My first Cali trip - Day 1&2, SFMM (epic long)

Associated parks:
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Thursday, June 5, 2003 3:31 PM
As I sit here eating California strawberries in California, drinking a beer and having not a care in the world, its weird to think that less than a year ago, I didn't even know that coasters existed in California, let alone of a magnitude that would get me to spend a lot of money to come out here and ride them! Talk about turnaround time! And not bad for my first time ever in California! Ok, Hallmark moment over, time for the meat of this report.

I got into LAX at about 10:45 last night. Got a rental car in what proved to be a rather scary section of town for someone used to the relative hospitality of Pittsburgh. I had a firework go off 40 feet in front of my car, I got lost trying to find the interstate cause the onramp was closed and no detour was posted, I ended up going right towards south-central LA - one place that may be ok, but I've heard too many horror stories to make my own impression by myself at 11:00 at night! Well I finally got here to my hotel about 5 minutes from Magic Mountain. This place is nice! I like Valencia from the little I've seen. Looks like straight out the Secret World of Alex Mack (any other people around 21 remember that show?) and it would seem like a nice place to live.

Got up this morning at 7am sharp, since I've been getting up at 6:45am every day this summer, 9am is sleeping in, and 10am EST well geez! That my friends, is a vacation! ... except for that its only 7am out here. Oh well, had a nice continental breakfast and headed for SFMM. My anticipation grew as I saw the observation tower to my left and when I parked I was almost giddy to get inside - of course, I was by myself, so I was trying to "look cool". Got inside and practically ran in the direction I thought X was in. Boy did I get lost! SFMM is a well laid out park if you take a few hours, walk around, ask locals and place everything out. For your first few minutes there, it’s impossible! So the first coaster I was actually able to FIND was Viper, so I decided, ah screw X, it didn't even look like it was running and I don't want to look like too much of a tourist just yet, I'll take a spin. Wow!

Viper was very cool, made me all nostalgic for the Steel Phantom, and was just a fun ride. Really enjoyed the slow corkscrews - minimal headbanging and hangtime at the tops, just a giggler all around. Walk-on all day made this my only multiple coaster of the day at 3 laps. Score: 9.5/10.

After Viper, asked someone where X was, he pointed out the bridge to it and told me that it was down now, and said "if ya just go that-a way, you'll hit everything else in the park!" So I went "that-a way" and wouldn't you know, I hit everything else in the park! Except that it was early, and nothing was on. Deja Vu isn't running at all (major bummer!), Psyclone wasn't running at that time, I went back, but all I have to say about that one is OUCH. Not even going to give it more time. Now the next coaster I enjoyed: Riddler's Revenge! I always enjoyed the stand-up concept. Mantis was my favorite Cedar Point coaster until the last two years, so I was pumped for this one. It did not disappoint! I thought it was weird that the station crew let people ride however they wanted, and just ran the trains through very efficiently. Mantis' crew could probably take a speed lesson (although RR could probably take a safety lesson from Mantis).

Riddle me this and riddle me that! Not only is Riddler one of my favorite Batman characters, but Riddler's Revenge was awesome! I loved the loop over the lift hill, reminded me of my baby in South Florida! The double-dive loops was cool too, and the whole ride was very forceful and just a blast to ride, no pain either! Score: 9/10.

Ok, this trip report has been interrupted. I was in the middle of trying to recall my route through the park and decided, "hey I'll look at my map!” looked around, couldn't find the map. I remembered the last place I left it was my rental car. Looked for the keys ... no rental car keys!! So I just spent the last 40 minutes waiting outside reading a Tom Clancy book in the gorgeous evening weather for the AAA guy to get here to unlock my car so that I could crawl into the trunk and retrieve my keys! Since I have them back, I would call it a good experience since I got to be outside! But now that I have my map and my strawberries again, back to your regularly scheduled trip report!

After Riddler, I tried to ride freefall cause I absolutely love Intamin 1st Gen drop towers. 1st Gens and 2nd Gens like Pitt Fall are easily my favorite "extreme flat rides". They make S&S towers feel absolutely weak and boring IMHO. But, the thing broke down while I was in line and I didn't feel like wasting coaster time on something I could ride at home. So, on to Batman! But, on my way there, happened to see the sign for the Gold Rusher, so took a quick spin on that. Located the Gotham City area and was blown away by the themeing! It was wonderful! Best out-of-Orlando themeing I've ever seen! Very industrial, very dark, reminded me of being inside that really cool Batman cartoon! Only a short wait for B:TR, my first B:TR experience ... I was blown away!

Batman's amazement for me started with the station. The thing is gorgeous. The line is well-themed and the station looks just like something from the cartoon. I rode in the front seat and I loved it. All inverts should be this compact and forceful! The zero-G was amazing, the 2nd loop was great and the helix into the 2nd corkscrew was great too! Dare I say it, I think Raptor might have dropped to my #2 invert! Score: 9.5/10

After finally finding my way out of Gotham City, I headed to the Goliath clustering of rides. Colossus was down, but that thing looks so unimpressive to me anyway, I wasn't that bummed. Might come back to ride it tomorrow, might not. Took a spin on Scream next.

Scream was really cool. I thought the layout was rather inspired for the same set of inversions. The roll was very close to a "kumba-thingy" which brought a huge smile to my face, but what is with the rattling on this thing? It wasn't rough in a headbanging sense, but I felt like I was riding in an earthquake! And I was very disappointed that after the great themeing efforts on Batman, Superman, Riddler and Goliath, that the parking lot lines are still painted on the blacktop below the helices and corkscrews of Scream! SFMM has a wonderful atmosphere and great themeing, and this ride just seems to not fit. I hope that they take some time to properly theme it in the future, at least put some dirt down there so something grows! Score: 9/10

Goliath was my next ride, and the entrance was just the first in some wonderful themeing. I'm a complete sucker for the stuff if you haven't noticed yet, and this ride did not disappoint. Was a fun wait in a relatively short line. Got to ride in the very back seat. Was unimpressed with the drop, as I'm used to the hyper-filled East coast, but after the MCBR, I can see how this ride has the G-force naysayers out in spades! Those helices are the definition of forceful! Wow! But it was a cool ride. Score: 8/10

About this time, I started reflecting on my day and the major differences of California. Number one, all of these coasters do not have the line capacity of East coasters. If any save Goliath and Riddler were in the east, I would say that their lines would only hold about an hour's worth of people. And even Goliath and Riddler, max, 2 hours worth, where most SFWoA, CP, IoA, BGT and even Hershey's lines can hold 2-4 hours worth of people. Also, Californians don't seem to have the obsession with the front and back seats that east coasters do. I would say that no front line was more than 10 minutes extra than other rows, and no back line was more than 1 or 2 extra trains. Just kind of weird. I also love the way that the rows are done on Viper and RR. It isn't the usual pandemonium station like most are. An excellent crowd control idea that should be used more often (although in Viper's case, it should be marked, otherwise "one door syndrome" takes over and everyone follows everyone else into the back line).

After trying in vain to find Ninja and Superman and Flashback's entrances, I decided to walk back to the front and try to get on X. I walked past a concession stand near Goliath that had oranges and apples and was very impressed that a park had real and cheap food! I kind of wanted a piece of fruit, but decided to come back later for one - dumb idea, as when I got back, they were gone :( Ended up going to the grocery store near my hotel afterwards and just buying fruit anyway ;) So, made my way back, stopped for a spin on Revolution, ouch! That ride was terrible. Without the OTSR, maybe a fun ride for its age, but with 'em, I wouldn't touch it again with a ten foot pole! On to X!

Really looking forward to this as a whole new concept. But wow, does that line move slow. I'm unsure of the total wait time, but I think it was about 2 1/2 hours. That included some down time for putting a new train on which subsequently stalled out at the top of the lift, but hey, I waited 5 hours for a brand new Dragster, I can wait 2 1/2 for something that's as new and exciting to me!

X was simply amazing! There is no way for me to put into words how blown away I was by it. I was expecting a lot and got so much more! That first hill, well, let’s put it this way: I scream on the first drops of rides cause I think its fun. But I have only involuntarily screamed on MF (mostly every time), S:UE, Wicked Twister and TTD. Those ones scared/thrilled me enough I couldn't control my screaming. This one went beyond that. I believe my exact words screamed at the top of my lungs when that first flip sent me down the hill (I was in the last row) were "holy S what the F just Fing happened to me?!" although not that clean ;) And those sentiments continued throughout the ride mixed in with screams of joy, and on the last raven turn, screams of pain. That was my last impression of X. It is an amazing ride, it scared and thrilled the living you-know-what out of me, but it is painful! Especially from the back row. I rarely feel the effects of headbanging, but I was dizzy and in pain when I stepped off. Unless something is done, from my initial impression, X will go the way of Drachen Fire in about 10-15 years. But, pain aside, an amazing experience. Although operations ... well, if there is a grade below F-, they would get it. Line jumping like crazy, terrible speed on getting the trains in and out, and the worst station madhouse I have ever seen. If they did something as simple as stand someone at the entrance to the station and assign seating, things would improve drastically, but without that, it’s a complete mess. Score (coaster): 9.5/10, Score (ops): -5/10

In the X line I did meet some cool locals. Two rather attractive young (well close to my age, young to some of you ;) ) ladies who I talked to later in the gift shop when I was buying my Goliath, Dena Vu, Viper and X shot glasses (hey other parks that don't have really cool shot glasses for their major coasters, take a hint from that! ;) ), and two guys who were just getting really pissed off at the slowness of the line. It was nice to finally meet some friendly people, cause there didn't seem to be too many. When I went to parks in the east before alone, I usually ended up talking to the people around me in every longer ride line, but not here. It wasn't rude, just a stick-to-your-own attitude. Guess that's the "local flavor". Although I did run into more than a few Steelers fans! Once again, I see Pittsburgh paraphernalia and I don't think anything of it - till I realize I'm 3000 miles from home! Pretty cool to see the Steelers have a following this far from home. Had a lot of people ask me about Heinz Field and such, but on to more TRing ...

After recovering from my beating on X, I went for a quick walk-on spin on Viper, which I think was my favorite coaster in the park (X just hurt too much - without rerideability, a coaster cannot claim favorite in a park for me) and headed back through the wonderfully shaded and planted back trails of the park in hopes that Deja Vu would be open - but no such luck. So, hopped on that horrible P thing - made the headache worse and made my shoulder which has been bothering me lately even hurt and went from there to the mountaintop where Ninja and Superman are located (when I finally figured out how the heck to get there!) Wow, that's quite the trek up that hill! But, got up there for a spin on Ninja, cool coaster for what it is. I know my girlfriend would love it, although she'd hate everything else in the park - loops and OTSRs are as she puts it "the devil".

The Ninja people said that Superman was only a 15 minute wait, so I stopped by, even though I wasn't planning on it and was going to leave that for tomorrow. It was fun though! I'm sure if I would have ridden Superman even 3 years ago before S:UE came out, I would have enjoyed it more. But, that launch, even though you go really freakin' fast and the floating at the top is way cool, it just doesn't pack the punch of an impulse or a hydraulic launch. Still, a fun ride, but I really wouldn't wait more than the 30 or so minutes that I did for it, unless it was really hot out since the building was A/Ced! Although, it was I think 91 today for a high, so I don't know how much hotter it could have gotten! Quick note, Superman was my 75th coaster. Score: 8.5/10

So overall, Magic Mountain is a great place. I know Jeff and the others are going to hate me for saying this, but in a comparison to Cedar Point (which from an enthusiast view, sorry guys, they are in competition - they're the best of their respective coasts), it is much better themed, although being a Six Flags, that's to be expected. Their rides concentrate more on loops and weird experiences, something that also seems to be a Six Flags trademark, as opposed to speed and hills being the trademark of Cedar Point and its fellow Cedar Fair parks. It's a great place, but I know I hit it on a really good day cause there was no one there, and I can see how it can get really bad (which I'll probably experience tomorrow, but I'm only going tomorrow mainly for picture taking and maybe another Viper, B:TR and X spin, then its off to KBF) crowd-wise. One last thing, where the heck does this park get 16 coasters from? Unless they're counting Colossus or S:tE as 2 coasters since they have two tracks, I only saw 15 coasters and only counted 15 in the map ... anyone care to explain? Or is this like "X-Flight has eight inversions!" stuff ... Overall Park Score: 9.5/10.

Day 2:

Just a quick addition to this TR because I ended up just spending a second day at SFMM instead of going to KBF because today was apparently some Junior High School Grad Night or something? I don’t know, but it sounded like there would be kids everywhere if I went to KBF, so I decided to just dedicate an entire day to it later. I’m taking a short break right now at my hotel. It’s really nice having a place to stay only 5 minutes from the park. Instead of spending $50 on food for myself in the park and sweating my behind off, I got some Wendy’s and I’m sitting in AC. This is the way to go! Today was absolutely packed, there were probably as many people in the front midway alone as were in the entire park yesterday, not even in the ride lines, just walking around! So, I was only able to manage 2 rides on Viper, one on Colossus, one on Batman and one on Riddler’s Revenge in about 5 hours. Colossus was actually pretty cool, I guess its proximity to Goliath just makes it look like a tinker toy, cause I actually had fun on it. I’d rank it up there with Mean Streak. My intention for today at MM wasn’t to ride a lot though, I was there to make good use of my digital camera, which I did! 78 pictures in 5 hours, I was pretty busy! Got some incredible shots of Riddler’s Revenge and Viper, and a couple of definite “money shots” of X. So it was a decent day since I only intended to take pictures. Maybe when I get back I’ll pick the best ones and post them on Yahoo or something … oh yea, I got my piece of fruit today at the Goliath stand, and my ride on Freefall! Wahoo!

Went back at 5pm for a spin on X – oh my god! Not only did it take me almost 4 hours from the time that I left to get back here (and all I did was ride X), but the ride blew me away all over again. I rode front seat this time, and just as it was my turn, the stupid thing breaks down! So I had to wait another 30 minutes just watching it sit there right in front of me, dreading being told it was broken for the rest of the night right in front of my face. But, no, I did get on, and I had the same reaction as the first time. Involuntary screaming and swearing on the first hill and first raven, screaming and laughing for the middle of the ride, and being surprised by large amounts of pain on the final raven. But I’m really glad that I did it last, as I’m not sure if I’ll have time to get back to SFMM before I have to go home or not. If not, I kind of wish I would have hit Viper again, but the line was long, and X is definitely a respectable sendoff!

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 7:39:27 PM ***

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Thursday, June 5, 2003 3:50 PM
You don't need to apologize for thinking one park has something better than another. I'm sure a lot of people haven't even been to both CP and SFMM for the comparison. Some might not even agree with your "best of the east/west coast" answers (BGW/DL for me), but thanks for sharing and it's nice that you had such a good time at the park. I hope to visit MM for the first time early next year. I've heard that they are definitely one of the most "intense" parks as far as coasters go.

-Danny

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Friday, June 6, 2003 1:07 PM
I'm surprised that you feel that X is so painful. Yeah, the last raven turn has some shaking going on, but to walk off "in pain" sounds like a bit of exaggeration. Especially since you say that Viper had "minimal headbanging," I find Viper to be much worse than X in the pain dept.

Sounds like you had a great trip to SFMM. And the park definately has 16 coasters, counting them only once.

X, Viper, Revolution, Deja Vu, Psyclone, Superman, Ninja, Goldrusher, Riddler, Batman, Goliath, Scream, Colossus, Flashback, Goliath Jr, Canyon Blaster. The last 2 are kiddie coasters in Bugs Bunny World.

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SCREAM with me... in 2003!
*** This post was edited by Soggy 6/6/2003 5:10:06 PM ***

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Friday, June 6, 2003 3:53 PM
I'm gald that you had a good time at Magic Mountain. It just goes to show you that some people on these boards exaggerate a bit much about how bad the park is. I happen to love the park. About X, did you ride on the outside seats? Cause the inside seats are much smoother. Cool TR - looking forward to you KBF TR!
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Saturday, June 7, 2003 12:31 PM
Yes, I did ride in the outside seats on X both times. I'm not exaggerating, I usually don't feel pain. Until I went out west, there hasn't ever been a coaster I've hesitated to ride due to it hurting - including Steel Phantom, Mantis and a few other supposed pain-machines. But X hurt enough that I was slightly dazed, almost as bad as Zonga.

I wasn't aware Canyon Blaster was a coaster, their description of it in the park map must not specify it as such.

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"You know we got a good thing goin and I don't wanna see it end" --Reel Big Fish
-- Brett

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Saturday, June 7, 2003 3:05 PM
You know why our floorless coasters have parking lots under them, because then it feels like you are running really fast... riiiiight. Yeah I really like Magic Mountain and agree with the whole "walk off in pain." It's a really good rough coaster!

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www.CaliforniaCoasterNews.com
www.SFMWZone.com

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Saturday, June 7, 2003 4:58 PM
Nice TR! I'm getting excited about my trip there in two weeks. So did you ride Flashback?

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-Sean Newman

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Saturday, June 7, 2003 5:04 PM
You mean the big blue paperweight? Nope, not open.

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"You know we got a good thing goin and I don't wanna see it end" --Reel Big Fish
-- Brett

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003 9:26 AM
I went on X last Sun and was lucky to only have about an hour wait. I do agree about the secound raven turn, my head was in a little pain. It seemed much better the first time I rode X when it first opened. Glad to hear that you had a good time :)
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