Northern Cali Trip - can't decide what park to go to

So the missus and I are heading to San Jose/San Fran area in October (yes I know the parks are only open on the weekends). I have one day to go to a park and I can't decide which park to go to and I need your help.

I am really only going for coasters so please base your decision on that.

Here are the choices:

Great America

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Santa Cruz

Gilroy Gardens (to get my Q credit)

Skol Vikings
Let's shoot us some deer Joe Joe!!!!

Mamoosh's avatar're only going for coasters.

Based on sheer numbers and only counting adult coasters you can rule out both Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (SCBB) and Gilroy Gardens (GG). That leaves Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (SFDK) and California Great Adventure (CGA), both of which have seven adult/family coasters. With SFDK and CGA in a tie the decision becomes based on quality and IMHO SFDK's coasters are better than CGA.

Winner: SFDK.

That being said, both SCBB and GG can easily be done in a single day. You'd start in Gilroy. Gilroy Gardens is by far the most beautiful park I've been to (yes, more-so than Busch in Williamsburg). The circus trees are amazing. Quicksilver Express Mine Train is very fun. The boat ride through the gardens, the car ride, the banana-shaped swing ship, the rock maze...all fun. Gilroy may be short on major thrills but if you or your wife enjoys horticulture you'll love the park.

Mid-afternoon leave GG for Santa Cruz. Enjoying the Boardwalk as the sun sets over the bay is a sight you won't soon forget. Giant Dipper really shines at night. In my opinion its the best woodie in the state (I have not ridden Terminator yet). SCBB also has one of the three remaining brass ring carousels in the USA, a fascination parlor, a fun flume, classic dark ride, and some fun flats.

Which ever you choose I hope you have fun. Post a trip report too!

Last edited by Mamoosh,
Vater's avatar

Having never been to California I must say you just sold me on Gilroy and SCBB whenever I do get out there. You should work for a travel agency or something. ;)

Last edited by Vater,
ApolloAndy's avatar

I think SFDK has the better collection of coasters, but I side with Moosh in terms of charm. SCBB really can't be beat for atmosphere.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Mamoosh's avatar

Roar > Grizzly
Tony Hawk > Psycho Mouse
Medusa > Demon
V2 > Invertigo

Flight Deck > Kong
Runaway Reptar > Cobra
Vortex > Boomerang*

*this is the only match up with dissimilar coasters.


Just curious. Would you say SFDK is like a close second to the Sea Worlds as far as experience? Based on what SFDK has, it seems like it would be. Out of all the SF parks I haven't been to, this one intrigues me the most.

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

Mamoosh's avatar

No idea really...I've not experienced the animal attractions.

janfrederick's avatar

Hey Moosh, where are the other 2 brass ring carousels? Oh wait, you're Moosh, Google!

Hey, there seem to be more than 3 listed! ;)

I'm with Moosh. Man, I could ride Giant Dipper all day over riding anything at Great America. I'll take the beginning over any launched coaster (I might make an exception for Monty).

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
Mamoosh's avatar

Wow...I thought it was only Knoebels, B&B, and Santa Cruz. I hope that list is correct.

rollergator's avatar

I've yet to see the ring thing working at Santa Cruz...but I might sneak an end-of-season trip to Cali since I have a friend moving out there later this summer. I've said it before, NorCal is the one market in which a CF and SF park are in direct competition and the SF park clearly wins. Bonfante is WAY beautiful, quite relaxing, and a great way to "sneak in some coasters" with a non-enthusiast partner (you all know who you are)... ;)

PGA's loss of Stealth and the Anton launch really have hurt the lineup significantly since my first visit. Oh, and Cobra > Runaway Reptar. Kiddie inverts are the worst thing ever to happen to "family coasters". Ouchtastic (TM-Moosh).... ;)

Last edited by rollergator,

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Mamoosh's avatar

Um, Bill...Runaway Reptar @ CGA is not a Vekoma Jr. Invert. It's an Intamin family coaster. Video.

Last edited by Mamoosh,
rollergator's avatar

Oh, that's right. I always forget about that weird little coaster (skipped on last visit for more flying skooter action). I even rode it under another name on the "deathmarch to Stealth" trip in Oct. 2000... ;)

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Runaway Reptar at Great America appears to be similar to Jr. Gemini at Cedar Point. The critical difference is that while I had no problem squeezing into Jr. Gemini during CoasterMania '08, I was completely unable to fit myself into Reptar last week.

Actually, the only thing that impressed me about Great America was that there seemed to be no restrictions on *ahem* performance aerobatic flying on their Larson Flying Scooter. Not as good as the Bish-Rocco version at Carowinds, but I was able to get some action out of it.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Well the wife has given me the green light for 2 days so it looks like:

Santa Cruz - Gilroy one day

SFDK - other day

Anyone know if they give a discount to pregnant ladies at any of the parks? The wife won't be able to ride but she would like to go walk around and maybe shoot some photos.

Skol Vikings
Let's shoot us some deer Joe Joe!!!!

Soggy's avatar

Although it looks like nobody is suggestion CGA, I'll go ahead and say that the 2 times I was there, they were both weekends in October, and both were some sort of "kids days" and the place was unbearably crowded. Once was Cheerleader day, the other was Christian Youth day. All coasters had overflowing queues all day long.

I loved SCBB, and the atmosphere there is just incredible. Giant Dipper is a very good classic woodie, and they have lots of really good junk food too. I haven't been to GG, but that sounds like a great 2 park i day trip.

Looks like SFDC is open on Fridays in October. If you can make it there on a Friday, (same as we did on our 2 trips there) the park was deserted during the day, and they have their Fright Fest happening. We didn't stay for Fright Fest, but I'd imagine it gets more crowded late on those days.

Pass da' sizzrup, bro!

Wise choices crazyforcoasters! The overall fun factor of the three parks you've chosen is higher than the one you didn't. Also non-coaster enthusiasts in tow will have plenty to enjoy.

I used to live in the bay area and have been to all of the parks several times. CGA is an ok park but many of the coasters there are a let down. In fact Grizzly stands as the worst coaster I've ever been on period. Think about everything you enjoy about riding coasters, remove it and add filling rattling, nipple numbing pain. The highlights of that park for me are The Demon and the Log Flume.

Chitown said:

Just curious. Would you say SFDK is like a close second to the Sea Worlds as far as experience? Based on what SFDK has, it seems like it would be. Out of all the SF parks I haven't been to, this one intrigues me the most.

Last year we went to Sea World San Diego (along with Disneyland and Knotts). This year, we got SFDK season passes.

We recently got back from our trip and we did enjoy it very much. Some of the animal shows where great others where just okay. The biggest difference between SFDK and Sea World at least animal wise, seemed to be that the shows are shorter and not as pollished.

But with the rides and animals it was great all around - since the wife doesn't ride much. This year we spend 3 days, 1 day doing most of the animal shows, 1 day doing the concert series, and the last day doing mostly rides with a few shows we didn't get to on the first day.

Oh, come on now. Yes, the Grizzly usually shows up dead last in the Internet Wood Coaster Poll. But when I rode it, I didn't find it to be painful at all, in fact it ran reasonably well. Trouble is, it's BORING. It has drops that do nothing and broad, flat turnarounds that also do nothing. It's one of the dullest wood coasters ever built!

And here I thought the American Eagle was bad!

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Dave last I was on Grizzly was 2001 and it ran like it had square wheels. The train would crawl through the turn arounds and felt like it was barely going to make it through the course. Female friend who was wearing bra complained of sore breasts after. I don't mind rough wooden coasters in exchange for thrill and enjoy rides like Texas Giant and Georgia Cyclone. But there was zero return on pain investment with my Grizzly experience. It's honestly the only wooden coaster I've met that I didn't like.

Mamoosh's avatar

I have to agree with Dave. In order for Grizzly to be rough it would have to actually exert forces...something neither the drops nor the turns do.

Most. Boring. Wooden. Coaster. Ever.

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