Berry Farm is a consideration, but it seems that most of major coasters are very similar to others we've already experienced at Cedar Point, SF Great Adventure, or Hersheypark. We won't totally rule it out, but we love Disney parks and our hotel is very, very close.

*** Edited 5/4/2007 7:55:18 AM UTC by greatwhitenorth***

Mamoosh's avatar
First, plan on traffic all weekend, even at night. If you're using Mapquest or Yahoo for drive times, double them. Get a good map. Although I-5 is the most convenient route between parks there are lots of alternatives should you find yourself in a stand-still. Remember: it's better to be early and wait around than be late and miss something.

Regarding X - pay close attention to the way the train enters and exits the station. Because the seats face backwards during load many people think they are waiting for the front when they are in fact waiting for the back. Because the queue for the back row is right as you enter the station [brilliant planning] the back-up often makes the other rows less of a wait, including the first row. The seats rotate but the train does not so the row that leaves first is the front. Also many times the queue for the far side of X's station [the side closest to the toll booths] has less of a line.

If you're only going to get one ride on X make it the first row...the view on the first drop is worth it. Also some people have trouble finding their way to the ride. On the walk up to Viper cross UNDER the bridge first, then up the stairs immediately to the right and cross over.

If X is open make sure it's the first thing you do. Goliath is a people-eater and should be easy to knock out. Superman, if running, should be after X.

Disney/DCA - use Fastpass to its fullest. Many people think you must ride during the time slot printed on the ticket when in actuality they will accept the ticket ANY time after the alloted time up until park close. I usually collect fass passes during the first half of the day and use them at night. You can often hold more then one pass at any given time so if a ride offers it, try to get one.

Soaring Over California - At the point where riders are grouped into the individual rows tell the ride op you would like to wait for row B1 [as in B1-bomber]. This row offers the best viewing and is absolutely worth waiting a cycle or two for.

Grizzly Rapids - excellent...don't miss it thinking it's "just another rapids ride."

Don't miss It's Tough To Be A Bug...unless you've already seen it in Orlando.

The Sun Wheel pales in comparison to the original Wonder Wheel at Coney and has horrid capacity. Honestly you can skip this unless you've done everything or it has a short line. If you do ride, get a swinging car.

Assuming rerides only on Tower of Terror and California Screaming you should be able to knock out DCA in short few hours.

Good luck!

*** Edited 5/4/2007 10:56:04 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

  • If you are into pyro-type shows...Disneyland's Fantasmic in unbelievable...get there AT LEAST 1 hour early.
  • Alladin show at DCA THE BEST park/theater show I've ever seen...
  • I really, really hate park shows...especially in a time I recommend them with good reason.
  • Do X first and hope they are only opening less than 1 hour late. Since you are there...there is no need to miss Goliath.
  • IF you like wood (like I do), then I think skipping Ghostrider is a mistake. Depending on finances...I would suggest riding X and Goliath...then leaving Magic Mountain (the less time you spend at Magic Mountain the less chance for frustrations) and hitting up Knotts for Ghostrider.
  • If you make it to Knott's...Xcelerator rarley has a significant line.
  • Eat your food at is better than Disneyland and usually less crowded.
  • Space Mountain is MUCH better in CA.
  • Splash Mountain is worse...skip it IF you've done the FL version.
  • Buzz Lightyear is better in CA
  • Tiki Birds are original
  • Haunted Mansion is the same.
  • Matterhorn has TWO loading lines...typically everybody lines up more on the right line (facing the ride entrance)...use the left.
  • Assume that Magic Mountain will have the worst operations you've EVER seen...then they might exceed expectations. They have for me the last two visits (2 years ago).

Disneyland AM tour plan...

  • Get there at least 30 minutes early (probably 7:30 am).
  • Fastpass Space Mountain
  • Walk back to Indiana Jones and ride it
  • Exit and ride Pirates
  • Go to Big Thunder

Once you knock these can do what you like and be ahead of the game.

  • Matterhorn tends to have decreased lines at night...Ditto Splash
  • Do NOT ride Pooh during the WILL be a walk-on at night.
  • Follow the good advice that you DO NOT have to use the Fastpass in the time alotted. It is good ALL DAY after the first time is passed. It is ALWAYS smart to collect a Fastpass for long lines even when you have not used the one in your pocket. You can usually get a new one an hour after the first.

DCA advice...

***You are arriving late so the tour plan is different.

  • Go right and Fastpass Sorin...unless you've done the exact same version in Orlando...if you skip Sorin...Fastpass ToT instead.
  • DO Grizzly...they have a single rider sometimes have to ask the ride attendant...this will save you up to an hour.
  • Screaming also has a single rider line you HAVE to ask about. Even on the most crowded of days you can usually get multiple rides using the single rider up the exit strategy.
  • Muppets is the is Bug's Life
  • If you did not Fastpass ToT in lieu of Sorin upon entrance...ride it last.

...hope this helps...I'm sure I'm forgetting much pressure in the moment! :)

ApolloAndy's avatar
I actually thought the last row on X (the one that leaves the station last) was far better than any other row. The airtime while facing downwards on the first drop was one of my favorite moments in all of coasterdom.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

What's the deal with SFMM's Flashpass? Is it worth $20 for a Sunday in May?
First off, if you go this weekend, Splash Mountain is closed, so you don't need to worry about that. Also, Fantasmic is also down for rehab. The only nighttime show you'll have the opportunity of seeing is the fireworks at Disneyland (if the wind isn't too high like it was during my visit last weekend).

I think you're correct in skipping Knott's. My friend and I just did the Disneyland, DCA, Knott's and Magic Mountain and Knott's was my least favorite - which bugged me since I love Cedar Fair. But, it just wasn't a nice park in my mind.

Both Disney parks are going to be PACKED on Saturday. So, like others have said, definitely utilize the FastPass system. In the Magic Kingdom last Saturday, the lines weren't particularly bad except for Roger Rabit and Space Mountain. Space Mountain has an AWFUL problem with line jumpers too, so it makes the line even longer.

Space Mountain and Pirates are totally better at Disneyland than in Florida. But, personally I think they dropped the ball with Tower of Terror. You stand at the elevator waiting for what seems an eternity to get on the ride. Some of the effects are very cool, but overall, I like the FL version much better. If you HAVE to skip this one and you've ridden the one in FL, go ahead and skip it. I would highly recommend Monster's, Inc though. I think this is the best dark ride I've ever been on - hands down.

Like the others have said, definitely get to X first and you can most likely get in two rides before the lines get long. I liked the ride a lot - which surprised me. Honestly, I would skip Superman. I found it to be quite lame, but I've also ridden TTD and KK many times. It sounds and looks way better than it rides. After it was over, I was like, "uh, that's it?". I would wait for Tatsu before wasting time on Superman. Tatsu is hands down the best flyer out there. If you go to SFMM and miss this, I think you're doing a disservice to the park - and yourself. I would also HIGHLY recommend Ninja. What a great coaster and it looks beautiful with its new paint job. Highly recommend that. Goliath was cool, but not nearly as interesting or WOW as X or Tatsu. The trim brakes basically stop the coaster before it finishes the ride.

Definitely get to SFMM before the park opens and make sure you get to X and Tatsu right away. Then you'll be fine. My friend and I did this on Tuesday and were able to get every single coaster in (as well as multiple rides on several coasters). This was with single train operation on everything but X and Tatsu - Tatsu also didn't open until two hours before the park closed. But, the park wasn't very crowded either.

You'll have a blast. I know we did!! If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me or PM me. I was just there this week, so I might be able to help you out with fresh information.

^^It depends on if it's crowded or not. The last time I went there the lines were consistently 1+ hour on the major coasters. I found the $$$ well worth it in saving time that was later spent waiting on I5.

I agree with halltd. I was not impressed with Knott's. I was looking forward to that almost as much as Disney but was sorely disappointed. My wife and I had planned to take full advantage of our CP season passes and go back a few times. We did not.

We were pleasantly surprised with the queues at SFMM. However, we went on Monday. I'm not sure what the difference is between Sunday and Monday as far as attendance goes. But, there were multiple busses of children at the park and we still waited at most maybe 30 minutes for Tatsu and X the second time around. Our first waits for each were about 5 minutes. Most other rides were walk on or 5-10 minutes of station waiting because of single train operation.

I think I saw four people total using FlashPass that day and laughed each time I saw them. What a waste of money on that day.

Enjoy your weekend. I'm probably going to be at Knott's on Sunday (and maybe Sat PM if my flight gets in on time.)

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