Marineland, MFI and SFDL (long)

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Wednesday, July 9, 2003 8:06 AM
My parents were nice enough to take my husband (Steve), daughter (Jordan) and myself on vacation to Niagara Falls this past weekend. Well, actually from 7/3 - 7/8. We did the usual Niagara Falls stuff, stayed at the Comfort Inn at Clifton Hill, which was nice and convenient to everything, and also had some fun at the local parks. Steve and I rode the Pile Driver drop tower and while it gave a spectacular view of the falls, the drop was pretty weak.

7/4 - Marineland - crowds very light in the morning, kiddie rides crowded by early afternoon. Very nice park but a lot of walking to be had. This park is so spread out and has a ton of room for expansion. Unfortunately their new for '03 attractions (S&S tower and discovery cove) were not open yet. Dragon Mountain is a unique Arrow looper that meanders around for most of the ride. They were actually running two trains which totally blew my mind considering the most I saw in line at one time was 6 people. They have appropriately themed flats, but run them in the slowest mode possible.

On the marine life side of things, we happened to hit the park at a unique time. 2 days prior to our visit a baby beluga whale had been born and another whale was in labor while we were there. You could see the babies tail outside of the mother and when she would have a contraction, you could see almost half of the baby. Unfortunately, we found out the next day that the baby was stillborn, how sad.

The two shows we did see were good, but not Sea World caliber.

7/6 Martin's Fantasy Island - crowds very light at opening. Unfortunately, Wildcat wouldn't open till almost an hour after opening and Silver Comet almost 1.5 hours. So we rode the Orient Express with Jordan and then took off to ride some of the rides she couldn't while Grandma and Pap Pap took her to kiddie land. Nice family park with an easy layout and friendly employees. There are nice shade trees throughout the park, but in the wrong places. Most of the queues (if you can find one) are exposed to the sun which was out in full force Sunday morning.

Their drop tower was, eh. Wildcat, while it's the same as Cedar Point's Wildcat, it runs quite a bit slower, literally crawling through the first couple of turns. The log flume was one of the smaller ones I've encountered but totally drenched us. The ride-op was laughing at us when we got back.

Finally Silver Comet opened. Now it has a 6 car, 2 bench PTC train, but when we got up to the platform we realized there were only 5 cars to the train. No big deal as there was no line but had there been that extra 1,000 lbs, I think we would have been in for a much better ride than we got. Nice layout with some good laterals but the air just wasn't there and I know it would have been if the train had been heavier. After running into Robb Alvey and Elissa White later in the day at SFDL, we found out that a wheel had broke off one of the cars, hence only 5 cars to the train. At least, they were still running the ride.

After about 3.5 hours in the blazing sun and Jordan getting cranky from the heat, we left for our final destination, SFDL.

We checked into the Lodge which was very nice and convenient to the park. All stays at the Lodge and/or Campground are sold in packages, so you can just walk into the park and not have to worry about tickets or season passes, which is really nice. The Lodge offers a pool and kiddie pool with a snack bar, where you can buy snacks and drinks, alcoholic or not and was open till at least 11 pm. Nice touch.

Sunday evening, Steve and I headed into the park sans Jordan (she was watching Monsters, Inc. with Grandma and Pap Pap) to find that everything was running and a small crowd. All coasters were running two trains sans Boomerang and upon hearing reports of Viper problems and knowing how iffy SF parks can be about operations, we decided to ride all the coasters and get them out of the way.

Boomerang is a boomerang, but a smooth boomerang.

Viper was your average Arrow looper with a little head banging but the OTSRs were the most painful I've ever encountered. They staple your shoulders to the back of the seat so hard. That was worse than any headbanging.

Mind Eraser was your typical SLC but a little rougher than T2 @ SFKK which we rode earlier this year.

Predator has a nice layout and using the standard sitting position for Dinn/Summers coaster (front seat of a car and don't let your back touch the seat) was one of the better D/S coasters I've ridden. It jackhammered in a couple spots but nothing major. Thunder Run is still the best D/S woodie though. The one quirk with this ride was the fact that they had two trains on but ran one empty. What's the point of that?

SROS - what can say that hasn't already been said about this amazing ride. The more Intamin's I ride, the more I love them. The fog at the bottom of the first drop is so cool. It was so thick we couldn't see anything. The third hill is pure airtime bliss. Give me one of these on every coaster and I'll be in heaven. We rode it about 8 times that night and just like MF, it got better with every ride. (side note - this is where we ran into Robb and Elissa, very nice couple to talk with.)

7/7 was our family day at the park. It had rained overnight and briefly before the park opened, so it was cloudly and the temperature (and crowd) was comfortable (small). Jordan had a blast and rode just about everything she was able to (she's 43"). She must of rode Brain Teaser for a least an hour total. Unfortunately, mom and dad couldn't ride with her for the credit :( We rode most of the flat rides at least twice (sometimes 3) and Jordan did Looney Tunes SeaPort all within about 4-5 hours. The only ride not operating Monday was the Scrambler (is this really a SF park?) All coasters only ran one train.

The sun decided to finally show itself around 3 and it got warm fast so Jordan wanted some pool time. Steve and Jordan took a swim and we then headed to the TimberWolf Restuarant for dinner (good food) and then it was back to SROS for Steve and I. Got a few more blissful rides and headed to the back of the park to meet up with the folks and Jordan to watch the Lazer show. It was really quite good.

Overall, I'd have to say we were very impressed with SFDL. SFWoA is our home SF park and could take a few pointers from DL (not that WoA isn't working on some of these points already.) The park is nicely landscaped throughout (I even got a picture of a woman weeding one of the planters), there are benches galore, there is a bathroom at every turn (which is important when you have a little one), the water from the fountains was COLD, there was plenty of shade to be found, the employees were very friendly, good variety of food, very generous when it came to kids playing games, ride operations were good and of course, SROS. WoA may have more coasters, but I'd take SROS over anything at WoA (hopefully that will change next year.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 8:16 AM
My dad went to SFDL about six months ago. He liked it better than SFOG. He said the park was great, not too big, not too small

You never know.

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 9:01 AM
Ride of Steel's avatar SFDL is a great park..not to big not to small. Even though they don't have alot of coasters they do have a good variety. An inverted, looper, shuttle, wooden, and hyper, which is not too too bad. Superman is a great ride. That was such a successful prototype. I can't wait to go for a 3rd time this weekend.

As far as one train on Predator running empty...

When I was there 2 weeks ago someone in the train ahead of us had a bloody nose. They cleaned it up and continued to run the ride. They even let us in on that train in all rows except the back where the "incident" was. But then when I marathoned superman, I noticed that the black train was cycling empty, and the red was full of people...hmmm... I'm surprised its still like that..

I go to the point each year to have their new coaster break down, thats my life. Dragster and WT may have been closed, but MF is always there to fulfill my thrill needs

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 9:10 AM
Sounds like you had a great trip.

Too bad about Silver Comet. I always thought that looked like it would be a great ride.

Hopefully I'll be able to get out that way someday.
*** This post was edited by chris 7/9/2003 1:10:20 PM ***

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 9:46 AM
Ride of Steel's avatar Silver Comet is a great ride especially in the back seat. That is the ONLY bad review I've ever heard about it. Must have been on a bad day. Its smooth but out of control.

I go to the point each year to have their new coaster break down, thats my life. Dragster and WT may have been closed, but MF is always there to fulfill my thrill needs

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 10:31 AM
Silver Comet was not a bad ride at all, it was really good, it just would've been better with more weight from the missing car.
Thursday, July 10, 2003 1:01 PM
kpjb's avatar Y'know what's odd? I was only ever at Marineland once, probably about 15 years ago, but I saw an animal giving birth, too. What are the chances of that?

Come on, fhqwgads!

Thursday, July 10, 2003 2:12 PM
DawgByte II's avatar It's too bad the Beluga whale was still-born... but I heard it's not uncommon for Beluga whales to have still-borns, and if they do make it... babies have a really high rate of death, which is sad... no matter how great the care is.

I hope they get their '03 attractions opened soon... and hope even more is planned for '04 at Marineland. It'll definately help break up the monotony of walking between attractions. It'd be even better if they finished theming Dragon Mountain.
For all times I've ever been there... the queue line was always at an absolute minimum, which is ashame for such a nice coaster. I think it has to do with the fact that it's located in the back of the park, and that's like a 20 minute walk from the front (literally). The need a transportation ride, because there aren't too many break spots between Dragon Mountain & the marine life area.

The Viper at SFDL has always been known as one of the smoothest Arrows around, especially for a 21yr old coaster. I'm surprised you found that rough as is. I sat in every seat possible, and none were ever all that rough.

Thursday, July 10, 2003 4:34 PM
It wasn't that Viper was rough, there was very little headbanging for an Arrow, which I was quite surprised by. It was the restraints that were painful. Literally pinning your shoulders to the back of the seat. Everyone around was saying the same thing about being pinned into the seat.

They were the older Arrow restraints, not the ones like on Corkscrew at CP that come out further from the seat and come down so far they pin your legs to the seat.

Thursday, July 10, 2003 4:58 PM
Ride of Steel's avatar I agree about the pinning of the shoulders. I'm only 5 foot 10 and this year its been a very tight squeeze. Its such a fun ride because its not to big or to small for an arrow looper.

I go to the point each year to have their new coaster break down, thats my life. Dragster and WT may have been closed, but MF is always there to fulfill my thrill needs


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