Mid-Cal and Manchester Part Two: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:20 PM

So yeah, I nearly got in an accident or two heading towards the Vallejo area. I-80 heads right by SFDK, and I had to take said highway to my hotel a little further up the road in American Canyon.

Basically, it was about twenty minutes before closing when I was passing by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, the second park of this leg of the vacation. For reasons I can only describe as nonsensical, I considered hitting the exit and going to the park for a quick lap on something. I decided against it, partly because of the time, and partly because disappearing lanes had nearly resulted in my getting into accidents already, so I didn't want to press my luck.

When I got to the park the next day, I realized that I had made the right decision. The parking lot is on the other side of a lake from the park, and it is one stupid long walk. By the time I'd have reached the entrance, the park would have been closed.

After walking from what felt like Sacramento to the main gate, I was greeted with a mob of people the likes of which I've never seen at a park entrance. It must have taken me a half an hour to even get through the metal detectors. Compounding the pain of the wait, I was effectively surrounded by coasters, taunting me as I waited in that never-ending security line.

I eventually made it in, and I decided to head over to Superman Ultimate Flight to start the day, figuring its wait would be the most painful. I waited an hour and five minutes for it once all was said and done.

I think Andy described it best when he called it Superman Ultimehte Flight. I mean, it was kind of cool, but it had such terrible capacity and really, it just wasn't anything special.

Regarding capacity, that crew was UNBELIEVABLE. Seriously, they just kept cranking that train out. If the train spent even sixty seconds at a standstill, I'd be surprised. I get surveys for the SF parks every time I visit, and I hope I do for this one, because really, they need to know how well they're doing.

I followed SUF up with Roar. I was in the front row after twenty minutes, a decision I would soon be very glad I made. It really didn't track well at all, although the airtime was magnificent. If they can get this ride to run smoother, they'll have a smash. For now, I'm inclined to lean toward the SFA version as the better of the two.

V2: Inclined Velocity was next. Let me tell you, that ride was stupid fun. Easily one of the highlight moments of the trip. I picked the center of the train so I could be caught in the center of the roll when the train grinds to a halt during the first and third trips up the forward spike. It was so weirdly unnatural just hanging there upside down for what felt like an eternity. I only rode it once during the visit, but I look forward to future trips so I can hit it up again. The wait wasn't bad, either.

Wanting to continue to get the low-capacity stuff out of the way, I went to the other side of the park to Boomerang. It was a Boomerang. That is all.

Kong came next. Only one train was even on the track, so this ride took the silver medal in the longest wait category.

It was a SLC. That is all.

Last up was perhaps the ride I wanted to experience more than any other on Earth that I'd not yet ridden: Medusa. It was the last floorless coaster in the US that I needed to ride, let alone the last of the class of 2000 floorless quartet. I grabbed the front row as I usually try to do on B&M floorless coasters. Honestly, it was fantastic. I likened it to a more interesting version of Kraken with a few nice "fills" between the main "riff" of inversion, inversion, inversion.

I took a break to grab a bite to eat, walked around and took some photos, then worked my way back to Medusa for an encore performance. I wound up being the last one in line, opting to wait again for the front. Unfortunately, as I was by myself, they decided to make the train ahead of the one I was scheduled to ride the last one of the night. As such, they told me I'd have to pick another seat if I wanted to ride. I was kind of bummed, but I grabbed the back anyway, lest I pull a Gallagher, as it were. ;)

You know, it's the unexpected things in life that are so awesome. Where I had felt as though the ride lacked something up front, it was everything I dreamed it could be in the back. Some rides do have layouts better-suited to the back row, and like its cousin Kraken, this was one of them. There was a lot of amazing pull through the inversions and some nice air in a few spots where the front row just didn't quite get it done. I had an absolute blast.

And that was it. Are you ready for some crazy talk? Well, have I got some for you: I have to say, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is one of my absolute favorite Six Flags parks, and probably one of my favorite parks in general. It had a cohesive theme throughout the entire park, and even a few rides whose themes didn't quite jive with the overall concept didn't really take much away from it. I'm disappointed I didn't get to see the animals, though, but I'd honestly say that I could squeeze two days out of the park without trying. I liken it to SeaWorld Orlando with much more to do, even if you don't check out shows. It was truly, absolutely fantastic.

So again, the list version:

- SFDK has what may be the best employees in the chain, or awfully close to it. Also, every ride save Kong had crowd control Ride Ops, making things run very orderly.
- V2 and Medusa are the stuff of legends. Go ride them now.
- SUF would be the perfect ride for some small park somewhere, not a behemoth of a park like SFDK. On top of that, it just wasn't super interesting. Honestly, Premier needs to go back to the Mr. Freezes and Chillers we all know and love.
- With some retracking, Roar could be great.
- Get rid of Kong and Boomerang now. Build a B&M invert or something.
- The park is actually quite beautiful. There was lots of natural scenery.
- Going with a cohesive theme that spans the park is extremely effective. It really differs from all of the other parks in the chain because of this.
- Stop reading this and go to SFDK. Go now.

Oh, and forgive the delay on part three. One, it hasn't happened yet, and two, I'm still in Charlotte waiting on my flight to Manchester.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:41 PM

Pull a Gallagher? We'll see if it catches on.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 6:56 PM

I'm trying to milk it as long as I can before I wind up becoming the subject of a meme.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 7:08 PM

You don't become a meme without the Gonchar rub.

You provide the content, I'll make the magic happen. :)

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 9:27 PM

You only pull a Gallagher if you argue with a ride op while smooshing a watermelon with an oversized hammer.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 10:25 PM

Gonchar rub...*snicker*

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 11:48 PM

I assume by "cohesive theme" you're excluding the front half of the park with all the parking lot coasters.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:09 AM

Well...yes.

In all seriousness, though, it just seemed like they had a concept and ran with it, but I acknowledge that much of that was true before Six Flags took over. I hate to say it, because I do enjoy Six Flags, but man, it just seems like they don't put any real thought into the installations.

What I'm trying to say is that I think the park was in such great shape beforehand that the Six Flags management at the turn of the millennium couldn't even totally screw it up.

Like I said, SFDK was great despite some rather out-of-place installations. In fairness, though, Boomerang was actually pretty well executed, and Roar kind of jives with the park's theme, but yes, despite the fact that they don't really take away from the theme, they don't contribute much to it, either.

I will say as a bit of a negative, and this is one thing that I think is unique to Six Flags, but it does seem like they really don't make the most of new rides. Medusa was perfect for the park, giving it the signature ride the place really needed, but it was interesting to see how Gold Striker really filled a need at Great America. You know, the place hadn't received a decent ride in two decades, and here CF really seemed to make the first new one in ages fit in well with the park. Then you have SFDK with SUF, a ride clearly put there just so they can say they got a new ride. It's the kind of thing that belongs in some out-of-the-way park in New England or Pennsylvania, not a massive, stellar park in California. It's just like they could rip out Kong and SUF and really take nothing away from the park. SFDK was good enough without them.

I think that for all those who complain that Cedar Fair takes forever between installations at some of the parks, they really try to make each one count. The B&M hypers for the major parks, the inverts for Dorney and WOF, the GCIIs, etc. In my opinion, that's the way to go. Do it rarely and do it right.

Sorry for the tangent. I just think that Six Flags would do well to rip out half of the stupid rides that nearly every park is stuck with and start over with fewer, "signature" rides. Again, don't take this as some sort of contradiction to my rave review of the place earlier. I'm just saying that a few things on the ride side didn't lend themselves to the overall quality of the place.

Last edited by sirloindude, Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:12 AM
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Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:23 AM

I'm glad you enjoyed my home park! I actually find it is a great place to go as a family because there is really something for everyone. Just last week I was at La Ronde, and it made me remember how spoiled I am by SFDK. Good coasters, good family areas, great animal exhibits, and a nice setting. If only they could just get a decent carpenter to work on Roar... I've had some really amazing rides on it, but those were all back in 2000-2003.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013 12:33 AM

Even if they didn't really make Roar any better, I could entertain myself for a day just by riding V2 and Medusa over and over again. ;)

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