SFMM 3/28 - Better? Yes, and no.

Associated parks:
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Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:04 PM
After the horrid experiences I had at the park last year, culminating with the day after Solace 2003, I decided I was in no mood to return to the park anytime soon. Scream opening came and went, but I didn't care. FrightFest came and went, but I didn't care. New Years came and went and I realized nine months had passed since I'd been to a park I used to visit almost on a monthly basis.

When I made the decision over winter to cut back drastically on my travelling in 2004 I decided a Six Flags season pass was an expenditure I could do without. After all, I wasn't going to be using it at any other park in the chain, save for possibly Marine World since the Bay Area is an easy weekend trip for me. And then my friend Brian "Homey B" Yarborough ended up with an extra voucher for a season pass and I decided I'd take it off his hands [not for free, mind you] and get myself a pass anyway.

Flash-forward to today:

Mike "I'm a reasonable man get off my case" Miller and I decided it was time to process our season pass and see if reports of improvements at the park were any better. Although we only spent three hours at the park [due to commitments in the afternoon] I can report that what we experienced was a mixed bag.

We arrived at the park at 9:10am. Our plan was to park in the spaces in the passenger drop-off/pick-up section and process our pass first [in hopes we'd get a coupon booklet with free parking] and then move the car to the lot, paying for parking if the coupon did not materialize. However now all the parking spaces are marked "Security." Seeing that I've never seen much of a security presence at the park I find it hard to believe they need that many parking spaces for them. Luckily in the envelope I got from Brian we discovered a coupon for free parking, so we drove around and got in line for the toll booths.

Bass needed to purchase his renewal so we went to the ticket windows first. Although each booth has five windows [one on each side, three on the front there is only one sign showing closed rides, in the left-most window. Anyone in line or the middle or two right-side windows were unable to read the list of 7 rides closed: Sky Tower, Metro, Flashback, Batman, Superman, Atom Smasher and Sand Blasters. No Deja Vu...hmmmmm. A quick jaunt through the metal detectors and we got in the long line to process our season passes. At 9:30 the processing center opened and by 9:40 we were done. We were both impressed with the speed at which the employees were processing passes. As the gates opened at 10am we formulated our rhyming game plan: Goliath, Scream, Deja Vu, Ice Cream, head home. With the growing crowd we knew we didn't have time for X and with obligations in the afternoon and an hour drive home we knew we'd have to leave at noon.

By 10:05 we arrived at Goliath, but the ride was not open. We could also see that neither X nor Scream were running. Goliath was testing, running an empty train, and eventually opened at 10:30. We got to the station to notice a pleasant surprise: the ride is back to 2-train operation. Train #3 is still nowhere to be found. We rode once, in the front of the last car, and headed over to Scream, which had just opened at 10:45.

Two rides on Scream [my #331] were all the day warranted, once in the front and once in row 7. I did not experience any of the headbanging I'd heard so much about but the ride did have an odd vibration that I've only found on one other B&M: Batman Knight Flight. I don't know if it's the rails or the trains but they did not track smoothly, and shuffling and vibrations were most noticeable in areas of high
positive Gs. The crew on Scream was horribly slow and was stacking in a 2-train operation [train #3 is in pieces next to the shed].

We continued to walk around to see if Deja Vu was really operating or not. We noticed that both Atom Smasher and Sand Blasters were indeed open, which meant that all flats were operating, something I have not seen in years! As we made it to Jet Stream -- staffed with employees but closed, despite a steady stream of water in the chute -- we noticed DV's train with passengers pass through the butterfly inversion. We got in line and waited...and waited...and waited. Dispatches were about 6 min on average, meaning the park was pumping a "healthy" 320 people per hour through that ride. Sad, sad, sad. The ride was smooth [it better have been after being closed so long] and is still one of my favorites in the park. It's just such a shame the lackluster crews can't work harder to get the line moving faster.

Up and over the hill and we notice no signs of life from X. Crossing thru the plaza we notice the line, which extends all the way down to the carousel, is being held at the bridge. X is closed and not testing, but slated to open "soon." We continued down into the entrance plaza to the ice cream shop. We found a nice shady bench and sat to indulge our sweet tooth as we talked about the park and listened to the four-piece Dixie band playing nearby. At 11:50 we exited the park and headed to the car. Still no sign of life from X, but that would change by the time we drove out at noon: the first train of passengers was climbing the lift.

So...in the plus column:

*Quick, efficient pass processing
*Two train operation on Goliath
*All flats operating
*Deja Vu open

In the minus column:

*Late opening of Goliath
*Late opening of Scream
*Late opening of Jet Stream
*Very late opening of X
*Lackluster crews

How does it all add up? I have no urge to return until late next year, after the summer crowds have gone. I'd still rather spend a day at Knotts, Disneyland, or DCA.

mOOSH

*** Edited 3/29/2004 12:09:45 AM UTC by Mamoosh***

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:14 PM
So this is kind of considered an improvement?

Kinda sad if you ask me. I am hoping to get out to Cali some time this year (and get free room and board from my aunt and uncle). :)

And what is up with their observation tower being closed on a permanent basis? *** Edited 3/29/2004 12:16:46 AM UTC by Chitown***

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:23 PM
Doesn't that suck Chitown? The sky tower is something I would want to do! (It was closed when I was there in 99) Apaprently the last time it operated was in 2001 (yet there's a sign in front saying it's closed for improvements, or something to that effect)

There was a time the park had a running sky tower, train, sky ride, monorail, etc., all helping you get around the park. Now the only one is the car that goes up the mountain.

SFMM should lay off building rides for a few years and make the park itself better. Do that and maybe they can be top notch park!

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:26 PM
Why yes it does suck Peabody. :)

I guess I am just used to SFGAm and rides that operate along with decent capacity.

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 7:30 PM
You're lucky...I'll take SFGAm over any other SF park...SFMM included!
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Sunday, March 28, 2004 8:04 PM
when I went to SFMM last summer, it was very pleasent. not as pleasent as KBF, but I had fun. lines were short, except for X which took 6:40 from loading to loading.
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Sunday, March 28, 2004 8:30 PM
I will be traveling to SFMM for my Spring Break in a few weeks along with Knott's and DCA. Since I will be at SFMM on a Saturday and Sunday, do the rides usually open late on weekends as well? I am, however looking foreward to Knott's the most, my first trip there ever. SFMM left a sour taste in my mouth the last time I visited, but I fugured, might as well try out Scream and DV since I wasn't able to ride either the last time I visited.
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Sunday, March 28, 2004 8:40 PM
I spent a week on vacation in the area last month---the entire time at KBF, DCA, and DL. I had literally no desire to go to SFMM, and that's *with* an already-valid 2004 SF pass.

On the other hand, I'm really looking forward to returning to SFGAm for CBuzzCon.

*** Edited 3/29/2004 1:40:59 AM UTC by Brian Noble***

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 9:12 PM
Goliath Maniac - you're visiting SFMM on a weekend during Spring Break? You're one brave soul!

mOOSH

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 9:51 PM
Thanks for the report, mOOSH! I last visited in '00 and actually look forward to returning someday, if only for X. And Goldrusher, actually. That coaster started it all for me as a kid, but sadly was closed during that last visit, and the one prior as well! I haven't ridden it in well over 20 yrs.
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Sunday, March 28, 2004 10:32 PM
I had an enjoyable time at Magic Mountain on a Saturday during spring break (partly because of Mamoosh’s coupons, partly because of fastlane, partly because I just plain liked everything we got to ride). Personally, with 16 coasters, it didn’t matter much to me that a few were closed. And with that many coasters (plus water/flat rides) I wouldn’t have had time to ride them anyway.

I have plenty to look forward to for my next visit!

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 10:41 PM
That's true to a point PT300. With 16 coasters, you would still have a full day even with a few of them closed. However, why have this many if you aren't capable of operated all of them? I would prefer getting rid of a few of them and replacing them with more flats (which I hear this park lacks).

If it's for the "it really doesn't matter coaster count record", they need to squash that and focus on other aspects.

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Sunday, March 28, 2004 11:57 PM
SFMM has 10 flats:

Carousel, Swiss Twist [Bayurn Curve], Bucaneer [Swinging Ship], Swashbuckler [Yo-Yo], Circus Wheel [Tilt-a-Whirl], Atom Smasher [Music Express], Gotham Gear Works [Round-Up], Sand Blasters [Bumper Cars], Scrambler, and Spin-Out [Rotor].

The carousel, bayurn curve, tilt-a-whirl, round up, sand blasters, scrambler, and rotor all opened with the park in 1971. The music express, swing ship and yo-yo were added in the late 70s/early 80s.

The park has lost about a dozen flats since it opened.

mOOSH

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Monday, March 29, 2004 12:17 AM
I have to admit wondering why THIS is the park that needed Scream! Sure, another new coaster makes for easy marketing, but if there's a park in the chain that could've been better served spending that kind of money elsewhere, it was SFMM....add in the fact that the coaster was a walk-on/re-ride even when the other rides were building up wait times, and you can draw your own conclusions....

That being said, it's *another credit* at SFMM, and I had good rides on it...small vibrations with no headbanging being more than OK in my book...hey, I just realized I escaped the Mountain this time without a single ride on Psyclone, my chiropractor should pay ME next time, LOL...

Ten operating flats out of ten total, that's a BIG plus in my book...

On the flip side, so to speak, 320 would be the MAX capacity with 6 minute dispatches....I'm guessing there were empty seats...:( DV needs to have a better loading system than "normal" shuttle coasters...but we've discussed that elsewhere already, LOL...

*** Edited 3/29/2004 5:22:58 AM UTC by rollergator***

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Monday, March 29, 2004 12:24 AM
It doesn't bother me so much if a coaster or two is down, but FLashback is another story....it doesn't operate in the summer when the waterpark is open, and it doesn't operate when the waterpark is closed.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but SFMM has never had all 16 coasters open at the same time, correct?

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Monday, March 29, 2004 1:43 AM
I haven't ridden all of SFMM's coasters on the same day in about 2 1/2 years, ironically the year X and Deja Vu finally opened. Of course, one side of Superman was closed.

Moosh, did you happen to notice how many trains were operating on Riddler's???

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Monday, March 29, 2004 1:51 AM
Did you ride Deja Vu, X, and Flashback in the same day? That would be impressive!

OK...I'll settle for all 16 running the same day with one side of S:TE. I still believe it's never happened, though since Scream opened. :( *** Edited 3/29/2004 6:52:13 AM UTC by Peabody***

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Monday, March 29, 2004 2:03 AM
I was at SFMM on Feb 1, 2003. This was a couple of months before Scream opened.

All 15 were running (one side on S:TE, but two trains on X) - I could've done the X, DV, Flashback trifecta but we passed on Deja Vu as it's line was longer than X's was. (about 1 1/2 hours)

But I do think you're right, Peabody - sice Scream opened, it seems like no one has seen all 16 up at the same time.

*** Edited 3/29/2004 7:04:15 AM UTC by Lord Gonchar***

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Monday, March 29, 2004 2:12 AM
That's seems extra impressive since it was the "offseason" Lucky you! :)
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Monday, March 29, 2004 2:35 AM
Yeah, but we were running slow that day and had to cut out early to get to the airport so we only squeezed in 10 of those 15 - (skipped the kiddies, the woodies and DV)

I get the rare chance to ride the line-up in one visit and can't due to time :(

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