My first Cali Trip - 3&4, PGA, SFMW

Associated parks:
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Thursday, June 5, 2003 3:32 PM
Day 3 - PGA:

I woke up early today to catch a flight to San Jose for the second phase of my coaster vacation. I got in around 11:30, and my Dad was meeting me here (he was coming out on business anyway) so I just chilled in the parking lot of the rental car area for an hour. He showed up around 12:30 and we headed for the park. The location of the park reminds me a lot of Busch Gardens Tampa. It’s a fun little park just kinda sandwiched in between the rest of a busy city. I had a really good time at the park.

Overall, the park just seems to be “mini”. They have a lot of rides that are fun and very enjoyable, but they’re miniature versions. The only coaster or ride that they have that doesn’t seem to be mini is Stealth but more on that later. I found it really cool how many firsts this park actually has – first Invertigo if I saw correctly, first modern Flying coaster, first Delerium/Claw style ride, etc. One last overall note, the lack of stations at the park. It was like a RCT park that the designer just forgot to add stations directly over the coasters. Leading up to the coasters was fine, shaded and all, but Top Gun, Vortex and Invertigo didn’t even have roofs, the coasters just sit there! Vortex was first, cool little stand-up, I like all the direction changes, good use of that, as it is an element that is really only fun on stand-up style. Score: 8/10

Invertigo was a lot of fun, I like boomerangs and the invertigo style is just that much cooler. A lot of fun, really intense, definite winner of a ride. Score: 9/10

Grizzly was a disappointment – looked really cool, but never delivered. Score: 6/10

Demon was pretty cool considering its age. The thing bangs a lot, but that is to be expected from an old Arrow (or a new Arrow for those that read my SFMM TR!). Loved the themeing on this ride, I just wish that the real demonic attributes of it would have survived to present day. Score: 8/10

Top Gun was really cool, enjoyed it a lot. For a short inverted, it packed a wallop, especially on the final helix over the water! That entire part of the ride towards the end is great, really whips you around and flies through there. The ride could have been longer, but when I rode it the third time going in thinking “this is modeled after a dogfight”, its perfect, really feels like you’re in an F-14! 4 rides. Score: 9/10

Stealth. Well, I would like to say that I have found yet another Vekoma flaw – why did they *ever* abandon this layout for the Flying Dutchman? Stealth is superior to X-Flight in so many ways! The entire course is faster, the loop is more forceful (if that’s possible), and the corkscrews blow the in-line twists away! The twists on X-Flight are taken so slow, as is the helix that they really don’t thrill the way those corkscrews on Stealth do! I really think Vekoma should have stuck with the original layout of the Flying Dutchman. Needless to say, this was my favorite coaster of the day, 2 rides. Score: 9.5/10

We also threw in two drops on Drop Zone – how ‘bout that? Yesterday the 1st Gen freefall, today the 2nd Gen! Rock! PGA is a great little park, and if it was my homepark, I would feel very, very lucky. I would definitely revisit if I was in the area! Score: 9/10

Day 4 - SFMW

Before I even set off for SFMW, I wanted to just note that they just did a story on Top Thrill Dragster on the early show here in San Jose! Ha! Love it, love it, love it! More when I get home.

Well the park was crawling today with middle school kids. There were tons of 11-14 year olds all over the park – fortunately, it was pretty much them and me in the entire park so it was pretty empty! I liked this park, although it wasn’t what I was expecting. More of a zoo with thrill rides for when the animals get boring than a real amusement park that’s based on rides. But a cool blend of the two. Seems like maybe SFWoA is intended to be the bigger, badder version of this park in the east, and if that’s the final goal, then more power to them, because SFMW is very well run.

Very clean park, good ops, although on Medusa, they were more concerned with people being past the yellow line and not leaning on the air gates than checking the restraints. Both times I rode it, I went without getting a restraint check, while the other two in my row did because the ops were all concerned with telling people to move back. But other than that, a pleasant day at the park. Got to see some cool animals, took some good shots of the dolphins, cougars, white leopard and giraffes. Tried to take a picture of a tiger who looked at me and proceeded to squat in the water before I could get a good shot – and I wasn’t about to take a picture of him doing *that*. The seals were the best though, they’re smart creatures, either they knew that I had food or that I wanted a picture cause all I had to do was look one of them right in the eye, and they’d “pose” for me. It was quite cool, marine animals are so much fun. The shark experience is also very neat in this place. With a little expansion, SFMW could become a major destination, as opposed to another regional park.

On to the rides – Medusa was my first coaster here. Once again, it really annoyed me that there’s this beautifully landscaped park in the back, near the animals, but the rides section is literally just built on the parking lot. And a-la-Scream, the lines of the parking spaces are still below 75% of Medusa’s structure! At the least, they should have chewed up the pavement and laid grass seed. That couldn’t have cost them too much extra and it would look a lot nicer. But as far as the ride itself goes, pretty good – I liked the zero-g, and the … uh … reverse-cobra roll? Was a neat touch. Pretty fun coaster, although it just felt like it was lacking something, maybe just didn’t have the punch that the rest of the California loopers seem to have. Score: 8.5/10

Kong – your standard SLC. Now I see why people have an aversion to these things based on roughness. I have never even come close to experiencing a ride that rough on Serial Thriller at WoA. And Kong goes really slow for some reason, not sure why, but it seems like it almost wants to valley on the 3rd inversion. Score: 6.5/10

V2 (modified) – Impulses! I love these babies, launches are definitely my favorite kind of roller coaster. This one did not disappoint as a unique ride, but the launch did. I wasn’t expecting such a short acceleration run, is S:UE’s run that short? Or is that part of the modifications to this ride? Also, I don’t understand why they don’t use the stall on the back spike. If ya got it, might as well use it right? Ah well, still fun as all impulses are, and the angled spike is cool as can be! Rode in the middle as I had seen suggested on the boards and got to experience stalling upside-down! Very cool. Score: 8.5/10

Roar – Yay GCI! I absolutely love this company. If I had to pick a second favorite kind of coaster, it’s a wooden made by GCI! The twists, the speed, the sudden turns, I love their methods of construction! I was all ready for Roar to be about half as long as it was, but no! The low runs with the high banks were great! I rode this 5 times over the course of my stay. Score: 9.5/10

Zonga – Ouch! Ouch! And Ouch again! I can’t really tell you what my impressions were of this coaster, because the headbanging on the first hill was so bad, it dazed me enough that I don’t really even remember the rest of the ride, other than trying desperately to jam my head against some part of the headrest. I’d had luck with that method of preventing headbanging before, but I think it just made it worse on this ride. Send this one to the scrapheap for all I care. Bah. Score: 3/10

So, I ended up leaving the park at about 3:45pm after getting there at 10:30am (I intended to be there at opening, but I got a little lost on the way up) because I felt unusually hot and tired. I couldn’t figure out why, cause I’d been doing this 4 days in a row without a problem with the heat – until I turned on my rental car and discovered it’s outside temperature hickey-do telling me it was 106! Holy crap! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a day over 101 in my life, but now I have – and of all things I was riding roller coasters in it, how cool is that :). I was quite amazed on the drive home at the temperature fluctuation – SFMW was 106, when I could see the Golden Gate Bridge through the haze, it was 71, and now at my hotel, it’s 92. This is craziness! 35 degree swings in the course of an hour-long drive! One last note, I stopped by for a meal at one of my favorite artery-cloggers of all time, Fuddruckers, and got really lost on the way out. I was in a panic that I’d be forever lost in Northern California, but did manage after 30 minutes to remember what road I last turned off of when I was looking for I-880, and finally found the on-ramp. I swear, I thought Pittsburgh was bad for signage. California is absolutely terrible! If you’re not from around here, heck even if you are I would think, it seems that you’re rather on your own as to figuring out where anything is! Thanks for reading part 2 of my giant TR. There will be a short intermission, followed by part 3, Knott’s and a little more SFMM.

Edit: formatting

Continued ...

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"You know we got a good thing goin and I don't wanna see it end" --Reel Big Fish
-- Brett
*** This post was edited by PittDesigner 6/5/2003 7:41:42 PM ***

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Thursday, June 5, 2003 8:35 PM
That's too bad you didn't like Zonga, it is my second favorite coaster in the park. :( Glad you had fun overall!

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