SFMM TR 8/2/2003

Associated parks:
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Wednesday, September 3, 2003 10:19 AM
SFMM TR September 2, 2003

It was the first day of class for the LA Unified School District. The park was essentially empty, with crowds hovering around X like ants at a picnic.

Ninja - , 1 train operation, walk on, 2 circuit wait for front/rear
Revolution - 2 train operation - one closed; walk on

Goliath - 1 train operation?, walk on

Scream - 1 train operation, walk on
Colossus - 1 train operation, walk on; 1 circuit wait for rear car.

Superman - 20 minute wait.

Riddler's Revenge - 1 train operation, walk on

Gold Rusher - 1 train operation, walk on.

Viper - 1 train operation, walk on.

Water rides - walk on.

Flashback - closed (shocking)

X - 2 hour wait, 1 car, 1 breakdown lasting 1/2 hour at 1PM.

Crowds were diverse, friendly and well mannered. There was a large contingency of young German or Dutch athletes, men and women, maybe 18-21. There wasn't any line jumping, smoking, cussing, or competitive feeling you get so often at these parks. I always have a paranoid fear that people are breathing down my neck, making nasty asides about me, being generally combative in the queue. But in Southern California, people are cosmopolitan and generally accepting. Kids don't use abusive terms to describe strangers here. There's a non-competitive, almost party like atmosphere here, where attendees have a wanderlust-like approach to meeting new people and "clicking on their style" to see what pops up onscreen, at least today, anyway.

X, THE RIDE EXPERIENCE

X is an extraordinary experience, where the coaster seats can somersault to and fro while the heavy trains go through a looping, albeit short, steel out-and back track. At no vantage point from the park can you see the motion of the seats on this ride. You're blind. You can't memorize the action before it happens.

As you sit down in the reclined seat, you find yourself in a virtual conversation with the ride's "author".
"Where are you taking me?"
"You'll see. It won't be too intense."
"I hope these over the shoulder restraints won't beat me up too much."

"I'm sorry, what?"

"I'm reaching the top of the lift hill, why am I facing the wrong...ahghghgh!"

"You're in my hands Moo Hooo HAAAAA hAAAA!!!!"

I have never felt closer to a ride's author than on this coaster. It is impossible to know where you are in this ride. I suppose after successive re-rides, you could memorize the action, mapping its secrets. Mid ride, the action returns to normal, with upright chairs going through a tame section. Thank God for the brief palette cleansing. Then the action returns with more flips.

I felt like I was in the film The Matrix, with the power to fly forward and reverse, in a mid-air battle, where it didn't matter where the ground was, just that I was able to see the oncoming enemy track, flying toward or away from it at will. This coaster entices you to re-ride it, beckoning you to unravel it's script.

I encourage management to open a "Fast Pass" operation for this park. I saw patrons with bulging wallets, just standing in line for X for two hours with nowhere to spend their money.

SERVICE

The service at the park was near-catastrophic. Granted, employee ranks are decimated after the summer season, but servers at the restaurant near Goliath required training on canceling an order on the register, and it took 5 minutes for them to produce a Coke. Generally, ride operators were glassy-eyed, mute slouches, slogging through their routines as if heavily medicated on Thorasine. The exception was the River Rapids ride operator who was pleasant, and communicated clearly. The Italian churros vendor at the park entrance appeared to be mentally deranged as he took 3 minutes to re-stock the churros display 20 minutes before closing, as we waited and watched. After we waited, he offered me a complimentary overcooked churro. How odd. He said "This must be eaten now or thrown away. Want it?" We wanted a bottle of coke - a simple transaction that takes 15 seconds. He didn't offer an "I'll be right with you" or a, "I'll stock this after I take care of my two customers." Just strange, drug-induced behavior. He had trouble handling the tongs, and looked at them oddly as if he was hallucinating that they were extensions of his own arms. Is everyone medicated here? The parking lot tram host was a complete disaster, mumbling through his speech as if he had just finished a six week stint as a production assistant in the Australian outback on "Survivor II". He was suicidal. His internal monologue was "I want to die. Please kill me. By the way, I'm an organ donor." On the other hand, the ticket booth was staffed with a friendly, knowledgeable woman who generously advised us to avoid buying the fast pass -- we didn't need it on a slow day like today. Pleasant, speedy and competent.

SCREAM/GOLIATH/COLOSSUS

Scream is enjoyable, without the brutal blackout sensations of Goliath. (I rode Goliath once, and won't ever again.) Oddly, Colossus delivered some airtime, and at 5:00 was speedier than previous visits. The pacing of this ride just fizzles. The cars feel like echoey plastic bathtubs with concrete wheels. Isn't there a lot of buildable space in the area of the Colossus queue entrance, the theatre, and Scream? Looks like woody territory to me.

HARKENING BACK

I love this park's three terrain coasters, Gold Rusher, Ninja, and Revolution. Although they aren't technically advanced, they offer the hope for ride design that celebrates the uniqueness of this the landscape. This wonderful hillside. They offer a brief respite from sterile, cold parking lot coasters without a story. The new generation of steel coasters cut you off from the landscape, visually, physically. It doesn't matter where you are any more, because you're blind now - you can't see past the car in front of you, and you're going so fast in all directions you can't even process what you're experiencing. Steelies give you only the physical sensations, the blind disorientation. You can't see the people you're riding with. It's a solo riding experience.

What ever happened to the open air on a roller coaster, and a 360 degree view? Hillsides, and waving to your friends in the viewing area, sweeping dips through the countryside, a turn through the dark woods, and a chance to catch your breath? The storyline, the pacing and the experience? The time to process it, to absorb it all? The terror of the lift hill? A glance to the person next to you as you approach the peak, maybe a glance to the people seated behind you with whom you've become fast friends, the puff of cool Autumn air as the chain lift silences, the incredible view, the park's end-of-the season emptiness and quiet as the coaster train plummets toward the bottom of the hill?

I can still remember the story of the Revolution, breakless and without restraint, hidden in the green brown-around-the-edges Valencia autumn thicket. I can still walk through the Rollercoaster woods when it's quiet, seeing camouflaged white steel supports rising above the dense hillside trees, appearing just for a moment, the leg of the gazelle, the track disappearing just beyond. I wonder where it goes, right or left, just behind that hill? Maybe if we sneak into the Magic Mountain woods at dusk, when the park is empty, we'll discover the secret of the hidden cold steel track, it's curves and bends and its surprise plummet into the ravine. We'll learn its secret layout among the scattered leaves and brown, spent underbrush. The journey will surprise us, but until then we won't know for sure. The coaster's mystery layout lies just beyond that hill...

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Wednesday, September 3, 2003 12:38 PM
Was this Poetry or a Trip Report.

(Just kiddin)! Great Tr report wonderful how you described the rides it's diffrent but refreshing.

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Your Park only has 1 good coaster! That's too bad!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2003 12:54 PM
Wow - all walk-ons. I need to visit on one of these days.
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Thursday, September 4, 2003 8:15 AM
That was a fantastic TR, it brought almost every ride to life. Thanks!

That being said, yes, X can be memorized. Despite that, it's *still* an amazing ride. Fastlane for it, however, is probably a bad idea. The first time I rode it (before becoming an enthusiast...in fact, it was the catalyst that started that process) we had fastlane passes. The ride has low enough capacity that it can't handle all the fastlane people, leaving normal queue folk stuck in the lurch, and it generally devolves into a bizarre form of class warfare. It was amazing, Fastlane people actually got jeers and threats from the main queue people.

There's a reason fastlane was killed for that ride, and I, for one, agree with it wholeheartedly.

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Thursday, September 4, 2003 1:59 PM
That was one of the best TRs I have read in a long time. English counts, people! :)

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"No, it offends me as a comedian."

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Friday, September 5, 2003 1:28 PM
Wow....that definatley deserves the "Best New Post" and "Best Poster" awards!

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That 70's Show Rocks, but coasters are okay too. :)

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