Robo's NorCal Antics, part 1

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Friday, July 16, 2004 3:48 PM
I awoke at ungodly a.m. in the morning on Wed, July 7th to make the drive from Portland, OR to Bend, OR. I was headed to Sacramento for an Olivo family reunion, and decided to use a few extra vacation days to take advantage of the reunion's proximity to area attractions. The reunion would be over the weekend, and I would be crashing at my bro's family house in Elk Grove (just S of Sac). Pulling into my sister's driveway in Bend, I was picking up my niece Justine and a friend of hers, Amber. Both are 16 yrs old. Soon we were on our way.

Justine initially appeared excited about going to her first "flag" park. Up till now, the biggest coasters she had ridden were both in Turner, OR. Oh wait, I forgot she did go to Florida (jealous) and visited Sea World, where she rode Journey but not Kraken(?). She also visited Universal (more jealous) but was too scared to do the coasters. Strictly shows and sightseeing(!?!?). Amber had previously been to some major parks and on a few big coasters. I inquired where and she said she was visiting relatives in PA and they took her to a "small park that I would probably be bored with". See, she suffers under the impression that ALL I like are the bigger and badder rides in the biggest parks. She couldn't remember the name of the park offhand, so I went through a few. Kennywood? No. Dorney? No. Hershey? No. Knoebel's? That was it! I told her I was massively envious; I had wanted to go to Knoebel's for quite sometime.

We arrived in Sacramento late Wed night, and unfortunately the kids were already asleep. I hadn't seen my brother's youngest yet in person (6 months old) and Kylie, almost 3, and I hadn't seen each other since October of 2002. Oh well, they will be up bright and early in the morning! Before going to bed, my bro popped "Shrek 3-D" into the dvd, and my mom and step-dad (who arrived earlier in the day), Amber and I donned those funky glasses (there were only 4 and Justine saw it just last month in 4-D), and we watched it on the fancy new HD big screen. I liked it, as did everyone else. After a long day of driving, it was finally bedtime.

We awoke Thurs morning to a bright, sunny, hot day in Sacramento. The girls and I soon headed out to Vallejo, to enjoy a day at SFMW. After getting into the hills just East of Vallejo, we saw big, dark, foreboding clouds hanging around. This was not a good sign. It appeared to be cold and rainy. Bummer!! We didn't take any warm clothes, none of us, due to the weather in Sacramento. After briefly considering turning around to get warm clothes (we still would have arrived at noon instead of 10am), we decided to give it a try anyway. The clouds were coming in from the coast, and I hoped it was just a minor system. Fortunately I was mostly right. It cleared up around 1230pm, but a slightly cool breeze continued the rest of the day anyway, which left us with a pretty empty park to call our own.

Going back just a bit, it should be noted that both girls got very weak in the knees after we topped the last hill from I-80 headed down to the park. From a distance all you can see is a tangled mess of wood and steel. "Oh, hell no!" was a popular mantra as we drove into the lot and got a look at most of the coasters. I tried to calm them down and assure them that we would work up to the scary rides, but while Amber was nervous yet willing, my niece was adamant about not getting on those rides. I told her that was fine, as there was much more to the park than the coasters.

Upon scanning our nifty print-n-go tickets we got at home from the website, we headed to Cobra. I needed the credit, and the girls needed the warm-up. I must say, for a family coaster, I liked it better than the ones at WoA and KK; seemed faster than those. The girls liked it as well, and soon Amber and I talked Justine into Roar. It didn't go upside down, which was it's saving grace. To my surprise, they both loved it and we immediately went for another ride. I feel it's still a good ride, but not as much fun as my 2000 or 2001 trip. Of course, I now have ridden so many other class acts since my last visit (pre PKI, HW, KW, & IB) that it may be the same ride, just doesn't beat the great woodies at the aforementioned parks.
Next up, the Zamp Hawk 48. We all loved it, and the girls got some good upside experience in. Next up, the butterfly habitat (love these), the bird aviary (feeding Lorikeets is fun:)), and some animal exhibits. We found our way around to V2, which was too scary for Justine, but Amber went on with me. We took our shoes/socks off, and settled in. The last time I rode, it was taller with both spikes vertical. I like this new, angled end better. The hang time upside down was a more intense feeling than it's original incarnation. Amber loved it as well.
More flats and more animals. Out of the blue, Justine announces that we better do Kong before she changed her mind. Hmmm... i think she has the bug too, but doesn't know it yet. Kong was more pleasurable than I remembered, and the head padding seemed different (better) than the last time. As for the girls, again, they loved it completely. With Kong under her belt, we went back to V2. Justine dug it. Now i knew she had the bug, just like me, and just like her mom at that age. Medusa quickly followed, with no wait, and she was officially hooked. We did that ride 3 times in a row, with all our hands up the entire time by the third try. We would later end up power-riding Medusa 4 or 5 times at the end of the day (I seriously lost track; could even be more) until the park closed. I had created a few enthuisiasts; I'm so proud...:)

I was surprised at the 2 train operation on every coaster possible (it was all I could do to not laugh when the girls inquired whether Boomerang was running two trains), even though it was so slow they could've done with one and I wouldn't have cared. That's impressive. The Roar and Medusa crews were stacking earlier in the day, but found their rhythem later for smooth operations. Kudos to the polite, efficient ops!!:) Kong always stacks on every visit, and I really don't see that as changing; the crew was going as quickly as they could IMO. Boomerang was the only coaster no one wanted to re-ride.
On both of my prior visits, Voodoo was closed as was the rafting ride, and the 3-D theatre was running 2-D. Well, third times the charm, sort of. Voodoo was open, as was white-water landing. We all enjoyed the heck out of those, as well as Jamba, which we all agreed was the best flying carpet ride any of us had ever ridden! The theatre alas, remained in 2-D. Question: has anyone ever seen SFMW's simulator run in 3-D? I now believe it never does. While on the subject, this Stargate film was very under-whelming. First, the never-ending pre-show is interminable. Then, the audio in the actual theatre is nearly un-intelligible, making it hard to get drawn into the story. So while the girls mildly enjoyed it, I was bored to tears. I started noticing how badly scratched the print was. Wasn't this fairly new? I've worked around all sorts of projectors for 20 years, and it's not terribly difficult to keep from scratching a film. Oh well...

Oh, and Zonga never opened. Hey, it's something to look forward to on my next visit.:) All in all, we all had a funtastic day, and I left feeling very good about the park. At home around 10pm, we all crashed watching comedy central's Graham Norton Effect. More fun to end a great day!

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Friday, July 16, 2004 3:58 PM
Sweet TR Robo....and with TWO 16-year-old girls no less...color me green (oh, wait, I already AM)...;)

Nice to hear you had such a good time, and creating another enthusiast means you earned a toaster, although not the Ellen DeGeneres model, LOL. We're planning on a NorCal expedition sometime next summer....but by then you'll be driving UP instad of down...;)

Glad to hear they went with "soft fluffy padding" on the SLC, it makes a huge difference!

CPG 4-EVA!

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Friday, July 16, 2004 4:05 PM
Great TR, Robo!

Its wonderful to witness the moment when your nieces and nephews graduate from being scared and start enjoying coasters. I've seen it happen a few times and still have two more to go.

And Zonga? Don't count on it...it seems to have just as many problems in Vallejo as it did in Texas.

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Friday, July 16, 2004 4:29 PM
Nice TR, Robo! I remember my first drive down the hill towards the park, and that sudden thrill of that skyline. :) It sure is pretty to look at.

I don't think I'll ever get a chance to ride Zonga/Taz/Whatever. It just seems like SFMW's answer to DejaVu. Oh well. Glad you all had such a splendid time.

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Friday, July 16, 2004 7:05 PM
Zonga's pretty sporadic. It often opens at noon and it trades trains back and forth all the time, though it has run with 2 trains more often than not these last few weeks.

My impression of Kong: It runs significantly slower than most SLC's I've been on so the head banging isn't too intense.

My impression of Medusa's crew: Why is it good when a crew can barely manage to not stack 2 trains on a ride designed for 3?

Nice TR, Robo. Glad to see some enthusiasts in the making. Next time you're (or anyone's) up by MW drop me a line. I more or less live in the park.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 12:43 PM
Yeah, good point about Medu, Andy. By the way, should be stopping off there in early Oct for Frightfest, during the move to Vega$.:) I'll let you know. So tell me, does that sim run 3-D? Ever?
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 1:54 PM
The most recent program for it, some Stargate thing, (which is funny, because it still has all the dinosphere theming and signage) is in 3D iirc.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 2:45 PM
But have you actually seen it in 3-D? On the day of visit, all the signage and fliers they give patrons upon entering claimed it was in 3-D, but when we watched it, there were no glasses given out, and it was in 2-D. I must just have the bad luck of always going on the wrong days. But hey, if that's my only gripe... :)
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 3:26 PM
Nice TR Robo. So you're finally getting around to the move to Vegas. Nice to hear that you'll actually have some decent coasters at your beck and call. Although Looping Thunder will always hold a special place in my heart. But now that you're moving, you know Oak's will get that small woodie that every Portlander has been wishing for.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 8:33 PM
LOL, Mike. Damn that murphy guy.;) Actually, I know Enchanted Forest in Turner has started work on their new dark ride, which of course will open in '05, I'm sure. But in trade, I finally get my shot at X, Ghostrider, Speed, and the Scream Quadfecta; Scream, California Screamin', Scandia Screamer, & Screamin' Mummy-gotta love how SoCal is so scream dense. :)
As for Looping Thunder, just how do I get my fix of Pinfari goodness once I move?
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004 9:43 PM
I think i saw it in 3D. It was so unremarkable that I honestly don't remember, but I'm pretty sure it was in 3D.
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