Mid-Cal and Manchester Part One: California's Great America

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:09 PM

First off, let me apologize that this isn't a Cedar Point or Kings Island. I too was shocked, but then I realized that there are more than two parks in the world.

Oh, I forgot to add the # symbol that has become the Offical Punctuation Mark of Coasterbuzz Sarcasm. ;)

I'm on the quest for my 300th coaster this year. Making things challenging, I'm running out of major parks to go to where I can get a decent number of credits in a single shot. Adding to the challenge, there was really only one spot left in the country that was home to several thus-far unvisited major coaster parks within close proximity, and that was central California.

I wound up taking my airline on a Baltimore-St. Louis-Phoenix-San Diego-San Francisco routing because that's what I had to do to get flights with seats on them. No matter, though, as I'd never been to San Diego and I'd never even set foot in the state of Arizona.
Quick aside: I don't like Phoenix Sky Harbor International or San Diego Lindbergh International.
Anyways, I picked up my car and took the surprisingly easy drive down to Santa Clara. I parked mid-Hilton (I was staying at that hotel) and, wanting to go ahead and process my platinum pass, walked into the park as the hotel was pretty much attached to the park's lot.

Dangit, I forgot that # again for the mid-Hilton comment.

I got my pass and decided that, despite being totally drained, I would experience at least one coaster before going back to the hotel. I wound up choosing Vortex as it was the most convenient ride.

Vortex was probably the only member of the initial B&M standup trio that I actually enjoyed. The layout was a bit more head-banging-resistant than the Carowinds Vortex and SFA's Apocalypse. It wasn't an exceptional ride, but it was still pretty enjoyable.

The next day saw clouds, drizzle, and rather large Memorial Day crowds. I went to Flight Deck first, kicking off the day with a front-row lap. May I say, WOW, what a ride. It's so basic, but so punchy and aggressive. The non-inverting elements were just as good as the snappy inversions. I especially enjoyed the water-skimming turnaround finale, but really, there wasn't a dull moment, and that's including the elevated curve that separated inversions two and three.

I followed it up with Psycho Mouse, my first real wait of the day. I probably waited half an hour for the thing, but hey, I had to increase my track record.

Next up was Grizzly. It certainly wasn't the terrible ride people made it out to be. It certainly wasn't amazing, and definitely not the epic ride of its identically-named Virginia cousin, but it was still a fairly decent ride. The wait was around an hour, and I took the front row.

Rounding out the new credits was Demon, another long wait.
Ouch.

Yeah, I just don't care for those old Arrow loopers. The scenery was nice, though.

I ate after Demon, and then went on an encore lap on Flight Deck. This time, I was near the middle. Seriously, that is one fun ride.

Gold Striker wasn't open, so I just got to sit there and stare at that GCII work of art that I'm sure is going to be fantastic. Well, I hope it is, because as far as I'm concerned, having ridden the ride formerly known as Stealth in its new location, that park has pretty much had to ride on the greatness of Flight Deck for twenty years.

I left a little before the park closed as I wanted to get to my next destination before dinner. I had a good time, but I put it in the category of parks I'd visit if I was in the area but not that I'd go out of my way to hit, even with Gold Striker on the way.
I did get one nice ride after leaving the park, and that was the drive to my next hotel in American Canyon, just up the road from the Vallejo border. It was really beautiful for almost the entire journey.

For the Cliffs Notes version of the above, here you go.

- The park itself was meh. Granted, it's completely land-locked, being located essentially in the middle of an office park with a few hotels and the under-construction 49ers stadium added along the perimeter. It was kind of cool rocketing right up against office buildings though. But yeah, with such limited land, there's only so much the park can do.
- Vortex was kind of a sleeper hit.
- Flight Deck is one of the most underrated rides in existence. Absolutely stellar.
- Nothing else was particularly exciting. ;)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 8:48 PM

I often wonder what I'd think of Demon now. I loved it last time I was there. Favorite ride ever.

Of course, it was 1980 and I was 8. YMMV.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:02 PM

I can't believe I've started a Coasterbuzz sarcasm revolution.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:28 PM

You haven't.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013 5:35 PM

I was there on the 11th. I was bummed that all I could do was stare at the Gold Striker as well. One would think that it would be open by Memorial day weekend.

I waited over an hour for the Psycho Mouse. I'm not sure how they balance the Fast Lane with standby, but I think they need to at least keep the standby line moving.

Grizzly must be better in the front. My buddy and I weren't impressed at all toward the back.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013 6:09 PM

The last time I was out there for work I stayed right across the street from Great America. I had almost a full day to kill, but it was in March before the park opened. That was kind of a bummer, until I went to the indoor kart track next to San Francisco Int'l Airport. Definitely made up for it.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013 7:49 PM

The indoor go-kart track is probably more thrilling than most of the attractions at CGA.

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